#066 7 Ways to Extend Life and Prevent Cancer with IGF-1

January 19th, 2015 by

7 Ways to Extend Life and Prevent Cancer with IGF-1

NFL football players typically die in their 50s from heart disease or cancer.  In contrast, Laron Dwarfs from Ecuador live incredibly long lives without ever getting heart disease or cancer.  Could too much or too little IGF-1 be the reason?  In this article I will teach you how to optimize your IGF-1 levels to maintain muscle mass, extend life, and prevent cancer.

1986 Superbowl

On January 26, 1986 all of America was glued to the TV screen as they watched the Super Bowl XX match up between the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots.  Favorite among Americans was the massive rookie defensive tackle of the Chicago Bears, William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

Perry seemed to have it all.  He was one of the biggest and fastest players to ever play the game.  He started the season at 380 pounds.  Not only was he formidable on defense but he was also a powerful secret weapon on offense as well in the role of a running back.  Perry represented the modern NFL player built much bigger and stronger than previous generations of NFL players.

In the third quarter of the Superbowl game with the ball on the 1-yard line the call was made to give the ball to “The Refrigerator” Perry.  On one of the most famous NFL plays of all time, “The Refrigerator” Perry scored the touchdown run as scene in this video of the event helping the Chicago Bears to go on to win their first Super Bowl.

What is IGF-1?

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a hormone similar in structure to insulin.  IGF-1 is one of the most potent hormones stimulating growth.  IGF-1 levels are highest during the childhood growth periods and continue to play a role in growth and muscle development even in adults.

NFL football players and body builders likely have the highest circulating levels of natural IGF-1 due to their lifestyles.  For some NFL players they still wanted even higher levels of IGF-1 through performance enhancing drugs.  For example, IGF-1 was suddenly thrust into the spotlight during the 2013 Superbowl game when it was revealed that Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis was doping with IGF-1 from deer-antler pills.  Deer-antlers contain high levels of IGF-1 as IGF-1 is what causes the antlers to grow so fast each year in the life of a deer.

On first blush it seems like IGF-1 is something all of us want.  Who wouldn’t want to possess super human size and strength?  Is it any wonder New York Yankees baseball legend, A-Rod or Alex Rodriguez lied under oath that he did not use performance enhancing IGF-1 despite evidence to the contrary?

The Laron Dwarfs: People with Genetically Low Levels of IGF-1

At the same time “The Refrigerator” Perry was dominating the NFL, far away to the South, Dr. Guevara-Aguirre discovered the Laron Dwarfs in Ecuador in 1987.   Dr. Guevara-Aguirre was interested in these three to four foot dwarfs as legend had it that they lived very long lives free from cancer or diabetes.

At the time no one believed Dr. Dr. Guevara-Aguirre’s findings.  It was impossible that there were no reported cases of cancer or diabetes in any group of people.

Currently, there are about 300 known people in the world with the Laron-type Dwarfism.  Of these 300 people, most reside in Ecuador.  Researchers have reported that most of these dwarfs could probably live much longer if it were not for their high rates of alcoholism and accidents likely from their short stature.

The reason why Laron Dwarfs don’t develop cancer is really quite simple.  IGF-1 stimulates growth.  If growth is not stimulated then cancerous cells do not grow and multiply.  Likewise, with low levels of IGF-1 their blood glucose levels remain low even if they become obese.

Aside from their short stature, the other challenge Laron Dwarfs face is that of a decreased intelligence.  In addition to growth and muscles, IGF-1 also enhances cognitive performance.

Interestingly, if you inject IGF-1 into these Laron Dwarfs, like A-Rod, during their adolescent growth periods they will grow to a normal size.  However, if IGF-1 is given after puberty then they will remain as dwarfs.  Clearly, IGF-1 administration has to be critically timed to reverse their dwarfism.

Acromegaly and Excessive IGF-1

On the other end of the spectrum from the Laron Dwarfs is acromegaly.  Acromegaly is a condition where people continue to grow due to a pituitary gland abnormality.  As opposed to the Laron Dwarfs, these people are giants and have very high levels of IGF-1.  Unfortunately, these giants tend to die very young.

One of my favorite Hollywood movie stars growing up was André the Giant who reportedly stood at 7 feet 4 inches (224 cm) and starred in the classic movie The Princess Bride (affiliate link).  Unfortunately, André the Giant suffered from acromegaly and died at the young age of 46 due to complications from this condition.

