Why Detoxification MattersI’ve had the issue of detoxification on my list of articles to write for some time because it’s such an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The foods we eat, the chemicals we put on our face and skin, inhale in our homes and outside, and ingest through our cooking have been shown to cause cancer, lead to sex changes in animals, and overwhelm our immune systems.

We all need to find some simple ways to minimize our exposure and to help our bodies rid themselves of what we’ve already been exposed to (even babies are born with a toxic load already from their mother’s exposure: more on that in a moment.)

I was finally spurred into action by the recent petition France made to the European environmental ministers demanding that they develop an official strategy around endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors are “products and everyday objects, such as detergents, plastics, cosmetics, textiles, paints, contain substances with endocrine disrupting properties…  that interfere with the hormonal regulation of living beings and affect reproduction, growth, development, behavior, etc.”

France argued that “the effects of some chemicals on the human body are now sufficiently documented” saying an official stance is needed to protect its citizens from their harms,  “especially among sensitive populations – pregnant women and young children.”  What we as adults can handle is one thing, but infants can bear much less.

Sweden and Denmark immediately backed France in demanding regulation of these “stealth chemicals.” Sweden took it one step further, filing a lawsuit with the European Court of Justice. Sweden’s environmental minister said, “We have decided to sue the Commission because we want the court to force the Commission to deliver the scientific criteria so we can start moving toward a poison-free society.”

Wow! The idea that the toxic chemicals that disrupt our systems are being regulated or that these European countries are calling for that regulation is amazing and exciting. That’s not going to happen soon in U.S. unfortunately. But hopefully, if the regulation goes through, Americans will begin to demand that the government regulate the toxic chemicals that are disrupting our systems and share the health risks openly with citizens so they can make informed decisions too.

Endocrine disruptors pose challenges to us because they are basically “fake” hormones that sit in the hormone receptor sites and block our hormones from entering. Each hormone has a job or jobs to do, such as starting or stopping a process of some kind. When the fake hormone takes its place, the processes that should occur do not and are “disrupted,” causing a host of health concerns in the body at the same time that the true hormone travels through our blood looking for a place to land, leading to high insulin or estrogen levels for example.

Many people think that they aren’t exposed to that many toxins or that the exposure levels are not really a problem. But a study almost ten years ago by the Environmental Working Group  (EWG) studied the umbilical cord blood of babies and found that they had an average of 200 contaminants in their blood upon birth.

The EWG tested over 400 chemicals from industrial and consumer products including pesticides, heavy metals, flame retardants used in furniture, blankets and clothing, one of the chemicals that makes Teflon non-stick cookware, and more.

In total, they found 287 chemicals in the babies’ blood including 209 chemicals that had never before showed up in cord blood. Since it’s estimated that 2000 new chemicals are introduced every year, who knows what the study would reveal ten years later. (I definitely hope they do a follow up soon!)

A more recent study in 2011 tested pregnant women and their babies for the presence of genetically modified food chemicals and found that 93% of pregnant women had these chemicals in their blood and 80% of the umbilical cord samples from babies contained the GMO chemicals at birth.

And before you think, well, I eat organic and live healthy so that doesn’t affect me, a Canadian study in 2006 tested people from all areas of the country and found chemicals present in all of their blood. One of the participants was an Indian chief in a remote rural tribe in Northwestern Quebec and he too tested positive for chemicals, even though he lives far removed from urban pollution and processed foods. You can read the whole fascinating report at http://environmentaldefence.ca/reports/toxic-nation-report-pollution-canadians

We can’t escape these chemicals: even chemicals banned more than 20 years ago are still showing up in our blood. They travel through the air via weather patterns, through our water supplies, leach into the ground and impact our food supply, are used on so many of the products around us including clothing, furniture, and in plastics, cosmetics, and foods.

While we can’t avoid them, we can, however, minimize our exposure by choosing organic foods and using organic health care and house hold products, filtering our water (especially if you have fluoridated water, as the medical journal the Lancet declared fluoride to be a neurotoxin this week), avoiding plastics and never allowing hot food or water to come in contact with plastic, and cooking with glass or ceramic and avoiding non-stick coatings.

In addition, since many of these chemicals stay in our fat cells, that means they stay in the fat cells of the animals we eat. Hormone-free, antibiotic-free, pesticide-free meat that is grass-fed or in the case of chickens, pasture-raised and not vegetarian fed, wild deep sea fish that are not farm-raised, or wild meats such as bison or venison are best.

