PCB’s (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) are non-biodegradable industrial compounds once used in the manufacturing industry, including electronics and recycled paper. Even though technically banned, they still are used in limited circumstances. However, their past remains to haunt the soil and can be found existing in all parts of the world from the tropics to the frozen tundras where winds have carried them. It is maintained that their half-life is infinity, and the damage that has been done cannot be undone.
Peanut Butter. Aflatoxin is a poison produced when a specific mold, aspergillus flauus, grows on contaminated peanuts, corn, and other grains. It is linked to liver tumors. Random testing showed that the three top brands of peanut butter – Jif, Peter Pan, and Skippy – had only a trace of aflatoxin, while the supermarket “generics” were five times higher. Freshly ground or health store “natural” peanut butters showed ten times the levels of aflatoxin. This may be because of the fact that those are not roasted beforehand, which would kill many of the bacteria.
Pesticides are poisons designed to kill insects, weeds, fungi, and rodents. However, they are just as devastating to people. In 1987, the EPA warned that pesticide residue in foods is one of the three most serious health hazards – right after work place exposure to toxic chemicals and indoor radon. At the same time, they approved at least 300 pesticides for use on food items, even though sixty were classified as potential human carcinogens. In 1992, about 1 billion pounds of pesticides were used in American agriculture, and at least ¼ of the ones used were solely for cosmetic purposes since consumers are reluctant to buy blemished produce.
Pesticides have contaminated the ground water, sped the extinction of wildlife species, and significantly contributed to human illness. FDA studies show that pesticide residues can be found in only 35% of fruits and vegetables tested. However, what they do not state is that at least 50% of the pesticides they allow cannot be detected by ordinary FDA methods.
A 1987 National Academy of Sciences Study showed that twenty-eight pesticides approved by the EPA could result in an additional 20,000 cases of cancer each year. The Natural Resources Defence Council calculated that the actual risk of all pesticides in food and drinking water represented more than 1 million additional cases of cancer over the course of our lifetime. At that time, it was estimated that over 6000 cases were farm workers, who developed pesticide-induced cancers. The numbers have keep climbing.
The FDA operates on the assumption that the average American eats no more than ½ pound of fruits per year, when they actually eat more than twenty-six pounds over what was consumed a decade ago. 85% of non-leafy produce has a wax coating sealing in pesticides. Apples have over 100 pesticides approved for use. In addition, they are waxed. This wax contains fungicides, sealing all of this in the fruit. Systemic pesticides are more dangerous as they permeate the entire product from the inside out. Affected most are bananas because the EPA permits the use of the systemic pesticide “aldicarb,” a powerful nerve poison. This is also used on potatoes. Potatoes that are baked in the skin have 1/3 more pesticides than those peeled and boiled. Amaranth seed has at least 22% residue in domestic seed and 27% on imported seed. Coffee, as well as their filters, contain numerous pesticides.
Meat and poultry are contaminated with pesticides from their feed (as well as from such other toxic residues as antibiotics, hormones, and sulfa drugs). Next to the fat of the animals, their organ meats contain the most concentrated toxins levels. Over 90% of the beef raised for food is done so on factory farms. The USDA spends only twelve seconds looking over each carcass of beef – and then only for visual defects and not for any pesticides, bacteria, etc.
In a 1986 report to Congress, the General Accounting Office came to the following conclusions:
1) The FDA samples only 1% of the domestic food supply.
2) The FDA does not prevent the marketing of most of the foods it finds to contain illegal residues.
3) The FDA does not penalize growers who market food with illegal pesticide residue when the agency is unable to remove it from the market.
Phytates/Phytic Acid are the storage form of phosphorus bound to inositol in the fiber of raw whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Although these foods have a high phosphorus content, the phosphates in phytates are not released through the digestive process. Phytates, particularly in such raw foods as bran is a concern because they can bind a portion of the iron, zinc, and calcium in foods, making the minerals unavailable for absorption. Although phytates do bind minerals, they may actually be preventing the formation of free radicals, thereby keeping the minerals at safe levels in the body. Phytates also have a role to play in cell growth.
Phytates are generally found in foods high in fiber. Since fiber-rich foods protect against colon and breast cancers, it is now thought that they are the protective agent in the fiber. It appears that, in binding minerals in the intestines, phytates inhibit the cancer process, especially when it comes to iron. Iron generates free radicals, and phytates may be keeping the mineral balance at a safe level within the body. Phytates act as an antioxidant. Scientists are beginning to express concern over excess iron in the body for this reason. Excessive iron is also known to increase the risk of heart disease. Even a small amount of phytates in food can reduce iron absorption by half, but the effect is less marked if a meal is supplemented with ascorbic acid, which can also help the absorption of zinc and calcium.
Phytates are also known to help prevent cancer by enhancing the immune system. Phytates may increase the activity of natural killer cells which attack and destroy cancer cells and tumors. By working directly to control cell growth, phytates may be an ideal protective agent against a wide range of cancers, carrying excess minerals out of the body, thereby protecting it from a potential overload.