Dog Size, IGF-1, and Longevity

Elizabeth with Andi

We love our dog Andi.  We rescued this golden lab at the age of 7.  Currently, she is 11 years old.

Even though her health is excellent, we all know that, in general, bigger dogs don’t live as long as smaller dogs.  Given how attached our children are to Andi, we know they will be devastated when this happens.

Why is this the case?  Could the same IGF-1 link hold true in dogs as well?

Recent studies in dogs have shown a similar outcome when it comes to IGF-1 levels and survival.  Larger dog breeds tend to have higher levels of IGF-1.  Consequently, they don’t live as long as the smaller breeds with lower levels of IGF-1.

Unfortunately for me (my height is 6′ 2″ or 189 cm), taller humans have also been shown to not live as long based on IGF-1 levels.  It seems that at least in some studies there is a trade off based on height versus longevity.

Centenarians, Genetics, Cognition, and IGF-1 Levels

Interestingly, studies of centenarians and their offspring have consistently shown lower levels of IGF-1 in those who live the longest.  This link is not just confined to certain ethnic groups.  As we have been very fascinated with the long-term health and longevity of people living in China’s Longevity Village, the same finding holds true with the Chinese.  Chinese living into their ninth or tenth decades of life consistently show lower levels of IGF-1.  These studies seem to suggest that at least in long lived families, there may be a genetic component to IGF-1 and longevity.

While in the extreme cases, like Laron Dwarfs, extremely low levels of IGF-1 are associated with cognitive impairment.  However, in healthy adults like the centenarians mentioned above, IGF-1 levels are not associated with cognitive performance.

7 Ways to Optimize Our IGF-1 levels?

Is there some middle ground between the muscle bound hulking NFL lineman and the diminutive Ecuadorian dwarf?  What is the goal IGF-1 level for optimal muscle strength, cognitive function, longevity, and freedom from cancer and diabetes?

From this article it could appear that there is a trade off when it comes to IGF-1.  On one end of the spectrum you have muscles and strength with high levels of IGF-1 (growth) while on the end you have longevity with freedom from cancer or diabetes with low levels of IGF-1 (repair).  Is there a way to have the best of both worlds?  Can we have both growth and repair going on simultaneously?

Like with most things, there is a healthy range.  For example, when it comes to the heart there is definitely an IGF-1 sweet spot.  Studies have shown that when IGF-1 levels are too high or too low the risk of heart disease is increased.

While in clinical studies or specialized clinics you can test your IGF-1 levels, for most people these lab tests are not available.  However, there are things we can do to keep our IGF-1 levels in the optimal range.

1. Maintain a Normal Vitamin D Level

IGF-1 and vitamin D levels often go hand in hand.  People who have low levels of vitamin D tend to have low levels of IGF-1 as well.  Vitamin D supplementation for people who are low in this hormone tends to normalize IGF-1 levels.

2. Avoid Excessive Animal Meat and Cow Milk

Excessive animal meat and dairy may raise your IGF-1 levels too high.  In contrast, vegans who eat plant-based proteins tend to have low levels of IGF-1.  Could this be one reason why vegans may have a lower risk of cancer and may also live longer?

3. Minimize Simple Carbs

A diet high in the simple carbs has also been shown to raise IGF-1 levels.  Could this explain the reason why a diet high in the simple carbs also leads to an increased risk of cancer and diabetes?

4. Avoid Isolated Soy Protein

Isolated soy protein significantly raises IGF-1 levels.  If you enjoy soy then it should be eaten how it has traditionally been eaten in Asia where they eat a non-GMO variety in the whole bean form.

5. Exercise Regularly

There have been many studies done on the effect of exercise to IGF-1 levels.  The results seem to be mixed.  My research on this topic suggests that regular moderate levels of exercise seems to optimize IGF-1 levels.

In contrast, extreme levels of exercise or excessive weight lifting can significantly raise IGF-1 levels.  Could the excessive animal meat and simple carbs in conjunction with extreme levels of exercise and weight lifting result in very high IGF-1 levels for NFL football players?

6. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Diabetes, obesity, cancer, and premature death all seem to run together.  Researchers feel that there may be a link with IGF-1.  If we want to maintain healthy levels of IGF-1 we also need to maintain a healthy weight.

7. Intermittent Fasting

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help to normalize levels of IGF-1.  Could this explain why intermittently fasting may increase longevity? Certainly, excessive fasting or extreme caloric restriction can be dangerous and could drive IGF-1 levels too low for optimal health.