Look for the list of fruits and vegetables that you must buy organic that I wrote about earlier this Spring and avoid packaged and processed foods as much as you can. Nitrates in meats are another harmful toxin so avoid packaged and processed meats and choose less fatty fish. The Environmental Working Group publishes lists of fruits and vegetables as well as guidelines for healthy fish and even guidelines for cosmetics and you can find them at www.ewg.org

The body is meant to detoxify small amounts of toxins on a daily basis, usually while we sleep. That makes getting a really good night’s rest important to allow your body to perform this vital task. But the amount of chemicals that we are exposed to these days is greater than our bodies should have to bear. If we’re healthy, the body will get by, but as we are exposed to more and more, if our immune system is compromised in any way, the body will struggle and a myriad of health conditions can occur including cancer.

In addition to eating well and drinking lots of water to help our bodies flush out toxic substances, one of the most important things you can do to support your body in detoxification is sweat. Exercise to the point of sweating, take a sauna or a steam bath regularly and try to minimize use of antiperspirants. Antiperspirant is a very recent invention, one that is blocking a very important body function.

If you sweat a lot, try just using a deodorant, preferably one without aluminum. Aluminum is a toxin and when you put it on your armpits, your body will absorb it rapidly. And while aluminum is a big AVOID, there are many other chemicals in antiperspirants and deodorants such as propylene glycol, parabens, fragrances dyes and more: daily exposure can do long-term harm. You can learn more in my article on Why Your Cosmetics and Toiletries Matter As Much (or More) Than Your Food.

There are natural antiperspirants as well and if you must use one, definitely find an organic version. But if you can save the antiperspirant for the occasional big presentation days and use a deodorant most days instead, your body will still be able to release the toxins as intended.

If giving up your favorite food or skin product leaves you quaking, just make as many good choices as you can in other areas. If you need to hold onto a few near and dear products, it’s ok. Your body can deal with small amounts: it’s the cumulative effect or exposure to so many different chemicals on a daily basis that is of concern. But go green and organic in as many other products and areas as you can. And be sure to work up a sweat. Your body will thank you!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: courtesy of Praisaeng / Free Digital Photos


It’s my favorite time of year! Not just because the weather is finally warming up but because it is time for the Environmental Working Group’s annual release of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 fruits and vegetables. As we turn the corner, (finally!) toward Spring, it’s a perfect time to talk about choosing the fruits and vegetables and the tradeoffs between your health and your finances.

As a result of the diminished nutrient profiles in foods due to modern farming practices, we need to eat more fruits and vegetables than ever. You may remember a prior article in which I shared research that to get the same level of nutrients from two peaches eaten back in the 1950’s, today you’d have to eat 53!

We are all trying to make our money in this tough economy stretch as far as it can, so it’s good to know that there is some produce that you can buy conventionally grown; being able to purchase it at your regular store or when it’s on sale means you can really save some money.  Other fruits and vegetables, however, absolutely should be bought organic, as it’s worth every penny of the investment in your health to avoid the toxic pesticides they contain.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, releases a list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables known as The Dirty Dozen. They also provide a list of the Clean 15 that you can feel safe about buying conventionally grown. The list changes every year as some dirty produce does get cleaned up and some clean produce begins to show signs of pesticides.

Everything not on one of these two lists is a use-your-best-judgment call: buy organic if and when you can, especially if it’s something you don’t peel. The more important avoiding pesticides is to you, the more items on the “in- between list” (meaning anything not found on either of the two lists that follows below), you’ll probably want to look for organic.

If it’s not a big priority for you at the moment vs. other health considerations, if you don’t have growing children, if you cannot afford it or it’s not a regular purchase, it’s ok to consume the conventional produce on the “in-between list” periodically as long as you wash it well or don’t eat the skin.

To the extent that you can, buy local and support your small farms whenever possible especially if buying conventional; the further food travels, the more it will be sprayed to ensure it makes the journey without spoiling and the less time it’s allowed to ripen and reach nutritional maturity.

The Clean 15 (These can be bought conventionally grown if you’re watching your expenses.)

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas –Frozen
Sweet Potatoes

It’s important to note that most genetically modified produce such as corn and soy is used to make packaged goods and doesn’t end up in the produce aisle. Some produce will be labeled with a sticker that begins with the number 8, which indicates it’s genetically modified and should always be avoided, but it’s not a requirement and so most produce will not have such clear markings.

