Monthly Archives: April 2016

Why do the Amish rarely get cancer?

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The Amish way of life isn’t in any way modern. But when it comes to health and longevity, studies show that the Amish may be up to something very modern indeed.

A study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control found very few instances of cancer among the Amish population of Holmes County, Ohio. Out of 26 000 individuals, only 191 cancer cases were identified between the years 1996 and 2003 (1).

The researchers were surprised to find such low rates of cancer. In fact, they theorized that the Amish would have higher instances of cancer because of their small gene pool, which should have increased the incidence of cancer-related gene mutations. Instead, this small gene pool, combined with a few lifestyle factors, may be responsible for their low cancer rates.

The secret to Amish health lies in their restrictive lifestyle. As you probably know, the Amish are a conservative Christian group that shuns conveniences of the modern world because they believe that modern technology negatively impacts humility, family, community, and faith.

While most Amish communities shun modern society as a whole, others are more open minded and may embrace technology as long as it doesn’t disrupt family and community stability.

1. They Lead A Humble Life
Amish families rely on hard labour to survive. In fact, Amish children quickly learn how to build homes and furniture as well as how to tend to the land. This constant exercise maintains their cardiovascular health and keeps their organs and tissues fueled with essential nutrients and oxygen. The Amish also don’t smoke or drink, aren’t sexually promiscuous, and keep their skin covered from the harsh sun. These habits reduce their risk of developing certain cancers.

2. They Make Everything At Home
Since Amish people shun modern conveniences, they don’t use the chemical-laden products popular in American homes, such as dishwasher soap, deodorant, fragrance plug-ins and toxic cleaning products. Amish people also aren’t exposed to cancer-causing EMFs in their daily life because they simply don’t own any appliances or electronics.

3. They Eat Organic Whole Food
Most Amish communities grow their own organic food and use heirloom seeds, which tend to be more biological compatible with the human body than GMO seeds. These communities don’t rely on herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizer and their meat and dairy products don’t contain any hormones or antibiotics.

4. They Believe In Modern (alternative) Medicine
Amish people experience fewer medical interventions throughout their lifetime than other Americans. When they do have a medical problem, most Amish families rely on natural remedies to get their health back on track. Some turn to traditional medicine, but many prefer reflexologists and chiropractors to conventional doctors. This approach limits their exposure to liver-damaging pharmaceuticals and the potentially devastating side-effects of conventional drugs.

The Amish people seem to have it right when it comes to living a carcinogen-free life. While joining them completely may be a bit of a stretch, it’s worth looking into following a more natural lifestyle to ensure better long-term health.

Read full article… 

Why gut bacteria is good for you

Blame it on our naivety, ignorance or hypochondria, we tend to associate the word ‘bacteria’ with illness and poor health.

Combined in equal parts with our ancestral disdain (because our microbiota is mainly a replica of that harboured by our parents) for salads and greens (the richest source of fibre on which these bacteria thrive), our gut bacteria have now been pushed to the brink of near extinction.

So where does this diminishing biodiversity leave you? For starters, let’s just say, more incapacitated than you thought!

Role of gut bacteria

The bacterial consortium residing in our gut is an important determinant of our optimal wellness. From assimilation of essential nutrients in food, synthesising of Vitamin K, digestion of cellulose in green vegetables, to promotion of angiogenesis and regulation of enteric nerve function, these bacteria perform myriad jobs in our body.

Furthermore, these commensal bacteria strengthen our immunity by enhancing barrier integrity, thus preventing pathogens and harmful bacteria from invading our systems.

Other benefits rendered by gut microflora include absorption of minerals, transformation of bile acid and destruction of toxins, genotoxins and mutagens. Some bacteria even prevent formation of kidney stones.

To put the acuity of their roles in perspective, consider the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ which posits that disruption of microbiome in the body leads to onset of autoimmune diseases due to compromised immunity of the individual.

