The recent Weston A Price Foundation’s annual Wise Traditions Conference (Atlanta, November 8-10, 2013) was an event rich with wisdom, fantastic food, entertainment, and friendly faces new and old. I’d like to share with you a take-away pearl from each of the sessions I attended.
Overall, there was a consistent theme in many of the presentations, one with which I’m sure you are familiar. The exponential increase in environmental chemicals and electro-magnetic radiation all take a stiff toll on our health. From lawn fertilizers and pesticides, to dry cleaning fumes and body care products, there are both hypothesized and close-to-verified links to some of our more serious disease epidemics, including obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and autism, to name a few. Not everyone can afford to buy everything organic, but there are many inexpensive strategies to be clean and reduce your risks. Important organic food choices are meats (inexpensive directly from the farmer or at Costco), high fat foods, and the so-called dirty dozen in fruits and vegetables. Consult this information from the Environmental Working Group to sort out the Dirty Dozen Plus from the Clean Fifteen! Many body care needs can be handled with coconut oil and many home cleaning needs with vinegar and water.
Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., shares her information freely with links from her web page, so you can learn more about her message. Coinciding well with this week’s news, she reported a little-known fact about statins: they increase the percentage of arterial plaque that is calcified. On a more optimistic note: she stressed the importance of sulfur as a mineral in our bodies, and she described a great way to increase your sulfur stores. On a bright sunny day, wander outside, bask in the sunshine and spend some time staring up at the bright blue sky!
Louisa Williams, N.D., reminded us that auto-immune disease was rare a hundred years ago and now everyone knows several people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease, among others. There is widespread acknowledgement that auto-immune illness always includes some component of increased intestinal permeability, and Dr. Williams added her belief that a major cause of both the permeability and auto-immune illness is the excessive use of antibiotics. (Last week was antibiotic awareness week – and this week the news is covering again the prevalence of superbugs, which should rein in those excessive antibiotic rx’s.) She described cell wall deficiencies and biofilms as techniques by which bacteria learn to resist antibiotics and also increase auto immune disease. She described many cleansing techniques, including classical homeopathy, certain plant polysaccharides and wise avoidance of future toxin exposures.
It’s always a pleasure to hear Dr. Chris Masterjohn speak and this year was no exception. He described the importance of balancing the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A and D in particular have to be balanced: each enhances and protects against potential toxicity of the other. And both will do their job better if you have adequate levels of vitamin K2. We have been throwing vitamin D and calcium at people for a good decade or more, a combo that results in increased serum calcium and not always a good traffic director for that calcium. With adequate levels of vitamin K2, the body will direct calcium to the hard structures (bones and teeth), rather than the soft structures (blood vessels, tendons) or urinary residue (kidney stones) where it is not welcome!
Masterjohn reminded us of Dr. Weston Price’s observation that food is only as good as the methods used to produce it, which applies to butter and eggs. You will get the full benefit of those foods if you know that the animals on the production task were freely enjoying grass and open-range before they created your butter and eggs.
His diagram of blood vessel plaque showed us that plaque doesn’t sit atop the blood vessel wall, but rather nestles beneath it, with a fibrous cap to protect it from rupture. Here’s the pearl: that cap is brittle and calcified if you consume too many polyunsaturated fatty acids and inadequate amounts of vitamin K2. Increased dietary vitamin K2 is associated with a 40% reduction in coronary artery disease and 52% less arterial plaque.
Nicholas Gonzales, M.D., the controversial nutritional oncologist, spent a lot of time describing the difference between the two sides of the autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic side rules our fight or flight response, while our parasympathetic side is dominant when we’re digesting or relaxing. He spoke of many people’s tendency to be out of balance, to have one side of the nervous system predominate. He suggests that those who are irritable and quick, smart and efficient, complaining of insomnia, rapid heart rate, poor digestion, and healthy respiratory function, are more likely to sympathetic dominant and in need of extra mineral support with potassium and magnesium. On the other hand, parasympathetic types are calm, even depressed, with good digestion, low blood pressure, but a tendency to allergies and respiratory complaints and they benefit from adding a little calcium to their supplement routine. He subsequently went into quite a bit of detail regarding nutritional typing and some of his work with cancer patients.
I shared with Dr. Kate my prediction that vitamin K2 will be the next rock-star vitamin now that vitamin D has had a good decade’s run at top billing. She fears that we are many years away from the day when K2 receives its proper due!
Why have we ignored K2 for so long? The obscure position of K2 in the conventional medical mind can likely be attributed to the foods that contain the vitamin: egg yolks, liver, and full fat dairy, particularly cheese and butter. Our mainstream fear of saturated fats has led us down the wrong road, partly because we have over-consumed carbohydrates of all sorts, and additionally because we have avoided a healthy variety of “good fats.” And by good fats, I will go beyond avocados and olive oil to include the saturated fats: coconut oil, organic lard, and yes, butter and eggs.