By Dr. Mercola
Over 80 percent of the people on the Internet search for health information, but the field is loaded with misinformation, deception, and outright fraud.
When I started this Web site in 1997 it was with the intention to provide you with a treasure trove of knowledge and health wisdom that will allow you to avoid the well established dangers of choosing a conventional medicine approach.
Origins of “Doctors are the Third Leading Cause of Death”
In July 2000 I analyzed a JAMA article by Dr. Barbara Starfield from Johns Hopkins School of public health. I carefully reviewed her data and drew the conclusion that doctors were the third leading cause of death. I created that headline, and over the last ten years it has been widely distributed all over the Internet.
When I contacted Dr. Starfield for a follow-up, she told me that she did not agree with my conclusion, but still felt that the conventional medical system was the leading cause of death. Well four years later, Gary Null published a report which indeed confirmed that fact.
So, with time I realized that my purpose in life is to catalyze a transformation of this fatally flawed medical system that has been irreversibly corrupted by multinational corporate drug and food industry interests, which put their bottom line profits far ahead of improving the human condition.
The purpose of this site is to provide a comprehensive educational effort to expose the fraud, deception and misinformation that is prematurely killing hundreds of thousands of people every year in the US alone, and also causing needless pain and suffering in millions of others.
It might be obvious to most that I am bucking this corporate system, and they are not going to go down without a fight. They are constantly seeking to discredit me so the message won’t be heard.
Truth is Violently Opposed Before it is Accepted as Self Evident
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) was a German philosopher known for his philosophical clarity. I believe he made one of the most valuable observations on the shifting of human views on truth as he stated that all truth goes through three steps:
- First, it is ridiculed.
- Second, it is violently opposed.
- Finally, it is accepted as self-evident
This is not only true for health but all areas of life. However since my entire formal professional training is in health, I would like to share with you a dozen experiences from my professional career that validates Shopenhauer’s observation, and why I will not quit despite the efforts of my critics and detractors.
Some of the truths covered in this four-part series have reached the final stage and are now widely accepted by the medical profession, while other recommendations still include refinements that have yet to be embraced by conventional medicine.
The remainder is in varying degrees of acceptance, and some will not be widely accepted for quite some time, but the evidence is clear for all those who are willing to objectively review the data.
Truth # 7: Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Do More Harm than Good
Statin drugs are one of the most blatant perversions of health truth.
Back in 2001 I stated, “It really appears that most of the statin drugs are an accident waiting to happen.”
Fast-forward to nearly a decade later to 2010 and I am still working on getting the word out about the well-documented dangers of statins, which are now among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world.
Statin drugs are also some of the most unnecessary drugs on the market today, making the damage they cause even more tragic.
Their use is based on a misinformed notion that cholesterol is the nemesis of good health, and, as I explained in part 2 of this series, on the flawed cholesterol guidelines that make normal and healthy cholesterol levels look like they need to be artificially lowered.
It has now become quite clear that statins are some of the most dangerous drugs on the market and are fraught with side effects.
One 2009 paper has cited nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of statins!
Unfortunately, since statins are both highly effective and oftentimes do not impart any immediate side effects, many fail to connect the future side effects that occur with the drug. Instead, those side effects are interpreted as brand new, separate health problems.
However, there’s an ever-growing body of evidence showing that potentially serious side effects do begin to manifest several months after the commencement of therapy -- if you know what to look for.
The Numerous Health Risks of Statin Drugs
Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs' adverse side effects, but cognitive impairment and pain or numbness in the extremities are also widely reported.
A spectrum of other problemscan also occur, including:
- Blood glucose elevation
- Tendon problems
- Sexual dysfunction
Further, all patients taking statins eventually become depleted in Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
Those patients who start with relatively low CoQ10 levels (the elderly and patients with heart failure) begin to manifest signs and symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency relatively rapidly -- in six to 12 months. Younger people can tolerate the statins for several years before they begin developing symptoms.
Frequently, a statin-induced CoQ10 deficiency can cause serious problems for your heart, so knowing this essential information now could be life-saving, and yet many doctors still fail to inform you of this.
Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:
- An increase in cancer risk
- Immune system suppression
- Serious degenerative muscle tissue condition (rhabdomyolysis)
- Pancreatic dysfunction
- Hepatic dysfunction. (Due to the potential increase in liver enzymes, patients must be monitored for normal liver function)
According to the latest review published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, adverse effects are dose dependent, and your health risks are also amplified by a number of factors, such as:
- Drug interactions that increase statin potency
- Metabolic syndrome
- Thyroid disease
- Other genetic mutations linked to mitochondrial dysfunction
How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally
There’s simply no reason for over 99 percent of those prescribed statins to take them and suffer the consequences. There are simple alternatives that are inexpensive and highly effective.
Here are some simple guidelines that can easily normalize your cholesterol level naturally, without any dangerous side effects:
- First, normalize your insulin levels by eliminating sugar and grains. Fructose is especially dangerous in this reqard as it just decimates insulin resistance. So please limit your total dose to 15 grams or less. You can review my previous article on this.
- Second, you can take a high-quality krill oil or fish oil that is chock full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat the right foods for your nutritional type, and eat a good portion of your food raw.
- Additionally, if you are a man, or a woman who is in menopause, you should check your iron levels, as elevated levels of iron can cause major oxidative damage in the blood vessels, heart and other organs. Excess iron is also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk.
- Regular exercise is another important tool that can help. When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of fighting an illness before it has the opportunity to spread. I am particularly impressed with 20 minute sprint cardio interval type training as being far more effective than 1-2 hour regular cardio workouts.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.
Truth # 8: Krill Oil versus Fish Oil
For those of you now aware of the importance of omega-3 fats, the next step is deciding where to get them. Unfortunately, many people, including physicians, are not aware of the BEST source of animal based omega-3 available, a source I have been recommending for over five years now.
The Problem with Fish and Fish Oil as Omega-3 Source
Granted, in a perfect world you would be able to get all the omega-3s you need by eating fish. Unfortunately, studies show that eating fish can potentially expose you to high levels of industrial pollutants and toxins like mercury, PCBs, heavy metals and radioactive poisons.
I believe pollution has now become such a widespread problem I simply cannot recommend eating fish on a regular basis any longer.
To compensate for this lack of dietary source of omega-3, many people are choosing to supplement with fish oil or plant-based omega-3s such as flaxseed oil. However, these two sources of omega-3 are NOT optimal, and I have been saying this for years now.
I used to recommend taking fish oil to enhance your intake of omega-3 fat, and high-quality fish oils are certainly great products, with many important health benefits.
But there are drawbacks.
Major Difference is Absorption
When most people, physicians included, look at krill they are convinced, like I was when I initially reviewed it, that it’s a costly alternative to fish oil.
However what we have learned since then actually makes krill the value champion.
This is related to simple biochemistry. You see fish oil has its DHA and EPA attached as a triglyceride. It is impossible for your body to absorb it in that form so it must be digested in you gut to free floating fatting acids of DHA and EPA.
This is not a very efficient process and only about 15 percent of it actually makes it into your blood stream. The rest is digested in your gut and contributes to the reason why 50 percent of people can’t tolerate fish oil supplements due to burp back effect.
But once you absorb it, your body still can’t use it. It must attach a phospholipid to the DHA and EPA by way of your liver. Once it is in this form your body can finally use it. This wastes even more of the DHA and EPA.
With krill oil NONE of this is required because it is already in the form your body needs. This difference gives krill about a 10-15X increase over fish oil fat.
So if you take 100 mg of krill DHA and EPA, you are getting the equivalent of about 1000-1500 mg of DHA and EPA that you would from fish.
There are still many studies being done to work out the details, but it seems that even our recommendation of two 500 mg capsules is likely excessive and you only need one 500 mg capsule per day.
Antioxidants are Another Huge Advantage
Another major advantage of krill is that it comes loaded with its own antioxidant, Astaxanthin, which protects the DHA and EPA from going rancid.
Fish oil does not have this, and as a result, the large majority of fish oil supplements that you purchase are already rancid before you even open up the bottle.
Astaxanthin is such a powerful supplement that at doses of 4 mg it will likely be able to prevent cataracts and the most common cause of blindness: age related macular degeneration. Also, after being on it a few weeks, it virtually eliminates your risk of sun burn.
Amazing product indeed. It occurs naturally in krill but is supplemented in higher doses. In fact our krill has the highest amount of Astaxanthin on the market. But if you want to use it for the above indications you will need to take it at a bit higher doses than is in krill. We hope to have a pure Astaxanthin supplement out later this year.
