Sunday, April 28, 2013

Is Your Bottled Water Killing You?

Reposted from Life Extension

By William Davis, MD
Based on the poor quality of what comes out of the municipal tap, health-conscious people often rely on bottled or home-filtered water for their drinking needs. While most filtered and bottled waters are free of cancer-causing contaminants, they provide little or no magnesium. Even most tap water is devoid of this critical mineral.
The implications of this widespread magnesium deficiency are frightening, in as much as communities with low magnesium content in drinking water show increased rates of sudden death.
Magnesium plays hundreds of crucial roles in the body, including suppressing unstable heart rhythms, controlling blood pressure, maintaining insulin sensitivity, and regulating over 300 enzymes. Attaining optimal magnesium levels is an absolute requirement for good health.
In this article, we examine magnesium’s importance to human health, how changes in the way we obtain our drinking water have contributed to widespread magnesium deficiencies, and strategies you can use to optimize your magnesium intake through dietary sources, better bottled waters, and nutritional supplementation.

Magnesium: Lost in the Filter

Our human ancestors evolved in a world in which healthy drinking water came directly from streams, rivers, and lakes, rich in mineral content. The human body became reliant on obtaining a considerable proportion of its daily mineral needs from natural water sources.
Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. We obtain drinking water from a spigot or a plastic bottle. Pesticides and other chemicals seeping into the water supply have made everyone suspicious of water quality. As a result, municipal water-purification facilities have intensified their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. Unfortunately, these modern water-treatment methods also deplete drinking water of desirable minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Exacerbating this problem is that many Americans, distrustful of the purity and safety of municipally treated water, have added home water filters and purifiers that efficiently extract any remaining minerals from the water, thus converting “hard” into “soft” water. In fact, the manufacturers of these devices boast of their power to yield water free of “contaminants”—including minerals like magnesium. Thus, the magnesium content of the water that passes through most commercial filters is zero.1
The present-day enthusiasm for bottled water has further compounded the problem. Americans consumed nearly 8 billion gallons of bottled water last year. The mineral content of these products varies widely. While some mineral waters, particularly those from Europe, contain a moderate amount of magnesium, other brands of bottled water contain little or none.2
Magnesium Basics
Magnesium is required for the proper function of approximately 300 enzymes in the human body. Functions as diverse as blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction, heart rhythm stabilization, and nervous system communication are all magnesium-dependent processes. Humans cannot survive without magnesium. Some authorities have even argued that some typical manifestations of aging—such as loss of muscle mass, rising blood pressure, and diminished nervous system function—are partly attributable to magnesium deficiency.6
The upshot of all this is that we cannot rely on drinking water to provide adequate magnesium. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium—that is, the amount required to prevent severe deficiency—is 420 mg a day for men and 320 mg a day for women. In cities with the highest magnesium water content, only 30% of the RDA can be obtained by drinking two liters of tap water a day.4 In most cities, only a meager 10-20% of the daily requirement can be obtained. That leaves 70–90% of the daily magnesium requirement that must be obtained from other sources. Since many people’s diets are also low in magnesium, the average American ingests substantially less magnesium than the RDA.3
The problem may be even worse than it appears. Many authorities believe that higher levels of magnesium are needed to avoid serious illnesses such as heart disease.4 Others argue that “normal” magnesium blood levels reported by laboratories, originally derived from populations symptomatic with magnesium deficiency, are also too low and that higher blood levels are necessary for optimal health.5

Low Magnesium Tied to Risk of Sudden Death

“Results from the early epidemiological studies suggest that sudden-death rates in soft-water areas are at least 10% greater than sudden-death rates in hard-water areas.
If magnesium supplementation causes even a modest decrease in sudden-death rates, a substantial number of lives might be saved.” 7
—Mark J. Eisenberg, MD, MPH - McGill University
Magnesium deficiency may have potentially dire consequences. Critically ill patients, who often have very low magnesium levels, suffer the risk of seizures, life-endangering heart rhythms, and fatal heart attack.8
Magnesium has a stabilizing effect on cell membranes, particularly in heart muscle. A healthy heart generates stable, predictable electrical impulses. Lack of magnesium permits unstable electrical impulses in the heart to emerge, generating abnormal heart rhythms.9,10 In fact, much magnesium research over the years has focused on its administration during heart attack to reduce death from fatal heart rhythms.11
Magnesium blood levels are routinely monitored in hospitalized patients, particularly those who are receiving diuretic medications. It is well known in hospitals that if magnesium blood levels drop too low, abnormal heart rhythms can suddenly develop, necessitating intravenous replenishment of magnesium.9 Dangerous rhythms of the heart’s ventricles, in particular, can occur. People suffering from congestive heart failure are especially susceptible to dangerous heart rhythms when magnesium is low.
Scientists have observed that people in areas with higher levels of magnesium in their drinking water exhibit rates of sudden cardiac death that are three to four times lower than those of people living in municipalities with the lowest magnesium levels in drinking water.7,12,13 This has drawn the attention of national and international public health officials. For example, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report on the quality of drinking water cited 80 studies that have examined the relationship between cardiovascular death and water “hardness” (measured principally by magnesium and calcium content). The WHO concluded that the magnesium content of water is indeed a cardiovascular risk factor and that supplementing drinking water with magnesium should be a priority, much as fluoride became one.14 To date, however, no action has been taken.
Is Your Bottled Water Killing You? What You Need to Know
  • The mineral magnesium is critical to human health, helping the body perform functions as varied as blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction, heart rhythm stabilization, and nervous system communication.
  • Modern water-purification techniques, consumption of magnesium-depleted bottled waters, and poor dietary habits contribute to widespread magnesium deficiencies in the US and around the world. Although the US RDA for magnesium is 420 mg per day for adult men and 320 mg for adult women, most Americans ingest about 270 mg of magnesium per day.
  • Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias, along with conditions such as muscle cramps, migraine headaches, and metabolic syndrome.
  • Optimal magnesium intake, by contrast, is associated with improved insulin sensitivity, optimal lipoprotein levels, suppression of abnormal heart rhythms, reduced blood pressure, relief from migraine headaches, and improved exercise capability, among other health benefits.
  • Strategies for optimizing daily magnesium intake include consuming foods high in magnesium content, supplementing with the soluble fiber known as inulin, drinking magnesium-rich mineral waters, and taking magnesium supplements that supply standardized amounts of elemental magnesium.