According to the EWG, small amounts of GMO Produce such as zucchini, papaya and sweet corn do make their way onto the shelves.  If avoiding genetically modified foods is a priority to you, these should also be bought organic, even though papaya and corn make the “clean” list as far as pesticides go. (While we love an occasional sweet corn on the cob, because corn is so pervasive in foods these days, we limit it to a couple times a season, really enjoy it when we do, and always buy it organic even though it’s on the clean list.)

The Dirty Dozen (ALWAYS buy organic)

Sweet Bell Peppers
Nectarines – Imported
Cherry Tomatoes
Snap Peas – Imported

Kale and Collard Greens
Hot peppers

The first thing you’ll notice about The Dirty Dozen is that many of these are the fruits and vegetables your kids or grandkids eat most. The impact of the pesticides will be even greater upon their developing bodies and because they eat from this group regularly, it’s even more important to invest in organic options if there are kids involved. (And keep in mind, this means products made from these fruits as well such as apple or grape juice, and apple sauce, etc. These should be purchased organic as well.)

More and more stores are adding organic produce; these are the fruits and veggies to look for wherever you shop and make it a rule to invest in organic versions. Trader Joes is pretty good at stocking these if you have access to one nearby, but even there, it’s hit or miss. There are many times of the year I cannot get organic apples for my kids’ lunches and so we have to switch to something else until they come in because I will not buy conventional.

If you cannot find fresh organic versions of the Dirty Dozen, look for frozen organic strawberries, spinach or peppers. If you can’t get organic peaches or nectarines, try plums or another fruit on the clean or in-between list and wash it really well with fruit and veggie wash if you’ll be eating the peel. (Conventional or organic, clean, dirty or in-between, always wash your produce with a fruit and veggie wash and never eat any fruits or vegetables until you have!)

Also try visiting local farms or farmers markets and talking to the farmers. Many smaller farms follow organic farming practices but cannot afford the time and expense of applying for organic certification. Again, even if not certified organic, local produce will have more nutrients and is a better choice than heavily sprayed conventional produce that travels from far away.

Finally, last year, the Dirty Dozen list had some additions that didn’t meet the full criteria but were commonly found to have toxic pesticide contamination. This year, two vegetables made their “plus” list: hot peppers and leafy greens such as kale and collards.

These vegetables show pesticide residues of organochloride pesticides that are toxic to the nervous system and as a result have been phased out of agriculture. They make the list because residues still linger in farm fields and have been found on conventional produce sold in stores, so these should also be purchased as organic.

Last year, domestically grown summer squash such as yellow crookneck squash and zucchini made the plus list too. But this year they have removed it from the highest level of danger list, finding pesticide levels to have improved.

As produce season gets under way, enjoy the 9-13 servings per days of fruits and vegetables your body requires for optimal health, but invest in the best form you can of the dirty dozen and you can save some pennies on the rest!

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!



Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal and a free copy of Inger’s bestselling ebook at www.IngerPols.com/freegifts

Photo Source: courtesy of SOMMAI / Free Digital Photos


Recently, a study claimed that taking vitamins has no merit. It’s not new news: pharmaceutical-funded studies have been claiming this for some time (because vitamins can’t be patented and if you take them, you might not need their drugs.) While the study says vitamins in isolation don’t work (I agree), it also claims that multivitamins have no merit (I disagree: synthetic multivitamins have no merit, but whole food multi-vitamins have been shown to have health benefits.)

The debate isn’t new. One of the most vehement arguments came a few years ago when Reader’s Digest called vitamins “a scam” and said that taking them is a waste of money. It cited a study of 160,000 mid-life women that showed no difference in health with respect to the big diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke, from taking a multivitamin. But as with all studies, you need to dig deeper—in this case because not all vitamins are created equal. (I am always suspect when a magazine whose advertising is largely from pharmaceutical companies says vitamins are worthless.)

The article challenges the benefits of certain individual supplements, such as vitamins A or E taken by themselves.  I agree these vitamins will have little, if any, effect when taken in isolation because they require proper co-factors for absorption. The article and the recent study both recommend one standalone vitamin that should be taken by everyone: vitamin D. (I’ve discussed the importance of vitamin D previously and I will be writing more about it soon as I believe it is so important.)

There is a rampant vitamin D deficiency among children and adults today, so I couldn’t agree more. Vitamin D3 can stand on its own and I take 5000 mg daily as part of my multivitamin and more in addition during the winter. (Do not take a prescription vitamin D as you will receive vitamin D2 which is not as absorpable or effective as vitamin D3 which you can buy inexpensively over the counter, though natural sunlight is still best.)

