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Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food

By Jeffrey M. Smith

On May 19th, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.[1] They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling. AAEM’s position paper stated, Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation, as defined by recognized scientific criteria. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.

More and more doctors are already prescribing GM-free diets. Dr. Amy Dean, a Michigan internal medicine specialist, and board member of AAEM says, I strongly recommend patients eat strictly non-genetically modified foods. Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.

Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM, says, Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. World renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava goes one step further. After reviewing more than 600 scientific journals, he concludes that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a major contributor to the sharply deteriorating health of Americans.

Pregnant women and babies at great risk

Among the population, biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute warns that children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems related to GM foods. He says without adequate studies, the children become the experimental animals.[2]

The experience of actual GM-fed experimental animals is scary. When GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy.[3] The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.[4]

When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color from the normal pink to dark blue.[5] Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.[6] Even the embryos of GM fed parent mice had significant changes in their DNA.[7] Mice fed GM corn in an Austrian government study had fewer babies, which were also smaller than normal.[8]

Reproductive problems also plague livestock. Investigations in the state of Haryana, India revealed that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died. In the US, about two dozen farmers reported thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.[9]

In the US population, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating.

Food designed to produce toxin

GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. When bugs bite the plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide, called Bt produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into corn and cotton, so the plants do the killing.

The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic,[10] has properties of an allergen, and unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.

Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural bacterial spray is harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in the Pacific Northwest, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms. Some had to go to the emergency room.[11],[12]

The exact same symptoms are now being reported by farm workers throughout India, from handling Bt cotton.[13] In 2008, based on medical records, the Sunday India reported, Victims of itching have increased massively this year . . . related to BT cotton farming.[14]

GMOs provoke immune reactions

AAEM states, Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including increase in cytokines, which are associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation all on the rise in the US.

According to GM food safety expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai, changes in the immune status of GM animals are a consistent feature of all the studies.[15] Even Monsanto’s own research showed significant immune system changes in rats fed Bt corn.[16] A November 2008 by the Italian government also found that mice have an immune reaction to Bt corn.[17]

GM soy and corn each contain two new proteins with allergenic properties,[18] GM soy has up to seven times more trypsin inhibitor a known soy allergen,[19] and skin prick tests show some people react to GM, but not to non-GM soy.[20] Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%. Perhaps the US epidemic of food allergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation.

Animals dying in large numbers

In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Post mortems showed severe irritation and black patches in both intestines and liver (as well as enlarged bile ducts). Investigators said preliminary evidence strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin.[21] In a small follow-up feeding study by the Deccan Development Society, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died within 30 days; those that grazed on natural cotton plants remained healthy.

In a small village in Andhra Pradesh, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On January 3rd, 2008, the buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All 13 were sick the next day; all died within 3 days.[22]

Bt corn was also implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany, and horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in The Philippines.[23]

In lab studies, twice the number of chickens fed Liberty Link corn died; 7 of 20 rats fed a GM tomato developed bleeding stomachs; another 7 of 40 died within two weeks.[24] Monsanto’s own study showed evidence of poisoning in major organs of rats fed Bt corn, according to top French toxicologist G. E. Seralini.[25]

Worst finding of all GMOs remain inside of us

The only published human feeding study revealed what may be the most dangerous problem from GM foods. The gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.[26] This means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have potentially harmful GM proteins produced continuously inside of us. Put more plainly, eating a corn chip produced from Bt corn might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of our lives.

When evidence of gene transfer is reported at medical conferences around the US, doctors often respond by citing the huge increase of gastrointestinal problems among their patients over the last decade. GM foods might be colonizing the gut flora of North Americans.

Warnings by government scientists ignored and denied

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about all these problems even in the early 1990s. According to documents released from a lawsuit, the scientific consensus at the agency was that GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require rigorous long-term tests.[27] But the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, to head up the formation of GMO policy. That policy, which is in effect today, denies knowledge of scientists’ concerns and declares that no safety studies on GMOs are required. It is up to Monsanto and the other biotech companies to determine if their foods are safe. Mr. Taylor later became Monsanto’s vice president.

