Will This Doctor Change Diets & Reform Medicine?

Dr. Davis signs books at his recent talk in Halifax

Dr. William Davis signs his book during his recent talk in Halifax. Photo by Kathleen Rosborough

His plan is ambitious and controversial. Dr. William Davis, American cardiologist and author of Wheat Belly, is touring Canada and the United States, urging people to rethink the way they eat and safeguard their health. Last night he spoke in Halifax from Spatz Auditorium in Citadel High School to a receptive audience of 200 people, most of them thin and well-informed on food matters. Dr. Davis’s lecture summarized key ideas from his best selling book Wheat Belly, starting with the notion of self-empowerment–looking after yourself through good nutrition and sensible food habits instead of relying on drugs and medical interventions. The lecture argues that the consumption of wheat and related wheat products has led to a national health crisis and distorted our outlook on medicine. Dr. Davis also spoke of his health institute and latest collaborations with young filmmakers.

For me, the most interesting part of the evening was the question and answer session, moderated by Nancy Reagan. Responding to a variety of questions, Dr. Davis displayed quickness of mind, as well as a kind, patient manner and deep concern for others.

“No one would be in this room right now,” Dr. Davis stressed, “if all you wanted was better health. Everyone here wants ideal health. You all want to feel the best that you can possibly feel.”

Dr. Davis makes a distinction between two kinds of medicine, the traditional medicine that treats infections and broken bones, and modern medicine which treats chronic diseases brought about by poor nutrition and environmental factors. Dr. Davis believes that treatments for chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease should start with nutrition and not with drugs and medical interventions. The health system needs to be reformed, along with a substantial effort to re-educate the general public.

Dr. Davis was asked about sugar. Isn’t it as bad or worse than wheat in its effect on people’s health? Dr. Davis’s answer surprised many in the audience. “The gliadin in wheat,” he said, “is a powerful addictive substance. Gliadin induces cravings for sweet, makes us feel always hungry, dulls our taste senses and brings on brain fog and depression. Cut out the gliadin and you will no longer crave sweet. You will no longer feel like you need to eat a Snicker’s bar, and if you do eat a Snicker’s bar, you’ll find it tastes too sweet, sickeningly sweet, because your taste buds will no longer be impaired.”

“The other thing about sugar, if you eat candy or jelly beans, no one pretends that it’s good for you. But with wheat, it’s the base of the food pyramid. Food Canada, the FDA, and the Diabetes Association promote wheat as something that’s healthy and beneficial.” Dr. Davis suggested a simple test anyone can try at home using a blood testing kit sold at any drugstore. “For this test, take a blood sugar reading two hours before you eat. Most people will get a reading of around 5. Then eat two sluices of bread, wait an hour, and take another reading. For most people, their blood sugar will spike up to 9 or 10. This is a dangerous diabetic level!  Yet the Diabetes Association endorses bread as a healthy form of nutrition. It’s not. So to answer your question: cut out wheat and your sugar problem will disappear.”

Dr. Davis was flooded with questions along these lines: “Sure, I can cut out bread, but what about oats, what about quinoa, what about rice, what about beer?” It seems, there’s always one food item that’s hardest to let go of. Dr. Davis’s answer never wavers: “Rice isn’t as bad as wheat, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. All ‘seeds of grasses’ are genetically similar; all share dangerous elements that over time will impair your health and lead to chronic disease.”

Dr. Davis was asked, “If people around the world all removed grain and rice products from their diets, then wouldn’t people starve? What are the implications for combating the world’s most pressing hunger issues?” Dr. Davis acknowledged that this is indeed a difficult question. “If your view is too short-term, then the question cannot be properly answered. You have to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. The introduction of grains into the human diet (over the last 10,000 years) was a terrible mistake. The mistake has escalated in the last 50 years with the development of mutated grains. A mistake like this is not solved by Tuesday, it’s not corrected in a week or a year’s time. It may well take 100 to 200 years to fix this problem.”