But most other vitamins need to be taken together as part of a complete nutritional package and won’t have much if any impact if taken alone.

Many people say that if we eat well, we don’t need a multivitamin. Eating a whole food and plant-based diet will go a long way toward staying healthy and I strongly recommend we do that. We cannot eat too many dark leafy green vegetables and we should be eating the rainbow (fruits and vegetables that cover every spectrum of color from white to orange, red, green and purple.) But I also take a whole food multivitamin and a whole food raw green superfood powder, because the truth is, it is very difficult to get the nutrients we need from our modern food supply.

These days, to offset the bad fats and processed food sugars we consume and to restore balance within our bodies, we need more vegetables than ever. (New standards raise fruits and vegetables up to 9-13 servings a day!) We are not just eating to fuel our bodies, we are eating to heal our bodies from the inflammation and oxidation of our processed diets. It’s getting harder to get the nutrients we need because in addition to the packaged and prepared foods in our diets, our fresh food supply is not as vitamin rich as it used to be. Soil has been depleted of nutrients, food is sprayed with chemicals and pesticides or is genetically modified to grow bigger or to resist disease, and then it is transported hundreds or thousands of miles to get to our tables.

If you go to a farm or a market and buy fresh produce, you know that after a few days on your counter, it will begin to go bad. Now think about the grapes or tomatoes you are buying from the opposite coast or from South America. They were picked, packaged and then shipped (sometimes by barge) to the U.S., sent out by truck across the country to your local market, displayed on the shelf for several days (or weeks) and then finally taken home.

For the produce to survive that trip looking fresh and beautiful and without bruising, it is heavily sprayed with chemicals, and picked before it is ripe and allowed to mature along the way. Once the fruit leaves the vine, it doesn’t get the sun and the nutrients any longer, it doesn’t fully develop the enzymes and phytonutrients that are usually present in mature fresh picked local produce.

(I talk a lot more about organic versus local and making better fruit and vegetable choices in the articles on produce, but you should also know that many chemicals and pesticides banned in the U.S. are still used freely in the foreign countries from which we buy produce.)

Studies estimate more than 50% of nutrient value is lost in the journey from farm to table. That’s’ very conservative. So even if you are doing your best to eat a lot of good fruits and veggies, unless you have access to a local farm, and even then, it is hard to get food with the nutritional profile you need for health. Plus,  you’d have to eat a lot of it, and how many of us can sit down and eat a basket full of kale?

If you still think you can go it alone without, you may recall in one of my articles I shared that to get the same level of nutrients that you could get from two peaches back in the 1950’s, today you would have to eat 53! Who is doing that?

While I fantasize about growing my own food, here in New England, with a long, cold winter and a busy life with two kids and work, it’s not possible at the moment. I do my best to shop at local farmers’ markets for fresh produce, and I buy flash frozen organic produce (never canned) when I can’t. Despite my best efforts, I do not believe that I can get the nutrition I need without taking a multivitamin and my kids take one too.

But there is a big difference among multivitamins. There are natural organic whole food based products that when manufactured correctly leave the integrity of the whole food intact. And then there are cheap synthetic forms that you can buy in drugstores or big box stores which are the vitamins the studies are talking about.

When looking for a good whole food supplement, keep in mind that whole foods are just that: whole foods. Look for ingredients such as carrots, spinach, wheat grass, spirulina, kale, celery etc. There will be vitamins listed as well but their sources will also be present: The original foods from which they were derived. When the ingredient list reads more like a science report than a grocery list, and there are no food sources included just isolated chemicals, it’s typically comprised of man-made synthetic compounds.

Because synthetic vitamins are created in a lab to simulate the real thing, they are not identical in the way they interact with or are absorbed by the body. They are often missing minerals, nutrients and other requisite co-factors for assimilation. In addition, they often contain cheap fillers and binders from ingredients like sand and titanium dioxide, dibasic calcium phosphate and microcrystalline cellulose (refined wood pulp);  they are ingredients that our bodies cannot absorb and that may even be harmful to us. Many common over-the-counter vitamins are passed through the stool whole and intact.

Taking a multivitamin that includes a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients can make a difference, but only if it is bioavailable and bioabsorpable; in other words your body can actually break down and absorb the nutrients. That is not possible with synthetic vitamins. I prefer a whole food-based product that is as close to what I should be eating as possible, and made from the real thing, not created to imitate it.

Interestingly the Readers Digest article’s main argument against taking multivitamins said, “These days, you’re extremely unlikely to be deficient if you eat an average America diet, if only because many packaged foods are vitamin enriched.”

