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How’s Your Microbiome?

Suffice to say that you and I all have Microbiomes. As a matter of fact, we not only have the Microbiome, we ARE the Microbiome. That is, our Microbiome make up who we are genetically, biologically, and even emotionally as it affects our brain function as well.

Microbiome is a word that you may have heard of recently. It’s a word being used in increasing frequency to refer to our gut health. And our gut health is one of the hottest topics in the healthy field right now.

So I will begin here by sharing some background and practical info from time to time throughout 2018 on Microbiome as it is critical to our human health and well-being.

As a start, let’s go to the Webster’s Dictionary for the word Microbiome – “a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living in or on the human body.”

I would quickly add, Microbiome does not only exists in and on human body, it exists in our environment as well. There are bacteria and fungi, and other microorganisms in soils, plants, animals, and even air. Yes, they are everywhere!

Some simple facts about human body’s microbiome:

  • Our body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as your microbiome.
  • Microbiome is a complement of bacteria and other organisms on your skin, gums, and teeth, in your genital tract, and especially in your gut.
  • Human Microbiome is relatively and generally very stable. However, that balance can be altered by introduction of external forces such as wide spectrum antibiotics.
  •  As cited by the NIH publication (1), “the current generation of antibiotics are broad spectrum and target broad swaths of the normal microbiota as well. Thus, antibiotics significantly affect the host’s (you) innate gut microbiota. Three to four days after treatment with the broad-spectrum antibiotic ciprofloxacin (commonly known as Cipro) the gut microbiota experience a decrease in taxonomic richness, diversity, and evenness.” – In short, it offsets the healthy microbiome balance in our guts and may cause long term regrettable health consequences.
  • Furthermore, the same article says that it takes a long time (as in years) for the Microbiome to fully recover – “Indeed, the reestablishment of some species can be affected for up to four years following antibiotic treatment.”

Suffice to say that you and I all have Microbiome. As a matter of fact, we not only have the Microbiome, we ARE the Microbiome. That is, our Microbiome make up who we are genetically, biologically, psychologically and even emotionally.

Enough said for now, let’s watch a very nice video below by Dr. Greger as an intro for us on Microbiome. More to come on Microbiome in the future.

Source: www.nutritionfacts.org


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3426293/


Is Avocado Good For You?

Is Avocado Good For You?

With the Keto Diet gaining popularity, more and more people are interested in Avocado as their source of high-fats diet plan.

Avocado, one of the most beloved fruits(because it is a single seeded fruit from a tree)/vegetable(because of lack of sweetness, its fatty content v. all other fruits, and it is green in physical appearance and content) in the western hemisphere. Most of us have fully accepted of its goodness and how it helps with our health in general. But few knows exactly how it works and why is it good for our body.

To help us shed some light on Avocados I am showing here one of Dr. Greger’s videos for our background education. Caution: Dr. Greger does get into the science of it and it may get a bit overwhelming after awhile. But he has all the good stuff (scientific studies) that you and I need to better understand about this marvelous fruit/vegetable – whatever you call it!




How to Detox After New Year’s Parties

It’s fun to pop some champagne and toast the new year, but the next day rarely has you feeling as good. Start the new year fresh by giving your liver a much deserved cleanse and detoxing the rest of your body while you’re at it.

It’s fun to pop some champagne and toast the new year, but the next day rarely has you feeling as good. Start the new year fresh by giving your liver a much deserved cleanse and detoxing the rest of your body while you’re at it.

  1. Turn to Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt should already be a staple in your diet—it’s low calorie, full of nutrients, and contains healthy probiotics—and it should absolutely be a pillar of your detox diet.

Greek yogurt contains fructose, which can help to burn any lingering alcohol in your system. Include some nutritious additions, such as energy-boosting pistachios or antioxidant-rich blueberries to really put this snack over the top.

  1. Detox Your Life

Food and drink aren’t the only toxins in our lives that may hurt our health. The first of the year is a great time to purge your life of toxins and chemicals that may be harming you.

Obviously, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods have got to go when you’re detoxing. But other toxins to eliminate include cigarettes, fragranced soaps and candles, and harsh cleaning chemicals. Introduce all-natural alternatives into your home so that those toxins don’t re-enter your body when your detox diet ends.

