Plant-Based Diets: Pluses and Minuses

Eating You Alive: One Bite at a Time

Directed by Paul David Kennamer Jr (2018)

Film Review

In essence, this documentary is a series of glowing testimonials from patients who reversed life threatening illnesses by switching to an organic whole food plant-based (ie vegan) diet. Although the film is disappointingly short on research evidence, the list of illnesses overcome with this diet is extremely impressive: end stage pancreatic cancer, lupus, stage 4 metastatic ovarian cancer, stage 4 renal cancer, severe heart disease, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, malignant hypertension, type II diabetes, and morbid obesity.

Although I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of any of the patients (who include Penn the magician and the actor Samuel L Jackson), I had reservations about some of the film’s basic premises. Given its heavy emphasis on obesity and type II diabetes, I was surprised it made no mention of insulin resistance or dysfunctional gut bacteria as triggers for obesity. In my experience, patients with insulin resistance are far more likely to lose weight on a high fat ketogenic diet. The latter is also extremely helpful for treatment-resistant seizures.

Unfortunately some of the doctors advocating for plant-based diets also make statements that aren’t strictly accurate. For example, decades of research has totally debunked the myth that consuming large amounts of cholesterol causes high blood cholesterol levels. It is now established that cholesterol is part of the body’s normal defense against inflammation, that the main cause of high cholesterol in otherwise “healthy” people is inflammation caused by excess dietary sugar. See How Sugar Really Affects Your Cholesterol

I was also concerned about the way featured doctors trashed olive and coconut oil as major culprits in cardiovascular disease and cancer. Numerous studies suggest otherwise.

The statement one of the doctors makes about no prior human culture relying on meat-based diets (as most of the industrialized world does at present) is simply untrue. Both the Massai people of Africa and the Inuit people of the Arctic traditionally ate 100% meat-based diets. Likewise all hunter gatherer societies relied on occasional meat in addition to a routine diet of fruits and vegetables.

I was also concerned that the doctors featured saw no need to caution viewers about limitations of a 100% plant-based diet in terms of specific key nutrients: Vitamin B12, zinc, iron (in menstruating and pregnant women), Vitamin D and omega 3. Most of the doctors I know recommend their vegan patients take supplements providing these nutrients. Pregnant women following a vegan diet also need to be monitored closely to ensure their protein intake is adequate.

The full film can be viewed free at https://tubitv.com/movies/475193/eating-you-alive

 

 

The Shikimate Pathway: How Vaccines, Environmental Toxins and 5G Damage Immunity

Truth: Interview with RFJ Jr and Dr Zach Bush

December 2020

Film Review

This recent interview between Robert F Kennedy Jr and Dr Zach Bush concerns the essential role of the shikimate pathway in immunity. Found only in bacteria and other single cell organisms, the link between shikimate pathway and the immune system is the focus of two decades of intensive research. Scientists (and a growing number of doctors) worry a variety of toxic environmental pollutants are causing chronic illnesses to skyrocket by poisoning the gut bacteria responsible for our immunity.

Glyphosate (Roundup) is the most common and best studied of these environmental toxins, but PFAS (flame retardant chemicals), the mercury and aluminum found in vaccines, ultrasound and EMF radiation (associated with cellphones, WiFi and 5G) are also likely culprits.

Both Kennedy and Bush believe the poisoning of essential gut bacteria is largely responsible for a five-fold increase in chronic illnesses (eg autism, autoimmune disease and diabetes) since the 1940s.
 
According to Bush, these toxic exposures are rapidly increasing male infertility. At present, over 1/3 of Western men are infertile.
 
For me, the most interesting part of the interview concerns new evidence that neither our blood nor brain are sterile, as I was taught in medical school. Bush asserts there are thousands of viral and bacterial species present in both. In fact, specific brain microbes play an important role in safeguarding brain activity.
 
