Combating Illness Through Diet Change

The Magic Pill: Combating Illness Through Diet Change

Directed by Robert Tate (2017)

Film Review

Although this documentary was made two years before the COVID19 pandemic, it offers a highly plausible reason why COVID19 mortality rates are much higher in patients with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Given that most patients with these conditions are still eating a low fat diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.

Citing both archeological and research evidence, the filmmakers maintain that modern day humans have evolved (over 100,000 generations)* to flourish on a hunter gatherer diet high in animal fats and fresh fruits and vegetables.

They believe the hunter gatherer diet for is probably most similar to the modern ketogenic (high fat, low carbohydrate diet). Many pediatricians are successfully treating with refractory epilepsy with a ketogenic diet. Likewise a number of oncologists are using it as an an adjunct to cancer chemotherapy.

Unfortunately this high fat, low carbohydrate diet is the exact opposite of the low fat, high carbohydrate diet (aka the Food Pyramid) most Western doctors and public health officials continue to recommend for their patients. According to growing research evidence, this diet is largely responsible for an epidemic of obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s (which many diet researchers refer to as type III diabetes).

The film follows a dozen patients with a myriad of health problems (including obesity, diabetes, asthma, autism, arthritis, autism, seizures, recurrent respiratory infections, and early dementia) who switch to a ketogenic diet. Amazingly all their medical problems either resolve or improve dramatically after only 10 weeks. Even the two autistic children are markedly calmer and exhibit a big increase in verbal interaction.

The filmmakers also follow 11 Yoingu (a northern Aboriginal tribe) women experiencing similar chronic medical conditions. After only two weeks they, too, experience significant improvement when they abandon their high carbohydrate Western diet for more traditional foods. Prior to adopting the Western diet in the 1940s, the Yoingu were extremely healthy and rarely suffered from chronic illnesses.


*Evidence of tool making suggests there were ancient human living in China 2.1 million years ago https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/early-humans-left-africa-250000-years-earlier-than-thought/564896/

Anyone with a public library card can view the film free at Kanopy. Type Kanopy and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

Gut Revolution

Gut Revolution

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2017)

Film Review

This is a three-part Australian documentary about state-of-the-art treatment for various manifestations of gut dysbiosis.* Thanks to genetic sequencing, gut scientists can now identify approximate numbers of bacterial species in patients’ large intestines. In many cases, scientists have also identified the relative helpful/harmful effect of specific species.

For example, in high numbers some bacteria are linked to metabolic syndrome;** some produce sulfuric acid, a cause of irritable bowel symptoms (eg diarrhea, gas, bloating), and some are linked to inflammatory changes leading to depression and impaired cognitive function.

In this series, a dietician works with three patients with very different manifestations of gut dysbiosis: the first suffers from chronic diarrhea, the second from obesity and metabolic syndrome, and the third from severe anxiety, coupled with disabling abdominal paid.

The first patient rebalances her gut bacteria (and eliminates her diarrhea) by starting a low FODMAP diet,*** effective in 70% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

The second patient rebalances his gut bacteria by eliminating all processed foods;**** increasing his intake of fruits, vegetables, and high fiber complex carbohydrates; and engaging in a modified fast two days a week. After six weeks he’s lost six kilos, as well as noticing substantial improvement in his mood and energy levels.

The third patient rebalances her gut bacteria with a Mediterranean-style diet. The latter has reduced major depression symptoms in several double blind studies. Due to severe anxiety levels, patient 3 has a long history of severe dietary restriction and also uses yoga and hypnotherapy to make it easier to try new foods.

Link to Part 1: https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/gut-revolution-a-catalyst-special—part-1/11017218

Link to Part 2: https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/gut-revolution-a-catalyst-special—part-2/11017246

Parts 1-3 can be viewed free on Kanopy. Type “Kanopy” and the name of you public library into your search engine.


*Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance  of bacterial populations in the large intestine. According to a growing number of scientists, your gut microbiome (ie community of bacteria in your gut is just as important as genes and lifestyle in achieving and maintaining good health.

**Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels.

***A low FODMAP (Fermentible Oligo-,Di-. Mono-Saccharides and Polyols) diet eliminates short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. High FODMAP foods should only be eliminated for six to eight weeks because most are really important for long term gut health.

****The dietary emusifiers and artificial flavors and colors in processed foods are really damaging to the microbiome.

 

 

Wealth and Health: Why Black, Brown, and Poor People Are Dying of COVID19

In Sickness and in Wealth

Directed by Llewellyn M Smith (2008)

Film Review

It’s no mystery and doesn’t need yet more study. Epidemiologists have known since the late seventies that health and life expectancy directly correlate with income level, irrespective of genetics, lifestyle (smoking, exercise, diet, etc), or access to medical care. This documentary is a about a 2008 study that examined four Louisville districts with varying average income levels.

Residents in the wealthiest district earned incomes averaging $100,000+. Nearly all had college degrees and owned their own homes. Their average life expectancy was 80 years.

In the second most prosperous district, most residents had high school diplomas. Although a minority owned their homes, they considered themselves solidly middle class. They had an average life expectancy of 76 years.

In the third wealthiest district, fewer were high school graduates. Many had difficulty maintaining stable employment and lived in subsidized housing. Lacking in chain supermarkets or other access to fresh produce, the district is characterized as a food desert. The average life expectancy here was 74 years. In the poorest district, unemployment was double the national average, and many residents suffered from chronic illness and received disability benefits. Most had failed to complete high school. Thirty percent lived below the national poverty level. Their average life expectancy was 70 years.

The study reinforced prior research* indicating that neither genetics, lifestyle, nor access to medical care has as much influence on health outcomes as income and social status.

Scientists believe low social status leads to poorer immune function and adverse health effects due to the total lack of control poor people have over their lives. This absence of control tends to result in high chronic stress levels that contribute directly to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and impaired immunity.

Overall African Americans had worse health outcomes than white residents regardless of income or social status. Scientists believe this relates to the chronic stress they experience related to racial slights and abuse in their interactions with white people.

More recent research indicates that growing inequality (ie tax and public spending policies that grants billionaires a larger and larger share of the wealth working people create) since the 2008 economic crash is worsening health discrepancies based on wealth and racial differences. The solution is no mystery, either. We will never end inequality so long as we allow private banks to create and control our money system. Contrary to popular belief, private banks presently create 97% of our money (out of thin air) when they issue loans.**


*The film mentions 1967-1977 The Whitehall Study https://unhealthywork.org/classic-studies/the-whitehall-study/

**See The Battle for Public Control of Money

The full film can be viewed free at Kanopy by anyone with a public library card. Type Kanopy and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic (Official US Government Version)

We Heard the Bells: The Influenza of 1918

US Department of Health and Human Services (2010)

Film Review

I began watching this film believing it was a historical account of the 1918 influenza epidemic. It’s not. It’s actually a 10-year old US government propaganda film promoting flu vaccination. It’s currently being recycled in honor of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly ratcheted up the media hype over annual flu vaccination, which had never made much sense to me. Even the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledge the 2020 flu vaccine is only 45% effective (only 45% of people who receive it will be protected against influenza).

Ironically they call 2020 a good year – most years flu vaccine is even less effective

In people over 65 (the under most pressure to be vaccinated), the 2018-19 vaccine was only 16% effective.

In my view the vaccine’s low effectiveness needs to be weighed against potential side effects, which a growing body of research suggests can be considerable.

Recent studies suggest that flu vaccination can increase the risk of other viral (including coronavirus infections) in some patients.

Also that repeated flu vaccination can reduce the body’s ability to fight off influenza. See  NIH study, Canadian study, and Vaccine Failures (summary).

On a positive note, the first half of the film contains some great archival footage of survivors of the 1918 pandemic. I found it interesting that most 1918 victims died of pneumonia caused by secondary bacterial infections (rather than viral pneumonia caused by influenza virus). Doctors reported a typical pattern in which patients appeared to totally recover after 5-7 days, when weakened defenses caused them to succumb to new bacterial or fungal infections.