Epilogue: “The Refrigerator” Perry Today

You may be wondering what happened to “The Refrigerator” Perry.  Unfortunately, his post-NFL football career has not turned out well.  Contrary to internet and Twitter rumors, he is still alive at age 52 but his health is extremely poor.  According to this report, he can barely walk, he weighs 450 lbs (205 kg), and he has spent considerable time in the hospital over the last few years.

What are you doing to optimize your IGF-1 levels?

#058 How to Prevent Cancer: The Anti-Cancer Diet

December 28th, 2014 by

How to Prevent Cancer: The Anti-Cancer Diet

As hard to believe and sad as this may sound, today it’s estimated that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the US will get cancer at some point in their lives (1).

While genes do play a role in cancer development, the good news is that it has been estimated that 90-95% of cases are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors.   This means you do have a lot of control over whether or not you develop cancer at one point in your life. Some researchers now feel that by following a healthy lifestyle, roughly 75-80% of cancer cases would be prevented (2).

Cancer Can Strike Anyone

I have personally always feared cancer, feeling powerless against this enemy. I am blessed that cancer does not run in my family, but I know that certainly does not make me immune. I want to believe that if we do everything right we will be protected from all health tragedies, but deep down I know that is not the case.

My dear colleague and friend just recently began chemotherapy for metastatic lung cancer; he has never smoked a day in his life, has no family history of cancer, has been running marathons his entire life, and eats a healthy diet. It just does not seem fair, someone who has always lived a healthy life developing stage 4 lung cancer at a young age.

What causes cancer?

According to studies, 25–30% of cancer cases are due to tobacco use, 30–35% are linked to a poor diet, and 15–20% are due to infections.  The remaining percentage are due to environmental factors including alcohol, radiation, stress, lack of physical activity, environmental pollutants, etc. (2)

What can I eat to prevent cancer?

I am often asked this question so I want to summarize what I’ve learned after reviewing many medical studies on the “anti-cancer” diet topic. First and foremost, focus on eating a diet that is filled with protective fruits and vegetables and low in inflammation causing foods and preparation methods.

This type of diet will help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, which studies have shown us is a protectant against cancer development. Obesity increases the risk for developing cancer due to the on-going stress and inflammation it puts on the body, therefore a diet that is very high in nutrients, but overall low in calories, is the best kind for protecting against cancer (3).

Here is how to go about adopting an anti-cancer diet:

1. Make fruits and vegetables the star of your meals-

According to numerous credible studies, all fruits and vegetables seem protective against cancer. This is because fruits and vegetables contain vital antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Antioxidants fight something called “free radicals” within the body. Free radicals are really a by-product of living a normal life; they are produced by our everyday actions like walking and eating, however when they become outnumbered due to their counterpart antioxidants being too low within the body, they can cause all kinds of harm.

Some studies have shown that more than 25,000 different phytochemicals are in fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are the plant chemicals that nourish us and help to keep us healthy and free of cancer (4).

Fruits and vegetables have been shown to help protect us against almost all forms of cancer. Interestingly, certain studies show that fruits and vegetables are especially helpful in preventing breast cancer in women who are not physically active (5). While eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is not an excuse NOT to exercise, it is interesting that a healthy diet high in phytochemicals and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables could be protective against cancer even for people who are unable to exercise regularly, perhaps when they are healing from an injury or another physical condition.

This is just one more reason why an anti-cancer diet is so important. A wide variety of fruits seem to be best for optimal cancer protection. For example, the rockstar of fruits, blueberries, have been shown to help prevent breast cancer (6). In addition, all types of citrus fruits, oranges, grapefruit, lemon and lime juice for example, are also correlated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer (7).

A wide variety of vegetables can help to prevent cancer, including all leafy greens like spinach and kale, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and many more. In fact, there are basically zero vegetables that do not contribute at least something towards preventing cancer (8).

2. Consume cruciferous vegetables regularly-

Data are especially strong for the cancer-preventative properties of all cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, and various types of cabbage.

While fruits and veggies in general are very potent anti-cancer agents, cruciferous vegetables seem to be some of the strongest, thanks to their potent sulfur-containing phytochemicals. The compounds found in cruciferous vegetables can knock out cancer carcinogens before they even start turning ordinary harmless cells into cancerous ones. It’s best to ideally consume some sort of cruciferous vegetables everyday if you can, but if not, aim to have them as often as possible.