I was also intrigued to learn about the link between the introduction of arsenic and mercury pesticides in the late 19th century the appearance of a paralytic form of polio in the 1890s.* So-called “infantile paralysis” would reach epidemic proportions with the introduction of DDT following World War II. Likewise polio vaccine was relatively ineffective in eradicating polio prior to the banning of DDT in Western countries in 1972.

Bush, a physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology and hospice care, has started a biotech company studying soil microorganisms (the original source of most of our antibiotics) and harvesting the therapeutic chemicals they produce for use in nutritional supplements. He’s also heavily involved in regenerative farming projects in schools and prisons. His website is https://zachbushmd.com/


*According to Bush, human beings have lived in harmony with polio virus for thousands of years. It only began causing paralysis after environmental poisons killed the friendly bacteria that normal prevent it from invading the human nervous system.

 

Raw Milk and Civil Disobedience.

Milk?

Real Stories (2017)

Film Review

An over-the-top campaign by the FDA to arrest and intimidate US producers and distributors of raw milk has led the sale and consumption of raw milk to be the third most common form of civil disobedience, after marijuana possession and tax evasion. See The Federal Campaign Against Local Health Food

This is the first time I’ve seen the issue of raw milk portrayed as a form of civil disobedience, which it clearly is. Otherwise I had a problem with the way this documentary was divided into pro-milk and anti-milk camps. People who wish to consume milk need clear and accurate information about some of the health risks. Unfortunately this film leaves viewers  with the sense that milk-related health risks are far too complex for consumers to reach any clear conclusion.

The Powerful Dairy Lobby

Owing to billions the dairy lobby has spent on marketing (and a fair amount of bribery and corruption at the US Department of Agriculture) the supposed health benefits of milk, milk and dairy product are the most consumed food on earth. Milk and dairy products account for 46% of the average American’s diet.

The filmmakers interview a host of independent researchers, government scientists, dairy farmers and industry lobbyists. Some of the research presented is highly concerning, such as the 27-year China study linking casein (milk protein) to liver cancer and studies linking Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone (given to US cows and excreted in their milk) to prostate cancer. This dangerous Monsanto product is banned in everywhere but the US.

Among other significant facts filmmakers omitted is that many from specific ethnic groups (especially those of African or East Asian origin) become ill when they drink milk. This is either because they lack the enzyme necessary to digest lactose (milk sugar) or the enzymes needed to digest casein (milk protein).

The Raw Milk/Pasteurization Debate

I was also irritated by the portrayal of the pasteurization/raw milk issue as a matter of conflicting opinion. Numerous studies have documented that pasteurization doesn’t destroy micobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), the organism linked with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic, severely debilitating and sometimes fatal intestinal condition (see Mycobacterium Avium Tuberculosis).

What pasteurization does accomplish very effectively is the destruction of all the beneficial enzymes and bacteria in raw milk. Raw milk is used therapeutically in Europe for a number of health conditions related to dysfunctional gut bacteria (irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, diabetes, autism, mental illness, depression, anxiety, immune deficiency, Parkinson’s Disease, eczema and psoriasis).

 

Peer Reviewed Study Links Roundup and Growing Gluten Intolerance

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance

Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff

Abstract:

Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer.

Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids.

Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest.

We argue that the practice of “ripening” sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.

From  Interdisciplinary Toxicology

How Gut Bacteria Control Our Health

The Microiome Revolution: Why Microbes Control Your Life

Jack A Gilbert

The Microbiome Revolution provides a brief and user friendly introduction to the essential role the microbiome (the bacteria that colonize our gut) plays in human health. Through their research, Gilbert and other microbiologists have induced obesity, allergies, autism, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and other illnesses by manipulating intestinal bacteria in mice. Gilbert contends that specific gut bacteria can even alter behavior.

He stresses that our current obsession with eradicating bacteria (ie prescription antibiotics, antibiotics used on factory farms, antibacterial soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc) has dire implications for human health. The human body is an ecosystem in which microbial cells outnumber “human” cells by ten to one. Doctors increasingly view the microbiome as a vital organ, like the liver or kidneys.

