“A Rose is a Rose” --William Shakespeare
“Eggs and Milk are not Eggs and Milk” --Unknown Pundit
Dairy products and eggs have been blamed for cholesterol problems and heart disease for several decades in this country. This is despite the fact that many cultures that have consumed dairy products and eggs as staple foods have enjoyed extremely healthful existences with virtually no heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.
Why then, do dairy and eggs have a bad rap now? Part of the reason is political and economical. As fad food industries grow it is helpful to put-down the use of traditional foods to boost sales of the new-fangled, supposedly healthful foods that have led to the sad statistics of nearly half of our population dying of heart disease, 1 in 2-3 people developing cancer, and a diabetes epidemic that grows daily.
But there is another, more important reason for the bad rap that dairy and eggs get: our farms produce a bad product. The commercial milk that you buy in the store does contribute to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and the eggs you buy are totally inferior to the real thing.
Let’s Take Eggs…
Below is a chart comparing commercial eggs to free-range organic eggs (the free rangers are from the people at Mother Earth News, hence the caption “Mother’s Four Free Range Flocks.” The chart is lifted from the website www.motherearthnews.com/eggs/.
Looking at the chart, notice that the free-range organic eggs have nearly twice the vitamin E, four times the beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), four times the omega-3 fatty acids, and half the cholesterol. In addition, the free-range eggs have a significant amount of folic a
cid—the commercial eggs have none. Several studies have shown similar results—one even showed free-range organic eggs to have thirteen times the omega-3 fatty acids!
It is important to remember that food sources of A & E play a huge role in preventing cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other degenerative diseases. Vitamin E and A supplements, however, produce no such effect, and may even harm you. That’s right, several studies have shown that supplements containing beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E increase your risk of cancer and/or heart disease.
"Taking Vitamins May Harm Me?"
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed 29,000 male smokers for 5-8 years. Of those taking beta-carotene supplements, 18% more developed lung cancer than the group that took nothing! Another study looked at 18,000 men and women who smoked heavily or were exposed to asbestos.This study was stopped when it was found that 28% more lung cancer occurred in those taking the beta-carotene -- vitamin A combination. The Physicians' Health Study at Harvard found no benefit or harm from beta-carotene supplementation in 22,000 male physicians over a 12-year course.
A 1997 study in The Lancet found a significant increase in deaths from heart disease in individuals taking either beta-carotene or a combination of vitamin E and beta-carotene. Another Lancet study done in 2000 found no reduction in mortality from cancer or heart disease or “any other major outcome.”
An article published in Nature in 1998 reported that people taking 500mg of vitamin C per day actually increased their free radical production and DNA damage. A 2001 study in Free Radical Research found that vitamin C supplementation slowed recovery of muscle injuries. The researches hypothesized that at high levels vitamin C becomes an oxidant (as opposed to an antioxidant) in the presence of “free” iron. “Free” iron is made available to react with vitamin C in inflammatory conditions such as muscle strain, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease! Ironically, people taking vitamin C for heart disease are the ones who should avoid the supplement the most!
Keep in mind that the above studies used supplements, not natural food sources of antioxidants. Every study I’ve ever seen on food sources (i.e. fruits, vegetables, and, alas, the eggs I’ve been discussing) shows a dramatic decrease in cancer, heart disease, etc. The moral of the story here is that food sources of vitamins are superior for your health and that pills are not only inferior, but possibly harmful. Get your vitamins and minerals from food! That is the way you body has evolved to process them—in balanced quantities that allow you to assimilate them to build health and vitality, not in single-molecule megadoses that the human body has never known before. Remember that the healthiest societies in the world have never taken vitamins!
Read my Antioxidant article for more information on increasing your antioxidant status safely.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids vs. Statins
Omega three fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for a multitude of conditions including arthritis, dementia, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, depression, ADHD and high blood pressure to name a few. A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Omega-3 supplementation resulted in a 23% reduction in mortality, whereas statin drugs (like lipitor, zocor, and others) resulted in only a 13% reduction in mortality (Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:725-730). Other studies actually show that what modern medicine considers “high” cholesterol” may be a good thing. For instance, one study found that low levels of cholesterol were associated with a “marked increase in mortality in advanced heart failure” (J Card Fail. 2002 Aug;8(4):216-24).
Read my omega-3 article.
Side effects of statins include muscle disorders and pain, liver disorders, and oh yeah, statins make you stupid! Its true, several studies prove that taking statins leads to cognitive decline (fancy words for getting dumber). Check out this study from the American Journal of Medicine: Am J Med. 2004 Dec 1;117(11):823-9. Statins can also cause depression, violent behavior, and even suicide. The following is quoted directly from the University of California, San Diego medical web page:
“In some cases violence, psychosis, and suicide have been reported. We have published a small case series describing several instances of severe irritability arising on statins, resolving when statins were stopped, and returning when statin use was resumed.”--http://medicine.ucsd.edu/SES/adverse_effects.htm
The same website continues,
“Sleep problems, sexual function problems, fatigue, dizziness and a sense of detachment are also reported with these drugs. Additionally, people have mentioned experiencing swelling, shortness of breath, vision changes, changes in temperature regulation, weight change, hunger, breast enlargement, blood sugar changes, dry skin, rashes, blood pressure changes, nausea, upset stomach, bleeding, and ringing in ears or other noises.”
So consider the following points:
· Exercise and omega-3’s result in far greater reductions in mortality from heart disease than statin drugs—free range eggs are an excellent source of omega-3’s, especially if you by eggs from chickens fed flax and borage (often labeled as omega-3 eggs).
