Category Archives: health policy

Western Diet (high sugar, refined carbs, unhealthy fats) alters genes and causes inflammation

New study (in mice) shows fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in a detrimental way.

Major points:

  1. The immune system reacts similarly to a high sugar, high (unhealthy) fat and high calorie diet as to a bacterial infection.
  2. Unhealthy food seems to make the body’s defenses (innate immune system) more aggressive in the long term. Even long after switching to a healthy diet, inflammation towards innate immune stimulation is more pronounced.
  3. These changes may be involved in the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes.
  4. These changes are due to alterations in gene transcription (up-regulation of genes associated with inflammation)
  5. This up regulation of pro-inflammatory genes persists even after converting to a healthier diet.

Read more at News from IRT

Here: Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term: Study shows that even after a change to a healthy diet, the body’s defenses remain hyperactive — ScienceDaily

And here Western Diet Triggers NLRP3-Dependent Innate Immune Reprogramming: Cell

This study is an example of epigenetics, where an environmental factor (diet) alters the expression of genes. We know that regular consumption of a variety of colorful vegetables mediates many beneficial effects and part of that process involves altering the transcription of many genes related to health and our ability to defend against Oxidative Stress .

The epigenetic effect of nutrition can be transmitted to the next generation.

The epigenetic effects of diet include many aspects of health including  cancer risk.

And epigenetic changes in humans can begin  before birth in response to maternal nutrition and maternal exposure to environmental toxins .

Diet also effects the gut microbiome, which in turn affects health .

So avoid fast food and other forms of processed-refined foods. Eat a whole foods-ancestral diet that includes a variety of organic colorful vegetables and fruits, grass fed/finished meats and wild seafood. This will not only provide important micro and macro nutrients but will also turn up and turn on genes that prevent disease.

Live clean, sleep well, laugh and love.

Doctor Bob

GMOs are dangerous, no doubt. Roundup and glyphosate are bad players.


I have discussed the dangers of GMO foods and Roundup before.

The evidence continues to mount.

“A peer-reviewed article, published  November 7, 2017, in the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, demonstrates that GMOs are likely taking a heavy toll on our health. And a survey of 3,256 people who avoided them reported astonishing improvements in 28 health conditions.”

You can find a summary of the salient points from this scientific article here.

But I suggest you read the first few pages of the full article here.

The first few pages of this article describe the history of GMOs and how the warnings of  FDA scientists were silenced by regulatory executives who were shills for the likes of Monsanto and other dangerous players in this sad history.

11 genetically modified food crops are currently grown for commercial consumption. The six major crops are soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa which are used to feed humans and animals. Cottonseed and canola are also processed into “food-grade” oils and sugar beets are refined to make sugar.

  • All six major GMOs are engineered to be herbicide tolerant, to survive spray of weed killer (such as Roundup)
  • 89% of GMOs grown in the US are herbicide tolerant
  • The most common herbicide involved is Roundup
  • 94% of soybeans grown in the US are Roundup Resistant (RR)
  • Some varieties of corn and cotton have genes inserted that produce a toxic insecticide called Bt toxin.
  • 76% of corn grown in the US is both Bt-producing and herbicide tolerant, 80% of cotton are both Bt and herbicide tolerant.

Roundup is not only used to kill weeds, but it is now sprayed heavily on crops immediately before harvest as a desiccant (drying agent) and large measurable amounts are found in the foods that you purchase in the supermarket.

In 1998 the FDA was sued by the Alliance for Bio-integrity and forced to turn over tens of thousands of pages of internal memos related to GMOs. FDA scientists repeatedly warned their superiors that GMO foods could create serious health risks such as allergies, toxins, antibiotic resistant diseases and nutritional problems. Michael Taylor, the former outside attorney for Monsanto and subsequent vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Monsanto was the political appointee in the FDA charged with overseeing GMOs!

On May 8, 2009,, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine published their policy paper on GMOs citing animal studies that revealed:

  • infertility,
  • immune dysregulation,
  • accelerated aging,
  • dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis,
  • faulty insulin regulation, cell signaling and protein formation,
  • changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system

The AAEM recommended that the US government implement a moratorium on all GM foods and urged physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets.

But Monsanto prevailed and FDA officials ignored the warnings of their own scientists.

The three general categories of GMO danger include:

  1. consequences of the GMO transformation process
  2. the Bt toxin found in GMO corn and cotton
  3. the herbicides-particularly Roundup, that are sprayed on most GMO foods and consumed by those who eat GMO food.