Try buying the organic varieties of fruits and vegetables whenever you have access to them, so that you limit pesticide exposure. And consume the freshest cruciferous vegetables that you can, since they begin losing nutrients quickly after being harvested. One great option is to buy frozen vegetables, since these are often picked at their peak of freshness and come in organic varieties that can still be bought at good prices. For much more information on cruciferous vegetables, you can refer to my article here.

3. Consume the right kinds of carbohydrates-

Studies have shown that sugary processed foods (also called simple carbs) increase the risk of breast cancer. The types of sweets to avoid include: soda, sweetened juices and sports drinks, cookies, cake, flavored yogurts, ice cream, candy, sweetened cereals, and so on (9).

In studies, women who ate diets high in sugar and simple carbohydrates were at a 35% increased risk of breast cancer, especially if they were also overweight. While simple sugars are a risk factor for cancer, 100% real, whole grains can be a protector. Whole grains including barley, sorghum, millet, rye, and oats contain important antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber- so these are a good addition to any diet, as long as they are not refined and stripped of their beneficial nutrients (10).

4. Consider eating a plant-based diet more often-

Studies show that a plant-based diet is often one of the best ways to prevent cancer. Contrary to popular belief in the U.S., animal products are not the only source of protein-legumes, nuts, seeds, 100% whole grains, and even many vegetables contain plenty of protein too, in addition to many other nutrients like fiber and trace minerals (11).

I personally eat legumes, nuts, and seeds daily as a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. The American Heart Association recommends eating both legumes and nuts on most days of the week because they are good for the heart and for cancer prevention.

5. Make sure to eat a high amount of dietary fiber-

The average American eats roughly 15 grams of fiber daily, while the daily recommended amount according to nutrition experts is around 30 grams daily. If you aren’t eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables already, and you aren’t normally a “plant-based” eater who consumes legumes, nuts, and seeds then chances are you’re not getting enough dietary fiber.

In studies, fiber is correlated with preventing colon cancer because a high fiber diet results in a faster gut transit time for your food (12). Fiber helps to pull toxins, waste, and heavy metals out of your gut, leaving you with a healthier gut flora. It’s an excellent way to prevent constipation and it also helps to make you feel fuller, so you are less likely to snack on junk foods throughout the day and can stick to a healthy diet.

If you don’t know how much fiber you eat each day, there are many excellent apps now that can help you to track this. Personally, I track my nutrient intake via the app “Lose It” and “Health” on my iPhone.  I average 68 grams of fiber daily!

6. Include nuts and seeds in your diet often-

Nuts have been shown to help prevent cancer according to studies. Due to their high amount of antioxidants and trace minerals. Nuts, like all essential healthy fats, also help to make you feel satisfied after eating so you can go longer without snacking and minimize overeating.

Focus on consuming nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts to get plenty of healthy plant-based fats and omega-3 fatty acids which are protective against cancer (13). Minimize saturated fats from animal products and refined, hydrogenated oils that are used in many store-bought packaged foods.

7. Limit the amount of red and processed meats you consume-

There are significant data linking red and processed meats with cancer. For example, bladder cancer has been shown to increase as more red and processed meats are included in the diet (14). According to studies, red meat also increases the risk for lung, prostate, and breast cancers too (15), (16), (17).

Until recently we have not known why red meat is consistently linked to an increase risk of cancer.  In a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Ajit Varki identified the possible link between red meat and cancer.  This link is from a sugar molecule, Neu5Gc, which is found in red meat but not in poultry or fish.  While Neu5Gc is found in other animals, this molecule is foreign to humans and appears to trigger an immune reaction which may then lead to cancer.

Perhaps this risk could be avoided with wild or organic red meats but there are not much data as of now that tell us whether or not this is the case. So in the meantime, regularly consume plant sources of protein like beans, real whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and consume less low-quality meat products.

When you do include meat in your diet, treat it like it is a condiment- added to your meal to add a bit of extra flavor- but not the main dish. I learned this from when I lived in Asia in the 1980s; I was surprised to see that meat was just used to flavor the dishes rather than being the star of the main course, as it is in the U.S.

It is important to remember that meat is not the only source of protein.  We should eat 1 gram of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight.  Very active people may need a higher amount, but there are many non-meat protein options such as legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Fish and organic, cage-free poultry are better options for cancer prevention according to studies (18). The American Heart Association recommends fish twice weekly.  This could be the best cancer preventing source of animal protein there is, especially if it is a wild oily fish. My personal favorite is Wild Alaskan Salmon; you can read more about how I include salmon and other fish in my diet here.

8. Prepare your food in the healthiest ways possible-

Some cooking methods preserve more nutrients in your food and release less toxins than others. When cooking meat, be careful not to burn it or cook it at very high temperatures at this can release toxins and carcinogens into the food (19). The safest way to cook meat is to boil or steam it, but try to minimize using a BBQ.  Also choose fresh cuts of meat rather than smoked, cured, or preserved meats

Another toxic group of foods to avoid is oxidized oils, meaning oils that turn rancid or lose their health benefits when they are cooked at high temperatures. Oils to avoid cooking at high heat- meaning frying, BBQing, or even roasting with them- include soybean oil, safflower oil, canola ice, corn oil, sunflower oil, and other vegetable oils. Even olive oil, which normally healthy, does not have a “high smoke point” and cannot withstand very high heat cooking. Try using coconut oil for high heat cooking instead, since it has a higher smoke point before turning rancid.

When cooking, try using cancer-preventative fresh herbs and spices to naturally flavor fresh food yourself, rather than buying pre-flavored packaged foods which likely contain artificial ingredients, sodium, sugar and preservatives. Try using curry, ginger, garlic, thyme, oregano, and basil which all have antioxidant abilities and other anti-cancer benefits (20).

The Big Picture

Cancer often starts developing many, many years before it ever manifests. While potentially cancerous cells are formed inside of our bodies all the time, fortunately our immune system normally takes care of killing these dangerous cells.

In the end we are all mortal and something will fail us at some point in our lives.

The key is to live as healthy as we can to avoid any unnecessary suffering. However, when tragedy does unfortunately strike, we need to find meaning in our health challenges. I am praying that my friend quickly recovers from his struggles with lung cancer. And I also hope that you can use the information in this article to begin eating a powerful anti-cancer diet that will help protect you and your family from disease as much as possible.

If you have a history of cancer or want to learn more, you will want to be sure to speak with your doctor about what diet is right for you and can best help to protect you against cancer.

What changes have you made in your diet to help protect you from cancer?

#038 Is Dairy Good for You?

September 29th, 2014 by

Is Dairy Good for You?

“Should I be drinking cow milk?” a class member asked Jane last week.

“Do you like it?”

“Yes. Well then should I be drinking skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk? I am so confused. Everyone is saying different things!”

“Listen to your body. It has the capacity to tell you what it needs.”

The problem is that we receive so many mixed messages, even mandates, from so many outside sources that we stop looking inward for the answers.

For example, our government tells us we need 3 servings of low or non-fat dairy each day.

The dairy industry has convinced us that if we don’t drink our milk we will have weak bones.

Medical studies here in the U.S. and abroad show that these recommendations have no scientific basis.

In response to many of your questions via our website and in our seminars, I will address the important question of dairy and our health.

Dairy is certainly a very controversial topic and the scientific data are not yet clear if dairy is disease causing or disease preventing.

Let me share with you what we DO know and what we do NOT know about dairy, along with my recommendations, based on the scientific data available at this time.

My Dairy Story

I grew up with the typical American lifestyle. My parents encouraged me to drink milk with every meal. I thought that milk would help me grow strong bones and I drank huge quantities of it.

As I got older I began struggling with digesting my dairy.  Sometimes I would have a bowl of cereal with milk and then have my stomach become bloated and hurt for hours.  As I became more and more lactose intolerant I gradually stopped drinking milk but I still had my daily slice of pizza.

Eventually, as many of you know, by my mid-40s I found myself overweight with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  I also had developed a severe case of eosinophilic esophagitis from a food allergy and an autoimmune disease.

The eosinophilic esophagitis was so bad, that at times the only thing I could keep from getting stuck in my throat were liquids.  This was something that developed at a young age and only seemed to get worse with time.

It was in this health crisis that I completely changed my diet.  Knowing that dairy is one of the major causes of food allergies, I cut out the dairy along with the wheat flour, sugar, and processed foods.  I also quadrupled my vegetable intake and started eating nuts, seeds, and beans or lentils every day.

I’m not exactly sure what my food allergy was,  but my 30+ year history of eosinophilic esophagitis completely went away along with being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and autoimmune disease.

Through this experience, I was left with the question, is dairy good for you?

Will dairy strengthen my bones?

With the aggressive advertising, the dairy industry attempts to convince us that if we don’t dutifully eat our 3 servings of dairy each day we will have weak bones.