Thanks to Gilbert’s crowdfunding site*, his research team has collected the microbiome profiles of hundreds of thousands of people. This baseline has enabled them to identify specific bacterial profiles associated with good health. In general, rural third world residents have the most diverse and healthiest gut bacteria, while urban residents in the industrialized world have the least diverse and the most unhealthy.

Lecture starts at 3:15.

*Ubiome – for $89 you get a Ubiome gut kit to submit a sample of your feces for analysis

 

Intestinal Bacteria and Chronic Illness

bacteria

(This is the second of 2 posts about a possible link between intestinal bacteria, obesity, and other chronic illnesses.)

The most enlightening article I’ve seen about micrbiota (gut bacteria) research is an April 2013 article from Mother Jones. It explores the possibility that insulin resistance (see previous post) is actually an “inflammatory” process caused by the production of “endotoxin” by unhealthy gut bacteria.

The Major Health Implications of Dysbiosis

Owing to a doubling of obesity rates since 1980, this strikes me as a reasonable hypothesis. The mass marketing of antibiotics by Big Pharma, Food Inc (in livestock feed), and Monsanto (in genetically modified organisms) has led to epidemic levels of dysbiosis (a derangement in gut bacteria) in the industrialized world. In addition to skyrocketing obesity rates, the developed world has also experienced a significant increase in other dysbiosis-related conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and degenerative and autoimmune disease. It would also explain why children born to obese mothers (we acquire gut bacteria from our mothers) are more likely to suffer from asthma, attention deficit disorder, and autism.

The article cites research from the University of Washington showing that foods high in saturated fats and sugar promote the growth of endotoxin-producing inflammatory bacteria. Endotoxin, in turn, causes inflammatory damage to the the hypothalamus, the brain’s appetite center. When this occurs, people lose the ability to feel full and eat to excess.

The Mother Jones article also references studies in which volunteers improved their insulin sensitivity, as well as losing weight, by reducing their level of “inflammatory” bacteria. They accomplished this by consuming diets rich in fermented foods containing healthy, anti-inflammatory bacteria.

Most interesting of all are studies showing that bariatric (weight loss) surgery helps some patients and not others depending on their ability to grow a healthier microbiota (gut bacteria colony) following their procedure.

The Care and Feeding of Intestinal Bacteria

After suffering a sudden onset of so-called “irritable bowel” syndrome 20 years ago, I have a strong personal interest in dysbiosis. The Sydney GI specialist I consulted says the only effective treatment for most IBS sufferers is to re-establish a healthy microbiota.

The end of the article offers a number of suggestions how to accomplish this. The bottom line is to consume a diet rich in 1) fermented foods with live bacterial cultures and 2) complex carbohydrate and fiber-rich foods these organisms thrive on. Studies show that treatment with whole foods is always preferable to taking probiotics. Fermented foods contain literally thousands of strains of bacteria that work collaboratively with one another. Probiotic capsules, in contrast, contain a dozen strains at most and are likely to be destroyed by stomach acid

Examples of helpful fermented foods include sauerkraut (only if it’s made via fermentation), miso (fermented soybean paste), kefir (a fermented drink), and some yoghurts. To ensure the bacterial cultures are live, it’s best to ferment these foods yourself or get them from a reliable health food store. It’s also essential to check the label to make sure they aren’t pasteurized (pasteurization kills bacteria).

The foods these bacteria like to munch on include onions, garlic, potatoes, bananas, yams, apples, oranges, whole grains, Jerusalem artichokes, legumes and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower).

Looking after the new bacteria in my intestine is almost like having a new pet to care for. I can already tell from my symptoms which foods they really like: yam, cooked apples, and avocado. Luckily I’m pretty keen on them myself.

photo credit: www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca via photopin cc