I’ve taken 4 mg of this every day for the past few months now.
The Difference Between Plant- and Animal-Based Omega-3s
It is also important to note also that plant-based omega-3 fats do not provide the same benefits as animal-based, because most of us can’t convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the appropriate amount of DHA that is required.
So flax seeds, walnuts, and other plant sources of omega-3 should not be substituted for animal omega-3s. You simply will not receive the same benefits because they are not metabolized as efficiently.
You will ultimately be relatively deficient in DHA and EPA if you rely completely on plant sources of omega-3, which have no EPA and DHA and must rely on your body to make the conversion of the ALA to the higher carbon chain fats.
Further, in 2008 I also shared the major update that cod liver oil is not an optimal source of omega-3 fat either, because of potential problems with the ratios of vitamin A and vitamin D it contains.
Based on the research available, I believe the best source of omega-3 is not fish oil, not cod liver oil and not flax seeds, but rather krill oil … a supplement that is still very “new” to most mainstream health care providers.
It contains essential EPA and DHA in a double-chain phospholipid structure that makes it far more absorbable than the omega-3s in fish oil.
Krill oil also contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and astaxanthin, which is a potent antioxidant. Research has shown the antioxidant potency of krill oil is, in terms of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorptance Capacity) values, 48 times more potent than fish oil.
Fears about Krill Over-Harvesting are Unfounded
Some animal activists have been worried by claims that krill oil consumption by health-conscious consumers endangers wildlife due to over-harvesting. Please rest assured that these fears are unfounded.
Krill is the largest biomass in the world, weighing more than the population of any other animal, including humans, on earth. Krill harvesting is also one of the best regulated on the planet, using strict international precautionary catch limit regulations that are reviewed regularly to assure sustainability.
Each year there’s a very large standing stock of renewable krill for both natural predators and human use.
For more in-depth information about the sustainability of krill, please read this previous article.
Truth # 9: Low-Carb versus Low-Fat Diets
Low-carb diets are all the rage now, but I have been speaking out about the dangers of eating too many grains long before it became popular.
Interestingly enough, when I was in medical school over 25 years ago, I was referred to as "Dr. Fiber" for my passionate views about the health benefits of fiber. Since then, I have subsequently learned that all grains, yes even organic, whole-grain varieties, are best avoided by the vast majority of the population, and I have been spreading this information ever since.
This is because, typically, grains rapidly break down to sugar, which causes your insulin to rise and can exacerbate health problems such as:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
The only consistent exceptions would be those whose nutritional type is a carb type and who don’t suffer symptoms of intolerance.
Low-Carb Diet is More Effective for Weight Loss than Low-Fat Diet
Cutting carbs like grains and sugars from your diet is certainly a positive step, but there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to "carb" restriction.
Most people believe that low-carb is the way to lose weight, when the reality is that fully one-third of them need a high-carb diet to lose, the only difference, of course, is that those carbs need to exclude grain carbohydrates.
Vegetables will NOT convert into sugar the way grains do, and most Americans need to eat far more vegetables in their diet. A mistake many make is to classify corn and potatoes as vegetables. When you think “vegetables,” it is far better to think “green.”
Eating carbs in the form of vegetables may make your carb intake higher, but will not be a hindrance to your health goals. Also, there are many low-carb products on the market that are little, if any, better than junk food.
As a desperate attempt to lose weight, many people are trying their own modified versions of the Atkins diet and are finding they are unable to limit their carbs to 40 to 60 grams a day.
The bottom line is that the reason why so many people fail at this diet is because a one-size-fits-all approach to diet just doesn’t work. Once you understand that everyone has their own nutritional type, you will be able determine whether a high-protein diet is right for you, or if you actually need a high-carb diet (with vegetables as the primary carb source) to look and feel your best.
Contrary to today’s popular belief, certain carbohydrates are not evil and some people actually need a high-carb diet to lose weight.
I have written extensive guidelines for how to implement this in my nutrition plan.
You will find that you can eat what you want as long as you know your nutritional type--and a brief test is included to help you determine what type you are.
My book Take Control of Your Health also provides you with 150 delicious nutritious low-carb recipes geared toward your metabolic type. So put the unhealthy low-carb snacks aside and put yourself on the right path to eating healthy and optimizing your health and weight for life.