Friday, February 19, 2010

Avoid Aspartame

Over the years, I have written and lectured  about the dangers of artificial sweeteners.  One product seems to stand out from the rest:  aspartame.  Aspartame is used to provide a sweetened taste to food and drink.  It is found in a wide range of food products including diet sodas and low fat foods.  It is even found in most chewing gum products.
Aspartame was first synthesized in 1965.  The FDA approved aspartame for use in food products in 1980.   The FDA has concluded that aspartame is safe for consumption.  “Few compounds have withstood such detailed testing and repeated, close scrutiny, and the process through which aspartame has gone should proved the public with additional confidence of its safety,” the FDA claims.  If only that statement were true. 
Aspartame is presently marketed under the names Equal and NutraSweet. It accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA per year.  I see many patients adversely affected by aspartame.  Patients have reported a variety of negative symptoms from aspartame exposure including headaches, seizures, muscle aches and pains, weight gain, rashes, depression, insomnia, hearing loss, palpitations, vertigo, memory loss, and numbness.  I ask every new patient if they are eating/drinking food and drink containing aspartame.  If they are, I counsel them to remove it from their diet.  I have found it nearly impossible for overweight patients to lose weight when they continue to ingest aspartame. 
Aspartame is a known excitotoxin.  It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and can kill brain cells by over-stimulating them.  There are multiple illnesses associated with exposure to excitotoxins including:  multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.  I have successfully treated many patients, in part, by having them remove all aspartame from their diet. 
The maker of aspartame, Ajinomoto, has announced a new name for aspartame—AminoSweet.  It has the same ingredients as aspartame.  The company is trying to give the product a friendlier name.  Don’t be fooled.  There is no difference between NutraSweet and AminoSweet.  Both products need to be avoided.  Especially avoid aspartame if it is heated such as in coffee or tea as it changes its chemical structure to a formaldehyde-like product. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. 
If the FDA was truly looking out for us, the citizens, it would remove aspartame from the market place.  I would advise you to avoid any food product (gum, soda, diet food, etc.,) which contains aspartame.  And, remember, DO NOT use aspartame in any heated product. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

No Cure for Heart Disease?

The headline in today’s (2.12.10) Washington Post reads, “No cure for heart disease, Clinton’s case shows.”  The article states, “Bill Clinton has a new lease on life, but there’s no cure for the heart disease that has twice forced the former president to get blocked arteries fixed.”     Further in the article the writer states that bypass surgery grafts usually last around 10 years, on average. 
Bill Clinton was taken to the hospital yesterday for chest pain and found to have one of his bypass grafts blocked.  The doctors performed a cardiac catheritization where they placed a catheter near his heart and injected dye to find the blockage.  Once the blockage is visualized, they put a stent (a mesh tube) in the artery to open it up. 
Placing stents in blocked arteries have never been shown to prolong one’s life.  But, stent placement can help with symptoms such as chest pain and fatigue.  Furthermore, in an acute situation of an evolving heart attack or an impending heart attack, stent placement can be a life-saving procedure. 
Having said that I can assure you people do not have heart attacks due to a stent-deficiency syndrome.  They have heart attacks for a variety of reasons, but the main reason heart attacks occur is due to oxidative stress of the coronary arteries.  How do you get oxidative stress in the cells of the coronary arteries?  You can get increased oxidative stress by becoming nutrient deficient, particularly vitamin C deficient.  Research has shown that vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy or sub-clinical scurvy in the arteries and result in the development of plaque. Eventually plaque can build up and lead to a heart attack. 
Other nutrient deficiencies can lead to oxidative stress in the coronary arteries including deficiencies of omega 6 fats, magnesium, vitamin E and CoQ10.                                                                                                            
            I assume Bill Clinton is being treated with statin drugs.  In the Washington Post article it states that since Mr. Clinton’s original bypass surgery six years ago, “he has really toed the line.  This (the new stents) was not about his lifestyle or his diet.”  
Perhaps Mr. Clinton does not know that 50% of all heart attack patients have low cholesterol—below 200.  This one statistic blows apart the whole theory that lowering cholesterol levels prevents heart attacks.  That theory is nonsense.  In order to decrease heart attacks, the most important idea is to lower oxidative stress.  How do you do that?  Eat whole foods, drink water and correct nutrient and hormonal imbalances.  Exercise also helps to lower oxidative stress.
My father was a textbook case of what holistic medicine can do for heart disease.  In fact, he was my first heart disease patient treated with holistic medicine.  He had his first heart attack at age 40 and a second heart attack a few years later. He was treated with two bypass surgeries and numerous angioplasties and drugs.  At age 60 he was dying from heart disease.  Unfortunately, my dad never took care of himself.  He smoked cigarettes, was overweight and never exercised.  When I began using holistic medicine, I treated him with bioidentical hormones and a nutritional regimen of vitamins and minerals.   The change in his heart disease symptoms was astounding; 25 years of continual angina went away in a week.  He lost weight (without changing any bad habits) and, more importantly, he looked better and felt better.  His story is in my book The Miracle of Natural Hormones.  After using a holistic approach, he lived another 10 years and had a good quality of life during that time.       
Heart disease can be helped and, in some cases, cured.  However, heart disease is not cured from stents or prescription drug use.  Poor lifestyle choices which lead to nutrient and hormonal deficiencies as well as oxidative stress lead to heart disease.  I believe Bill Clinton needs a holistic evaluation to treat the underlying cause of heart disease.  There is no reason he cannot get the same positive results that I see from my patients. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables

Maybe your mother and grandmother were right when they told you, “Eat your vegetables.”  A new study (Cancer Causes Control.  2009.  20:75-86) pointed out that among dietary factors, vegetables were the only food group shown to have a favorable effect on thyroid cancer. 
Thyroid cancer encompasses approximately 1% of all malignancies diagnosed worldwide.  There were approximately 140,000 cases and 35,000 deaths worldwide occurring in 2002.[i]  Thyroid cancer has been increasing in the U.S. at near-pandemic rates over the last 20 years.  Fortunately, most people with thyroid cancer survive with appropriate treatment. 
The authors of this study looked at 42 original research papers that studied the relationship between thyroid cancer and dietary factors.  The scientists compared two groups of vegetables—cruciferous and non-cruciferous vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout, broccoli and bok choy.  These vegetables contain enzymes which can inhibit thyroid function.  I have found people eating a raw food diet who consume large amounts of cruciferous vegetables usually have thyroid abnormalities.  However, small amounts of these items eaten as part of a healthy diet usually do not interfere with thyroid function.
The authors found that a diet that contains the largest amount of vegetables (non-cruciferous) as compared to a diet with the smallest amount of vegetables had a 20% lower risk (relative risk) of thyroid cancer.  Those that ate cruciferous vegetables did not have a significant decline in thyroid cancer rate. 
Why would vegetables lower your risk for getting thyroid cancer?  Vegetables contain many antioxidants and flavinoids which are known to inhibit cancer cells. 
What other things can you do to prevent thyroid cancer?  Ensure that you have adequate iodine levels and avoid exposure to ionizing radiation.  For more information on thyroid cancer, I refer the reader to my books, Iodine Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 4th Edition, and Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, 2nd Edition.  

Cancer Causes Control.  2009.  20:75-86