Dangerously few studies, untraceable diseases

AAEM states, GM foods have not been properly tested and pose a serious health risk. Not a single human clinical trial on GMOs has been published. A 2007 review of published scientific literature on the potential toxic effects/health risks of GM plants revealed that experimental data are very scarce. The author concludes his review by asking, Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies?[28]

Famed Canadian geneticist David Suzuki answers, The experiments simply haven’t been done and we now have become the guinea pigs. He adds, Anyone that says, ‘Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,’ I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying.[29]

Dr. Schubert points out, If there are problems, we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop. If GMOs happen to cause immediate and acute symptoms with a unique signature, perhaps then we might have a chance to trace the cause.

This is precisely what happened during a US epidemic in the late 1980s. The disease was fast acting, deadly, and caused a unique measurable change in the blood but it still took more than four years to identify that an epidemic was even occurring. By then it had killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000-10,000 people to fall sick or become permanently disabled. It was caused by a genetically engineered brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan.

If other GM foods are contributing to the rise of autism, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, allergies, reproductive problems, or any other common health problem now plaguing Americans, we may never know. In fact, since animals fed GMOs had such a wide variety of problems, susceptible people may react to GM food with multiple symptoms. It is therefore telling that in the first nine years after the large scale introduction of GM crops in 1996, the incidence of people with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled, from 7% to 13%.[30]

To help identify if GMOs are causing harm, the AAEM asks their members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health.

Citizens need not wait for the results before taking the doctors advice to avoid GM foods. People can stay away from anything with soy or corn derivatives, cottonseed and canola oil, and sugar from GM sugar beets unless it says organic or non-GMO. There is a pocket Non-GMO Shopping Guide, co-produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Center for Food Safety, which is available as a download, as well as in natural food stores and in many doctors’ offices.

If even a small percentage of people choose non-GMO brands, the food industry will likely respond as they did in Europe by removing all GM ingredients. Thus, AAEM’s non-GMO prescription may be a watershed for the US food supply.

SOURCE:

[1] http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html

[2] David Schubert, personal communication to H. Penfound, Greenpeace Canada, October 25, 2002.

[3] Irina Ermakova, Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies, Ecosinform 1 (2006): 4-9.

[4] Irina Ermakova, Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards, Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe, EU Parliament, Brussels, June 12, 2007 [5] Irina Ermakova, Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards, Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe, EU Parliament, Brussels, June 12, 2007

[6] L. Vecchio et al, Ultrastructural Analysis of Testes from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean, European Journal of Histochemistry 48, no. 4 (Oct-Dec 2004):449-454.

[7] Oliveri et al., Temporary Depression of Transcription in Mouse Pre-implantion Embryos from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean, 48th Symposium of the Society for Histochemistry, Lake Maggiore (Italy), September 7-10, 2006.

[8] Alberta Velimirov and Claudia Binter, Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice, Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV, Band 3/2008

[9] Jerry Rosman, personal communication, 2006

[10] See for example, A. Dutton, H. Klein, J. Romeis, and F. Bigler, Uptake of Bt-toxin by herbivores feeding on transgenic maize and consequences for the predator Chrysoperia carnea, Ecological Entomology 27 (2002): 441-7; and J. Romeis, A. Dutton, and F. Bigler, Bacillus thuringiensis toxin (Cry1Ab) has no direct effect on larvae of the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens) (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), Journal of Insect Physiology 50, no. 2-3 (2004): 175-183.

[11] Washington State Department of Health, Report of health surveillance activities: Asian gypsy moth control program, (Olympia, WA: Washington State Dept. of Health, 1993).

[12] M. Green, et al., Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985-86, Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848-852.

[13] Ashish Gupta et. al., Impact of Bt Cotton on Farmers’ Health (in Barwani and Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh), Investigation Report, Oct-Dec 2005.

