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All Things Considered?
by Don Bennett, DAS

We are great at being able to look at things in isolation if it serves us. Whole articles have been written about the beneficial effects of drinking red wine, yet there is hardly any mention of the detrimental effects of the alcohol. On balance, red wine does more harm than good, but the grape growers, wine makers, wine distributors, and wine retailers naturally choose to focus on the pluses. But make no mistake about it, the minuses are still there. And when the evening news spends 98% of a report's time on the benefits of red wine, and only 2% on the hazards, when the hazards represent 98% and the benefits 2%, I don't call that balanced reporting. That's called telling the public what the industries involved would like them to hear.

Even hard science falls prey to looking at things in isolation. Recently scientists discovered how to bring out the anti-cancer properties of broccoli. Broccoli is a good source of sulforaphane (sulfur), which is a natural disinfectant used by the liver to reduce cancer-causing chemicals that enter your body (like from pesticides on non-organically grown food) before they can damage cells. But broccoli also contains a "sulfur-grabbing" protein which inactivates some of the beneficial sulforaphane in the broccoli, so raw broccoli isn't as great as many people think. The answer? Heat the broccoli! Yes, if you cook the broccoli to 140 degrees Fahrenheit you damage those naughty sulfur-grabbing proteins, and then all the sulforaphane is available to your body for its battle against cancerous cells.

But when people wear blinders, very often something is overlooked, and sometimes that something is detrimental to the body. In the case of broccoli, when you cook it, you not only denature the sulfur-grabbing proteins but all the proteins, even the good ones, and now they no longer function as a protein. But we need protein, so the more you cook the food you eat, the less bioavailable protein you're going to get. But our protein needs are really very small compared to our need for fuel (simple carbohydrates that our cells require), so the real downside here is not so much the diminished protein in cooked/steamed broccoli, but the damaged protein in the broccoli.

Denatured protein is seen as a "foreign invader" by the body; the body doesn't recognize it as protein, in fact it doesn't recognize it as anything, so it does what it does for all unrecognizable substances: create antibodies to eat them up so the body can spit them out. The problem with damaged food proteins is that they are not bad bacteria or viruses or some other harmful pathogen, but the body doesn't know this. And in the process of creating and sending out antibodies to deal with the unrecognizable invader (denatured proteins) those antibodies inadvertently attack healthy tissue. And what do we call it when the body attacks itself? An auto-immune reaction. And when this reaction occurs every day it can become an auto-immune disease.

We are told that it isn't known what causes auto-immune diseases. But that's strange, because I know what causes them, and now you know what causes them, so how can health professionals charged with protecting the public not know? And now you're going to know that cooked (pasteurized) cow milk products (cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk) cause the body to produce antibodies in response to this particular looking denatured milk protein, and that these antibodies also happen to attack the beta cells of the pancreas (the part that makes insulin), and they attack the myelin sheath of the nerves (the outer coverings of nerves), so now you know why dairy products are implicated in diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis.

The dairy industry will contend that this is not so, but if you call up the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company and ask if cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, they will tell you that there has never been any positive proof of this. Never mind that there is mountains of empirical evidence linking smoking to lung cancer. Because it has never been proven using today's standard of proof (multiple, double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed studies) tobacco companies can get away with saying this. So too can the dairy industry. And since lots of money has found its way from the dairy industry to the elected representatives charged with protecting public health, you won't ever see any public service announcements warning you about dairy products' contribution to diabetes, cancer, and MS. In fact, the dairy industry would have you believe that milk helps prevent osteoporosis when in fact milk helps to cause osteoporosis.

Wow! So this is what can happen when looking at things in isolation! And this practice is used most often by industries that sell products that have negative health aspects. Is it in your best interest to embrace studies that were commissioned by an industry whose job it is to promote a product (like dairy products)? If the study conclusions were predetermined (unethical but done all the time), is that "study" of value to you, or to the industry that commissioned it?

No doubt about it, it's in your best interest to look at things on balance, all things considered. This may not result in the answer you'd like hear, but if your health – both today's health and your future health – is of the utmost importance to you, then it would serve you well to live by this motto:

"Give me the truth though the heavens may fall"

Note 1: To get the beneficial properties of sulfur in a food that's delicious, try eating some durian, a tropical fruit that's popular in other countries, like the apple is in the U.S. Durian is available frozen whole (the entire fruit) and packaged (the pulp). It can be found in many Asian markets. I recommend eating some at least twice a month. You can find out more about durian here.

Note 2: The cooking of broccoli to 140 degrees may be all well and good to do in a lab, but as with most things scientific, it isn't the same in the real world. In your kitchen, to make broccoli a cancer fighting food, you not only have to get it up to 140 degrees, you also can't let it get much beyond that or you will destroy the enzymes that release the sulforaphane AND at a higher heat, the sulforaphane itself will be damaged. So, on balance, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli aren't as good a cancer fighter as a food that contains sulforaphane but doesn't require cooking to make the sulforaphane available. Eating some durian every now and then will provide you with much needed sulfur in a food that is delicious, assuming your taste buds are functioning normally – if they're not, durian might not taste delicious, and this is good for you to know because if it doesn't taste delicious, you've got some work to do in the health creation department (if the cells of your taste buds aren't functioning properly, it's a safe bet that other cells in your body aren't either). And by-the-way, broccoli and the other cruciferous vegetables also contain iodide transport inhibitors which is why they mess with the thyroid's ability to function correctly (and all the other organs and glands that require adequate iodine).


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