Other studies have found association between depleted microbiome and diseases such as Type II Diabetes, and conditions like allergies and food sensitivities.

Gut microbiome and lack thereof has been implicated in obesity because these organisms contribute in appetite regulation and energy harvest from food.

An unhealthy or imbalanced bacterial flora has also been alleged in conditions such as intestinal inflammation, cardio-metabolic diseases, and colorectal, prostate and gastric cancers which occur due to production of genotoxins by bacteria and microbial metabolism of carcinogens’ in food.

This upheaval is triggered by a number of factors such as environmental exposures, genetic makeup, age, use of antibiotics and most importantly, diet.

Dietary fibre is given way less credit than it is due. It does so much more than just regulating bowel movements. For instance, research links high fibre diet with lesser incidence of breast cancer in females as increased consumption of fruits and vegetables during adolescence cuts back cancer risk by 24%.

Scientific data accrued over several decades shows plausible ties between fibre rich diet, thriving of gut microbiota and low cancer incidence. Additionally, variety in type of fibre consumed benefits the human body even more as it tends to diversify the bacterial population because different bacteria specialise in metabolism of different type of fibre.

A rich gut microbiome translates into increased cellular nutrition and less chances of acute and chronic inflammation.

Direct impact of low fibre diet on gut microbiome was recently studied by a team of microbiologists at Stanford University. Experiments conducted by microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg and his team using a mice model found that low fibre diet did indeed render the gut microbes virtually extinct.

Using mice loaded with identical gut flora, the investigators fed them high fibre diet and then randomly switched half of them to low fibre chow for a period of seven weeks. As expected, the microbiota of low fibre group badly suffered, with colonial count of as many as 60 different microbes waning dramatically.

Not only this, but the effect cascaded through generations as the researchers found that the off springs of test subjects had narrower microbiomes, and even more bacterial species blinked out if these mice consumed low fibre diet like their ancestors.

The change was also found to be irreversible in fourth generation of mice even when fed high fibre diet subsequently. Other studies show that the gut microbiome of industrialised populations is much less diverse than those residing in rural areas and consuming a high fibre diet of vegetables and fruits.

So the next time around, don’t pass the salad for chicken nuggets. You will be doing yourself an enormous favour as it will take more than a tub of yogurt to reverse the impact of your oil and salt rich diet on your friendly gut residents.

Full article … 

Purpose: Secret to a Longer, Healthier Life

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NO, I’m not obsessed with the subject of longevity, even if I do hit 70 this summer (after all, 70 is the new 50, right?!) But this is good stuff from Life Reimagined

Having a clearly defined the purpose not only makes your life more meaningful, but can extend it as well. This is one of the newest and most exciting trends in health research. Eric Kim, a research fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health studies how aging, positive thinking and physical health are linked. Here are some of his encouraging findings.

Research in psychology has almost exclusively focused on how negative factors lead to worse health. Now, we’re learning that positive psychological factors like optimism, satisfaction and purpose in life appear to have a unique positive impact on health—an impact above and beyond the absence of psychological distress. We also find that positive factors that are beyond an individual’s control—for example, the psychological functioning of your partner—can have an impact on health. Our research suggests that you would be healthier if your partner was more optimistic. Further, the level of cohesion in your neighborhood appears to impact your health and create a healthier lifestyle.

Are meaning and purpose the same?

For hundreds of years philosophers and theologians have been writing about purpose and meaning in life. It is only very recently that scientists have begun examining this topic. In general, meaning looks backward and helps us process and make sense of life events that have happened in the past. In contrast, purpose in life looks forward and helps motivate us into the future through aims, goals and directions.

Is purpose different than optimism? Do you need both?

Purpose is indeed different than optimism. Purpose is a self-organizing life aim that helps people stimulate and organize goals, which in turn helps manage behaviors. Optimism on the other hand is a generalized expectation that good things will happen. I don’t know of any studies that examined whether we need both purpose and optimism in order to have a positive impact on health, but my educated guess is that having both will lead to better health compared to having only one or the other.