As background for this blog, I read many reviews and Internet articles on Dr. Davis and was amazed at the invective and defensive arguments advanced by those who feel threatened by his message. My own view is this: if you’re healthy and happy, you may not need to change your diet, but if you’re not as healthy as you’d like to be, or if you suffer from a chronic condition that the medical community are unable to cure, then what have you got to lose? My wife and I have given up bread for three months now and the health benefits have been substantial, well worth our effort to make the change. To get a sense of Dr. Davis’s message, I recommend the following videos. In the first 10 minute clip, Dr. Davis speaks with Julie Daniluk about his own personal journey to health, problems and misconceptions he had to overcome, and the lessons he’s learned from treating patients in his own practice. In the second 60 minute clip, Dr. Davis delivers his full lecture on the dangers of wheat in people’s diets.

The Great Milk Debate Part 2

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I have just read Julia K’s post regarding the safety of cow’s milk as food for humans and would like to make a few comments. Julia is absolutely right in her assessment of milk and osteoporosis. I discovered the same thing 30 or 40 years ago, and drank milk substitute for many years (mostly rice milk).  However this objection doesn’t condemn all dairy products. She is certainly right, that we don’t need to eat dairy for the calcium. If we are Vitamin D and K2 sufficient, with supporting co- nutrients, then almost any diet will have enough calcium for our needs, as we really only need 200 to 300 mg a day at minimum. We also need to eat an approximately balanced ratio with potassium and phosphorous, and they are harder to get.

She is also right to flag problems with growth hormones. Fortunately, we don’t allow growth hormones in dairy cattle in Canada. Just don’t consume US dairy and you will dodge that.

Julia mentions the damaging nature of pasteurization. When we talk about grocery store milk, we aren’t really evaluating the original product, i.e. raw milk, which has many positive aspects. For those interested in more info, I recommend Dr. Kate Shanahan’s book, Deep Nutrition, which contains much useful info on milk and pasteurization.

Julia refers to the relationship between high protein content and metabolic disturbances. Milk is relatively high in protein. The metabolic products of protein are acidifying. Too much acid creates problems with PH levels in the body. Another concern is that proteins can convert to glucose in your body, raising problems associated with high blood sugar levels. This problem is accentuated when consuming 1 and 2 % milk. But, if you are eating cream, yogurt and cheeses that are full fat, then the protein level in them is low and the story is different. Especially if it is a fermented product, where the bacteria have transformed it into something more suitable for us to digest. Fortunately I happen to like old cheese, and the older the better. I say fortunately, because a significant quantity of my daily fats come from dairy. But I don’t drink whole milk itself, for the many of the reasons Julia cites.

Another worrying side of milk, is what food the cow eats. These days, dairy cows are fed primarily grains and corn. The corn is almost certainly GMO, and both of them would have been sprayed with and contain residual levels of Roundup. The grains will change the omega 3 / omega 6 ratio of the fats to the unfavourable one, high in omega 6’s. I would love to find cheese etc. made from grass fed cows milk, but don’t know anywhere I can get it. The inflammation I am struggling to suppress now may be in part due to this bad ratio, since omega 6’s are inflammatory.


Is Cow’s Milk Healthy for People?

milkThe famous question ” Is cow’s milk the best option for optimal health” was brought to me by  Oxford Chiropractic, and here was one of my answers.

This topic is a BIG one and sometimes can be a bit controversial. With more and more studies being done on how milk is being produced and what it actually does to our bodies, we are starting to see that cows milk is not a healthy option for us humans.

There are many different routes I could take to answer this question with the ever-growing lists of reasons why, including; the pasteurization process; growth hormones and antibiotics which are given to cows to help produce the milk; the fact that cow’s milk is custom-designed for calves and contains 3 times more protein than human milk, which creates metabolic disturbances in humans; humans over the age of 4 do not produce the proper enzymes to breakdown lactose: and the list goes on and on!! But today I want to focus on how drinking cows milk can actually be harmful to our bone health! 

The milk myth… ” Cow’s milk is a protein and calcium-rich drink that is essential to support good overall bone health at any age”…is widely used and often referred to when thinking about overall health. It is easy to understand the confusion about milk’s benefits because it does contain calcium – around 300 mg per cup.
However, not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones! Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. Calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is in the bones. So, the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine. So the surprising net result after drinking milk, is an actual calcium deficit!

* Statistics show that countries with the lowest consumption of dairy products also have the lowest fracture incidence in their population!

International Year of Soils

raking-soilMy quest for better health began with a series of questions. What’s in the food that I’m eating? How is it produced? Under what conditions? Is it safe? This led me to start growing some of my own food and to buy more food at organic farm markets. I reached out to other gardeners and shared information on enriching soil, crop rotation, companion planting and ways to extend the growing season. I learned about permaculture and followed debates within the organic food movement.