· Statin drugs increase overall mortality (cancer, liver disease, suicide etc)
· Statin drugs cause a host of side effects; some are obvious, but others, like depression and cognitive decline, are vague and often undiagnosed.
As a last blow to the statins, consider the following excerpt from Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, an agency that does systematic, unbiased reviews of drug types for drug research and development:
“Randomised trial data confirm that lowering cholesterol no longer extends life in the elderly, even those at high risk of heart disease, and no evidence supports the presumption that the impact on all-cause morbidity is any more favourable. These findings increase the importance of statin adverse effects (AEs) in this group. Furthermore, the elderly may be more vulnerable to known AEs, and evidence provides cause for concern that new risks may supervene, including cancer, neurodegenerative disease and heart failure. Physiological evidence regarding the impact of statins on mitochondrial function, and mitochondrial function on ageing, support these concerns. Additionally, the impact of statin AEs (e.g., muscle and cognitive problems) may be amplified in this group. Effects may be misattributed to ageing. Even modestly lower cognitive and physical function in older elderly prognosticates increased disability, hospitalisation, institutionalisation, and mortality. Disability, once present, is less likely to recover. Because the risk for AEs is unattended by evidence of net benefit to the person, the use of statins in the elderly should be undertaken, if at all, with circumspection and close scrutiny for adverse effects.” Expert Opinion on Drug Safety May 2005, Vol. 4, No. 3, Pages 389-397.
Back to Eggs….
So all eggs are not created equal. Know that when you buy free-range eggs you are purchasing health food. Quality eggs do not raise your cholesterol or contribute to heart disease—to the contrary, they provide a wide range of health giving nutrients. As an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3 fats, lecithin, and perfect protein, the egg is unparalleled.
Now Let’s Take Dairy…
Improper feeding of animals, homogenization, pasteurization, and creating low fat products have destroyed the health giving benefits of dairy. Consider the following:
Homogenization: Homogenization is the process of squeezing milk through very small holes at high pressure. This process breaks large fat globule into smaller globules, thereby keeping the milk uniform rather than the fat rising to the top. This little convenience comes at a great cost, however. In its natural state, milk contains an enzyme called “xanthine oxidase” (XO). In non-homogenized milk, XO is digested and causes no problems. When milk is homogenized, however, XO is encapsulated in the newly formed fat globules. It is then absorbed directly into the blood stream with the fat, and this is where the trouble begins. XO oxidizes and destroys a fatty component of cell membranes in artery walls and in heart lining called “plasmalogen”. This leads to lesions (fancy word for “owies”) in these areas. The liver then creates cholesterol in an effort to repair these sites of insult. Medical treatment then tries to pharmaceutically lower the cholesterol, and you still have a heart attack because of the damage to your artery and heart lining!
Pasteurization: Pasteurization kills the beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in milk. If you let pasteurized milk sit out for a while it will become rotten, that is, overrun with “bad” bacteria. If raw milk sits out it is turned to curds and whey, and becomes a healthful drink called clabbered milk. This is because the good bacteria rule, and the bad bacteria cannot gain a foothold. These same beneficial bacteria are helpful in your gut. A healthy human gut actually has more bacteria than you have cells in your entire body!
Low Fat: Lowering the fat content milk deprives the consumer of the valuable fats found in grass-fed raw milk. These include CLA and omega-3 fatty acids (see below). In addition, by removing the fat from the milk you increase the proportion of calories from protein in the milk. This nutritional imbalance creates an acid situation in the body. Your body neutralizes this low-PH situation by leaching calcium from your bones to buffer the acid. The result is that you maintain your PH, but develop osteoporosis. In addition, since the milk does not have the proper fat content to induce a satiated feeling after drinking it, you crave a jelly doughnut, a can of coke, three helpings if pasta, and a can of Spam. Wonder why you keep gaining weight even though you buy low fat?
Grain Feeding: Grass-fed dairy contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is an amazing little fatty acid that is a potent cancer fighter. A recent study found that women with the highest levels of CLA in their diets had 74% less breast cancer! This and other promising research led industry to create a synthetic CLA. Synthetic CLA, unfortunately, does not have the same effects as natural CLA. Specifically, synthetic CLA has been found to promote insulin resistance, raise blood sugar levels, and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol. Grass-fed animal products are the greatest source of natural CLA. Grass fed milk contains 5 times more CLA than milk from grain fed animals. At this time 1 in every 2-3 people in this country develops cancer. If our country switched to grass-fed dairy products the levels of cancer would fall dramatically.
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in much greater amounts in grass-fed dairy products. In grass-fed organic dairy the omega-3 content is three times that of commercial dairy products. Remember from the discussion above (in the egg section) that omega-3’s are the “good” fats that are known to be beneficial for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and many other disorders. Grain-fed animals not only have lower omega-3 content, they have a much higher omega-6 content. Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary in balanced amounts, but become pro-inflammatory in excess. Compared to milk from pasture fed animals, grain-fed milk contains nearly three times more omega-6 fatty acids! This leads to a pro-inflammatory product that will aggravate arthritis and depression, pave the way for the development of cancer, and aggravate all forms of cardiovascular disease. The chart below is stolen from the website www.eatwild.com. Check it out.
Milk from pasture-fed cows and goats also contains a great deal more beta-carotene, vitamin E, and trace minerals.
So truly, all eggs and dairy are not created equal! You have my permission to enjoy as many range free chicken eggs and as much grass-fed raw milk as you like. These foods will decrease your risk of heart disease, depression, cancer, diabetes, and becoming overweight. In addition, you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying some of the world’s most scrumptious foods—the way nature intended.