What does your research reveal about the health benefits of having purpose?

I have had the good fortune of leading studies on purpose in life with a number of experts in different fields. In a nutshell, we found that higher purpose in life was longitudinally associated with a reduced risk of stroke, myocardial infarction and sleep disturbances. We also found that purpose in life was associated with an increased likelihood of obtaining several preventive screenings, including cholesterol tests, colonoscopies, mammograms, pap smears, prostate exams and flu shots. Further, purpose in life was associated with fewer overall doctor visits and fewer overnight hospitalizations. In all of these studies, we found that these associations between purpose and health persisted in several statistical models that adjusted for plausible confounders.

Can having purpose make anybody healthier?

We are tackling the question of whether the health benefits of purpose cross all socioeconomic lines. The preliminary answer appears to be yes. This study is not yet published, but we have found the association between purpose and a healthy life persists across levels of wealth and education. We also plan to see if the health benefits of purpose persist across racial/ethnic lines.

Are there any projections on how much the health care industry could save if everyone lived more purposefully?

This is difficult for me to calculate, however here are some results from our study, conducted in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults over the age of 50. Compared to people with the lowest purpose, people with the highest purpose make 32% fewer doctor visits and spend 61% fewer overnights in the hospital. Further, compared to people with the lowest purpose, people with the highest purpose are 121% more likely to obtain flu shots, 228% more likely to obtain cholesterol tests, and 133% more likely to obtain colonoscopies. Women are 330% more likely to obtain a mammogram and 210% more likely to receive a pap smear, while men are 386% more likely to receive a prostate exam. Each hospital stay for an adult aged 65-84 costs approximately $12,300. Physician visits average $218 per visit.

What’s the future of research on purpose and its relationship to wellness?

There is rapidly growing interest in this topic. Religion and philosophy have explored this topic for several centuries, but recently scientists, healthcare, and even the world of business is realizing how important purpose is. Also, there is an interesting concept called Blue Zones, places where people seem to live longer. People in these zones have some things in common including an active lifestyle, healthy diet and a sense of purpose. Okinawa Japan is a Blue Zone where they have a term called “ikigai,” which translates into “a reason for which you wake up in the morning.” This reason for living isn’t always large and grand in scope—although it is sometimes. For example, some people say their “ikigai” is tending a vegetable garden that helps feed his/her children and grandchildren. More research has to be done on these Blue Zones, but it’s a fascinating concept.


Some of us are working on maintaining our own Blue Zones. My Life Purpose is “to encourage others to their full potential”. My Life Goal is “to know and love my great-grandchildren”. Can you connect them? I can! That means these kiddos children!!

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How Can We Keep Our Brain Healthy?

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Answer: Eat. Sleep. Hydrate. Exercise.

About 20 percent of the calories we consume are utilized by the brain. Besides the constant need for energy, our complex neural systems require a vast amount of nutrients to keep them churning full speed ahead. This is especially true as we age and are more susceptible to cognitive decline.

Asides from vitamin B12 and iron, there is a plethora of antioxidants and other micronutrients that help the brain function at peak levels. These nutrients are sorely missing from processed foods. If you want to keep your brain healthy and happy, make sure to eat real foods.

Here are some tips to help your brain be at its best.

  • Get moving: physical exercise is not only important for your body’s health; it also helps your brain stay sharp.
  • Get enough sleep. This not only ensures you are thinking clearly, it lessens the chance of you eating junk food.
  • Drink enough water.Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue and brain fog, as well as headaches, sleep issues, anger, and depression.
  • Get your vitamin D, essential for proper brain functioning, either from the sun, mushrooms, fish oil, or supplements.
  • Reduce your consumption of sugars and refined carbs. Although the brain is partially responsible for the addiction we have to sugars, in this age of plenty, most people overdose and damage their brain’s health.
  • Avoid inflammatory fats and focus on good fats from avocado, fish, nuts, and seeds.
  • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Each color represents a different set of antioxidants. Berries, especially, are very high in antioxidants.
  • Eat an abundance of berries: the polyphenol compounds in the fruits activate the brain’s natural “housekeeping” mechanism, clearing out stored toxins.
  • Add spices to your life. Fresh or dried, many spices and herbs have very high antioxidant values.