[14] Sunday India, October, 26, 2008

[15] October 24, 2005 correspondence between Arpad Pusztai and Brian John

16] John M. Burns, 13-Week Dietary Subchronic Comparison Study with MON 863 Corn in Rats Preceded by a 1-Week Baseline Food Consumption Determination with PMI Certified Rodent Diet #5002, December 17, 2002http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/content/sci_tech/prod_safety/fullratstudy.pdf

[17] Alberto Finamore, et al, Intestinal and Peripheral Immune Response to MON810 Maize Ingestion in Weaning and Old Mice, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (23), pp 11533-11539, November 14, 2008

[18] See L Zolla, et al, Proteomics as a complementary tool for identifying unintended side effects occurring in transgenic maize seeds as a result of genetic modifications, J Proteome Res. 2008 May;7(5):1850-61; Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison, Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7); and Gendel, The use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods, Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998), 45-62.

[19] A. Pusztai and S. Bardocz, GMO in animal nutrition: potential benefits and risks, Chapter 17, Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals, R. Mosenthin, J. Zentek and T. Zebrowska (Eds.) Elsevier, October 2005

[20] Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison, Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7).

[21] Mortality in Sheep Flocks after Grazing on Bt Cotton Fields Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh Report of the Preliminary Assessment, April 2006, http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp

[22] Personal communication and visit, January 2009.

[23] Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA USA 2007

[24] Arpad Pusztai, Can Science Give Us the Tools for Recognizing Possible Health Risks for GM Food? Nutrition and Health 16 (2002): 73-84.

[25] Stephane Foucart, Controversy Surrounds a GMO, Le Monde, 14 December 2004; referencing, John M. Burns, 13-Week Dietary Subchronic Comparison Study with MON 863 Corn in Rats Preceded by a 1-Week Baseline Food Consumption Determination with PMI Certified Rodent Diet #5002, December 17, 2002 http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/content/sci_tech/prod_safety/fullratstudy.pdf

[26] Netherwood et al, Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract, Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004): 2.

[27] See memos at www.biointegrity.org

[28] José Domingo, Toxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants : A Review of the Published Literature, Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2007, vol. 47, no8, pp. 721-733

[29] Angela Hall, Suzuki warns against hastily accepting GMOs, The Leader-Post (Canada), 26 April 2005.

[30] Kathryn Anne Paez, et al, Rising Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Chronic Conditions: A Ten-Year Trend, Health Affairs, 28, no. 1 (2009): 15-

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Sugar: It’s Not a Food

by Skyscape.org

Have you ever heard that you must eat a good,healthy diet but you’re not sure what that means? You’ll be surprised how many people believe that white bread is healthy because it’s been “enriched.” You may have heard that overweight people are unhealthy and thin people are not. These statements have some truth and some falsehoods in them. If you are more than twenty kg’s overweight, then you are putting stress on yourheart and joints The more obese you become beyond that the more damage you cause. On the flip side if you are remaining thin because of unnatural eating habits then you are also harming yourself.

When studying nutrition some definitions of words are so loosely used that its important to clearly define them.

Diet – is the types of food you eat on a regular basis. Many people think the word “diet” applies exclusively to those foods eaten when you are trying to lose weight. That is one of the meanings of the word “diet” but it’s not the one we are using here. Healthy-nourishing, able to sustain life. Sustain-continuing, keep going.

If you want your body to be well, have lots of energy and remain slim you have to work at it and work sensibly. The majority of your diet must contain nourishing, life-sustaining food. Whenever you have to make a food choice you must always ask yourself three questions:

1) Is it nourishing?
2) Does it sustain life?
3) Will it cause any harm?

The first thing you need to understand about your body is that your cells are continually being replaced. Millions of cells that make up blood, lung tissue, fingernails, eyelashes etc. are constantly being made and old dead cells removed. If you supply the incorrect food to your body it starts to fall apart. You can’t make blood or lung tissue by living off sausages, fried chips, burgers, chocolate shakes and sweets. Your body can’t make new cells to replace those that have died if you spend most of your time depriving your body of the fuel it needs

Paraffin is a fuel. It works well in lamps and people use it in paraffin stoves to cook their food on. However if you filled up your car’s petrol tank with paraffin you’d blowup the engine. Why? Because that fuel is unsuitable for motor vehicles.