  1. Sip on Dandelions

Yes, we mean those weeds that grow in your yard each spring (tongue and cheek). Dandelions are actually a powerful plant full of nutrients. Some studies have shown that dandelions contain diuretic and liver-detoxifying properties, and one study even showed that dandelion root extract reduced alcohol-related liver damage in mice.

You can easily find detox dandelion teas at your local health foods store or try a dandelion supplement to receive all of the plant’s healthful benefits.

  1. Get a Clean Start

You can get some help starting the year off right with a detoxifying dietary supplement. Nature’s Sunshine’s Clean Start comes in a variety of flavors and strengths. This two-week program includes a capsule and drink mix combination perfected to aid your body in its natural cleansing process.

Clean Start gently moves intestinal contents through the digestive system, may help maintain natural energy levels, and supports healthy liver detoxification and function, among other benefits.

  1. Sweat it Out

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, which makes it an essential part of a comprehensive detox. Although you may not feel like heading to the gym on New Year’s Day, you’ll benefit from sweating out those toxins from the night before.

Even if you can’t get yourself to the treadmill, a session in the sauna or hot shower can help you excrete toxins and leave your body ripe for replenishment with nutrients and lots of water.


Source: Nature’s Sunshine Website Blogs


Introducing Dr. Michael Greger

In the course of last 2 years however, I found a site that does an excellent job in doing what I was doing and more. That would be Dr. Michael Greger’s website. It contains well researched scientific topics with lots and lots of scientific paper references. In fact, you will see his presentation is 100% based on scientific papers. As a result, I have benefited and enjoyed tremendously from his work over the course of last 2 years.

In my research over the years, I have poured over hundreds of websites and thousands of scientific publications. However rewarding that is (and it is), the work is very laborious and time consuming.

In the course of last 2 years however, I found a site that does an excellent job in doing what I was doing and more. That would be Dr. Michael Greger’s website. It contains well researched scientific topics with lots and lots of scientific paper references. In fact, you will see his presentation is 100% based on scientific papers. As a result, I have benefited and enjoyed tremendously from his work over the course of last 2 years.

Now, I would like to start referring to his work on my website. I would also like to offer you an opportunity to either watch and learn some of Dr. Greger’s video and/or written blogs selectively on my site or you may directly to go his website for your own research of topics. It is completely FREE – he has dedicate it to public usage as a non-profit organization. Thank you Dr. Greger and team!

Now, before you start getting all excited (and you should), a few things I would like to share with you what I learned about Dr. Greger’s position that may be different than mine or yours:

  • Dr. Greger is a vegetarian and a strong proponent of the vegetarian/vegan diet. I lean more on a balanced diet between vegetables (yes, I favor lots of vegetables – raw and organic kind), clean meat proteins, good fats, and low carbohydrates.
  • Dr. Greger is a believer of the evolution theory and thus his contents are based on that premise. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong by taking on that position as a scientist. However, I believe it is still just a theory. It takes as much faith to stand on the creation theory as it is to believe in the evolution theory.

With that said as a part of the background disclaimer, everything else that Dr. Greger presents make very good sense and therefore I will begin releasing on this website some selection of his past and recent videos and blogs on subjects that I believe to be relevant to my audience’s readership. Hope you will find them enjoyable, useful and practical.

Here is Dr. Greger’s non-profit site link: https://nutritionfacts.org/. Stay tuned to our enriching blogs in the near future.

Until then – let me know of your thoughts and comments.

Have a Happiest and Healthiest 2018!


How Lack of Sleep Affects the Brain

Ever wondered why you have brain fog especially after a night of bad sleep? By common sense they should be related. But now the scientist are devising cognitive tests to put this notion to bed (pun intended).

The article below (posted here verbatim) by BBC News Medical Correspondent about an online world-wide cognitive tests that Western University in Ontario, Canada is conducting. This is the world’s largest test of its kind and yes, you and I may participate in it. Read on….

Ever wondered why you have brain fog especially after a night of bad sleep? By common sense they should be related. But now the scientist are devising cognitive tests to put this notion to bed (pun intended).