The Many Perils of Magnesium Deficiency

The older you are, the more likely magnesium depletion is to develop,15 with substantial deficiency common by the age of 50. If you have any condition that causes frequent loose stools, magnesium depletion may be severe. This is also true in celiac disease (gluten enteropathy) and in those who have had bowel resection surgery. Some evidence suggests vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate magnesium deficiency.16
Unfortunately, blood magnesium levels are a poor barometer of true body (intracellular) magnesium levels. Only 1% of the body’s magnesium is in the blood; the remaining 99% is stored in various body tissues, particularly bone and muscle.16 If blood magnesium is low, cellular magnesium levels are indeed low—very low. If blood magnesium is normal, cellular or tissue levels of magnesium may still be low. Unfortunately, tissue magnesium levels are not easy to ascertain in living, breathing humans. In one study, only 8% of coronary patients had low blood magnesium, while tissue levels were reduced in 53%.10 In other words, normal blood magnesium levels do not rule out the possibility of a magnesium deficiency.
Short of performing a biopsy to measure tissue magnesium levels, potential magnesium deficiency may manifest as:
  • Cardiac arrhythmias. Low magnesium levels can trigger abnormal heart rhythms. If you have been diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia, it is a good idea to ask your doctor about your magnesium level.16
  • Low potassium. Low magnesium commonly accompanies low potassium.10 Potassium is an electrolyte that is depleted by the use of diuretics and is commonly deficient in many conditions (such as excessive alcohol use, hypertension, and diarrhea). Like magnesium, deficient potassium may not be easily remedied through diet.
  • Muscle cramps. Magnesium regulates muscle contraction. Leg cramps, or a “charley horse”—painful, vise-like cramps in calves or other muscles—are a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. (Note that leg cramps that occur with physical activity, such as walking, are usually due to atherosclerotic blockages in the leg or abdominal arteries, not low magnesium.)17,18
  • Migraine headaches. Reflecting magnesium’s role in regulating blood vessel tone, low magnesium can trigger vascular spasm in the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.19
  • Metabolic syndrome. The risk of developing metabolic syndrome—the cluster of metabolic abnormalities that includes low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), high triglycerides, high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and excessive abdominal fat—is clearly linked with lower magnesium levels. Magnesium plays a fundamental role in regulating cellular responses to insulin.20
The absence of any of these telltale signs does not necessarily mean that tissue levels of magnesium are normal. Then how can one know whether magnesium levels are deficient? There is no easy, available method to gauge body magnesium. In all practicality, because of magnesium’s crucial role in health, its widespread deficiency in Americans, and the growing depletion of magnesium in water, supplementing with magnesium may be the best way to ensure adequate total body magnesium levels.

Health Benefits of Magnesium Replacement

What can you expect from supplementing magnesium to optimal levels? Research over the past 20 years suggests that magnesium supplementation will accomplish several critically important goals:
  • Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity. Magnesium helps correct impaired insulin sensitivity, the fundamental defect that characterizes pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. An intracellular enzyme called tyrosine kinase requires magnesium to allow insulin to exert its blood-sugar-lowering effects. In several studies, daily oral magnesium supplementation substantially improved insulin sensitivity by 10% and reduced blood sugar by 37%.21-23
  • Magnesium helps correct abnormal lipoprotein patterns. Improved insulin sensitivity from magnesium replacement can markedly reduce triglyceride levels.23 Reduced triglyceride availability, in turn, reduces triglyceride-rich particles, such as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and small low-density lipoprotein (small LDL), both of which are powerful contributors to heart disease.24 Magnesium supplementation can also raise levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL).24
  • Magnesium suppresses abnormal heart rhythms. Magnesium has gained a foothold in hospital care following coronary bypass surgery, when the abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation commonly occurs. Magnesium may help suppress this rhythm outside of the hospital as well,25 suggesting a preventive role in averting abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Magnesium reduces blood pressure. Magnesium regulates blood pressure by modulating vascular tone. Magnesium works in ways similar to the prescription hypertension drugs known as calcium-channel antagonists (such as diltiazem and nifedipine), which block calcium channels that trigger constriction of the arteries. Magnesium stimulates the production of prostacyclins and nitric oxide, which are potent artery-relaxing agents.26 Magnesium exerts a modest effect of reducing blood pressure, reflecting its whole-body artery-relaxing properties.27
  • Magnesium can block migraine headaches. Magnesium has been explored as a means to prevent or relieve migraine headaches. People suffering migraine headaches tend to have lower magnesium levels.28 A study from the State University of New York showed that intravenous magnesium relieved headache symptoms in 15 minutes in 80% of recipients.29 Other studies have since corroborated magnesium’s beneficial effect on migraine headaches, including a trial in children, in which oral supplementation with magnesium oxide reduced the frequency and severity of migraine.30
  • Magnesium may improve exercise performance. Extensive research in athletes has found that intensive exercise triggers magnesium loss through urinary excretion and perspiration. When magnesium is low, supplementation enhances exercise performance by reducing lactate blood levels (indicating brief, strength-based anaerobic muscle activity), decreasing oxygen requirements, and increasing muscle strength.31,32
  • Magnesium may benefit many other conditions. Other conditions in which magnesium is believed to exert positive effects include fibromyalgia,33 asthma (acute episodes have been treated successfully with both intravenous and aerosolized magnesium),34 prevention of osteoporosis,35 and premenstrual syndrome.36
Can you correct metabolic syndrome and its complications—such as insulin resistance and high blood pressure—without replacing magnesium? Of course you can, just as you can operate your car without changing the oil. However, magnesium deficiency will catch up with you, and consuming this basic supplement will help you to more easily achieve your health goals.

Strategies for Optimizing Your Magnesium Intake

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, nearly all of us fail to achieve even the modest magnesium RDAs of 420 mg for adult males and 320 mg for adult females. Most American adults ingest about 270 mg of magnesium a day, well below the RDA and enough to generate a substantial cumulative deficiency over months and years.37
The magnesium RDA refers to elemental magnesium, defined as the amount of magnesium regardless of its source or form. Magnesium is generally available as various “salts” (not to be confused with table salt), and the amount of elemental magnesium contained in each varies depending on the salt. For example, the amount of magnesium in magnesium oxide is 60%; in magnesium carbonate, 45%; in magnesium citrate, 16%; and in magnesium chloride, 12%.38 Thus, magnesium oxide supplements tend to contain more elemental magnesium per pill than do magnesium citrate supplements.
Magnesium salts differ in absorption. Magnesium oxide, though inexpensive and widely available, is thought to be relatively less absorbed than the citrate and chloride forms.39-41
You can also increase your magnesium intake by choosing foods rich in magnesium, which are listed in the table below.42
Foods rich in magnesium (magnesium content in mg)
Almonds (1 oz; 24 nuts) 78Oatmeal (1 cup, cooked) 56
Artichokes (1 cup) 101Pumpkin seeds (1 oz; 142 seeds) 151
Barley (1 cup, raw) 158Rice, brown (1 cup, cooked) 84
Beans, black (1 cup, cooked) 120Soybeans (1 cup, cooked)148
Beans, lima (1 cup, cooked) 101Spinach (1 cup, cooked) 163
Brazil nuts (1 oz; 6-8 nuts)107Trail mix (1 cup) 235
Halibut (1/2 filet) 170Walnuts (1 oz; 14 halves) 45
Filberts, hazelnuts (1 oz) 46Wheat flour, whole grain (1 cup) 166
Oat bran (1 cup, raw) 221Source: USDA National Nutrient database for Standard Reference, Release17