Some people nibble on chocolates or sweets throughout the day to stop themselves from feeling hungry. Sugar does supply some energy but if you are using sugar to ward off hunger pangs and depriving your body of proper nutrition then your body is slowly deteriorating. Sugar is devoid of nutrients. It is highly refined and causes havoc with your blood-sugar levels, pancreas and immune system — all of which need nourishing food.

That leads us to look at nourishing. The majority of your food must be nourishing. In your twenties your body can cope with junk food and lots of sugar. It does this by slowly removing the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs from your blood, teeth and bones. If you don’t feed your body nourishing food to replace what your body is using up then suddenly things start to go wrong.

Some women who want to stay thin use one of the most dangerous drugs to keep their bodies slim and shapely- sugar. If you fool your body into believing it has been fed by giving it sugar, you don’t get hungry. However if you are doing this daily then your body will start removing the nutrients it needs by breaking down cells and recycling those nutrients to build new cells. The big problem with this is that nutrients are used up and unhealthy, nutrient -deficient cells start being made. These cells cannot function properly. It’s like a dot matrix printer whose ribbon no longer has ink. The printer continues to go through the motions but the results are unsatisfactory as no-one can read the work. When your body becomes depleted of nutrients all types of weird problems and diseases show up.

Increased nervousness and worsening PMS symptoms. Lack of energy, tiredness and headaches. You start bruising easily because your capillary walls are weak allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissues Chronic constipation which leads to piles. Your immune system works badly as sugar depresses it, so you get sick more often and for longer periods of time. Breast cancer has been linked to a high intake of refined sugar.

www.healingpowerhour.com

My VBAC Success Story: I ignored my doctor to have the birth I wanted.

– By Jana Llewellyn

When I was pregnant with my son in 2007, I read articles, listened to radio broadcasts, and watched TV shows that all reported the alarming rate of C-sections. Since my pregnancy had been without complications up to that point, I assumed this wasn’t something I had to worry about. I was more interested in the increasing popularity of natural birth.

“Should I forego an epidural?” I asked my doctor.

He said, polite as always, that some women thought they’d decline an epidural, but once they hit active labor, “they realized why epidurals were invented.”

He tapped into one of my biggest fears: pain.

So after the obstetrician broke my water and told me I’d be in “excruciating pain,” I agreed to the epidural. She assured me that epidurals didn’t slow down labor as I had thought. Ten hours later, I was in the operating room. I had been given enough Pitocin to dilate, but the doctor suspected that my baby was positioned sideways and mandated a C-section.

When I got pregnant with my daughter almost two years later, I did not want another C-section. In fact, I was planning my VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) only hours after my son was born. After all, my body was well-equipped to carry other human beings — both of my children wanted to stay well past 40 weeks — and I knew that I could labor successfully if given the chance. But, my doctor warned me, due to my first C-section, I was now considered a high-risk delivery case.

The biggest fear doctors and patients have with VBAC is a uterine rupture, where the scar tissue of the uterus opens, necessitating an immediate C-section to save the mother’s and/or baby’s life. This, of course, is to be taken quite seriously. But since the risk of uterine rupture is less than 1 percent, which means only 7 or 8 women in 1,000 will experience it, I thought I’d take my chances. After all, there are plenty of fatal complications that can occur in labor, like placental abruption, which affects women who have not had C-sections. Even women who have never had previous abdominal surgery are vulnerable to uterine ruptures. Furthermore, there are risks with C-sections, too — hemorrhaging, blood cots, bowel issues, and breathing problems for the baby — and I knew that having a second one could make those more likely should I get pregnant again. I also knew that a vaginal birth would come with a shorter recovery time and therefore allow me to be more attentive to my son during a transitional time.

For weeks I carried the weight of my decision in my chest, fretting about whether I was succumbing to unnecessary risks, whether I was being selfish in wanting to avoid surgery and somehow putting my life before my baby’s. The only way to face this labor, I decided, was to hire a doula, someone who would personally assist me before, during, and after delivery. I emailed one who was recommended by a friend and meanwhile continued to read more about the benefits of vaginal delivery as opposed to C-sections.