A study of Monsanto’s RR corn revealed 117 proteins and 91 small molecule biochemicals significantly different from natural corn. Some of those differences “enhance the effects of histamine, thus heightening allergic reactions” and two of the polyamines in the GMO corn have been implicated in the formation of carcinogens (nitrosamines).

The GMO process can produce a host of unintended changes in RNA, DNA,  proteins and genes. And these changes can migrate and hybridize with non-GMO foods when the wind blows seeds from GMO plants into fields planted with non-GMO plants.

Altered Genes (transgenes) from GMO foods may “horizontally transfer” to humans or other organisms including the gut bacteria in humans that control much of our physiology.

Studies of rats fed GMO potatoes demonstrated adverse effects on every organ in young rats. Most changes occurred within 10 days. Disruption of organ growth, immune suppression and damage to organs of the immune system, thickening of the stomach and intestinal lining were noted.

Monsanto’s own data show that GM soybeans contain up to seven times the level of a natural allergen (trypsin inhibitor which also impairs protein digestion) and a doubling of soy lectin which impairs nutrient absorption. These were unintended consequences of the GMO process.

Monsanto’s MON810 Bt corn has 43 genes significantly altered in levels of expression. One of these genes which is normally switched off in non-GMO corn is switched on in the GMO version and it produces an allergenic protein.

Glyphosate is the major antibiotic in Roundup (yes Roundup is classified as an antibiotic). I have discussed the great hazards of glyphosate before. On October 24, 2017 JAMA published a study of the increase in measurable levels of glyphosate in humans.

The researchers compared urine excretion levels of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in 100 people living in a Southern California community who provided samples during five clinic visits that took place between 1993 to 1996 and 2014 to 2016.

“What we saw was that prior to the introduction of genetically modified foods, very few people had detectable levels of glyphosate,” . “As of 2016, 70 percent of the study cohort had detectable levels.”

In July 2017, glyphosate was listed as a carcinogen by California.

A 2014 review concluded that:

Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many
metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both.
Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.

There are many reasons to follow an organic, GMO-free, whole foods ancestral diet. Contamination with Roundup presents yet another compelling reason to choose your food wisely.

Some folks prefer videos to research articles, so below you will find both.


Here are a few links that will take you to articles related to this topic and quoted above.

Survey Reports Improved Health After Avoiding Genetically Modified Food

Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America

Environmental and health effects of the herbicide glyphosate. – PubMed – NCBI

Glyphosate: environmental contamination, toxicity and potential risks to human health via food contamination. – PubMed – NCBI

Aluminum and glyphosate can synergistically induce pineal gland pathology: connection to gut dysbiosis and neurological disease

GMO crops increase pesticide use

The high cost of pesticides: human and animal diseases

Is roundup the toxic chemical that’s making us all sick

Scientists Back Up WHO’s Classification of Glyphosate as “Probably Carcinogenic”

Food for thought: Are Herbicides a Factor for the Increase in Allergies and Autism?

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases IV: cancer and related pathologies

Glyphosate pathways to modern diseases V: Amino acid analogue of glycine in diverse proteins

GMOs, herbicides, and public health

Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors

Glyphosate‐based pesticides affect cell cycle regulation

Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines

Environmental and human health impacts of growing genetically modified herbicide‐tolerant sugar beet: a life‐cycle assessment

Unidentified inert ingredients in pesticides: implications for human and environmental health

The possible link between autism and glyphosate acting as glycine mimetic—A review of evidence from the literature with analysis

Eat organic fruits and vegetables, avoid GMOs, enjoy better health.

Dr. Bob

Obesity Epidemic Requires a Paradigm Shift

The obesity epidemic requires a paradigm shift. Several medical myths stand in the way of taking the most effective steps to safely help patients lose weight. The most important myth relates to saturated fat. Saturated fat consumption does not contribute to cardiovascular disease. This must be understood and accepted by the medical community so that sound advice can be given.

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.( Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):497-9. )

In fact, as early as 2004, Mozaffarian et. al. investigated the influence of diet on atherosclerotic progression in postmenopausal women with quantitative angiography and found that:

In multivariate analyses, a higher saturated fat intake was associated with a smaller decline in mean minimal coronary diameter (P = 0.001) and less progression of coronary stenosis (P = 0.002) during follow-up. (Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1175-84)

In addition, they further found that:

Carbohydrate intake was positively associated with atherosclerotic progression (P = 0.001), particularly when the glycemic index was high.

            Polyunsaturated fat intake was positively associated with progression when replacing other fats (P = 0.04)

These findings should come as no surprise given the basic science of atherosclerosis. Oxidized and glycated LDL stimulate macrophages to become foam cells initiating the creation of plaque. Cellular receptors that allow macrophages to ingest oxidized LDL are specific for oxidized LDL. These receptors do not recognize normal LDL to a significant degree.