Dietary Sources of Magnesium

Nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and oat bran are particularly rich and healthy sources of magnesium.
Another strategy for boosting magnesium intake is to supplement your diet with the soluble fiber known as inulin. Like other soluble fibers, inulin may exert modest cholesterol- and triglyceride-reducing effects. However, it also enhances magnesium absorption in the intestine.43 Inulin can be taken as a supplement, and is contained in some foods (for example, the Stonyfield Farms brand of yogurt). Inulin can help increase satiety (the sense of fullness you get with eating), resulting in decreased calorie intake throughout the day.44 Inulin thus holds promise in supporting efforts to lose weight.45
One more important way to optimize your magnesium intake is to choose water that is rich in magnesium. Unfortunately, in the US, this is easier said than done. The FDA regulates bottled water and mandates that the only additives permitted are fluoride and antimicrobials to deter bacterial growth. Magnesium cannot therefore be added to water labeled spring water or mineral water.
Magnesium Content of Mineral Waters
The following waters contain far more than the usual amounts of magnesium. Some, like Apollinaris and Pellegrino, are widely available in American grocery stores, while others are found only in upscale groceries or through websites of the water producers.
Mineral WaterMagnesium Content
Original Fountain of Youth Mineral Water (Florida) 609 mg/L
Apollinaris (Germany) (410 mg/L of sodium)130 mg/L
Adobe Springs (California and other western states) 110 mg/L
Badoit (France)85 mg/L
Colfax (Iowa)91 mg/L
Deep Rock (Colorado) 60 mg/L
Evian 24 mg/L
Gerolsteiner (Germany)108 mg/L
Noah’s California Spring Water 110 mg/L
Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water (Italy) (43.6 mg/L of sodium) 55.9 mg/L
Manitou Mineral Water (Colorado) 43 mg/L
Rosbacher 93 mg/L
St. Gero109.4 mg/L
Both Apollinaris and Pellegrino contain more sodium than most other waters, and therefore should be avoided by those who are limiting their sodium intake due to existing hypertension, fluid retention, or kidney disease.
Magnesium-rich mineral waters are not easy to find, but they are out there. By FDA definition, mineral waters must contain at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids. Not all mineral water contains significant quantities of magnesium. For example, Napa Valley’s Calistoga Springs, labeled as “mineral water,” contains 0.61–0.96 mg/L of magnesium, or virtually none.
Magnesium Dosage Guidelines
  • The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 420 mg a day for adult men and 320 mg a day for adult women.46 Most people fail to achieve the RDA, which may lead to magnesium deficiency.37
  • The most common adverse reaction from the use of magnesium supplements is diarrhea. Other gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea and abdominal cramping. Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms are less likely to occur if magnesium supplements are taken with food.46
  • Magnesium supplements are contraindicated in those with kidney failure. Those with myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disorder that results in progressive skeletal muscle weakness) should avoid magnesium supplements.46
To determine the amount of magnesium contained in bottled water labeled “mineral water” but not listed above, go to the bottler’s website to determine the water’s composition.
With the exception of Florida’s Original Fountain of Youth Mineral Water, drinking an entire liter of many so-called mineral waters provides only a modest amount of magnesium. Thus, for instance, if you are currently ingesting around 250 mg a day of magnesium from your diet, drinking a liter of Gerolsteiner a day (supplying 108 mg/L of magnesium) will increase your magnesium consumption only to about 350 mg per day. However, by adding a magnesium supplement that provides as little as 100 mg of elemental magnesium, you will have more than achieved the RDA for an adult male. Since many mineral waters are expensive (around $2-3 per liter), magnesium supplements are a far less costly way to optimize your magnesium intake.