Think about that for a moment.

Food manufacturers strip out all the vitamins that exist in the food during the manufacturing process. Then they “enrich” them, by adding back cheap lab-created imitations. They want us to believe that these created versions are the same as the original, but research shows they are not: you cannot duplicate naturally occurring nutrients from synthetic ingredients. In addition, they will be missing enzymes and cofactors required for assimilation. When I see “enriched” on a food label, I know to stay away.

The truth is that enriched foods do not add vital nutrients to our bodies, nor will synthetic vitamin pills. The best way to get what we need is from the whole food source. Nature intended us to eat vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients together as they work synergistically. When whole food supplements are made the right way, they maintain a multitude of the plants original components and the integrity of the food source.

So eat as much good stuff as you can. Buy local when you can, organic if possible. But given the nutrient levels in today’s soil and ultimately, food supply, along with the long transit times and warehouse distribution processes, even if you eat really well, you probably won’t get all the nutrients you need from food. Most — if not all — of us will still need to supplement with a whole food-based supplement to bridge the gap for long-term health and wellness.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You.

Article Photo: courtesy of m_bartosch | FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Humans are the only species that consume milk past infancy. And we don’t just consume it: We inhale it! We drink milk and we eat butter, cream, cheese and ice cream more now than ever before. In 2001, Americans consumed 30 pounds of cheese per person. That is eight times more than we consumed in 1909 and more than double consumption in 1975!

While much of the cheese eaten in the early 1900s was made locally on a farm, today we are eating processed shredded cheeses out of plastic bags and we’re eating on the run: About 55% to 65% of the cheese we eat comes from commercially manufactured and prepared foods like packaged snack foods and fast food sandwiches.

Being Dutch, I consider cheese to be one of my four primary foods; I don’t think I could live without it. And because of my background and my blood type, I can handle dairy products without any digestive concerns. But over the past few years, I have reduced my dairy intake significantly and made several changes to the dairy products I do consume. Most of us are simply consuming too much dairy; making some changes can go a long way toward improving our health.

Not Your Parents’ Milk
Whenever I talk about reducing dairy consumption, I always run into someone who grew up on a farm who argues that their parents lived long healthy lives drinking milk every day. And I don’t doubt that, because when I ask about it further, they always say their diet included one glass of milk with a meal and some butter and cheese, all made locally on their farm—which means they consumed raw, unpasteurized milk and milk products made freshly and untreated. In fact in 1909, 56% of all milk consumed was ingested on the farm where it was produced. By 2001, that number had dropped to 0.3%.

While pasteurization is hailed as a great invention because it kills bacteria and prevents milk from souring, the heat process also kills off many beneficial nutrients. Named after Louis Pasteur, pasteurization was developed as a means of preserving beer and wine. Pasteur never applied it to milk; that came later, in the late 1800s, when dirty urban dairies were trying to find a way to produce cleaner milk. They discovered that pasteurization allowed them to still use the dirty milk, which was easier and cheaper than finding ways to make the milk cleaner.

The idea quickly spread as profits grew. In order to market the new form of milk, producers had to convince consumers that unpasteurized milk was harmful. A smear campaign to link raw milk to diseases was undertaken and today, most people believe that raw milk is dangerous to consume. But the truth is that pasteurized milk poses far more health risks than raw milk.

Raw milk contains healthy bacteria that actually inhibit the growth of harmful organisms; once removed, the pasteurized milk is actually more prone to contamination. In addition, the pasteurization process destroys many vital nutrients in the milk. Studies show up to a 66% loss of vitamins A, E and D and a 50% loss of vitamin C. Vitamins B6 and B12 are totally destroyed by the pasteurization process, as are many beneficial hormones, antibodies and enzymes. One enzyme destroyed in the process is lipase, which impairs fat metabolism and the ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D.

Pasteurization also makes calcium and other minerals less available. One way they test to see if the milk is appropriately pasteurized is to look for the destruction of phosphatase. If it’s absent, the milk is considered fully pasteurized. But phosphatase is essential for the absorption of calcium. So pasteurization makes calcium insoluble. It also destroys iodine, the lack of which can cause constipation.

Pasteurization also turns the sugar of milk, lactose, into beta-lactose, which is more rapidly absorbed in the system and has been shown to make children hungrier sooner. But the dairy industry has formed a strong lobby to prevent the distribution and sale of raw milk in order to protect their profits.  They’d rather have you believe it is harmful because if you found out the truth, you probably wouldn’t want to drink pasteurized milk.