The article below (posted here verbatim) by BBC News Medical Correspondent about an online world-wide cognitive tests that Western University in Ontario, Canada is conducting. This is the world’s largest test of its kind and yes, you and I may participate in it too. Read on….

Source: BBC News, bbc.co.uk/news or bbc.com/news

Woman turning off alarm clockImage by ELENATHEWISE

Scientists in Canada have launched what is set to become the world’s largest study of the effects of lack of sleep on the brain.

A team, at Western University, Ontario, want people from all over the world to sign up online to do cognitive tests.

The specially devised computer games test skills such as reasoning, language comprehension and decision-making.

I joined a group of volunteers trying out the tests and had my brain scanned while doing them.

Why do we sleep?

Are you getting enough sleep?


Prof Adrian Owen, a British neuroscientist based at the Brain and Mind Institute in London, Ontario, is leading the study.

He told me: “We all know what it feels like to not get enough sleep but we know very little about the effects on the brain; we want to see how it affects cognition, memory and your ability to concentrate.”

The team will collate the cognitive scores and see the variations depending on how much sleep people have had.

Everyone’s sleep requirements are different, but if enough people join the study, it may allow scientists to determine the average number of hours needed for optimum brain function.

I joined four volunteers spending the night at Western University, where we road-tested the brain games and were able to demonstrate how lack of sleep affects cognitive performance.

Four volunteers for sleep studyImage by FERGUS WALSH

The volunteers (clockwise from top left): Dr Hooman Ganjavi, Sylvie Salewski, Evan Agnew, Cecilia Kramar

The volunteers

  • Dr Hooman Ganjavi, aged 42. Psychiatrist who is regularly on-call overnight: “Four to five hours sleep a night is typical for me. I know that lack of sleep increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but, like many doctors, I don’t apply it to me.”
  • Sylvie Salewski, aged 31. Mother of two girls under five: “A good night is when they wake me only two or three times; I can’t remember what it is like to sleep through the night undisturbed, and I often feel fuzzy the next day.”
  • Evan Agnew, aged 75. Retired night clerk. “I’ve never needed eight hours’ sleep all at once, and at my age I don’t think I need more than four hours in one go. I will top up my sleep during the day with a nap or two.”
  • Cecilia Kramar, aged 31. Neuroscientist who does cognitive research with nocturnal mice, meaning late nights in the laboratory: “When I don’t get much sleep, I cannot do anything complicated the next day, like reading a scientific paper, because my brain does not function well.”
Two brain games which are part of the sleep and cognition studyImage by OWEN LAB, WESTERN
In Double Trouble, you must click on the word below that matches the colour of the word above. Odd One Out is as simple as it sounds, except that the game gets progressively harder

The tests

The tests can be played on any computer, tablet or smart phone.

Double Trouble: This looks simple but really stretches the grey matter. You have to click on the word below that corresponds to the colour in which the word above is written. So, if the word at the top is “blue”, but is coloured in red, you must click on the word below that is coloured red, even if it is written as “blue”. Fiendish.

Odd One Out: This starts simple but gets increasingly complex as you try to find the one shape that is different from the others.

Brain games part of the sleep and cognition studyImage by OWEN LAB, WESTERN
Two more of the brain games – Grammatical Reasoning looks simple until the statements at the top are negatives. In Spatial Planning, you click on the numbers to move them into the right position


Grammatical reasoning: Is the statement about a diagram true or false? Sounds easy, until you begin dealing with negative statements.

Spatial planning: This tests the ability to plan ahead – like all the games, it measures cognitive skills we use repeatedly during the day.

How did we do?

After staying up until 04:00, we were allowed four hours’ sleep.

When we re-did the cognitive tests later in the morning, Evan, Cecilia and I scored significantly worse than we had the night before.

Hooman – who is used to being on-call and responding to patients – did not see much of a dip in his score, while Sylvie’s actually improved.

Sylvie said: “Although I feel a bit fuzzy this morning, maybe I’ve just got used to functioning on very little sleep; I have to be on as soon as my kids wake up, so it’s normal for me.”