The intensification of municipal water treatment has resulted in a growing epidemic of magnesium deficiency, with most Americans failing even to achieve the modest levels set by the government-recommended RDA. Most of us have daily deficiencies in magnesium intake of only 70-200 mg a day.
The consequences of magnesium deficiency can be dramatic, including poor insulin response, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, and abnormal and even dangerous heart rhythms.
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy choices—foods rich in magnesium, low-cost magnesium supplements, and waters rich in magnesium—that can you help reach or exceed the magnesium RDA and attain the numerous health benefits conferred by optimal magnesium intake.
Dr. William Davis is an author and cardiologist practicing in Milwaukee, WI. He is founder of the Track Your Plaque program, a heart disease prevention and reversal program that shows how CT heart scans can be used to track and control coronary plaque. He can be reached at
The Basics of Water and Water Purification
While the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the quality of tap water, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating bottled water. In 1995, the FDA issued its most recent regulations classifying various waters:
  • Artesian well water is water that naturally flows upward from an underground aquifer to a well, without the need for pumping.
  • Mineral water is water from an underground source that contains at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved solids consisting of minerals and trace elements. Mineral content of 250-500 ppm is often called “low mineral content” or “light mineral water,” while content of 1500 ppm or greater is “high mineral content.” (In Europe, spring waters with dissolved solids equal to or less than 500 mg/L are considered “mineral with low mineral content” or simply “mineral water.”) Minerals and trace elements cannot be added artificially to water labeled as mineral.
  • Spring water, like artesian well water, comes from an underground source but flows naturally to the earth’s surface. It cannot come from a public or municipal source. Spring water must be collected directly at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground source. Mineral content is less than 250 ppm and cannot be added after collection.
  • Well water is water from a hole bored or drilled into the ground, which taps into an aquifer and is drawn to the surface using a pump. Many homes in the US that do not have access to municipal water use well water.
To make matters even more complicated, any water—regardless of the source—can be treated or filtered. This is usually done to modify its taste or to remove undesirable ingredients. Methods of treatment are defined as:
  • Distillation. Water is vaporized and collected, leaving behind any solid residues, including minerals. Distilled water contains no minerals whatsoever.
  • Reverse osmosis. In this common water-purifying process, water is forced through membranes to remove minerals in the water.
  • Deionization. Also called demineralization or ion exchange, this process uses synthetic resins to remove ions and minerals from water. This is very effective at removing ionized impurities, but does not remove organic, bacterial, pathogenic, or particulate matter efficiently. Deionized water contains no magnesium.
  • Absolute 1 micron filtration. Water is passed through filters that remove particles larger than 1 micron in size, including Cryptosporidium, a parasite that causes intestinal infestation. This process does not affect the water’s mineral content.
  • Ozonation. Many bottled water companies use this process instead of chlorine to rid water of bacteria. Ozonation does not affect the mineral content of water.
Many bottled waters are simply tap water processed using one or more of the above processes of distillation, reverse osmosis, deionization, or filtration. This leaves the water virtually devoid of both nutrients and contaminants. Of the 700 or so brands of bottled water available in the US, 80% are processed water. Many experts say that treated water like this is virtually identical to that produced by home water purifiers. The appeal of these waters is therefore a reduction in impurities like lead and pesticide residues, or better taste—but not enhanced mineral content. Bottled processed waters contain little or no magnesium.
It should also be noted that unlike tap water, purified waters and water purifiers reduce or eliminate the fluoride that is added by many municipal treatment facilities to promote dental health. Although the FDA permits producers to add it back to purified water, few actually do.
Waters derived from natural sources like artesian well water, well water, mineral water, and spring water are generally slightly richer in mineral content than are processed and tap waters. However, the difference is small. Nearly all American bottled waters obtained from natural sources—whether artesian, well, spring, or mineral waters—contain less than 6 ppm of magnesium, a trivial amount.
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4. Touyz RM. Magnesium in clinical medicine. Front Biosci. 2004 May 1;9:1278-93.
5. Liebscher DH, Liebscher DE. About the misdiagnosis of magnesium deficiency. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6):730S-1S.
6. Durlach J, Bac P, Durlach V, et al. Magnesium status and ageing: an update. Magnes Res. 1998 Mar;11(1):25-42.
7. Eisenberg MJ. Magnesium deficiency and sudden death. Am Heart J. 1992 Aug;124(2):544-9.
8. Dacey MJ. Hypomagnesemic disorders. Crit Care Clin. 2001 Jan;17(1):155-73, viii.
9. Eisenberg MJ. Magnesium deficiency and cardiac arrhythmias. NY State J Med. 1986 Mar;86(3):133-6.
10. Purvis JR, Movahed A. Magnesium disorders and cardiovascular diseases. Clin Cardiol. 1992 Aug;15(8):556-68.
11. Smetana R, Stuhlinger HG, Kiss K, Glogar DH. Intravenous magnesium sulphate in acute myocardial infarction—is the answer “MAGIC”? Magnes Res. 2003 Mar;16(1):65-9.
12. Kousa A, Havulinna AS, Moltchanova E, et al. Calcium:magnesium ratio in local groundwater and incidence of acute myocardial infarction among males in rural Finland. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 May;114(5):730-4.
13. Anderson TW, Le Riche WH, MacKay JS. Sudden death and ischemic heart disease. Correlation with hardness of local water supply. N Engl J Med. 1969 Apr 10;280(15):805-7.
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15. Laires MJ, Monteiro CP, Bicho M. Role of cellular magnesium in health and human disease. Front Biosci. 2004 Jan 1;9:262-76.
16. Berkelhammer C, Bear RA. A clinical approach to common electrolyte problems: 4. Hypomagnesemia. Can Med Assoc J. 1985 Feb 15;132(4):360-8.
17. Roffe C, Sills S, Crome P, Jones P. Randomised, cross-over, placebo controlled trial of magnesium citrate in the treatment of chronic persistent leg cramps. Med Sci Monit. 2002 May;8(5):CR326-30.
18. Bilbey DL, Prabhakaran VM. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Can Fam Physician. 1996 Jul;42:1348-51.
19. Bussone G. Pathophysiology of migraine. Neurol Sci. 2004 Oct;25 Suppl 3S239-41.
20. He K, Liu K, Daviglus ML, et al. Magnesium intake and incidence of metabolic syndrome among young adults. Circulation. 2006 Apr 4;113(13):1675-82.
21. Guerrero-Romero F, Tamez-Perez HE, Gonzalez-Gonzalez G et al. Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Diabetes Metab. 2004 Jun;30(3):253-8.
22. Rodriguez-Moran M and Guerrero-Romero F. Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr;26(4):1147-52.
23. Yokota K, Kato M, Lister F, et al. Clinical efficacy of magnesium supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):506S-9S.
24. Rasmussen HS, Aurup P, Goldstein K, et al. Influence of magnesium substitution therapy on blood lipid composition in patients with ischemic heart disease. A double-blind, placebo controlled study. Arch Intern Med. 1989 May;149(5):1050-3.
25. Piotrowski AA, Kalus JS. Magnesium for the treatment and prevention of atrial tachyarrhythmias. Pharmacotherapy. 2004 Jul;24(7):879-95.
26. Sontia B, Touyz RM. Role of magnesium in hypertension. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2006 May 24.
27. Jee SH, Miller ER, III, Guallar E, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Hypertens. 2002 Aug;15(8):691-6.
28. Gallai V, Sarchielli P, Morucci P, Abbritti G. Magnesium content of mononuclear blood cells in migraine patients. Headache. 1994 Mar;34(3):160-5.
29. Mauskop A, Altura BT, Cracco RQ, Altura BM. Intravenous magnesium sulfate rapidly alleviates headaches of various types. Headache. 1996 Mar;36(3):154-60.
30. Wang F, Van Den Eeden SK, Ackerson LM, et al. Oral magnesium oxide prophylaxis of frequent migrainous headache in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Headache. 2003 Jun;43(6):601-10.
31. Lukaski HC. Magnesium, zinc, and chromium nutrition and athletic performance. Can J Appl Physiol. 2001;26 SupplS13-S22.
32. Cinar V, Nizamlioglu M, Mogulkoc R. The effect of magnesium supplementation on lactate levels of sportsmen and sedanter. Acta Physiol Hung. 2006 Jun;93(2-3):137-44.
33. Sarac AJ, Gur A. Complementary and alternative medical therapies in fibromyalgia. Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(1):47-57.
34. Blitz M, Blitz S, Hughes R, et al. Aerosolized magnesium sulfate for acute asthma: a systematic review. Chest. 2005 Jul;128(1):337-44.
35. Rude RK, Gruber HE. Magnesium deficiency and osteoporosis: animal and human observations. J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Dec;15(12):710-6.
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39. Firoz M, Graber M. Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations. Magnes Res. 2001 Dec;14(4):257-62.
40. Coudray C, Rambeau M, Feillet-Coudray C, et al. Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg-depleted rats using a stable isotope approach. Magnes Res. 2005 Dec;18(4):215-23.
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43. Roberfroid MB. Introducing inulin-type fructans. Br J Nutr. 2005 Apr; 93 Suppl 1S13-S25.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Think Fat-Free Milk is Healthy? 6 Secrets You Don’t Know About Skim

Reposted from Butter Believer

Fat-free skim milk is the quintessential staple of any health-conscious home in America. You’re supposed to drink skim because whole milk has too much fat, too many calories, and cholesterol that can give you heart disease. Right?
In case you’ve been led to believe these lies, I’ve got a few things I’d like you to know about the darling of the dairy industry, skim milk.