Hormones, Pesticides and Antibiotics
In addition to not being pasteurized, raw milk is produced on farms that also avoid some of the real dangers of milk and milk products today: hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.

In the article on healthier meat choices, I discuss how hormones are used to help the animals to grow bigger. In addition to that injection process, some farms use an additional hormone called rBGH, which is a synthetic growth hormone. Back in the 1930s, a typical cow produced 12 pounds (or about a gallon and a half) of milk a day. By 1988, the average was 39 pounds a day. This was done primarily through selective breeding and using rBGH. Today a cow can now generate 50 pounds of milk a day.

Cows injected with rBGH are 79% more likely to contract mastitis (an infection of the udder). Those cows also suffer from reproductive difficulties, digestive problems, an increased need for antibiotics and other abnormalities. Consumer’s Union reports that milk from rBGH treated cows is more likely to be of lower quality and contain more pus and bacteria than milk from untreated cows.

But even if you find milk from farms that don’t use rBGH, other harmful hormones present in the cow remain. In addition to the ear pellet they receive as a calf containing synthetic hormones to help them grow, cows’ milk contains high amounts of estrogen because 75% to 90% of milk comes from pregnant cows. Milk from a late-stage pregnant cow can have up to 33 times as much estrone sulfate (a form of estrogen) and 10 times more progesterone. Much research ties excess estrogen to reproductive cancers such as prostate, testes, ovarian and breast cancer. Male breast enlargement has also been tied to high dairy and hormone-laden meat consumption.

Test analysis has revealed traces of 80 different types of antibiotics in milk. Animal products like milk can also contain up to 14 times more pesticides than plants If you worry about pesticides in produce, you should be even more concerned about pesticides in meat and milk.

Anyone who has been pregnant, or been around a pregnant woman, understands the effect high hormone levels can have on the body. They have likely also seen that what the mother eats is transferred to the child through the milk and has an immediate and noticeable effect on the child if there is an allergy or sensitivity issue. Consuming the milk of a perennially pregnant cow makes consuming estrogen unavoidable. As one physician/scientist from the Harvard School of Pubic Health put it, “The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking without apparent harm.”

A new process has been developed called ultra-pasteurization, which involves longer treatment times at higher temperatures, resulting in milk that is totally sterile. It’s not being advertised, but you can look for the word in small print on almost every national brand and even some organic brands (Horizon, the largest organic producer, now ultra-pasteurizes.)

Given all the challenges with modern milk production, it’s no surprise that many Americans are allergic or sensitive to it and that it can cause headaches, sinus and chest congestion, stomach pain, cramping, diarrhea, gas and sore, scratchy throats. Milk has also been linked to asthma, atherosclerosis, upper respiratory and ear infections, obesity and cancer. (Many doctors now think children with recurring ear infections have dairy sensitivities.)

Many people have difficulties digesting milk even if they are not lactose intolerant. According to Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University, “The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase — the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five. In fact, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned. Our bodies just weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. Instead, most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods –vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seaweed.”

The Many Varieties of Milk
For my family and myself, traditional milk, even organic, is simply not a good health choice. Raw milk not only avoids the hormone, antibiotic and pesticide challenges of modern milk production, it also offers the nutrients and enzymes that the pasteurization process destroys. Raw milk is a complete source of protein full of beneficial bacteria and vitamins, minerals and enzymes. If you are going to consume cow’s milk, I suggest you do so sparingly and that you explore raw milk options.

In some states, you can buy raw milk in stores such as Whole Foods. In most states, however, you’ll have to buy directly from the farm. And that may not be a viable option for some. When I moved from Maine to Massachusetts, I lost my easy access to raw milk. So I had to look for other options and another option to consider is goat’s milk. Much of the world consumes goat not cow’s milk, because it’s more widely available and also because most people can digest goat’s milk readily, even if they cannot tolerate cow’s milk.

Goat’s milk is a great source of calcium and protein, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2), potassium and the amino acid tryptophan. It’s also been shown to enhance the metabolism of copper and iron. For those with milk allergy symptoms such as asthma, eczema, ear infections and rheumatoid arthritis, switching to goat milk may help alleviate symptoms.

The major problem with goat milk is the expense. For many people who consume moderate or large amounts of milk, it will not be financially viable. I personally consume very little milk. I put a small amount in my chai tea in the morning and I use a little when I make a risotto or a sauce that I want to have some depth or richness. I find that a small amount of goat’s milk does the trick and makes for a delicious and rich sauce. Because I use so little and a half gallon can last me more than two weeks, (and yes, it lasts that long without spoiling), I justify the expense. (I definitely noticed a reduction in bloating after switching from cow’s to goat’s milk.)