When I posed more questions to my doctors though, I became confused and overwhelmed. The male doctor who performed my C-section the first time around seemed eager to use this opportunity to convince me that a C-section was a better option, even though for my first two trimesters, I had told him I wanted a VBAC. He explained that many female obstetricians prefer to schedule Cesareans for their own births rather than endure the pain of vaginal labor. He also went into a story about women in third-world countries who labor for so many hours, their bladders collapse and urine shoots out of their vaginas. On my next visit, the female OB (the one who convinced me to have an early epidural) recounted how the doctors and nurses on call gulp down bottles of Pepto-Bismol when they have a VBAC patient in labor because they’re so afraid that something will go wrong. And when I told her I was considering avoiding the epidural, she told me that was not an option. It would be mandatory once I was three or four centimeters dilated.

Feeling discouraged, I wrote to my doula, Ellen, to tell her I didn’t think it would be worth it for her to be part of my labor. If I had to get an epidural that early, there wouldn’t be much pain management she could help me with. She called me before I even closed my laptop, angry for what she thought was my doctor’s dishonesty. I did not need an epidural, she said, and I had as much chance of succeeding at a VBAC as I did at a regular birth. In the more than 500 births she had attended, she had only seen a uterine rupture once, and it was for a first-time delivery. To my surprise, she told me I needed to leave my practice, or I’d end up in the same situation I did the first time around, with a stalled labor and a baby who hadn’t moved into position because of a premature epidural.

Who could I trust? And why did it seem that natural birthing advocates were on such opposing sides from the obstetricians I had entrusted to deliver my baby? This time I listened to my gut and took down the names of three practices that my doula felt would support my VBAC. But when I called, no one would schedule an initial consultation. Instead, they would only see me if I officially switched from my current practice. Not wanting my maternal health to be in limbo 10 weeks before my due date, I looked at the bottom of Ellen’s list, at the only name I hadn’t yet considered: the midwife who worked out of a hospital a half hour away.

I never thought I’d choose a midwife. I didn’t know they existed beyond history books and the birth center a few miles from my home. But from the first minute I talked to Ronni, I knew I was in good hands. She was willing to meet with me for a consultation so she could answer all of my questions. She explained the slight differences of treating a VBAC patient and a regular patient. She was honest with me, and she fully supported my decision without ever skirting around the reality of the risks involved. (It also helped that in all her years as a midwife, she had never seen a uterine rupture.)

When I expressed concern over my obstetricians’ feelings about the switch, Ronni told me that they probably wouldn’t know I was gone. She was right. The office charged me an arm and a leg for select photocopies of my record, but I never received a phone call from a doctor asking me why I left. At my new prenatal appointments, in a cozy apartment with warm, green walls and a counter lined with tea, my two-year-old was welcomed with a box of toys and the title of “midwife’s helper” as he squeezed my blood pressure pump. In our half-hour appointments, Ronni did all the things my doctors did, but we also compared iPhones and talked about our lives and her recent deliveries.

Though my prenatal care was great, my labor was not as fun. Seven days past my due date, my daughter still hadn’t arrived, and it was the hospital’s procedure to induce before she got too big. I could receive only a small amount of Pitocin (large doses increase the chances of uterine rupture) through an IV to help things along, and as I sat on a hospital bed that morning, I lamented that the labor was already not going as I had hoped. Would I ever have this baby?

After seven hours, contractions were intense enough that I knew my baby was on her way. Surrounded by my midwife, doula, a hospital nurse, and my husband, I breathed, moaned, and visualized the clouds of Paris to get through particularly painful contractions. My husband stood by my side, rubbing my back as I rocked, sat, and walked, trying to get the baby to move into position. When I finally started pushing, I tried as much movement as possible. I squatted, I stood, I rocked. When the pain got so bad, I did what most women do: I asked for drugs. Ronni told me I was 9 centimeters dilated, and it was too late for drugs. Knowing I had come that far along gave me the boost I needed to get through the rest of my labor. A little after 9 p.m., I started feeling the urge to push, but after an hour and a half, the baby had barely moved. I got a thigh cramp that was worse than the contractions, and that’s when I started to curse at my midwife. I wanted her to DO something.

But within minutes I realized that no one could do anything. It was up to me, and solely me, to push this baby out. I closed my eyes and reached into the darkness, into reserves I never knew I had, in order to bring my daughter into the world. At 12:34 a.m., three hours after I started, I felt her body leave mine, and Madeleine, my nine-pound, one-ounce baby girl, was laid on my stomach. She and I locked eyes, and I can still remember the new warmth of her, those chubby hands.

That night, despite my exhaustion, I couldn’t sleep. I relived the whole surreal experience over and over in my head, still in disbelief that a baby with a head that big could come out a five-foot two-inch body. All the adrenaline convinced me I was the most amazing person alive, practically a superhero. The memory of my painful labor didn’t go away for a long time, but neither did my amazement at what I was actually capable of.

Related: The case for VBAC — what you should know before having a repeat C-section

If I had stayed with my obstetrics practice, there were a few things they would have done differently. First, I would have had an ultrasound in the last trimester to see whether my second baby was bigger than the first, and therefore not suitable for a vaginal delivery. Considering my first baby was 7.5 oz. and the second was 9.1, they would have probably forced me to have a C-section. Second, the practice would most likely not have induced me seven days after my due date. Instead, they would have wanted to perform a scheduled Cesarean if I didn’t go into labor soon enough. Lastly, most doctors are not willing to let a woman push for three hours. Even though the average pushing time for a first-time delivery is two hours, most doctors start mentioning the dreaded “C” word after much less time, which is not helpful for a woman’s mental and emotional state. Believe me, I wish I didn’t have to push for three hours, but I am glad I had a caregiver who let me finish what I started. In essence, I am convinced that my doctors would have looked for ways to encourage surgery, rather than allowing my body to perform its natural functions.

I look back on the birth of my daughter as the most difficult physical exercise I may ever undergo, as something that taught me the utmost limits of what a body — my body — can do. I was exhausted in the days and months after her birth, as all mothers are, but I was also triumphant, with a new inner confidence.

What better way to enter the next stage of motherhood?

www.healingpowerhour.com

5 Foods That Can Trigger a Stroke

By Melanie Haiken, Caring.com

Few things feel more terrifying and random than a stroke, which can strike without warning. And fear of stroke — when a blood vessel in or leading to the brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot, starving brain cells of oxygen and nutrients — is well founded. After all, stroke is the number-three killer in the U.S., affecting more than 700,000 people each year. Here are five foods that cause the damage that leads to stroke.

1. Crackers, chips, and store-bought pastries and baked goods

Muffins, doughnuts, chips, crackers, and many other baked goods are high in trans fats, which are hydrogenated oils popular with commercial bakeries because they stay solid at room temperature, so the products don’t require refrigeration. Also listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated” or hydrogenated oils, trans fats are found in all kinds of snack foods, frozen foods, and baked goods, including salad dressings, microwave popcorn, stuffing mixes, frozen tater tots and French fries, cake mixes, and whipped toppings. They’re also what makes margarine stay in a solid cube. The worst offenders are fried fast foods such as onion rings, French fries, and fried chicken.

Why it’s bad

For years scientists have known trans fats are dangerous artery-blockers, upping the concentrations of lipids and bad cholesterol in the blood and lowering good cholesterol. Now we can add stroke to the list of dangers. This year researchers at the University of North Carolina found that women who ate 7 grams of trans fat each day — about the amount in two doughnuts or half a serving of French fries — had 30 percent more strokes (the ischemic type, caused by blocked blood flow to the brain) than women who ate just 1 gram a day. Another recent study, also in women, found that trans fats promoted inflammation and higher levels of C-reactive protein, which have been linked to an increased risk of diabetesheart disease, and stroke.

What to do

Aim to limit trans fats to no more than 1 or 2 grams a day — and preferably none. Avoid fast-food French fries and other fried menu items and study packaged food labels closely. Even better, bake your own cookies, cakes, and other snacks. When you can’t, search out “health-food” alternative snacks, such as Terra brand potato chips and traditional whole grain crackers such as those made by Finn, Wasa, AkMak, Ryvita, and Lavasch.

2. Smoked and processed meats

Whether your weakness is pastrami, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, or a smoked turkey sandwich, the word from the experts is: Watch out.

Why it’s bad

Smoked and processed meats are nasty contributors to stroke risk in two ways: The preserving processes leave them packed with sodium, but even worse are the preservatives used to keep processed meats from going bad. Sodium nitrate and nitrite have been shown by researchers to directly damage blood vessels, causing arteries to harden and narrow. And of course damaged, overly narrow blood vessels are exactly what you don’t want if you fear stroke.

Many studies have linked processed meats to coronary artery disease (CAD); one meta-analysis in the journal Circulation calculated a 42-percent increase in coronary heart disease for those who eat one serving of processed meat a day. Stroke is not the only concern for salami fans; cancer journals have reported numerous studies in the past few years showing that consumption of cured and smoked meats is linked with increased risk of diabetes and higher incidences of numerous types of cancer, including leukemia.

What to do

If a smoked turkey or ham sandwich is your lunch of choice, try to vary your diet, switching to tuna, peanut butter, or other choices several days a week. Or cook turkey and chicken yourself and slice it thin for sandwiches.

3. Diet soda

Although replacing sugary drinks with diet soda seems like a smart solution for keeping weight down — a heart-healthy goal — it turns out diet soda is likely a major bad guy when it comes to stroke.

Why it’s bad

People who drink a diet soda a day may up their stroke risk by 48 percent. A Columbia University study presented at the American Stroke Association’s 2011 International Stroke Conference followed 2,500 people ages 40 and older and found that daily diet soda drinkers had 60 percent more strokes, heart attacks, and coronary artery disease than those who didn’t drink diet soda. Researchers don’t know exactly how diet soda ups stroke risk — and are following up with further studies — but nutritionists are cautioning anyone concerned about stroke to cut out diet soda pop.

What to do

Substitute more water for soda in your daily diet. It’s the healthiest thirst-quencher by far, researchers say. If you don’t like water, try lemonade, iced tea, or juice.

4. Red meat

This winter, when the respected journal Stroke published a study showing that women who consumed a large portion of red meat each day had a 42-percent higher incidence of stroke, it got nutrition experts talking. The information that red meat, with its high saturated fat content, isn’t healthy for those looking to prevent heart disease and stroke wasn’t exactly news. But the percentage increase (almost 50 percent!) was both startling and solid; the researchers arrived at their finding after following 35,000 Swedish women for ten years.

Why it’s bad

Researchers have long known that the saturated fat in red meat raises the risk of stroke and heart disease by gradually clogging arteries with a buildup of protein plaques. Now it turns out that hemoglobin, the ingredient that gives red meat its high iron content, may pose a specific danger when it comes to stroke. Researchers are investigating whether blood becomes thicker and more viscous as a result of the consumption of so-called heme iron, specifically upping the chance of strokes.

What to do

Aim to substitute more poultry — particularly white meat — and fish, which are low in heme iron, for red meat. Also, choose the heart-healthiest sources of protein whenever you can, especially beans, legumes, nuts, tofu, and nonfat dairy.

5. Canned soup and prepared foods

Whether it’s canned soup, canned spaghetti, or healthy-sounding frozen dinners, prepared foods and mixes rely on sodium to increase flavor and make processed foods taste fresher. Canned soup is cited by nutritionists as the worst offender; one can of canned chicken noodle soup contains more than 1,100 mg of sodium, while many other varieties, from clam chowder to simple tomato, have between 450 and 800 mg per serving. Compare that to the American Heart and Stroke Association’s recommendation of less than1,500 mg of sodium daily and you’ll see the problem. In fact, a nutritionist-led campaign, the National Salt Reduction Initiative, calls on food companies to reduce the salt content in canned soup and other products by 20 percent in the next two years.