1. It was designed to profit off of you, not make you healthy.

People haven’t always bought into the idea that fat is unhealthy. It all started with a flawed theory by a really bad scientist who said that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Which is pretty weird, considering no one had heart attacks around the turn of the century when everyone was still eating pounds of butter and cream every week.
Somehow, by the time World War II rolled around, we were all convinced that fat was the enemy, anyway. Butter was replaced with cheap margarine made from toxic industrial oils, and creamy, full-fat milk was dumped in favor of skim.
Dairy manufacturers were thrilled with this new trend, however, because what was once an industrial waste product had quickly become a highly-desirable “health food.” When cream was skimmed from milk, the remaining fat-free milk used to be considered a nearly useless byproduct of obtaining the cream. But, market that wasteful skim milk as being a healthful choice for consumers, and suddenly, you’ve got a serious money-maker on your hands! Now, the agribusiness giants running the dairy industry are able to profit off of both products, and don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.

2. It’s got a mystery ingredient they’re not telling you about.

Before processing, skim milk has a very unappetizing blueish color, a chalky taste, and watery texture that doesn’t resemble natural milk at all. So, to whiten, thicken, and make it taste a little more normal, powdered milk solids are often mixed into the milk.
What’s so bad about powdered milk? Well, in the manufacturing process, liquid milk is forced through tiny holes at very high pressure, which causes the cholesterol in the milk to oxidize, and toxic nitrates to form. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, while unoxidized cholesterol from unprocessed foods is actually an antioxidant to help fight inflammation in the body. The proteins found in powdered milk are so denatured that they are unrecognizable by the body and contribute to inflammation.
Shockingly, dairy manufacturers are not required by the FDA to label the powdered milk as a separate ingredient, because it’s still technically just “milk,” the single ingredient found on the list. So, there’s no way to be sure that it is or isn’t in your fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

3. It contains antibiotics, nasty bodily fluids, and GMOs

Water downstream of a factory farm in Idaho, where animals are generally knee-deep in their own waste.
The skim milk you’ll find in most grocery stores is a mass-produced product from animals in concentrated animal feeding operations, or factory farms, where the cows are kept in confinement and fed a diet that is completely inappropriate for their species. Because cows are designed to eat grass, when they are fed a diet consisting primarily of corn, as they are in factory farms, they get sick.
And because they get sick, they’re often given antibiotics to keep them alive so they can continue to produce. But because they’re still fighting off infections, things like blood and pus from open sores frequently make their way into the finished product — the milk we see on store shelves. The FDA allows up to 750 million pus cells per liter of milk, to be sold legally.
Also legal, are the injections of recombinant bovine growth hormones, or rBGH, a known carcinogen banned in virtually every industrialized nation in the world, except the United States. The “recombinant” part of the growth hormone means that it was genetically modified from the cow’s natural growth hormones to stimulate increased milk production.

4. It provides almost no nutritional value.

Real milk really does do a body good. It has many valuable nutrients in it. In addition to vital minerals like calcium, milk provides vitamins D, A, E, and K.
Well, skim milk actually has no vitamin K because it’s concentrated in the butterfat of the milk. And as for the others? They are fat-soluble vitamins. So even if you were to get a little bit of them in from drinking your fat-free milk, you won’t actually be able to absorb and assimilate them into your body. Unless, maybe, you paired your glass of skim with a nice heaping spread of butter over toast or something!
But, if you’re not getting milk from a farm that raises cows on green pastures instead of in concentrated animal-feeding factories, your milk won’t have very much of those essential fat-soluble vitamins. Cows get their vitamin E, A, and K from the nutrients they eat in grass, and vitamin D from cruising around in the sunlight all day. Also, because confinement dairy cows are bred for unnaturally-high levels of milk production, the vitamin content of the milk is severely diluted, as the cow only transfers a set amount of vitamins to her milk supply.
As for the rest of the nutrition in skim milk from factory farms? Well, it does provide a bit of denatured (and therefore, potentially quite harmful) protein, thanks to high-heat pasteurization. But no beneficial enzymes and probiotic microflora — those are all killed off in the pasteurization process — which aid in digestion.
And then of course, some chemically-synthesized vitamin D is usually added since confinement cows are severely lacking in it. Except the kind that humans and animals are able to assimilate from exposure to the sun, vitamin D3, isn’t at all the same as the manufactured D they dump into skim milk — synthetic vitamin D2. A study referenced by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that synthetic vitamin D2 “should no longer be regarded as a nutrient appropriate for supplementation or fortification of foods,” because of how basically worthless it is to your body.

5. It won’t make or keep you skinny.

Farmers knew well before skim milk was marketed as a waistline-slimming health food what it really is good for — fattening you up! Skim milk has traditionally been fed to pigs to help them bulk up for slaughter. They of course would save the good part, the cream, for human consumption.
Today, our school children who have been guinea pigs of the misguided nutritional advice to drink fat-free milk instead of whole milk, certainly aren’t any thinner for it. Researchers at the Harvard medical school found that, contrary to their hypothesis, “skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, but dairy fat was not,” in a study in which thousands of children’s milk drinking habits were surveyed.
Adults aren’t faring much better with swapping whole milk for skim. Studies have showed time and time again that a reduced-fat diet, similarly to a reduced-calorie diet, does not result in long-term weight loss and health, but instead leads only to “transient” weight loss — that would be weight that comes piling right back on after it’s temporarily shed. This is because healthy fats actually curb your appetite and trigger the production of hormones which tell the brain when you’re full. If you’re not eating fat, you stay constantly hungry, and wind up binging on unhealthy food. Fat-free milk essentially signals to your body that something is missing, which leads to overeating and weight gain.

6. It won’t help you avoid heart disease

Fat-free milk is supposed to be “heart healthy” because it lacks the saturated fat and cholesterol that whole milk contains.
It really boggles my mind how prevalent the completely de-bunked theory still is that heart disease is caused by the intake of saturated fat. One guy makes up a totally bogus “scientific” study that points to countries with a high-fat diet having high rates of heart disease, while leaving out all the countries of people eating tons of fat and having almost zero heart disease. And somehow, seventy years later, we’re still singing his praises and demonizing saturated fat and cholesterol?
Think about it. Were our ancestors eating fat-free sour cream, cholesterol-free “buttery spreads” or skim milk? Of course not. Dairy had always been consumed in its whole, full-fat form before the industrialization of foods began. And no one had heart disease. The field of medical cardiology didn’t even exist until the advent of industrial seed oils packed with toxic polyunsaturated fat.
When you look at basic history, or even modern trends of disease in the last century, as intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol have decreased, heart disease has been steadily skyrocketing. So, why is this myth that saturated fat and cholesterol are causing it, still being perpetuated? It doesn’t make any logical sense.
Could it be because 25% of the adult population is taking expensive statin medications that make players in the medical and pharmaceutical industries a whole lot of money? Or that the processed food industry doesn’t want you to know just how much more they profit off of foods produced with cheap, shelf-stable industrial oils, as opposed to real, saturated fat?
Heart disease is in no way caused by dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. It just isn’t. Even heart surgeons are starting to speak out on the fact that “the science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent.” Do we really need more proof?

What kind of milk is healthy?