According to the Nurses Health Study involving 77,761 people, dairy did not protect against fractures.  Conversely, those who ate the most dairy were most at risk from bone fractures.

In fact, study after study has shown that the risk of a bone fracture is much LOWER in countries like Japan or China, where they rarely eat dairy, than in the US. Could dairy actually be putting us more at risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures? At a minimum, it is clear that dairy is not a requirement for healthy strong bones.

Will dairy make me gain weight and become inflamed?

We know that weight gain and inflammation are among the major causes of chronic medical conditions. Indeed, heart disease, dementia, and cancer can all be caused by being overweight and inflamed.

Does dairy contribute to this problem?

While well-known doctors, such as Dr. Mark Hyman, have argued that dairy is a big cause of inflammation and weight gain, the overall body of published medical literature do not yet support this view.

Some studies do indeed suggest that dairy increases weight gain and inflammation whereas other studies report the opposite.  Until we see a preponderance of data going one way or the other, I am going to keep an open mind about the role of dairy in obesity and inflammation.

Gut Flora and Dairy

A diet high in dairy can have a fast and significant impact on gut flora.  After just two days of meat and dairy, we can quickly switch our gut bacteria to more bile loving bacteria such as Bilophila and Bactericides.  Bilophila has been associated with inflammation and gastrointestinal problems and Bacteroides has been associated with weight gain.

The ideal gut flora that promotes maintenance of a healthy weight is one where Firmicutes dominates.  This gut flora is found with diets high in plant-based foods.

The best dairy for our guts may be yogurt with live bacterial cultures. Probiotics have been associated with healthier gut flora.

Will dairy raise my cholesterol and cause heart disease?

While it has long been known that dairy can raise cholesterol levels, does this translate into more heart attacks? While the data are not enitrely clear, at this time it does not appear that dairy increases the risk of heart disease.

Does dairy increase my risk of cancer?

This has been an area of intense research.  The strongest link appears to be with dairy and prostate cancer.  For example, in the Physicians’ Health Study of 20,885 male physicians, researchers found a 32% increased risk of prostate cancer in people who ate 2.5 or more servings of dairy each day.

For women the link between dairy and cancer is not as strong.  However, one study of 90,655 women did link high fat dairy products with breast cancer.

Should I eat full fat or low fat dairy?

Thanks to the anti-fat movements of the 1980s, full fat dairy has almost been wiped out of our grocery stores.  However, recent data suggests that ironically higher fat dairy may actually be better than low fat dairy in preventing weight gain.

Dairy Contaminants and Organic Dairy Products

Unfortunately, dairy can be a significant source of contaminants and toxins in our bodies. Too often cows are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones which can alter our own hormones, metabolism, and gut flora.  Also, PCBs and dioxins, which are known to cause cancer, are frequently found in dairy.

Many of these contaminants have prompted savvy consumers to turn to organic dairy products to avoid the hormones and antibiotics.  Unfortunately, the higher heat pasteurization process used for organic dairy products may have unintended nutritional and/or health effects.

Unexplained Medical Conditions and Dairy

Often times people have unexplained medical conditions that their doctors cannot figure out.  Despite thousands and thousands of dollars worth of medical tests, no one can seem to figure out what is going on.

In situations such as these, it is worth considering food allergies.  The two biggest causes of food allergies are wheat and dairy. I have seen many cases where unexplained medical conditions have mysteriously resolved when the offending food item was removed from the diet.

My Assessment of Dairy

To get back to our original question, is dairy good for you, dairy is certainly controversial and we do not yet have clear answers. The bottom line is that if you don’t like dairy there is no need to eat it. Conversely, if you love dairy, there is no need to stop. Dairy is a personal decision.

1. There is no clear proof that dairy will strengthen your bones.

2. There is no scientific basis to our government’s recommendations that we must eat 3 servings of low or non-fat dairy each day.

3. We do not know if dairy is disease causing or disease preventing.

4. The best dairy is probably yogurt with live bacterial cultures.

5. We do not know if full fat or low fat dairy is best.

6. Dairy is a significant cause of food allergies.

7. Dairy is a personal decision.

The bottom line: if you like dairy, enjoy it. If you do not like dairy, you do not need to feel compelled to consume it to maintain your health. If you have specific questions about dairy and your own personal health, please talk to your physician.

How do you feel about dairy? Do you feel better with dairy in or out of your diet?