Holovet et. al. studied the ability of oxidized LDL versus the Global Risk Factor Assessment Score (GRAS) to detect coronary artery disease. GRAS identified coronary artery disease 49% of the time, while oxidized LDL was correct 82% of the time.

In a large prospective study, Meisinger et al found that plasma oxidized LDL was the strongest predictor of CHD events when compared to conventional lipoprotein risk assessment and other risk factors for CHD.

Polyunsaturated fats are easily oxidized, saturated fats are not. It is the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the membrane of LDL particles that become oxidized and then initiate the cascade of inflammatory events leading to atherosclerosis. The major source of these PUFA in the American diet are “vegetable oils” (corn oil, soy oil etc.)  rich in the omega-6 PUFA, linoleic acid.

So why is this important to understand relative to the obesity epidemic? Because the most effective weight loss “diet” is arguably a low carbohydrate/high fat (LCHF) diet. This approach does not require calorie counting. This approach has been demonstrated to spontaneously reduce caloric intake whereas low fat diets require calorie counting and result in persistent hunger.

When compared to low fat calorie restricted diets  the LCHF approach has been equal or superior with respect to weight loss, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure reduction, and lipid profiles whenever these parameters have been measured.

But LCHF has not been embraced by the medical community due to the perceived dangers of saturated fat consumption and a low-fat ideology that lacks legitimate scientific evidence.

Once we dispel the mythology of saturated fat, the safety and efficacy of LCHF will be more readily accepted by physicians, the media and the lay public.

The nutritional villains in our society are highly refined and easily oxidized “vegetable oils” filled with pro-inflammatory omega-6 PUFA (linoleic acid), added sugar (especially HFCS) so prevalent in most processed foods and soft drinks, and the nutrient poor wasted calories of processed flour foods. These three culprits are responsible for our epidemics of obesity, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. These three conspire together to generate fatty liver disease, atherosclerotic plaque, and chronic inflammation.

When a LCHF approach is combined with  eating only fresh whole foods and avoiding added sugar, refined flour, and unhealthy  “vegetable oils”, we have the perfect recipe for our obesity epidemic.

The following references provide examples of studies that have demonstrated the efficacy, safety and  usual superiority of the LCHF  approach to weight loss.

Dig Dis Sci. 2007 Feb;52(2):589-93. Epub 2007 Jan 12. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study. Tendler D, Lin S, Yancy WS Jr, Mavropoulos J, Sylvestre P, Rockey DC Westman EC.

Fred Kummerow, PhD, fought the battle against Trans Fats for over 50 years.

Professor Fred Kummerow passed away on May 31 at his home in Urbana, Ill at age 102. He ate butter, red meat and eggs cooked in butter, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables. He avoided margarine, french fries and other fried foods, along with cookies, cake and crackers which contained artificial trans-fats. He conducted research in his nutrition science laboratory at the University of Illinois up until his death. he authored the book Cholesterol Won’t Kill You, But Trans Fat Could: Separating Scientific Fact from Nutritional Fiction in What You Eat

Fred warned the American public and scientists in the 1950s about the dangers of artificial man-made trans fats. His research was largely ignored and criticized by the food industry and by scientists who were funded by the food industry for decades. Despite mounting evidence in both animals and humans that artificial trans fats dramatically increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and probably several forms of cancer, the FDA ignored his pleas to address the issue. In 2009 Professor Kummerow filed a petition with the FDA to ban the use of trans fats. Although federal law required that the FDA respond within 180 days to such a petition, the FDA remained silent. In 2013, approaching the age of 99, Professor Kummerow sued the FDA. Two years latter in 2015 the FDA declared that artificial trans-fats were unsafe and should be eliminated from the US food supply by 2018.

Through his lifelong work, Professor Kummerow has produced a policy change that will likely save hundreds of thousands of lives.

What are trans fats and why have they been in our food for 7 decades?

Although there are some forms of natural trans fats which are safe for consumption when consumed in whole foods, artificial trans-fats are produced by placing unsaturated fat (such as corn oil, soy oil) under high pressure and high temperature conditions and adding hydrogen in the presence of a metal catalyst. These fats were introduced to many American foods because they dramatically extend the shelf life of foods and give a pleasant mouth texture to a variety of processed foods. They remain in many foods still on the shelves today. You cannot rely on labels such as “NO TRANS FATS” OR “TRANS FAT FREE” because food companies are allowed to make this statement as long as the amount of trans fats does not exceed 0.5 grams per serving. No amount is safe!