There’s no reason to ever buy fat-free milk or fat-free dairy products, or even low-fat ones, if for no other reason than there’s no need to avoid the dietary fat found in milk — saturated fat, which is essential to health. Most skim milk is a highly processed food that is usually born of a factory, not a farm, and is not a healthy choice at all.
The best choice is fresh, clean milk from happy cows grazing on the grass of a real farm. Just the way it came from the cow — whole, unprocessed, and with all its nutrients intact. Including the fat.
You can find real, whole milk from a farm near you in most states, on the directory listed here on my resources page.

What about you? Were you ever convinced that skim milk is healthy?

Have you since changed your mind? Tell us about it in the comments below.

American Journal of Clinical Nutriton
Harvard School of Public Health
Organic Consumers Association
“Heart Surgeon Speaks Out on what Really Causes Heart Disease,”
“The Skinny on Fats” Dr. Mary Enig, Ph.D
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Overlooked Role of Probiotics In Human Health

Reposted from Life Extension

By Joyce Killian
The Overlooked Role of Probiotics in Human Health
Probiotics have formed a vital part of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets for thousands of years, in the form of fermented milk and vegetable products such as yogurt and pickles.1,2 They are credited, in part, for the relatively low rates of chronic, age-related diseases that prevail in those regions.2
Now, research is catching up with this traditional wisdom in the form of accelerated scientific investigations into the broad spectrum health benefits of probiotics. This new science, known as pharmabiotics, uses probiotic organisms as natural pharmaceutical agents in the treatment and prevention of disease along with promoting longevity. Pharmabiotics provides an almost limitless source of biologically active materials which can influence human health.3

What is Pharmabiotics?

The science of pharmabiotics is based on an explosion of data about the so-called human microbiome, which is made up of the trillions of bacteria that live in our bodies. These bacteria are so intimately involved with our lives and health that they are considered a part of the human organism.4,5,6 With advancing technology, scientists are now able to select specific strains of organisms to accomplish precise tasks.7

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial organisms, most of which are normally found in the healthy human gastrointestinal tract. Many different strains of probiotic organisms are in use, which have different but overlapping benefits. Probiotic organisms work through several interrelated mechanisms to promote health at the molecular level.8 They conquer potentially dangerous organisms in the intestine, reducing the risk of infection or toxin-mediated diseases. They regulate immune responses which enhance healthy reactions to dangerous infectious organisms, and they suppress excessive inflammation. Additionally, probiotics promote the function of the intestinal inner lining, enhancing its ability to act as a barrier to the entry of potentially dangerous organisms and chemicals.9-12
All of these actions depend on a system of biochemical signals between your intestinal bacteria and the human cells that comprise the rest of your body (See sidebar).8,13
When things go wrong in the balance of intestinal organisms, the consequences can be tremendous.3 Negative changes in the intestinal microbiome are firmly associated with chronic diseases that include inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and the metabolic syndrome.5,15,16 We now recognize that allergic disorders, asthma, and even obesity are also related to an unhealthy population of intestinal bacteria.5,11
Due to modern diets and lifestyle, as well as environmental factors such as pollution and the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics, the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome is at risk which can lead to an increased incidence in metabolic and inflammatory chronic diseases.6 Even simple aging gradually shifts your intestinal bacterial population towards a disease-promoting, rather than a disease-preventing, state.17-21
The good news is that probiotics can help restore balance and cellular communications with regard to the body’s healthy bacterial population.5 In the digestive tract, probiotic therapy has been used to prevent or treat lactose intolerance, intestinal infections and diarrhea, gastritis and ulcers caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, colitis caused by excessive antibiotic use, inflammatory bowel diseases, and irritable bowel syndrome.10,22-26 They are also proving instrumental in preventing colon cancer.22,27-30
Intestinal Bacteria Modulate Key Signaling Systems With Your Body
Intestinal Bacteria Modulate Key Signaling Systems With Your Body
The lining of your gastrointestinal tract is the largest interface between your body and the external environment — it has even more surface area than your skin.14 At that interface your body has three types of chemical detectors: nerve cells, endocrine cells, and immune cells. Signals from those detectors affect tissues and organs throughout your body.
Those detector systems are more extensive than those of any other organ: there are nearly a billion neurons in the intestinal nervous system, the intestinal endocrine system uses more than 20 identified hormones, and the gut immune system contains 70 to 80% of the body’s immune cells.14
All of those detectors are profoundly influenced by the composition of your intestinal microbial population. When you use probiotics to maintain or restore a healthy balance in your intestinal tract, you are directly and indirectly promoting health in many of your body’s most vital systems.
All of those benefits within the intestine might be expected. But probiotics also have profound beneficial effects throughout the body, especially on metabolic and inflammatory conditions.15
Overweight people have lower levels of beneficial bacteria than do slender people, and chronic exposure to unhealthy bacterial cell walls can trigger system-wide inflammation.31-33 Together these effects contribute to development of the metabolic syndrome, with its pathological disturbances in lipid and glucose metabolism.31,34
Probiotics can favorably alter the composition and activities of the intestinal bacterial community, potentially reversing major contributors to chronic disease.35
Studies show that probiotics can improve hypertension, lower total and LDL-cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity, all components of the human metabolic syndrome.36-38 Human and animal studies show that probiotics also attenuate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) due to obesity and a high-fat diet.35,39-43 Probiotics may also have a major role in preventing cancers outside of the gastrointestinal tract, by several different mechanisms. Probiotic organisms can bind to potential carcinogens, promoting their excretion.44 They also suppress growth of bacteria that convert harmless procarcinogen molecules into carcinogens.44,45 Finally, probiotics stimulate expression of liver enzymes that detoxify carcinogens, while down-regulating those that convert harmless molecules into carcinogens.44 Together these effects have been shown to reduce the risk, incidence, and number of tumors in the colon, liver, and bladder.44
Probiotics also modulate your immune system, an effect that has impact not only on cancer but also on your overall health status, as we’ll now see.