Today I learned the UN has designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils. Alan Guebert writes about this initiative, calling it Dirt’s Big Year for the Manitoba Co-operator. To promote awareness of the importance of good soil practices, the Soil Science Society of America offer a lesson plan for school teachers. Here is a slideshare about composting and soil from the Rodale Institute.

Show of Hands on Fish Farming

Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon farm off Meteghan, Nova Scotia. (Photo by Adrien Veczan)

Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon farm off Meteghan, Nova Scotia. (Photo by Adrien Veczan)

Yesterday’s press conference held at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax was greeted by a room jam-packed with 400 concerned citizens. The purpose of the meeting was to send a loud and clear message to the McNeil government to put order into the chaotic affairs of fish-farming in Nova Scotia. Those who were there witnessed an impressive show of leadership and collaboration by a wide coalition of community, environmental and commercial groups (in all 33 different organizations). Many of these groups had started in total opposition to unregulated open net fish pens in shallow waters but today rally together to support a comprehensive solution. The meeting contained an underlying warning that the recently issued Doelle-Lahey report must be adopted in full to be accepted by a disgruntled public and by a growing number of alarmed fishermen. Half measures won’t do.

Packed houseStewart Lamont, of Tangier Lobster stated: “The status quo is a wild west show in Nova Scotia in terms of what can be done in open net pen farms.”

Raymond Plourde, from the Ecology Action Centre, was asked by a reporter why his group’s endorsement of the report was so guarded. Plourde replied that if he had his way open net fish pens in shallow waters would be banned entirely. He went on to give his reasons: too many fish are jammed together (in one case over 2 million fish contained in one netted pen in a cove near Lunenburg) resulting People from the Valley in diseases and parasites that migrate from the farmed fish to wild fish, endangering the total fish populations. As well, the waste products and pesticides used on the fish destroy sea beds in local harbours. Plourde explained that lobsters from Nova Scotia fetch top prices around the world (and support a billion dollar local industry). The reason for this great success is the belief that these lobsters come from pristine waters. This is true, but may not be for long if fish farms continue their unregulated and unsafe practices.



Roundup…. Glyphosate study‏

round-up-bullI subscribe to thesparc.net and they send me news bulletins on many of the subjects that we are following. Today I got a link to this report.

Firstly, let me note that the report, and authors of the report are about as far disconnected from Monsanto as they could get on this planet, so we should be assured of a reasonably untainted treatment.

I suggest you read the report now, and think about what it is saying.

My first reaction was dismay… I never realized how pervasive this chemical is, nor the myriad ways that GMO’s can be harmful… I only knew of the Roundup – 24D – Bt routes….

I’m not sure if I told you, but I have had a personal run-in with Roundup.

My brother ( and Father at the time, because he was still alive ) run a farm, mostly strawberry u-pick in Newfoundland. This was around 1997 or so and I was working in the Bahamas. I went to visit them in the summer, and my brother had to spray his fields… with Roundup. I know that Dad used to keep the big drums of this stuff in his basement…. Well my brother’s wife, is usually the one who follows just behind the sprayer, with an adjustable wrench, ready to undo any nozzles on the long sprayer bar that became blocked with sediment, shake out the nozzle, and put it back. She was gone at the time, so I volunteered. I spent a good many hours, dripping Roundup all over my hands, and probably breathing in the fine spray as well.

Then I continued my travels and returned to the Bahamas. By the time I was flying back, I had the most awful hives, big, itchy, oozing patches all over me, particularly arms…. and my biggest fear was that they would stop me in customs thinking I had some terrible contagious disease. Not so.

When I got back to the Bahamas, I went immediately to the doctor and he did the normal thing, prescribed me a large dose of steroids and sent me home.

I had that rash in some form or other for at least a year, and, over time I finally figured out what had caused it. My Dad and Brother gave me assurances that it was benign and I must just be allergic to it, or something else. Let me also mention that my Dad was not only a Professional Engineer who  supervised quarries, prestressed concrete, asphalt roads and runways and aggregate production, he was also a Chemical Engineer and, in his later working life, taught chemistry at the technical school to pharmacy students…..so he had some credibility with me.