A number of clinicians are reporting a similar pattern with COVID-19, with patients appearing to recover, and then suddenly worsening and dying. Prior to the development of antibiotics during World War II, there was no way to treat these secondary infections. However at present most are treatable with antibiotics and anti-fungal agents. A recent Lancet paper summarizing 99 cases of COVID-19 treated in Wuhan China in December 2019 indicates all patients were tested and treated for bacterial and fungal secondary infections.

Given the 24/7 coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, I find it a little disappointing the mainstream media offers so little information regarding treatment.

The 1918 influenza pandemic reportedly killed 50 million people globally and 675,000 in the US. In contrast to COVID-19, in 1918 the vast majority of deaths were in young adults.

 

The Politics of Asbestos: Banned in EU, But Not China, Russia, Brazil or US

Deadly Asbestos

DW (2019)

Film Review

This documentary is about the international asbestos industry and its aggressive penetration of developing countries following the EU’s decision to ban it in 1998. The first study linking asbestos to lung cancer and mesothelioma was published in 1964. Asbestos also causes a chronic (eventually fatal) lung condition known as asbestosis. Sadly, as with smoking and lead poisoning, it took decades of sustained organizing to get western governments to acknowledge the fatal health consequences of asbestos exposure. The US enacted a “partial ban” on asbestos in 1989.*

Because mesothelioma can result from a brief single exposure to asbestos fibers, EPA rules regarding asbestos removal from old buildings are far more stringent. In fact, an entire industry has evolved around asbestos removal.**

The filmmakers focus primarily on the Belgian asbestos manufacturer Etex-Eternit (aka Everest) and its expansion into India in the 1990s. India has been a primary industry target of the industry, owing to its lax regulation of asbestos manufacture, use and disposal.

Asbestos sheets are sold widely in India for use as walls and roofs in makeshift shacks. Over 100,000 Indians develop asbestosis annually.

India has more than 50 asbestos manufacturing plants. Filmmakers visit an asbestos factory Everest built in 1995 and sold to an Indian family in 2002. In addition to filming a 600,000 square meter asbestos waste dump, they also visit a makeshift clinic treating thousands of local residents for asbestos-related problems. They also talk with Indian lawyers and activists who are bringing a lawsuit against Everest in Belgium.

The film concludes by looking at World Health Organization efforts to institute a global ban on asbestos. Brazil, China, and Russia, which still mine asbestos, continue to vociferously block the ban.

Last year, the Trump EPA approved new rules that soften regulations against asbestos use in the US.  In response, one Russian asbestos manufacturer now proudly displays features Trump’s image on all their products.


* History of EPA asbestos regulation

  • 1989 Partial Ban on the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution of some asbestos-containing products. EPA also banned new uses of asbestos which prevent new asbestos products from entering the marketplace after August 25, 1989. These uses remain banned. The April 2019 final rule does not provide a way for these uses to return to the marketplace.
  • April 2019 Final Rule to ensure that asbestos products that are no longer on the market cannot return to commerce without the Agency evaluating them and putting in place any necessary restrictions or prohibiting use. The uses covered under this rule were not already prohibited under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and could have returned to the market at any time.
  • Risk evaluation of asbestos under TSCA. EPA is reviewing a handful of very limited, still ongoing uses of asbestos. The evaluation of the risks associated with ongoing uses of asbestos is required under TSCA section 6. If EPA finds unreasonable risk, the Agency will take prompt action to address those risks.

** See https://www.epa.gov/asbestos

 

 

 

Treating Depression with LSD Microdosing

LSD: Microdosing LSD in the Name of Self-Improvement

DW (2019)

Film Review

As it’s title suggests, this documentary concerns LSD “microdosing,” a fad originating with Silicon Valley tech executives. They discovered that tiny doses (10-15 micgrograms) of LSD greatly improved their mood, energy, focus and creativity. Microdosing has since taken off in Germany and other parts of Europe.

The film begins with testimonials from anonymous German microdosers who believe that LSD has totally turned their life around. One man whose depression failed to respond to any other treatment (including antidepressants, psychotherapy and alternative medicine) finally obtained relief after a brief period of microdosing.

Filmmakers also interview Paul Austin, a Silicon Valley microdosing coach, and James Fadiman, leading expert on LSD and psilocybin microdosing and author of the 2011 Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide.

Researchers in Germany and Switzerland are conducting double blind studies of LSD microdosing. At doses between 10-15 mg, their subjects experience a clear improvement in concentration, mood and anxiety in contrast to placebo control groups. Moreover, unlike antidepressant trials, there are no apparent adverse effects.

The film also looks at promising double blind research of the psychedelic psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) in treating depression. Unlike LSD, “shrooms” are legal in the Netherlands and have been decriminalized in a number of US cities. Portugal legalized all mind-altering drugs in 2001 (see British Medical Journal Calls for Legalization of All Drugs)

Other research has shown psilocybin and other psychedelics to be helpful in treating PTSD and alcoholism. See Why Are We Sending Vets to Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico

 

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

The Crisis of Science

James Corbett (2019)

Film Review

This documentary is loosely based on the 2005 paper by John Ioannidis (Why Most Published Research Findings Are False). According to Ioannidis, modern research faces four major crises: the crisis of fraud, the crisis of replication, the crisis of peer review and the crisis of publication.

The Crisis of Fraud: the number of scientists basing their findings on fraudulent data and/or methodology is clearly on the increase. This stems partly from the sad reality that corporations, which presently fund most research, tend to pay their researchers to produce favorable outcomes. However the pressure universities place on researchers to continuously publish also plays a significant role. The film features a 2008 clip of Robert F Kennedy Jr exposing emails he uncovered regarding a conspiracy between the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and vaccine manufacturers to conceal a proven link between thimerosal (a mercury-based vaccine preservative) and autism and other neurodevelopmental disoders.

The Crisis of Replication: this relates both to outright fraud and a peer review process that places more weight on statistical significance than on sample size and reproducibility. Statisticians are well aware that measuring a large number of variables in a small group inevitably produces at least one “statistically significant” correlation. In the research community, this is known as “p-hacking”* or “data dredging.”

The Crisis of Peer Review: research has become so super specialized that only a handful of scientists are qualified to perform peer review in any given field. This allows them to act as gatekeepers. Not only are they more inclined to approve work by scientists they know or work with, but they’re also less inclined to check closely for data fraud and statistical manipulation in a friend’s work.

The Crisis of Publication: the pressure to publish (three times a year at some universities) creates a robust market for scientists who produce dodgy research.


*P-value or probability value is one important measure of statistical significance.

 

 

 

 

 

Buyer Beware: Faulty Medical Devices Can Be Fatal

Out of Control: The Dangerous Health Business

DW (2019)

Film Review

In this documentary, DW investigates the EU’s medical device industry. The filmmakers maintain that medical complications caused by defective devices have increased by 300% in the EU and 1500% in the US, where regulation is even more lax.

The principal devices DW looks at are pacemakers, replacement hips, breast implants, insulin pumps, transvaginal mesh stabilizers and plastic spinal disk replacements. Reported complications include the failure of pacemakers to prevent fatal arrythmias, insulin pumps that accidentally overdose patients on insulin, and breast and orthopedic implants that rupture, leading to cancer, severe chronic pain and other serious complications.

The EU fails to rigorously enforce companies’ reporting requirements when patients and doctors discover defects in their products. Worse still, the EU allows some companies to bring medical devices to market without any clinical trials at all.

A German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has recently introduced a bill that would create a government certification program for all new medical devices. At present the EU allows manufacturers to hire private certifying companies to approve the safety of their products.

Monsanto Papers

The Monsanto Papers: The Secret Tactics Monsanto Used to Protect Roundup – Its Star Product

Four Corners (ABC) 2018

Film Review

This is an Australian documentary about a long history of deceptive tactics by Monsanto to conceal the link between the herbicide Roundup and non-Hodgkins lymphoma – known in Australian medical circles as farmer’s lymphoma.