Probiotics Boost Immunity

In recent years the enormous importance of the gastrointestinal tract in modulating the immune system has been increasingly recognized. Not only does more than 70% of the human immune system reside in the gut, but the intestinal immune system produces more antibodies than the rest of the body put together.46 As a result, gastrointestinal secretions are as rich as breast milk in health-supporting and disease-preventing factors.47
A poorly functioning immune system is at the root of many chronic degenerative diseases. Too little response makes us vulnerable to the infections that claim the lives of so many older adults. But inappropriate overactivation can produce chronic inflammation that contributes to the litany of age-related disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and the metabolic syndrome.
The Role of Probiotics
The Role of Probiotics
Bifidobacteria are used as a probiotic to improve intestinal flora balance, inhibit harmful bacteria, promote good digestion, boost immune function, and increase resistance to infection.
  • Your intestinal organisms form an integral part of who you are (there are 10 times as many of their cells as there are of yours).
  • Beneficial members of your intestinal bacterial community promote critical cellular signaling that influences the health of your intestine and your whole body.
  • Aging, lifestyle, and environmental influences threaten to perturb the balance of your intestinal organisms, leaving you vulnerable to immune disturbances and chronic, age-related conditions.
  • You can strengthen your intestinal organisms by supplementing with probiotics, cultures of beneficial organisms that exert multiple favorable effects.
  • Bifidobacteria in particular have been shown to protect humans against inflammation, infection, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
  • A clinically validated strain of bifidobacteria, BB536, arrives in the colon largely intact and ready to boost your intestinal microbial population.
  • BB536 has demonstrated potent immune modulatory effects, reducing inflammation while protecting against infections and promoting cardiovascular health.
Probiotics can restore and rebalance your gut microbiome, strengthening its ability to interact with your immune system in many ways.5 These friendly bacteria stimulate healthy immune surveillance, boosting populations of cells that seek out and destroy infecting organisms and cancers.25,45,48 They upregulate inflammatory cytokines during the acute stage of an infection, cancer, or other threat to your body’s integrity, but they also contribute to suppression of the inflammatory response as the threat fades.45,49
Bifidobacteria — Powerful Probiotic Protection
Bifidobacteria are one of the most popular and best-studied probiotic organisms. The bifidobacteria are a large group of normal intestinal organisms with a host of overlapping benefits.
Bifidobacteria probiotics have long been used as dietary supplements in Japan, to achieve and maintain high levels of healthy bifidobacteria in the colon. Breastfed infants develop a simple microbial population dominated by bifidobacteria, helping the growing child to fend off multiple challenges to the immune system.50 As we age, the numbers of bifidobacteria in our intestines drop, while less beneficial and more harmful organisms multiply. Experts now recommend high bifidobacteria levels at all ages.50 Supplementing with bifidobacteria produces a wide range of health benefits. Bifidobacteria supplements are shown to raise protective HDL cholesterol levels in humans and animals, and lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.37,51-53 The corresponding reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol represents an important reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
Bifidobacteria supplementation also suppressed inflammatory cytokine production by the intestines of elderly volunteers, reducing the burden of inflammation that contributes to cardiovascular, cancer, and metabolic disease risk, and thereby early death.54 Intriguingly, animal studies demonstrated a significant increase in longevity in supplemented mice.55 Similar studies in humans are eagerly awaited, offering as they do a means for selecting specific probioticsto prolong human lifespans.56
The most prominent effects of bifidobacteria supplementation are on the health of the intestinal tract itself. Supplementation reduced episodes of acute diarrhea by 34%, and those of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (a major cause of illness and death in older people) by 52%, while reducing traveler’s diarrhea episodes by 8%.57 Bifidobacteria supplementation for two weeks also shows promise in improving diarrheal illness in people with lactose intolerance.58
People with irritable bowel syndrome suffer from alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, often suffering painful abdominal bloating and gas production. Bifidobacteria supplementation produced a significant reduction in abdominal distension and improved symptom scores along with faster bowel transit times (which reduces cancer risk).59,60
Many people have frequent minor digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, and periodic constipation, all of which, while not dangerous, appreciably reduce comfort and quality of life. Several recent studies demonstrate significant improvements in measures of gastrointestinal wellbeing, decreases in digestive symptom scores and bloating, and increases in health related quality of life during bifidobacteria supplementation.61,62
The much more dangerous inflammatory bowel diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the source of untold misery and a major risk for colon cancer. Because of their ability to fight inflammation, bifidobacteria supplements have received special attention in managing these conditions.26
Bifidobacteria supplements enhance the “tight junctions” between intestinal cells that allow leakage of dangerous organisms and their products into the bloodstream in ulcerative colitis.63 They also alter the intestinal environment, making it unfavorable for organisms that trigger episodes of colitis.64 Clinical studies show marked improvements in symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases with bifidobacteria supplements.65-67
Bowel inflammation is a major risk for colon cancer, the third most common cancer in the world. Bifidobacteria supplementation lowers levels of a number of biological markers of colon cancer risk in patients with colitis.68 It also blocks development of new tumors in an animal model of toxin-induced colon cancer.28 More definitive human studies remain to be conducted, but indications are bright for bifidobacteria as potent cancer-preventing pharmabiotic agents.
BB536® Strain of Bifidobacteria Confers Special Benefits
BB536® Strain of Bifidobacteria Confers Special Benefits
There are many strains of beneficial bifidobacteria, all of which have related, overlapping benefits. One challenge to development of effective supplements has been to keep cultures of the organism stable, and to deliver them alive to the colon after surviving the extreme conditions of the stomach and small intestine.69
A strain of bifidobacteria, called BB536®, appears to meet that challenge, and to have unique benefits throughout the body.
The BB536® strain of bifidobacterium logum has been shown to increase the numbers of bifidobacteria living in the colon.69,70 That increase allows BB536® cultures to produce marked effects on intestinal, and whole body, immune responses, with potentially far-reaching impact.
BB536® has been most extensively studied in Japan, where subjects with reactions to cedar pollen experience typical allergic symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. This condition, Japanese cedar polinosis, is far from deadly, but offers insight into the ability of BB536® to modulate immune responses by multiple pathways.
This strain BB536® reduces production of the special antibody, IgE, which is produced in response to allergens, parasitic infections, and certain other common human conditions.71 BB536® also suppress cellular immune responses that contribute to allergic symptoms and inflammation.72 Finally, BB536® reduces production of inflammatory cytokines that closely correlate with symptom development.73,74
Human studies with BB536® repeatedly demonstrate its ability to alleviate allergic symptoms of Japanese cedar polinosis, with decreases in runny nose, nasal congestion, eye symptoms, and composite symptom scores.75,76
While BB536® suppresses overactive immune responses in allergic patients, exciting new studies are showing that it can enhance the immune response to infections.
In older adults, BB536® reduced the incidence of influenza infection and fever in one at-risk population, compared with placebo recipients.77 Flu symptoms and death from influenza are largely caused by excessive inflammatory responses. An example of excess inflammatory response is pneumonia that can be induced by influenza viruses. These excessive inflammatory responses were reduced in animals exposed to influenza virus that were supplemented with BB536®.78
Studies show that BB536® can prevent infection with the deadly Pseudomonas organism in mice with weakened immune systems.79 And humans who supplemented with BB536® showed a reduction in numbers of a dangerous strain of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis in their intestines.80
BB536® may also reduce cardiovascular risk factors, though data are preliminary to date. Supplements were effective at lowering plasma LDL cholesterol in women with elevated lipid levels in an early trial.81
Age and the modern environment pose grave threats to the balance of favorable organisms in your intestine indicating a benefit to those who supplement with healthy probiotic cultures. The bifidobacteria are an especially active group of probiotic organisms, with beneficial effects on the immune system and chronic disease.
A clinically-validated strain of bifidobacteria, BB536®, shows great promise in overcoming challenges to stability, storage, and delivery of this probiotic species. BB536® exerts powerful immune modulatory, infection-preventing, and cardiovascular health-promoting activities.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
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What If The Sun Doesn't Cause Skin Cancer

Reposted from Nourishing Our Children

Article by guest author, C. Andi Locke Mears.