Why it’s bad

Salt, or sodium as it’s called on food labels, directly affects stroke risk. In one recent study, people who consumed more than 4,000 mg of sodium daily had more than double the risk of stroke compared to those who ate 2,000 mg or less. Yet the Centers for Disease Control estimate that most Americans eat close to 3,500 mg of sodium per day. Studies show that sodium raises blood pressure, the primary causative factor for stroke. And be warned: Sodium wears many tricky disguises, which allow it to hide in all sorts of foods that we don’t necessarily think of as salty. Some common, safe-sounding ingredients that really mean salt:

  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
What to do

Make your own homemade soups and entrees, then freeze individual serving-sized portions. Buy low-sodium varieties, but read labels carefully, since not all products marked “low sodium” live up to that promise.

Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

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The Truth About Natural Flavors

by M. ‘ButterfliesKatz

The objective of this article is to warn you not to trust the term natural when you see natural flavor on a food label, and to urge you to tell so called Natural Food Company that we don’t want mystery chemicals in our foods.

The exact definition of natural flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations is as follows:
The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

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When the phrase ‘natural flavors’ appears on a package, the best move is to call the company and find out what the flavors are actually made from. Of course, I say this assuming that we’re all the kind of people who would be horrified to find out that we might have come close to ingesting fluid from the sex glands of beavers.

Think that sounds absurd? Then you must not have heard of castoreum, which is “used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years.”

Castoreum is a bitter, orange-brown, odoriferous, oily secretion, found in two sacs between the anus and the external genitals of beavers. The discharge of the castor sac is combined with the beaver’s urine, and used during scent marking of territory. Both male and female beavers possess a pair of castor sacs and a pair of anal glands located in two cavities under the skin between the pelvis and the base of the tail.

Castoreum is a product of the trapping industry. When beavers are skinned for their fur, these glands are taken out, and are sold after being smoked or sun-dried to prevent putrefaction.

The European Beaver was hunted to near extinction, both for fur and for castoreum, which was also believed to have medicinal properties. The North American beaver population was once more than 60 million, but as of 1988 was 6–12 million, largely due to extensive hunting and trapping. Although sources report that beaver populations have now recovered to a stable level, some experts say that today’s American beaver population is only 5 percent of what it was when Europeans first settled in North America.

Castoreum is used in “high class” perfumery for “refined leathery nuances.” It is also reportedly used in some incense, and to contribute to the flavor and odor of cigarettes. In food, castoreum is used to flavor candies, drinks, and desserts such as puddings.

Natural Flavors and Artificial Flavors are basically the same, and are chemical additives

Don’t let the word ‘natural’ fool you. It’s a marketing ploy being used to allay the suspicions of conscientious consumers who are trying to choose foods wisely. It’s a term that food producers are permitted to use instead of listing the actual ingredients in a product. It shouldn’t be legal to withhold ingredients from the public, and it shouldn’t be legal to call a product that contains a chemical additive ‘natural’.

The world’s giant producer of both ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ chemical flavors is International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF). Located off the New Jersey Turnpike, their lab workers concoct the chemicals that give smell or taste to floor polish, detergent, deodorant…and food. These chemical potions are then purchased by food producers who add them to their products. When marketing to the uncaring portion of the public that is currently subsisting on Kool-Aid and TV Dinners, food producers use ‘artificial’ flavor. When marketing to health conscious, green living types, food producers like Imagine Foods use ‘natural’ flavor to make us believe this mystery ingredient is perfectly innocuous. Don’t be fooled by this clever marketing trick!

The only difference between an artificial and a natural flavor is that the artificial flavor never came from a food in the first place, but once upon a time, the natural flavor did. For example, the natural flavor for banana was derived by distilling a chemical called amyl acetate from the banana, and then copying its properties. Artificial banana flavor is made out of vingear, amyl alchohol and sulfuric acid. Both routes may produce a banana-like taste and smell, but neither route is derived from putting an actual banana in the end product. It’s all achieved by totally unnatural processes being conducted in giant factories by people in lab coats. It’s not healthy, wholesome or necessary…and it’s sure not natural!

Food tastes good when you use actual, real ingredients. Whole foods don’t need additives to taste perfect, just as they are. When a company is adding chemical flavorings to their products, they are either trying to take financial shortcuts or are covering up a really bad taste. Remember…their goal is to sell, and they are quite willing to make a fool of you and your taste buds to do so.

Don’t fall for it.

www.healingpowerhour.com