The film centers around Dwayne Johnson’s $289 million award in a California lawsuit against Monsanto. Johnson was a groundskeeper who developed aggressive (and fatal) non-Hodgkins lymphoma after two years of routine spraying with Roundup. Legal analysts believe his victory stemmed mainly from secret documents the court ordered Monsanto to release. They reveal that Monsanto knew that Roundup was potentially carcinogenic and did everything possible to cover it up.

In her book Whitewash, investigative journalist Carey Gillam documents two instances in the 80’s and 90’s in which labs Monsanto used were caught falsifying data about Roundup’s alleged safety. When the EPA followed up with studies showing Roundup to be “possibly” carcinogenic, Monsanto lobbyists forced them to Alter their findings to “not likely” carcinogenic.

Then in 2003, Monsanto’s own chief toxicologist sent an email to his superiors maintaining the company couldn’t rightly assert that Roundup was non-carcinogenic because they had failed to undertake the appropriate studies. At the same time Monsanto lobbyists effectively blocked EPA efforts to conduct an independent review of Roundup’s potential link to cancer.

The saddest part of the film is the various Australian and US farmers interviewed who believe all the PR hype Monsanto (now Bayer-Monsanto) has been spouting and continue to risk their own lives and those of their families and consumers who eat the crops they produce. Bayer-Monsanto’s slick PR team (featured in the film) have totally convinced them the lawsuit they lost in California was merely a fluke, thanks to the state’s “treehugging” juries.

At present Bayer-Monsanto faces more than 9,000 lawsuits for cancer and other serious health problems related to Roundup.

 

 

 

Vaccines: What Medical Research Really Shows

In the following two videos, board certified nephrologist and vaccine researcher Dr Suzanne Humphries summarizes the peer reviewed evidence on infant immunity and the impact of vaccines on this process.

In the first, she explains the concept of epigenetics and exposures during pregnancy that have a lifelong impact on an offpsring’s health. In the second, she discusses the more specific effect of vaccination and aluminum adjuvant exposure during pregnancy and infancy.

Humphries begins her first lecture by challenging Western medicine’s overemphasis on the genetic basic of chronic illnesses. Recent research suggests that an individual’s genes are only 10 percent responsible for their overall health. Epigenetics – the environmental influences that impact gene expression (ie translation of genes into proteins) – plays a far bigger role.

Her particular concern is pro-inflammatory processes in the fetus and infant that produce epigenetic interference with the development of the immune system. Specific examples include poor nutrition, dysbiosis (disordered gut bacteria), alcohol, smoking, mood disorders, stress, antibiotics, antacids, pain killers, vaccinations and formula feeding.

There is strong evidence that the current epidemic of autism stems from epigenetic influences rather than genetic factors. Genetically based illnesses follow a statistically stable pattern. When there is a skyrocketing incidence of a disease (such as autism), the cause is environmental rather than genetic.

She ends her first lecture with a discussion of all the pro-inflammatory animal DNA and RNA introduced into the fetal/infant blood stream from vaccines given during pregnancy, and the 36 vaccines children receive prior to age 5.*

In the second film, Humphries explains how vaccines work, how the aluminum adjuvant in all vacines “overexcites” the immune system to elicit an immune response to the vaccine’s disease-causing agent.

Adverse vaccine reactions usually relate to an over-excited pro-inflmmatory response that can’t be shut off. This can result in chronically high levels of cytokines** in the fetus or infant that can permanently impair gene expression, immunity and grain development.**

The long term effect of repeated overstimulation of an infant’s immune system (via vaccines) has never been systematically studied.

There has also been no study of the long term effect on infant development of vaccinating pregnant women.***

However animal studies show the developing immune system is far more sensitive to developing a cascading inflammatory reaction that doesn’t shut off.


*Includes tumorigenic cocker spaniel cells (flu vaccine), monkey, chick and cow cells, and pig stomach cells.

**High levels of circulating cytokines are extremely common in autistic disorder.

***Humphries questions all the pressure on pregnant women and infants to accept the flue vaccine when CDC monitoring data reveals overall effectiveness as low as 25% in some years. Also several studies show repeated flu jabs make patients more susceptible to other respiratory viruses.