The Institute of Medicine, on July 10, 2002 declared manufactured trans fatty acid (TFA) a serious danger to the health of our nation with a: “tolerable upper intake level of zero.”  This means there is no safe level of consumption. Despite that strong statement in 2002, it has taken the efforts of an elderly professor, including a lawsuit, to bring the FDA around to finally address the issue.

But it is not over yet, you can bet that the food industry will try to delay the implementation of the ban or possibly even argue against the overwhelming science that supports such a ban.

In the meantime read labels. If any food item contains “partially hydrogenated” oil of any kind or “hydrogenated oil” of any kind it contains trans fats. These foods are typically foods you should not be eating any way because they usually also contain added sugar, refined flour and/or refined easily oxidized inflammatory “vegetable” oils. They are not whole foods and therefore should not be consumed for many reasons. But if you want to eat cake, cookies, crackers, bread, or any other processed foods, beware and read the ingredients so as to at least avoid trans-fats.

You can read about Fred Kummerow, his life and research at these sites:

Fred A. Kummerow, scientist who raised early warnings about trans fats, dies at 102 – The Washington Post

Fred A. Kummerow, an Early Opponent of Trans Fats, Dies at 102 – The New York Times

Fred Kummerow, U. of I. professor who fought against trans fats, dies at 102 – Chicago Tribune

Fred also studied the effects of a oxysterols and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (OxLDL) both of which contribute to atherosclerosis.  In a  2013 publication Professor Kummerow stated

“levels of oxysterols and OxLDL increase primarily as a result of three diet or lifestyle factors: the consumption of oxysterols from commercially fried foods such as fried chicken, fish and french fries; oxidation of cholesterol in vivo driven by the consumption of excess polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils; and cigarette smoking.”

Yet the American Heart Association continues to recommend increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats from the likes of corn oil, soy oil, cottonseed and similar oils. I have discussed the problems with that advice here and here.

So the next time you avoid trans fats by reading food labels, think of Professor Kummerow who brought light to some very dark areas in the history of nutrition and food in the US.

Eat clean, live clean, and enjoy.

Dr. Bob

Obamacare: Repeal Now, Replace Later. Good or bad?

President Obama published, in the New England Journal of Medicine, a discussion of the dangers inherent in the Republican plan to REPEAL NOW REPLACE LATER.  I agree with Obama’s warning that such an approach is “IRRESPONSIBLE”

Here is the letter:

Health care policy often shifts when the country’s leadership changes. That was true when I took office, and it will likely be true with President-elect Donald Trump. I am proud that my administration’s work, through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other policies, helped millions more Americans know the security of health care in a system that is more effective and efficient. At the same time, there is more work to do to ensure that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care. What the past 8 years have taught us is that health care reform requires an evidence-based, careful approach, driven by what is best for the American people. That is why Republicans’ plan to repeal the ACA with no plan to replace and improve it is so reckless. Rather than jeopardize financial security and access to care for tens of millions of Americans, policymakers should develop a plan to build on what works before they unravel what is in place.

Thanks to the ACA, a larger share of Americans have health insurance than ever before.1 Increased coverage is translating into improved access to medical care — as well as greater financial security and better health. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans still get their health care through sources that predate the law, such as a job or Medicare, and are benefiting from improved consumer protections, such as free preventive services.

We have also made progress in how we pay for health care, including rewarding providers who deliver high-quality care rather than just a high quantity of care. These and other reforms in the ACA have helped slow health care cost growth to a fraction of historical rates while improving quality for patients. This includes better-quality and lower-cost care for tens of millions of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income families covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And these benefits will grow in the years to come.

That being said, I am the first to say we can make improvements. Informed by the lessons we’ve learned during my presidency, I have put forward ideas in my budgets and a July 2016 article2 to address ongoing challenges — such as a lack of choice in some health insurance markets, premiums that remain unaffordable for some families, and high prescription-drug costs. For example, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices could both reduce seniors’ spending and give private payers greater leverage. And I have always welcomed others’ ideas that meet the test of making the health system better. But persistent partisan resistance to the ACA has made small as well as significant improvements extremely difficult.

Now, Republican congressional leaders say they will repeal the ACA early this year, with a promise to replace it in subsequent legislation — which, if patterned after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s ideas, would be partly paid for by capping Medicare and Medicaid spending. They have yet to introduce that “replacement bill,” hold a hearing on it, or produce a cost analysis — let alone engage in the more than a year of public debate that preceded passage of the ACA. Instead, they say that such a debate will occur after the ACA is repealed. They claim that a 2- or 3-year delay will be sufficient to develop, pass, and implement a replacement bill.