Now, especially after reading this report, I know how destructive this chemical is, and how pervasive it is in our environment and food supply. I especially noted the section beginning page 23 where they detail the kidney damage. I know, in the 8 months or so before we went gluten free, that I was suffering from severe pain in my liver and kidneys… enough so that I couldn’t sleep at night, and I realized that it was serious and I may have to turn myself over to the medical system. Fortunately, and somewhat by chance, when we shifted our diet, all that pain went away.

Now that I see the damage Roundup does, particularly to these two organs, it all clicks in place. I fortunately dodged a serious bullet, or at least so far I have, let me say that much. If there were cancerous changes made to cells by this chemical, I am relying on my generously sufficient level of Vitamin D to take care of it.

This is a very thorough discussion of the general subject of Genetically Modified Organisms, and I am learning many new ( and alarming ) things from it. Particularly about the other genes that are also put into the plants from various sources and how they, too can have ” unintended consequences ”

I don’t necessarily buy that all the increases in chronic disease are due solely to the introduction of Roundup and GMO’s…. I think the big picture truth is that it is a combo effect, with some of the other problems contributing….. fear of sunshine exposure and indoor living causing low Vitamin D in the general population, high consumption of sugars, grains and other carbs, diminished nutrition in our food due to chemical fertilizers, monoculture, and poor soil practices, a myriad of other chemicals insulting our bodies all the time,  more stress in our lives etc. etc.

Notice that both Dr. Seralini and Seneff are mentioned here. We have run into them before. But now I see there are several others, and their credibility is high, as none of them are connected to big ag or big business and a lot of the info comes, not from the US, but from the EU and other more civilized places.

This is going to take some digesting. We can now see that there are threats from places we never realized. Something like Kathleen telling me the other evening that my Blueberries are sprayed with Roundup !! Now I find out there’s lots more ….. The magnitude easily qualifies this as a crime against humanity.

I must insert a note of optimism here… I also get e-mails from the people running the pro side of Proposition 92 in Oregon, the one to require labelling on all foods that have GMO content. They are recounting ballots and there are now only 812 votes separating the Yes and No sides… and they are very hopeful now that they are going to overtake the  Monsanto crowd and win this after all !!! That would be a great victory for all of us.

Enough for now. We can talk about this when we see you again.


Vitamin D: Changing Attitudes to Medicine

VitmainD copy

Nutrition is often treated as an after-thought by the public, by the media and by researchers who see medicine as a brave new world of wonder drugs, zappings, and other space-age procedures, played out in an arena of high technology. But this attitude may be changing. In his 2010 talk, Vitamin D: Role in Preventing Cancer, presented by the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, Dr. Cedric Garland makes a strong case for using Vitamin D as a primary means of cancer prevention. He starts his lecture by showing a map of the United States, colour-coded red to indicate the regions where breast cancer cases most commonly occur. He asks why cancer is more common in the northern latitudes of the industrial coal-burning Northeast and less common in the sunnier latitudes and less industrial regions of the country?

This map helped researchers correlate breast cancer rates and the degree of sunlight with its strong natural vitamin D component.

This map correlates breast cancer rates and the degree of sunlight with its strong natural vitamin D component.

Critics pooh pooh such stuff because it is epidemiological evidence, collected by analyzing associations between disease incidence and diet, environment, etc. This is only association, they say, it doesn’t prove causation. And they are right. The only absolutely rigorous proof is a double-blind placebo controlled study conducted with large numbers of people over a considerable period of time. Unfortunately, it is unlikely this is ever going to happen, because there’s no profit in it for the corporate interests. This kind of reasoning that rejects reasonable and helpful data because it is not definitive gives medical researchers (and the pharmaceutical body) a good excuse not to take any action in the direction of nutrition and environment. We don’t challenge the “experts” on this, bowing to their superior “knowledge and wisdom.” As a result, we find ourselves locked in a limbo state, where we generously fund “cancer research” to find the magical pharmaceutical silver bullet. The conveniently concealed knowledge is there is no such thing. The answer will never be found this way and thus there is a wonderful, endless source of funds and profit-taking from high priced drugs, which pretend to offer solutions, but don’t really.