For those who can’t access or afford raw milk or goat milk, or who want a non-animal option, I recommend almond milk. Almond milk can be made inexpensively at home so it’s a great option if you want a fresh milk alternative that doesn’t cost a lot.

I do not recommend soy milk, though it does contain some nutrients and protein, because it contains a natural chemical that mimics estrogen. These “fake” estrogens take up the hormone receptor sites intended for real estrogen, which leaves the excess estrogen unable to connect to a receptor site and left to wander around the body.

Studies show excess estrogen can alter sexual development and can lead to reproductive concerns and cancers. Early puberty and male breast development are common side effects of excess estrogen. One study showed that two glasses of soy milk a day contained enough pseudo-estrogen to alter the timing of a woman’s reproductive cycle. As a result, I suggest everyone avoid soymilk.

Choose Better Cheese
While I have focused predominantly on milk since it is the source for all dairy, cheese is a far bigger component of most people’s diets than milk. In general, we eat way too much cheese and cutting back on processed foods with cheese or hidden cheese in fast foods is a great step toward better health. When you do choose cheese, the same principles that we discussed above apply: Look for raw milk cheese (most markets carry some, especially raw milk bleu cheeses and they are delicious) and goat’s milk cheese, which are also prevalent and tasty. Experiment with these kinds of cheese and if you are a cheese lover like me, you’ll find some delicious new options in raw milk and goat’s milk cheeses.

Occasionally, I do eat traditional cheese, but I buy it from Europe because the European Union has banned all hormones. When you buy a cheese from the mountainous Alps region of France or Switzerland, you are typically getting cheese made the traditional old-fashioned way from cows or goats who have roamed free in the sunshine, eating grass and living without pesticides, chemicals or drugs.

How Much is Too Much?
So now that we have looked at milk and cheese options, how much, if any, dairy should you consume? Less is definitely more when it comes to dairy: For me, a little bit of raw milk or goat cheese makes my day and I try to eliminate eating cheese that is an afterthought rather than a primary focus in my meal. I believe in bioindividuality, which means I think that every body is different and your tolerance will depend on your own lifestyle factors and diet, as well as that of your ancestors. Some people can handle dairy without incident while others should cut it out completely. This may be due in part to the enzymes present in our blood.

Dr. Peter D’Adamo argues in his blood type diet book, Eat Right for Your Type that blood type Bs (as I am) can handle dairy. Because ABs have some B in them, they can handle a little dairy as well. But type A should significantly reduce if not eliminate dairy and blood type O should completely avoid all dairy. This may or may not ring true for you, but if you are at all curious, I suggest eliminating dairy completely for two weeks, especially if you have any symptoms like headaches, IBS, sinuses, asthma or bloating/gas, and see how you feel during that time. (That includes all milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream.) Then reintroduce each slowly and see how you feel as you begin to eat them again: you’ll know right away if you can handle dairy and what types affect you more than others.


To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You.

Article Photo: courtesy of Naypong | FreeDigitalPhotos.net


We are a sleep-deprived nation. A recent study revealed that 70 million Americans do not get adequate sleep.  Experts say we need seven to nine hours a night consistently, but many of us get about five to seven. Furthermore, while our bodies were made to recover from one interrupted night’s sleep, studies now show that less than optimal sleep for a few nights in a row can change your sleep pattern, weaken your immune system and lead to an increased likelihood of weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, loss of long-term memory and more. Even one off night can increase your blood sugar levels and impair your sensitivity to insulin.

Sleep is directly linked to many mental processing functions including maintaining a positive mood (and managing irritability, anxiety, anger and depression), brain activity, learning, memory, concentration and our ability to handle stress. Many experts now say sleep is as important to your health and wellness long-term as a healthy diet and exercise.

Let’s look at what happens in a typical night of sleep.

Sleep Cycles and REM

Our bodies know whether we are awake or asleep through nerve signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, which act on nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. Some neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, are produced in the brainstem, where the brain and the spinal cord connect. These keep parts of the brain active while we are awake. Other neurons located in the base of the brain appear to turn off the signals that keep us awake. A chemical known as adenosine is now shown to build up in our bodies and cause drowsiness; it then breaks down while we sleep. Healthy functioning of these neurons is required for normal sleep cycles.