More articles on brain health….


These recommendations are all inline with our #OneSimpleChange program:

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Early Exposure to Friendly Bacteria Lowers Risk of Asthma and Allergies

In my last post, “How Fruits and Vegetables Can Treat Asthma“,  I mentioned that my “life-long” asthma (mine for 48 years), was a thing of the past since I found a way to smuggle those vital green veggies into my diet.

Good-BacteriaNow it appears my early sickness (almost from birth) may have also contributed. My parents kept me from exposure to germs, and in the process may have limited my exposure to  the “good bacteria” that it now seems could have prevented my asthma from developing.

A team of Canadian scientists, reporting in Science Translational Medicine, analyzed the billions of bugs that naturally call the human body home. Their analysis of 319 children showed they were at higher risk of asthma if four types of bacteria were missing.

The team, at the University of British Columbia and the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, compared the microbiome at three months and at one year with asthma risk at the age of three.

Childhood asthma

Children lacking four types of bacteria – Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (Flvr) – at three months were at high risk of developing asthma at the age of three, based on wheeze and skin allergy tests.

The same effect was not noticed in the microbiome of one-year-olds, suggesting that the first few months of life are crucial.

Further experiments showed that giving the bacterial cocktail to previously germ-free mice reduced inflammation in the airways of their pups.

One of the researchers, Dr Stuart Turvey, said: “Our longer-term vision would be that children in early life could be supplemented with Flvr to look to prevent the ultimate development of asthma.”

“I want to emphasise that we are not ready for that yet, we know very little about these bacteria, [but] our ultimate vision of the future would be to prevent this disease.”

Asthma is caused by airways that are more sensitive to irritation and inflammation.
Cases have soared, and one in every 11 children is now diagnosed with asthma.

One explanation for the rise in asthma and allergies is the “hygiene hypothesis”, which suggests that children are no longer exposed to enough microbes to calibrate the immune system to tell the difference between friend and foe.

Giving birth by Caesarean section and not breast-feeding both limit the bacteria that are passed to a newborn. Antibiotics taken by a pregnant woman or newborn child can also change the microbiome.

Dr Brett Finlay, another researcher in the project, said: “[I was] surprised to realise that faecal microbes may be influencing things.

“What data’s really starting to show these days is that the immune system gets itself set up in the gut and influences how it works everywhere else in the body.”

‘Right bugs, right time’

Dr Benjamin Marsland, from the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, said: “For a number of years, exposure to microbes has been linked with protection against asthma, a classic example is growing up on a farm and drinking raw milk.”

“This new study adds weight to these observations and supports the concept that there are certain developmental windows in early life, where it’s really important to get the right signals.”

“A common factor in all studies so far has been the microbiota, in fact making sure babies have the right bugs, at the right time, might be the best step towards preventing asthma and allergies.”

Dr Samantha Walker, from the charity Asthma UK, said: “Asthma is a complex condition, and this research suggests that the delicate balance of gut bacteria in our bodies affects our immune systems and may have a role to play in why some people go on to develop asthma.”

“However, much more research is needed to help understand what these findings mean in terms of providing advice for new parents, developing treatments and ultimately a cure.”


Another “However”: let’s not forget the vital role nutrition (and Juice Plus+) play in transforming our health. After, all my “life-long asthma” is no more!

How Fruits and Vegetables Can Treat Asthma

This is a great article by:  22 years ago I discovered my lifelong asthma was virtually gone. It’s been a non-issue ever since. 