SunGraphic2The experts should be challenged. Although absolute causation cannot be proven, the circumstantial evidence is strong. So-called “primitive people,” living in places with lots of sun, and contemporary beach-patrolling lifeguards who have similar exposure to naturally-generated Vitamin D, have levels that fall between 50 and 80 nanograms per milliliter. In contrast, modern people who shun the sun, based on misguided fears of skin cancer, have levels drastically lower than that. Indoor lifestyles add to the problem, especially for those living in higher northern latitudes. The flu season clearly follows the winter low-sun time. In the southern hemisphere, the flu season is six months out of synchronism with the northern hemisphere, which is perfectly consistent with the “theory” that Vitamin D deficiency has an effect on immune systems.

Modern chronic diseases, rare in our hunter-gatherer ancestors, are now rampant in current populations. These chronic diseases consistently appear alongside lowering levels of Vitamin D in our blood, including a lower chance of cancer survival if diagnosed in the winter, rather than in the summer.

Popular fears that “high” Vitamin D3 use (above 2,000 IUs per day) is “dangerous” is a bunch of caplooey. This misrepresentation of D3 was caused by earlier use of Vitamin D2, which does have safety limits. D3 is altogether more effective than D2 and much safer. One of the surprises of Dr. Garland’s research was the discovery that the intake of D3 can be very safely taken up to levels of 10,000 per day, especially with the added precaution of taking K2 at the same time. The fact that I am vertical right now, and not dead, speaks volumes to that, on a personal note.

So, given there is a high likelihood that there is significant positive benefit to be had, implementation is cheap (pennies per day), and there are no negative side effects, then the position of the medical establishment, not to support and indeed encourage optimal Vitamin D levels in the general population, but especially as the first order of business when processing and treating a patient is untenable, and indeed negligent.

If I appear to criticize the medical establishment, it should be noted that many doctors are also speaking out and creating a lively debate on these matters. American author and educator Sayer Ji has created a forum for many of these voices. This forum may in time become a movement. Ji calls it “green medicine.” My blog today was inspired by new info posted by Sayer Ji about a late 2014 study that confirms a causal relationship between Vitamin D and positive treatments for breast cancer. The authors of this study state (a bit evasively and not clearly enough for my liking, but perhaps due to legal advice) that the present treatment protocol for breast cancer in many cases either makes the situation worse or actually precipitates the dreaded metastasis, totally against the medical precept of “do no harm.” Many breast “cancers” are groups of somewhat abnormal cells, but among these are cancer stem cells, which are resistant to radiation and/or chemo treatments. By employing such invasive therapies, the majority of the mild mass of the tumour is destroyed, but leaves the stem cells untouched. After treatments, these resistant stem cells congeal in much greater proportion and spread rapidly. The tumour becomes highly malignant, leading to the death of the patient in short order. Whereas, if it had been left undisturbed, the condition may not have developed or would have done so much more slowly. The authors argue that getting sufficient Vitamin D to the patient may enable the body to clear the problem altogether.

Indeed, by encouraging the general population to take regular meaningful intake of nutrients such as Vitamin D3 as a matter of course, patients may be capable of dealing with errant cells at the first sign of cells going off track, and thus preventing any incident whatsoever. Indeed the almost total absence of all cancers in “primitive” or traditional peoples proves that optimally nourished humans are fully capable of dealing with wayward cells as they occur. I think this preventive nutrition-oriented approach is really the best scenario, and the one that I would favour promoting in our public health strategy.

Let’s try a test 

When I use the term optimally nourished, I hesitate to restrict this just to the use of Vitamin D. Vitamin D works best as a co-factor with other nutrients such as magnesium, Vitamin K2 and Vitamin A.  I would like to see a representative slice of the general population treated with optimal nourishment. What if half a dozen doctors, across the province, offered to supply patients with Vitamin D, etc. and then regularly measured their nutrient levels, with steps taken to “optimize” levels, as needed? These nutrition-supported patients would be monitored for how many and what kind of medical events they have for at least a couple of years, but ideally for many years. They could then be compared, on an ongoing basis, to the rest of the provincial population, and a reckoning of the cost savings (I am pretty confident there would be savings) produced from time to time, to prove the financial advantage, without even having to deal with the less clearly defined “quality of life” advantage. I think a study of this kind could be fairly low cost, and worth while. So, without dealing with the thorny issue of proving absolute causation, proving financial advantage is all it would take to make a very compelling case.