Fiber, and their associated phytates also provide benefits by regulating the absorption of glucose from starch. Special care, however, must be taken not to overload children and the elderly with high fiber, ie., high phytate foods. Mineral supplements can be taken at a different time from the consumption of phytate-containing foods in order to get the best of both worlds.
Inositol is found in grains in which six phosphate groups are attached to the inositol molecule. Phytic acid occurs in unsprouted grains, seeds, and legumes and is particularly rich in the bran. Although these foods have a high phosphate content, the phosphate in phytates is not released by digestion. When bread is leavened by yeast, enzymes degrade phytic acid and phytates pose no problem. Phytic acid is also destroyed during baking and food processing.
Enzymes, called phytases, destroy phytates during certain food processes. Some of these food preparations are: the yeast-raising of dough, the sprouting of seeds, grains, legumes, the roasting of nuts, presoaking beans (never cook the beans in the same water as they were soaked), cooking cereals and seeds, nuts etc. (musli is out!), fermentation as in tempeh, miso, and natto, consuming acid foods along with zinc-rich foods, etc.
Phytochemicals include a broad range of chemicals naturally present in plants, protecting them from harsh climates, infections, and destruction by animals and insects. Animal protein does not contain phytochemicals. The most recognized of these chemicals are the “phytoestrogens.”
The University of Minnesota has highlighted fifteen different classes of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables that show antioxidant activities. According to them, the fifteen classes and their food sources are:
1) Allium compounds (onions, garlic, chives)
2) Coumarins (vegetables and citrus fruits)
3) Dithiolthiones (cruciferous vegetables)
4) Flavonoids,(most fruits and vegetables)
5) Glucosinolates, indoles (cruciferous vegetables)
6) Glyceritinic acid (licorice)
7) Inositol hexaphosphate (most plants, especially soybeans and cereals)
8) Isoflavones (soybeans)
9) Isothiocyanates, thiocyanates (cruciferous vegetables)
10) Lignans (flaxseeds)
11) Limonene (citrus fruits)
12) Phenols (most fruits and vegetables)
13) Plant sterols (vegetables, including soybeans)
14) Protease inhibitors (most plants, particularly seeds and legumes, including soybeans)
15) Saponins (plants, particularly soybeans).
Phytochemicals that may benefit health:
1) Flavonoids (Polyphenols like quercetin, kaempferol, anthocyanin found in fruits, berries, vegetables, and kale)
2) Phytosterols (Isoflavones like genistein found in soybeans, lentils, peas)
3) Carotenoids (alpha and beta found in carrots, yams, cateloupe, winter squash)
4) Lycopene (found in tomatoes, red grapefruit)
5) Xanthophylls (found in dark green leafy vegetables)
6) Indoles (found in cruciferous vegetables)
7) Coumarins (found in citrus fruits, tomatoes)
8) Organosulfur compounds (Diallyl disulfide, s-allylcysteine, allicin, etc found in garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, chives)
9) Terpenes (monoterpenes, triterpenes found in citrus fruits, caraway seeds, licorice root)
10) Saponins (found in soybeans, and many herbs and vegetables)
11) Lignans (found in flaxseed, wheat, barley, etc.)
12) Isothiocyanates (sulforaphane etc. Found in cruciferous vegetables) (Ronzio)
Phytoestrogens are plant hormones similar to, but weaker than, human estrogens. Their use is becoming more popular during menopause rather than synthetic hormone replacements. There are some 300 plants where phytoestrogens have been identified and are grouped within three categories:
1) Coumestans (bean sprouts, red clover, sunflower seeds)
2) Lignans (rye, wheat, sesame seeds, flax)
3) Isoflavones (soybeans and soy products, many fruits and vegetables). The two most common now are genisten and diadzein.
Phytosterols are related to cholesterol,but cholesterol is found only in animal tissues, while phytosterols are found only in plant foods. Phytosterols actually help prevent heart disease instead of contributing to it. Phytosterols compete with dietary cholesterol for absorption in the intestines resulting in the lowering of blood cholesterol levels. They are particularly high in non-processed vegetable oils. However, when the oils are hydrogenated, the phytosterol content all but disappears. There are several kinds of phytosterols in foods that are not absorbed very well and move on into the colon. In doing so, they may actually protect the colon against harmful substances and may have a positive effect against skin cancers as well. It may be this effect that is responsible for reducing colon tumors in experimental animals by 50%.
Pica is a compulsive eating disorder manifested by the consumption of inedible substances. It is common in individuals with iron or zinc deficiencies. Such deficiencies may be a contributing factor during periods of “cravings” common in pregnancy.
Pigments in foods are an indicator of nutritive value. Carotenoids are yellow and orange. Flavones are white to pale yellow, as in onions. Anthocyanins (which are a flavonoid) are reds to purple such as in beets, cabbage, onions. Chlorophyll is green. As a general rule, intensely colored fruits and vegetables will be richer in Vitamin C than paler ones.