This approach of “repeal first and replace later” is, simply put, irresponsible — and could slowly bleed the health care system that all of us depend on. (And, though not my focus here, executive actions could have similar consequential negative effects on our health system.) If a repeal with a delay is enacted, the health care system will be standing on the edge of a cliff, resulting in uncertainty and, in some cases, harm beginning immediately. Insurance companies may not want to participate in the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2018 or may significantly increase prices to prepare for changes in the next year or two, partly to try to avoid the blame for any change that is unpopular. Physician practices may stop investing in new approaches to care coordination if Medicare’s Innovation Center is eliminated. Hospitals may have to cut back services and jobs in the short run in anticipation of the surge in uncompensated care that will result from rolling back the Medicaid expansion. Employers may have to reduce raises or delay hiring to plan for faster growth in health care costs without the current law’s cost-saving incentives. And people with preexisting conditions may fear losing lifesaving health care that may no longer be affordable or accessible.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee of getting a second vote to avoid such a cliff, especially on something as difficult as comprehensive health care reform. Put aside the scope of health care reform — the federal health care budget is 50% bigger than that of the Department of Defense.3 Put aside how it personally touches every single American — practically every week, I get letters from people passionately sharing how the ACA is working for them and about how we can make it better. “Repeal and replace” is a deceptively catchy phrase — the truth is that health care reform is complex, with many interlocking pieces, so that undoing some of it may undo all of it.

Take, for example, preexisting conditions. For the first time, because of the ACA, people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage, denied benefits, or charged exorbitant rates. I take my successor at his word: he wants to maintain protections for the 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions. Yet Republicans in Congress want to repeal the individual-responsibility portion of the law. I was initially against this Republican idea, but we learned from Massachusetts that individual responsibility, alongside financial assistance, is the only proven way to provide affordable, private, individual insurance to every American. Maintaining protections for people with preexisting conditions without requiring individual responsibility would cost millions of Americans their coverage and cause dramatic premium increases for millions more.4 This is just one of the many complex trade-offs in health care reform.

Given that Republicans have yet to craft a replacement plan, and that unforeseen events might overtake their planned agenda, there might never be a second vote on a plan to replace the ACA if it is repealed. And if a second vote does not happen, tens of millions of Americans will be harmed. A recent Urban Institute analysis estimated that a likely repeal bill would not only reverse recent gains in insurance coverage, but leave us with more uninsured and uncompensated care than when we started.5

Put simply, all our gains are at stake if Congress takes up repealing the health law without an alternative that covers more Americans, improves quality, and makes health care more affordable. That move takes away the opportunity to build on what works and fix what does not. It adds uncertainty to lives of patients, the work of their doctors, and the hospitals and health systems that care for them. And it jeopardizes the improvements in health care that millions of Americans now enjoy.

Congress can take a responsible, bipartisan approach to improving the health care system. This was how we overhauled Medicare’s flawed physician payment system less than 2 years ago. I will applaud legislation that improves Americans’ care, but Republicans should identify improvements and explain their plan from the start — they owe the American people nothing less.

Health care reform isn’t about a nameless, faceless “system.” It’s about the millions of lives at stake — from the cancer survivor who can now take a new job without fear of losing his insurance, to the young person who can stay on her parents’ insurance after college, to the countless Americans who now live healthier lives thanks to the law’s protections. Policymakers should therefore abide by the physician’s oath: “first, do no harm.”

I have a few comments.

First,  historically, every major piece of legislation passed by Congress and the Senate has received revision and amendment to correct original deficiencies recognized after a few years of implementation, EXCEPT THE ACA. No piece of legislation is perfect from the beginning.  Even the US Constitution has been amended! There are always problems that should be identified and corrected. Such is the case with the ACA. But because the Republican party put electoral politics ahead of our nation’s best interest, no improvements were sought or implemented. Instead, an immediate “repeal” position was taken by the Republican party and maintained until the election.

Second, the irony of this situation is that the ACA was modeled on the Republican party’s alternative to Hilary Clinton’s original plan put forth during the Clinton administration in the 1990’s (neither of which were passed) That very same model was subsequently enacted by legislation and implemented in Massachusetts by Republican governor Mitt Romney. In fact the economist who helped design Romney’s plan was part of Obama’s team that drafted the ACA!

Clearly, partisan politics has TRUMPED the interests of our nation.

Sleep well, live clean.

Bob Hansen MD