Treating Asthma with Fruits and Vegetables

In my video Preventing Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables, I highlighted an international study of asthma and allergies involving more than a million kids. The study found a consistent inverse relationship between prevalence rates of asthma, allergies, and eczema and the intake of plants, starch, grains, and vegetables. Researchers speculated “over a decade ago that if these findings could be generalized, and if the average daily consumption of these foods increased, an important decrease in symptom prevalence could be achieved.” No need to speculate any more, though, because plants were finally put to the test.

Researchers have proposed that “by eating fewer fruits and vegetables, the susceptibility to potentially harmful inhaled substances of the population as a whole may be increased because of the reduction in antioxidant defenses of the lungs.” The thin lining of fluid that forms the interface between our respiratory tract and the external environment is our first line of defense against oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is important in asthma, contributing to airway contraction, excessive mucous production, and hypersensitivity. Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress, so our lung lining contains a range of antioxidants our body makes itself, as well as those obtained from our diet, particularly from fruits and vegetables.

We can even quantify the level of oxidative stress in people by measuring the level of oxidation products in their exhaled breath, which drops as we start eating more fruits and vegetables, and drops further as we combine more plants with fewer animal foods.

Do those with asthma really have lower levels of antioxidants than people without asthma? Compared to healthy controls, subjects with asthma had lower whole blood levels of total carotenoids and lower levels of each of the individual phytonutrients they measured: cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene compared to healthy controls.

Therefore, they posit, “the accumulating evidence does suggest that diet has an influence in modulating the response of the lung to inhaled allergens and irritants. However, it is possible that the reduced carotenoid levels in asthma are a result of increased utilization in the presence of excess free radicals.” So it’s like a chicken-or-the-egg phenomenon.

We know antioxidant-rich diets have been associated with reduced asthma prevalence. However, direct evidence that altering intake of antioxidant-rich foods actually affects asthma was lacking, until now.

There are two ways to test the effects of fruits and vegetables on asthma. Add fruits and vegetables to people’s diets and see if their asthma improves, or take asthmatics and remove fruits and vegetables from their diets and see if they get worse.

The first such study of its kind, highlighted in my video, Treating Asthma With Fruits and Vegetables, placed subjects with asthma on a low antioxidant diet. After just a matter of days, there was a significant worsening of lung function and asthma control. The researchers conclude that, “This finding is highly significant for subjects with asthma, as it indicates that omitting antioxidant-rich foods from the diet, for even a short time frame, will have a detrimental effect on asthma symptoms.”

Ironically, the low antioxidant diet consumed by subjects, where they were restricted to one serving of fruit and up to two servings of vegetables per day, is typical of Western diets. In other words, the low antioxidant diet they used to worsen people’s asthma, crippling their lung function, was just like the standard American diet.

As about “half the population usually consumes a diet with an intake of fruit and vegetables equivalent to that in the study diet or less, it appears likely that this dietary pattern, which must be considered suboptimal for lung health, may have a significant impact on asthma management, indicating the potential for typical Western dietary patterns to contribute to a worsening of lung function and asthma control.”

Within just days, cutting down fruit and vegetable intake can impair lung function, but does adding fruits and vegetables help with asthma? That was the second phase of the study.

Asthmatics on the standard American diet had about a 40% chance of relapsing into an asthma exacerbation within three months. However, put them on seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day instead of three, and we cut their exacerbation rate in half, down to 20%. Imagine if there were a drug that could work as powerfully as a few fruits and vegetables.

If manipulating antioxidant intake by increasing fruit and vegetable intake can so powerfully reduce asthma exacerbation rates, why not just take antioxidant pills instead? I cover that in my video Treating Asthma With Plants vs. Supplements?

And if a few extra servings of fruits and vegetables can make that kind of difference, what about a whole diet composed of plants? Check out Treating Asthma and Eczema With Plant-Based Diets.