Summer is fast approaching. It is a time when I see fear rampant on the beach in the form of slathering chemicals on our children’s skin or covering them from head to toe. We don’t want them to get cancer from the sun, do we?? So we do our due diligence and cover ourselves and our children with whatever our conscience allows.
But what if the sun really doesn’t cause skin cancer?
Oh, I know we’ve been told for years that the depletion of the ozone layer decreases our atmosphere’s natural protection from the sun’s supposedly “harmful” ultraviolet (UV) rays.
We’ve been told that these rays damage the skin’s cellular DNA which then produce genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. And of course the US Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization both have identified UV light as a proven human carcinogen. The CDC even tells us a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of getting skin cancer. Pretty scary stuff, huh? No wonder we cover ourselves and our children with chemicals or clothing – we’d be a fool not to!
I, too, used to believe this until I learned German New Medicine and learned that the sun doesn’t cause cancer.
GNM is a new science of medicine based on Five Biological Laws discovered by Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer over 35 years ago. The Five Biological laws explain the cause, the development, and the natural healing of “diseases” in all living beings 100% of the time. Sandrine’s note: For further reading, please see A New View of Cancer — German New Medicine posted by Dr. Mercola.
GNM allows us to see symptoms and diseases in a different light. It teaches us that cancer is not caused by malfunctions or malignancies but is instead a natural biological program that assists an individual during unexpected emotional distress.
GNM correctly links our psyche, brain, and organ – a true mind/body science that is verifiable in brain CT scans. A whole new world opened for me when I learned GNM. I had to adjust how and when I used each modality in my wellness center from herbs to homeopathy to nutrition, colon hydrotherapy and detoxing. I found I was able to assist clients with much greater success because I knew what was occurring in their body, why it was occurring, and what to do to help it. And I teach it to every client so they, too, can understand their bodies better and get out of fear.
So, if the sun doesn’t cause what is known as “skin cancer,” then what does? According to GNM, it is caused by what our psyche perceives as an “attack” against the skin, which, incidentally, can include a sunburn.
It is also caused by:
  • a figurative attack,
  • a verbal attack,
  • an attack against your integrity (such as when your boss insinuates you stole from the company when you didn’t, or, if you’re a child, your older sibling mercilessly teases you because you get straight A’s in school),
  • feeling disfigured (especially from something that occurred to the skin such as a surgical scar), or
  • feeling soiled such as when the skin comes into contact with something we perceive is disgusting, filthy or repellent.
We are hardwired for survival and Dr. Hamer discovered our brain is the conductor of the entire orchestra of cells, organs, hormones, tissues, etc. Thus, when any of these “attacks” occur, our brain instantly sends out the signal to our skin to grow extra cells at the site of the “attack” for the sole purpose of protection. There is no blame here nor are we a victim – our brain is simply taking care of us. With GNM, we now have the knowledge that enables us to understand bodies and support them much more effectively.
When we’re no longer feeling attacked and we’ve resolved the issue, very specific microbes are “turned on” with the sole purpose of breaking down the extra cells. The extra cells will change color, size and texture during what we call a “healing phase.” This is a normal and natural process yet unfortunately is often deemed as malignant and dangerous. There’s that fear again.
And, incidentally, if you’ve ever had acne, you’ve already experienced a lesser “attack” issue.
What this means is that when we receive a diagnosis of “skin cancer,” we’re already in a healing phase from the attack. Ponder that for a few minutes. What if we had no fear of skin cancer anymore because we recognize our body’s innate wisdom is already taking care of us better than anyone or anything else?

So, do we throw all caution to the wind and allow ourselves and our children to get sunburned? Of course not.

The sun is capable of causing oxidative stress that a healthy body can generally repair easily particularly if the person acclimates to the sun slowly and eats a nutrient-dense diet to stay strong. I still advise people to cover up with direct skin exposure if they haven’t first acclimated to the sun, and even then, it may be prudent to be covered for some amount of time. For children, start with and exposure of 2-10 minutes of direct, noon sun and increase this slowly over several weeks.
Sandrine’s note: Sally Fallon Morell writes, “Sunscreen? Please think twice” in her article Skin Deep:
Pick up an article on keeping healthy and it will almost always recommend a generous application of sunscreen to “protect” the skin. This trend has become so widely accepted that some people wear sunscreen every day, even in winter, and slather their children with it before they get dressed, just in case they may come in contact with that dreaded, unnatural substance: sunlight.
The list of questionable ingredients in sunscreens include benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone), PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA), cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate), salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate), digalloyl trioleate, menthyl anthranilate and avobenzone.
Some of the chemicals have been implicated as causing thyroid problems. German researchers found that rats exposed to the sunscreen chemical 4MBC had raised levels of thyroid stimulating hormones and heavier thyroid glands. Another chemical, benzophenone 2, was found to alter thyroid hormone levels, although the effect was reversed by other chemicals present in sunscreens (BBC News, June 10, 2006).
In most situations, normal exposure to the sun is beneficial, not harmful, especially if you take care to avoid polyunsaturated oils and trans fats. If you are fair-skinned and find yourself in situations where long exposure to the sun is unavoidable, be sure to cover your torso with a shirt, wear a hat and use a safe sunscreen like zinc oxide on your nose and cheeks.
The timeless research of Dr. Weston A. Price taught us a diet rich in Vitamins A, D and K found in healthy fats keeps our bodies strong. Increase pastured lard, butter, raw egg yolks, fermented cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil, etc. If we have no fear of the sun and are able to quickly downgrade or resolve any real or figurative “attacks” against us, it means … our body will break down those extra cells naturally and if we support our body’s innate ability to do so, it will.
Thus, GNM gives us the opportunity and knowledge to understand symptoms and “diseases” differently which may, in turn, change how we react and the choices we make. As FDR is often quoted: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” German New Medicine teaches us how to get out of fear so we can spend more time being present and living life to its fullest.
Sandrine’s note: For sunburn, Dr. Thomas Cowan M.D. recommends aloe vera gel or coconut oil for sunburn, or Amla-Plus vitamin C from Radiant Life - 2 tablets, 2x day. Coconut oil is also great for encouraging tanning and preventing a burn, as well as building up exposure starting with 10 minutes daily and gradually increasing. From The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care:

Guest Author

C. Andi Locke Mears is a German New Medicine Teacher, Certified Whole Health Educator, Nutritionist, and Holistic Health Practitioner. She founded and ran a successful wellness center in Auburn, ME and has currently turned her endeavors to teaching GNM and consulting to the international community. She is also a Chapter Leader with the Weston A. Price Foundation. You may email her at: For additional information, please go to her website: For more information about German New Medicine, please visit her teacher’s website: