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Adequate Vitamin C Linked to Lower Risk for Heart Disease and Early Death


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is widely known to lower your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease while cutting your risk of dying prematurely nearly in half.1

People who eat seven or more servings of vegetables daily, for instance, enjoy a 31 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 25 percent lower risk of cancer. And each additional daily portion of fresh veggies lowered participants’ risk of death by 16 percent (compared to 4 percent for fresh fruit).

It’s not any one compound in veggies that makes them so healthy; rather, it’s the synergistic effect of all of their vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and likely, yet-to-be-discovered elements that add up to make vegetables superfoods.

However, researchers recently teased out one such benefit from the crowd, revealing that a primary reason why people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease and early death is because of their high vitamin C levels.

Higher Vitamin C Levels Linked to Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Early Death

A Danish study that followed more than 100,000 people found those with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables had a 15 percent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 20 percent lower risk of early death compared with those with the lowest intakes.2

The study also revealed that those with the highest plasma vitamin C levels had significantly reduced rates of heart disease and all-cause mortality. The researchers explained:3

“… [W]e can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruit and vegetables… our data cannot exclude that a favorable effect of high intake of fruit and vegetables could in part be driven by high vitamin C concentrations.”

Past research has also revealed vitamin C’s role in heart health. For instance, a study published in the American Heart Journal revealed that each 20 micromole/liter (µmol/L) increase in plasma vitamin C was associated with a nine percent reduction in heart failure mortality.4

According to Dr. Andrew Saul, editor of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, if everyone were to take 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per day — the dose required to reach a healthy level of 80 µmol/L — an estimated 216,000 lives could be spared each year.

How Does Vitamin C Protect Your Heart?

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant known to block some of the damage caused by DNA-damaging free radicals. Over time, free radical damage may accelerate aging and contribute to the development of heart disease and other health conditions. It’s through this antioxidant effect that it’s thought vitamin C may play a role in protecting heart health.

For instance, people who eat a diet rich in antioxidants like vitamin C may have a lower risk of high blood pressure. Vitamin C is also known to slow down the progression of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

It may help keep your arteries flexible and prevents damage to LDL cholesterol. People with low levels of vitamin C are at increased risk of heart attack, peripheral artery disease, and stroke, all of which can stem from atherosclerosis.5

A preliminary French study is among those that showed people with vitamin C deficiency are at an increased risk for a lethal hemorrhagic stroke (when an artery that feeds your brain with blood actually ruptures). According to Daily News:6

“Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in our study,’ study researcher Dr. Stéphane Vannier, M.D., of Pontchaillou University Hospital in France, said in a statement.

‘More research is needed to explore specifically how vitamin C may help to reduce stroke risk. For example, the vitamin may regulate blood pressure.’… [P]ast studies have also linked vitamin C with reduced stroke risk.

A 2008 University of Cambridge study found people with high blood levels of vitamin C reduced their stroke risk by 42 percent, and a similar 1995 study in the British Medical Journal indicated elderly people with low levels of the vitamin had a greater risk of stroke.”

3 More Reasons Why Your Heart Needs Vitamin C

According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, vitamin C is a superstar for your heart health, improving it in the following ways:7

1. Enhance Glutathione

Vitamin C enhances your body’s level of glutathione. Known as your body’s most powerful antioxidant, glutathione is a tripeptide found in every single cell in your body.

It is called “master antioxidant” because it is intracellular and has the unique ability of maximizing the performance of all the other antioxidants, including vitamins E, CoQ10, and alpha-lipoic acid, as well as the fresh vegetables and fruits that you eat every day.

Glutathione’s primary function is to protect your cells and mitochondria from oxidative and peroxidative damage. It is also essential for detoxification, energy utilization, and preventing the diseases we associate with aging.

Glutathione also eliminates toxins from your cells and gives protection from the damaging effects of radiation, chemicals, and environmental pollutants. Your body’s ability to produce glutathione decreases with aging, which is one reason why vitamin C may be even more important as you get older.

2. Strengthen Your Blood Vessel Walls

Vitamin C is essential for the biosynthesis of collagen, which in turn is beneficial for your arterial walls. According to Dr. Sinatra:8

Weakened collagen can permit noxious oxidized LDL, homocysteine, Lp(a), cigarette smoke, and heavy metals to cause inflammatory reactions in the vascular lining — which starts the atherosclerotic plaque formation process.”

3. Improve Vasodilation

Your blood vessels’ ability to expand is known as vasodilation. If vasodilation is poor, it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Vitamin C increases the availability of nitric oxide (NO), which promotes vasodilation.

What Else Is Vitamin C Good For?

Total Video Length: 56:38

Download Interview Transcript

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it doesn’t get stored in your body and you must consume what you need from the foods you eat each day. Vitamin C is utilized throughout your body to heal wounds, repair and maintain bones and teeth, and produce collagen, a protein found in your skin, cartilage, blood vessels, and more.

In addition to heart disease, vitamin C is considered an anti-aging vitamin and actually reversed age-related abnormalities in mice with a premature aging disorder, restoring healthy aging.9 It has also been found to play a role in preventing the common cold, cancer, osteoarthritis, age-related macular degeneration, asthma, and more. Vitamin C may also be useful for:10

Boosting immune system function Improving vision in people with uveitis (inflammation of the middle part of the eye) Allergy-related conditions, such as eczema and hay fever
Treating sunburn Alleviating dry mouth Healing burns and wounds
Decreasing blood sugar in diabetics Fighting viral illnesses, such as mononucleosis Maintaining healthy gums

In the video above, you can also hear from Dr. Ronald Hunninghake, an internationally recognized expert on vitamin C who has personally supervised more than 60,000 intravenous (IV) vitamin C administrations. Dr. Hunninghake explained:

The way to really understand vitamin C is to go back to the writings of Irwin Stone who wrote The Healing Factor, which was a fantastic book written in the ‘70s about vitamin C. He points out that every creature, when they are sick, greatly increase their liver’s or their kidney’s production of vitamin C. But humans, primates, and guinea pigs have lost that ability.

We still have the gene that makes the L-gulonolactone oxidase enzyme that converts glucose to vitamin C but it’s non-functional. We have to get our vitamin C from the outside: from food. When we give vitamin C intravenously, what we’re doing is recreating your liver’s ability to synthesize tremendous amounts of vitamin C… So I always look upon high dose vitamin C as nature’s way of dealing with crisis in terms of your health.”

IV vitamin C is used for a variety of illnesses, notably as an adjunct to cancer treatment and for chronic infections, such as cold or flu or even chronic fatigue.

Eating Plenty of Vegetables Is the Best Way to Get Vitamin C

The ideal way to optimize your vitamin C stores is by eating a wide variety of fresh whole foods. A number of people, primarily with the naturopathic perspective, believe that in order to be truly effective, synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid) alone is not enough. They believe the combination of the ascorbic acid with its associated micronutrients, such as bioflavonoids and other components. Eating a colorful diet (i.e. plenty of vegetables) helps ensure you’re naturally getting the phytonutrient synergism needed. Hunninghake agrees.

“There is no question that would be a better way to go. Any time you can [get vitamin C from] food, you’re going to be better off… [F]ood is still the essential thing your body needs in order to get optimal cellular functioning. But when you’re sick, you can use trace nutrients in orthomolecular doses to achieve effects that you can’t get from just food alone. But in general, for people who are healthy and want to stay healthy, I would recommend using vitamin C that has bioflavonoids and other co-factors associated with it.”

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting enough vegetables in your diet is by juicing them. For more information, please see my juicing page. You can also squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice into some water for a vitamin C rich beverage. You can also increase your vegetable and fruit intake. While many contain vitamin C, particularly rich sources include:

Sweet peppers Chili peppers Brussels sprouts
Broccoli Artichoke Sweet potato
Tomato Cauliflower Kale
Papaya Strawberries Oranges
Kiwi Grapefruit Cantaloupe

When taking an oral vitamin C, you also want to be mindful of your dosing frequency. Dr. Steve Hickey, who wrote the book Ascorbate, has shown that if you take vitamin C frequently throughout the day, you can achieve much higher plasma levels. So even though your kidneys will tend to rapidly excrete the vitamin C, by taking it every hour or two, you can maintain a much higher plasma level than if you just dose it once a day (unless you’re taking an extended release form of vitamin C). As mentioned, the elderly may have higher requirements for vitamin C, as aging may inhibit absorption. Smokers may also require more vitamin C due to the increased oxidative stress from cigarette smoke.

When You Get Your Vitamin C from Vegetables, the Benefits Are Endless

Vitamin C is an example of a vitamin that’s ideal to get by eating plenty of fresh produce. Vegetables have an impressive way of offering widespread benefits to your health. When you eat them, you’re getting dozens, maybe even hundreds or thousands, of super-nutrients that support optimal, body-wide health. Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else.

Plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells, and maintain DNA. Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher vegetable intake have:

Lower risks of stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease Lower risks of certain types of cancer, eye diseases, and digestive problems Reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss
Higher scores on cognitive tests Higher antioxidant levels Lower biomarkers for oxidative stress

And as far as your heart health goes, vegetables are one of the best forms of dietary fiber. An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease.11 When you combine this with the vitamin C, it’s no wonder vegetables are such a superstar for heart health. Keeping veggies on hand is the first step to eating more of them.

Fresh, non-genetically-modified and organic is best, but even frozen will work in a pinch. Make it a point to include vegetables with every meal – a salad, a side dish, a pre-meal snack, a glass of fresh vegetable juice – or make veggies the main focus of your meals. You’ll easily work your way up to seven or more servings a day. For something different, try making fermented vegetables at home. The vitamin C in sauerkraut(fermented cabbage) is about six times higher than in the same helping of unfermented cabbage approximately one week after fermentation begins, so it’s an excellent way to boost your vitamin C intake.


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Over-Reliance On Tests: Why Physicians Must Learn To Trust Themselves And Their Patients


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

I met my newly admitted patient in the quiet of his private room. He was frail, elderly, and coughing up gobs of green phlegm. His nasal cannula had stepped its way across his cheek during his paroxsysms and was pointed at his right eye. Although the room was uncomfortably warm, he was shivering and asking for more blankets. I could hear his chest rattling across the room.

The young hospitalist dutifully ordered a chest X-Ray (which showed nothing of particular interest) and reported to me that the patient was fine as he was afebrile and his radiology studies were unremarkable. He would stop by and check in on him in the morning.

I shook my head in wonderment. One look at this man and you could tell he was teetering on the verge of sepsis, with a dangerous and rather nasty pneumonia on physical exam, complicated by dehydration. I started antibiotics at once, oxygen via face mask, IV fluids and drew labs to follow his white count and renal function. He perked up nicely as we averted catastrophe overnight. By the time the hospitalist arrived the next day, the patient was looking significantly better. The hospitalist left a note in the EMR about a chest cold and zipped off to see his other new consults.

Similar scenarios have played out in countless cases that I’ve encountered. Take, for example, the man whose MRI was “normal” but who had new onset hemiparesis, ataxia, and sensory loss on physical exam… The team assumed that because the MRI did not show a stroke, the patient must not have had one. He was treated for a series of dubious alternative diagnoses, became delirious on medications, and was reassessed only when a family member put her foot down about his ability to go home without being able to walk. A later MRI showed the stroke.

A woman with gastrointestinal complaints was sent to a psychiatrist for evaluation after a colonoscopy and endoscopy were normal. After further blood tests were unremarkable, she was provided counseling and an anti-depressant. A year later, a rare metastatic cancer was discovered on liver ultrasound.

Physicians have access to an ever-growing array of tests and studies, but they often forget that the results may be less sensitive or specific than their own eyes and ears. And when the two are in conflict (i.e. the patient looks terrible but the test is normal), they often default to trusting the tests.

My plea to physicians is this: Listen to your patients, trust what they are saying, then verify their complaints with your own exam, and use labs and imaging sparingly to confirm or rule out your diagnosis. Understand the limitations of each study, and do not dismiss patient complaints too easily. Keep probing and asking questions. Learn more about their concerns – open your mind to the possibility that they are on to something. Do not blame the patient because your tests aren’t picking up their problem.

And above all else – trust yourself.  If a patient doesn’t look well – obey your instincts and do not walk away because the tests are “reassuring.” Cancer, strokes, and infections will get their dirty tendrils all over your patient before that follow up study catches them red handed. And by then, it could be too late.

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Sugar Industry Secrets Exposed


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Americans have been warned for years about the dangers of eating too much fat or salt, but the media has been relatively silent about sugar, in spite of the country’s rising rates of obesity and failing health.

Copious research have been published about the many ways excess sugar can damage your health, yet industry continues to defend it—science be damned.

They want you to continue believing the outdated myth that saturated fat is to blame, instead of sugar. Nevertheless, the wheels of progress continue to turn.

An influential group of medical researchers has been relentless in spreading the word about the strong associations between sugar consumption and the rising rates of obesity and major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

This is not “news” to the food industry. They’ve actually been hiding the real science about sugar for decades—devising ways to get you even MORE addicted to their products, regardless of the consequences to your health.