Plastic and the microwave can pose some problems. Popcorn, pizza, brown and serve bags, cartons, and trays designed for heating in the microwave have problems that have not yet been addressed by the FDA. Temperatures can reach as high as 500°F., sending the additives in the plastic right into the food. Plastic film PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is designed to insulate, but not at sustained high temperatures. Nearly all of the PET chemical components (oligomers) go back into the food after just six minutes, with three quarters doing so after three minutes. The same thing happens in products designed for conventional ovens. Plastic containers from margarines or the deli, for example, also have components that break down, releasing their chemicals into the food. Plastic wraps that are designed for high temperature use are still in question as their “melting” levels are still much lower than the 500°F. Polyvinylidene softens at 250°F, Polyvinyl chloride softens at 210°F, and Polyethylene softens at 190°F. None have been found safe as yet to use in a microwave over food.
Popcorn can be a relatively nutritious snack, if air-popped without butter, oil, or salt. It is rich in fiber and low in calories. However, a medium-sized, unbuttered theatre bag can contain as much saturated fat as two Big Macs with fries. Then, if the synthetic “butter” is added, that figure soars to twice the daily recommended maximum for fat. Today, more than sixty-five quarts of popcorn per person per year are consumed. Recently, workers in a Missouri popcorn plant developed a rare lung disease caused by breathing vapors from artificial butter flavorings, with four of the workers requiring lung transplants. The disease, called bronchialitis obliterans, is a type of irreversible lung damage. The suspect ingredient in the butter flavoring appears to be acetyl. Other workers in similar plants around the country were also affected. However, investigating doctors stated that there was no danger for people eating the popcorn at home – just do not breathe while eating.
Prostaglandins are a newly-discovered family of hormone-like compounds that are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids with a 5-carbon ring. Several forms exist, varying slightly in structural formula. They are PGD, PGE, PGF, PGG, PGH, and PGI, each with numeral subscripts indicating the number of double bonds. Polyunsaturated fatty acids serve as precursors for these compounds.
In 1930, the name adopted was indicative of the location where they were first isolated – the prostate gland of sheep. Later, prostaglandins were located within many other organisms, including humans, and are now known to be present in all organs, tissues, and cells. There are over thirty different known prostaglandins, with each having a different and highly specialized function.
Prostaglandins perform a variety of functions in the body, including blood pressure depressants, smooth muscle stimulants, and antagonists to several hormones. Altered levels of prostaglandins accompany many physical and mental ailments, with signs and symptoms similar to those of essential fatty acid deficiency and degenerative diseases. 68% of the population die from degenerative diseases, which goes along with over 60% of the population being deficient in one or more of the essential nutrients.
PROSTAGLANDINS are short-lived hormone-like chemicals that have a function in regulating all cell activity.have hormone-like functions in regulating cell activity including:
1) In the cardiovascular and kidney systems, prostaglandins regulate the dilation or constriction of blood vessels, as well as clot formation.
2) In the kidneys, it helps remove sodium and excess fluid from the body. For each atom of sodium, twenty-one molecules of water are excreted, resulting in increased urine flow.
3) In the digestive system, one of their function is regulating stomach secretions.
4) In the healing and repair process, their function includes the regulation of cell division.
5) In the immune system, their function includes allergy responses.
6) In the inflammation process, their function includes the regulation of fever and pain.
7) In the nervous system, their function includes the regulation of neutral circuits in the brain.
8) In the reproductive system their function includes the induction of labor and menstrual cramping.
9) They control thermoregulation, ie., the maintaining of constant body temperature.
10) They control of fluid pressure in the eyes, ears, and joints.
11) They also work with hormones in their various capacities.
12) They cause insulin to work more effectively.
13) They regulate calcium metabolism.
Prostaglandins basically fall into three families, or series, depending upon from which fatty acid they are derived.
Series 1 comes from W6’s made from DGLA. They keep the blood platelets from sticking together preventing heart attacks and strokes. In the kidneys, they remove sodium and excess fluid. They relax blood vessels, improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and relieve angina. They slow down cholesterol production, decrease inflammation response in arthritis, cause insulin to work more efficiently, improve nerve function, regulate calcium metabolism, improve T cell function thereby boosting the immune system, and prevents the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes.
Series 2 comes from w6’s and made from AA (arachidonic acid). This series is the mirror image of series 1. In other words, they do the opposite and can be equated to the “bad” member of the family. They can cause aggragation of platelets (sticking together), which leads to cardiovascular disease. They cause the kidneys to retain salt, leading to water retention and high blood pressure. They can also cause inflammation. This member PGE2, opposes the series 1, PGE1. As long as AA is prevented from leaving the cell membranes, the above problems do not occur.
Series 3 comes from w3’s made from EPA. The most powerful effect of these prostaglandins is that their parent, EPA, prevents AA from being released from the cells. These work in opposition to series 2 to prevent the problems of water retention and inflammation. This may explain why fish oils can prevent degenerative cardiovascular changes caused by excessive PGE2’s.
Pseudovitamins are a group of compounds that do not satisfy the requirements for vitamin classification, but still can be promoted as such by some. These often include orotic acid (B13), inositol, choline, methione, PABA, carnitine (B4), amygdalin or laetril (B17), bioflavonoids (Vitamin P), pangamic acid or pangamate (B15), and gerovital (Vitamin H3).