There are five phases of sleep: They are known as sleep cycles 1,2,3,4 and REM (or rapid eye movement.) We pass through all five, building up from 1 to REM and then begin the cycle all over again. We spend about 50% of our total sleep time in stage 2, about 20% in REM and the remaining 30% spread out across the other sleep cycles. (Infants spend 50% of their sleep in REM.)

Stage 1 sleep is very light sleep, where we drift in and out, our eyes move slowly, our muscle activity slows down and we can be awakened easily. We may make sudden muscle contractions in this stage or remember visual image fragments. In Stage 2, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower. Stage 3 brings in very slow waves, known as delta waves, as well as some smaller faster waves. In stage 4, we are almost exclusively in a delta wave phase.

Stages 3 and 4 are considered to be deep sleep and it’s hard to awaken someone from those stages; those awakened don’t adjust immediately. It takes a few minutes for them to stop feeling groggy and disoriented. In this phase, kids may experience night terrors or bedwetting and adults and kids both may sleepwalk.

After stages 3 and 4 deep sleep, we enter REM during which, true to its name, our eyes move rapidly in many directions. Our muscles become temporarily paralyzed and our breathing becomes irregular and more rapid and shallow. During REM, we dream.

Each sleep cycle takes 90-110 minutes on average, with our first REM cycle typically occurring 70-90 minutes after we fall asleep. During the first cycle, the REM period is relatively short, with longer periods of deep sleep. But as we progress through the night, REM cycles get longer and deep sleep cycles become shorter. By the time we awaken in the morning, most of our time is spent in sleep stages 1, 2 and REM.

Caffeine, diet pills and other stimulants can cause insomnia, or an inability to fall asleep. Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but keeps you in lighter stages of sleep and limits deep sleep and REM. Antidepressants can suppress REM sleep cycles. Heavy smokers often stay in lighter sleep stages and have less REM sleep. They may also wake after three to four hours due to nicotine withdrawal. Temperature changes disrupt REM as well.

Research shows that if we miss one normal REM heavy sleep cycle, the next time we sleep, we will go quickly into REM and stay there longer, to make up for lost sleep. But after a couple nights of disrupted sleep in a row, our bodies will no longer compensate and drop into REM. They will simply adapt to the new sleep cycle, shifting the sleep balance away from the healing and restorative deep and REM sleep cycles.

Spending less time in the healing deep sleep cycles affects your immune system, as your body cannot repair, restore and rebalance as it is meant to with less time in deep and REM sleep. Research also shows a number of interesting connections between health and insufficient sleep, including metabolic function and cardiovascular disease.

Sleep and the Connection to Health

In one study, after only three nights of deep and REM sleep suppression, participants became less sensitive to insulin; they required more insulin to dispose of similar amounts of glucose, but the body did not compensate by increasing insulin levels. They had reduced glucose tolerance and an increased likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes. The study equated the decrease in insulin sensitivity to gaining 20 to 30 pounds.

Recently, a groundbreaking study showed that the body’s metabolic functions could be disrupted by only one night of inadequate sleep. In this study, participants were examined after a normal eight-hour night of sleep and also after a night of only four hours of sleep. The study revealed that “Insulin sensitivity is not fixed in healthy subjects, but depends on the duration of sleep in the preceding night,” according to Dr. Esther Donga, of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands and lead author of the study.

Another study monitored participants after two nights of regular sleep and then five nights of sleep restriction. After five nights of only getting four hours of sleep, the results indicated a statistically significant decrease in the heart rate variability, which can result in cardiological and non-cardiological diseases, according to Siobhan Banks of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

A recent study of insomniacs showed that sleep deprivation also increased the risk of hypertension. Those who slept for less than five hours had a 500% higher risk for hypertension than those who slept for six hours or more. Insomniacs with sleep cycles of five to six hours a night had a 350% higher risk of hypertension than normal sleepers.

Another study revealed that four nights of REM sleep deprivation reduced cell proliferation in the part of the forebrain that is responsible for long-term memory.

And a 16-year study revealed that women who slept for five hours a night were 32% more likely to gain weight (defined as an increase of 33 pounds or more) and 15% more likely to become obese versus women who slept for seven hours.  Six-hour-a-night sleepers fared a little better, with a 12% increase in major weight.

Even though our busy lives tempt us to put off sleep in favor of getting more things done, if you want to live a longer, healthier life, make a good night’s sleep a priority–you’ll have more energy–and feel better–tackling your tasks the next day.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!

Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal and a free copy of Inger’s bestselling ebook at www.IngerPols.com/freegifts

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