It’s time for everyone to know the truth about the sugar industry’s deceptions. In 2012, science journalist and author Gary Taubes partnered with Cristin Kearns Couzens to write “Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies.”1 In their exposé, featured in Mother Jones, they write:

“For 40 years, the sugar industry’s priority has been to shed doubt on studies suggesting its product makes people sick. On federal panels, industry-funded scientists cited industry-funded studies to dismiss sugar as a culprit.”

The Secret World of the Sugar Industry

The documentary “The Secrets of Sugar” tells the story of how the food industry has known for decades about the links between a processed food diet and disease.

On a mission to change how the sugar industry operates, Colorado Community Care Dentist Cristin Kearns Couzens stumbled upon evidence that they were already worried about sugar’s role in heart disease as far back as the early 1970s.

Couzens unearthed more than 1,500 pages of internal memos, letters, and reports, buried in the archives of now-defunct sugar companies, as well as in the recently released papers of deceased researchers and consultants who played key roles in the industry’s strategy.

The sugar industry was sweating the impending book Pure White and Deadly (1972) by British nutritionist John Yudkin, in which he presented decades of research pointing at dietary sugar—rather than fat—as the underlying factor in obesity and diabetes.

The Sugar Association secretly funded a white paper called “Sugar in the Diet of Man” that claimed sugar was not only safe and healthy, but important. Not only did they fund it, but they made it appear to be an independent study.

The Sugar Association’s biggest apologist was Ancel Keyes who, with industry funding, helped destroy Yudkin’s reputation by labeling him a quack. The smear campaign was a huge success, bringing sugar research to a screeching halt.

Those who profit from sugar have always been very adept at crushing dissenting voices everywhere, including the halls of science. Silencing sugar allowed fat to continue its notorious reign as dietary villain, despite its lack of scientific support.

The 21st century brought super-sized sodas along with super-sized health problems, and the food industry continues to look the other way—hoping you won’t catch on to the truth.

Just as Big Tobacco angled to place the blame for cancer elsewhere, Big Sugar has scrambled for cover, borrowing Big Tobacco tactics such as undermining science, intimidating scientists, and subverting public health policy.

Research Proves Causation: Sugar Increases Chronic Disease Risk

Download Interview Transcript

It’s estimated 100 million North Americans are now diabetic or pre-diabetic. Evidence is clear that refined sugar is a primary factor causing obesity and chronic disease, thanks largely to the work of pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig.

Dr. Lustig makes a strong case that sugar could be an important factor in today’s chronic disease epidemic. Overloading your liver with more sugar than it can metabolize often creates serious metabolic issues over time.

How much sugar are people consuming? On average, sugar represents 15 percent of the total calories consumed by Americans. America’s use of high fructose corn sweeteners octupled between 1950 and 2000.2

The reason for this excess is that Americans rely heavily on processed food, which is simply loaded with sugar, especially fructose—sweetening the sugar industry’s profits. The food industry sees nearly one trillion dollars in sales per year, and they couldn’t do it without sugar.

Too Much Fructose Is Poison

Of all the types of sugar you could consume, refined fructose is by far the most damaging. Research as shown high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more toxic than table sugar (sucrose). Mice fed a high-HFCS diet had nearly twice the death rate of mice fed a diet high in sucrose.

Table sugar consists of two molecules, which separate in your gut: fructose and glucose. Glucose travels throughout your body and fuels your muscles and brain. But fructose goes straight to your liver, where all sorts of problems result. Your liver turns this fructose into liver fat, which causes a slew of metabolic problems. For starters, excess fructose shuts down the part of your brain that tells you when you’re full, making overeating likely. 

The resulting insulin resistance is at the core of a long list of serious health problems, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. And the list seems to grow longer by the day. Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)3 shows your risk of dying from heart disease nearly triples if 25 percent or more of your daily calories come from sugar. 

You may not realize that insulin resistance affects each organ differently. For example, insulin resistance may be the first step toward the development of hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease.4 Added sugars, especially fructose, may play more of a role than salt in high blood pressure. When certain organs experience insulin resistance, specific diseases may develop. A few examples are provided in the table below.

Organ or System Developing Insulin Resistance Disease
Muscles Type 2 diabetes5
Liver Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease6
Brain Alzheimer’s disease7, 8
Ovaries Polycystic ovary disease9
Peripheral Nervous System Neuropathy10

Sugar May Be Cancer’s Best Friend

According to the latest World Cancer Report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is often preventable through lifestyle choices. Sugar is cancer’s favorite food—at least some forms of cancer. Cornell University Professor Lewis Cantley believes dietary sugar not only increases your chances of developing cancer, but also worsens the outcome if you already have it. Elevated insulin gives cancer tumors a boost by directing cancer cells to consume glucose.

Some cancer cells actually contain insulin receptors, harnessing glucose to grow and spread. If you have this type of cancer, eating sugar is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Knowing how cancer responds to sugar, you can probably see how obesity can be a marker for increased cancer risk. Obesity has been linked to increased risk for many types of cancer—colon, esophageal, kidney, breast, and pancreatic—as well as raising your risk of dying from the disease.

Sugar’s Law of Attraction: The ‘Bliss Point’

The amount of sugar in processed foods is no accident—the industry goes to great lengths to scientifically calculate the exact combination of ingredients that will make you crave a product, which it calls the Bliss Point. Dr. Howard Moskowitz, a long-time food industry consultant, is known as “Dr. Bliss.” A Harvard-trained mathematician, Moskowitz tests people’s reactions and finds the optimal amount of sugar for a product—essentially, he helps them find the “Goldilocks” zone. And he’s made the sugar industry billions.11 Moskowitz’s path to mastery began when he was hired by the US Army to research how to get soldiers to consume more rations in the field.

Over time, soldiers were not consuming adequate rations, finding their ready-to-eat meals so boring that they’d toss them away, half-eaten, and not get all the calories they needed. Through this research, Moskowitz discovered “sensory-specific satiety.” What this means is, big flavors tend to overwhelm your brain, which responds by suppressing your desire to eat more.

However, this sensory-specific satiety is overridden by complex flavor profiles that pique your taste buds enough to be alluring, but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells your brain to stop eating. The magic formula gives you “the bliss point,” enabling the processed food industry to make very deliberate efforts to get you to overeat. Goldilocks combinations of sugar, salt and fat are what make processed foods so addictive.

Surprising Stealth-Sugars

What amount of sugar is safe? According to Dr. Lustig, while there are individual differences, as a general rule the safety threshold for sugar consumption seems to be around six to nine teaspoons (25-38 grams) of added sugar per day. It doesn’t take much to exceed that if you eat ANY processed food at all. When you see how much sugar is stealthily added to processed and prepared foods, you might be surprised. Everyone expects pastries and sodas to be loaded with sugar—no one would be surprised to learn that a can of Coke contains 40 grams.

However, you might be shocked at how much sugar is added to foods you might not even consider to be “sweet.” Take frozen dinners, for example. Prego Fresh Mushroom Italian Sauce boasts 11 grams of sugar. A can of Campbell’s Classic Tomato Soup has 20 grams of sugar—more than two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. One Healthy Choice Sweet & Tangy BBQ Chicken dinner contains a liver-crushing 28 grams of sugar.

Even meat products can be awash in sugar—take Krave Jerky, for example, marketed as “healthy gourmet jerky.” A modest size bag (3.5 ounces) of Krave Chili Lime Jerky contains a whopping 39 grams.12 Of course, they list a serving size as one ounce, but I’m guessing most snackers don’t eat just one-third of the pouch.

If you were to eat a 3.5-gram pouch, you might as well be eating a candy bar or drinking a can of pop, from the standpoint of the sugar hit. Even a Hershey Milk Chocolate bar pales in comparison to this jerky, at 24 grams of sugar.13 Maybe Krave Jerky should be marketed as “meat candy.” Not surprisingly, Krave Jerky was just bought by Hershey.14

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To Avoid Chronic Disease, Say NO to Big Sugar

Evidence clearly shows that refined sugar and processed fructose are important factors underlying obesity and chronic disease. If you want to normalize your weight and dramatically reduce your risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, you need to address your processed food consumption. Refined sugar and fructose, grains, and other sugar-forming starchy carbohydrates are largely responsible for your body’s adverse insulin and leptin reactions, and this metabolic dysregulation is responsible for many of the chronic diseases seen today.

If you’re insulin/leptin resistant, have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or are overweight, you’d be wise to limit your total sugar/fructose intake to 15 grams per day until your insulin/leptin resistance has resolved. This applies to at least half of all Americans. For all others, I recommend limiting your daily fructose consumption to 25 grams or less. The easiest way to accomplish this is by swapping processed foods for whole, ideally organic foods, which means cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients.

Please refer to my free nutrition plan for a step-by-step guide to making positive changes in your diet. You simply cannot achieve optimal health on a diet of processed foods and sugar. By choosing otherwise, you’ll be boosting your health, as well as sending the sugar industry an important message that you’re wise to its lies and deceptions.


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