I have long known that I don’t function well when sleep deprived, so it was no surprise that my cognitive scores dipped dramatically in the morning.

In order to find out what might be happening in my brain, I repeated the cognitive tests while inside an MRI machine.

I was scanned twice – after a normal night’s sleep and then after the sleep-deprived night.

The functional MRI scanner is able to detect blood flow in the brain – so the areas that are working hardest show increased levels of activity, shown as orange coloured blobs.

brain scansImage by OWEN LAB, WESTERN
The scan on the left shows my brain activity during cognitive tests after a normal night’s sleep, compared with my sleep-deprived brain, on the right


The comparison between the scans was stark: after being sleep deprived, my brain was well under par – there was much less going on up there.

Prof Owen gave the scientific explanation: “There is much less activity in the frontal and parietal lobes – areas we know are crucial for decision making, problem solving and memory. ”

We all know that it is dangerous to drive when tired, because our reaction times are impaired and we might fall asleep at the wheel.

But the more subtle effects of sleep deprivation on day-to-day living are far less understood.

Prof Adrian OwenImage by FERGUS WALSH
Prof Adrian Owen, of the Brain and Mind Institute, Western, is leading the sleep cognition study


Prof Owen told me: “It may be that lack of sleep is having very profound effects on decision making and perhaps we should avoid making important decisions like buying a house or deciding whether to get married when we are sleep deprived.”

Why it matters

We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep, and it is as vital to our wellbeing as the food we eat and the air we breathe.

But our 24-hour culture means we are getting less sleep than ever.

Last month, a paper in Nature Reviews Neuroscience said there was “remarkably little understanding” of the consequences on the brain of chronic sleep loss.

It spoke of the “precipitous decline in sleep duration throughout industrialised nations”, adding that more research was urgently needed.

Those who volunteer for the sleep study may help find some of the answers needed by both science and society.

Media Fergus Walsh tried out the tests as he got more and more tired


Top 10 Natural Remedies For Disaster Relief

So, the question  I ask myself at a time like this is – Am I prepared for the disaster that could unfold for me and my family? How about you? Are you prepared? Do you have a small essential list of items that you keep at hand just for an occasion such as this? Even when there is no imminent danger at hand, one should have an emergency first-aid kit ready and handy.

I would like to offer below a brief and condensed list of items that we personal have at hand at all times that can become life-safer when it is needed:

As I pen this blog, my outside window is howling with strong wind and the rain has been coming down non-stop over the last 6 hours. Hurricane Harvey’s news and reports are being blasted on every local and national TV channels I tune in to.

Yes, even in Austin, TX where I live, we are bracing ourselves for the CAT4 hurricane Harvey which just did its landfall about 7 hours or so ago near the Port Aransas area. Unlike other hurricanes, Harvey is going to stall out and linger inland for a couple of days and then go back out to the Gulf of Mexico and then possibly make a second landfall around Houston area. The amount of the rain estimated by the Weather Channel is expected to bring devastation to many communities across the Gulf region of Texas and Louisiana. In fact, severe flash flood warnings have been issued across all over the Central Texas region in the next several days.

So, the question  I ask myself at a time like this is – Am I prepared for the disaster that could unfold for me and my family? How about you? Are you prepared? Do you have a small essential list of items that you keep at hand just for an occasion such as this? Even when there is no imminent danger at hand, one should have an emergency first-aid kit ready and handy.

I would like to offer below a brief and condensed list of items that we personal have at hand at all times that can become life-safer when it is needed:

  1. Ionic/Colloidal Silver Liquid – wash wounds, pour 1 oz into 1 gallon of drinking water to disinfect it, overcome throat irritation/infection by swishing, gargling, and swallowing
  2. Ionic/Collidal Silver Gel – address wounds, hand disinfectant lotion, natural tooth paste
  3. Food Enzymes – protect yourself from questionable source of foods that you may have to eat under stressful situations
  4. Curcumin Extra Strength – fights joint and muscle inflammation and pain. Also a great agent for immune boosting
  5. Protein bars – healthy snack bars for at least 3 day survival for energy and strength. This may be particularly helpful to diabetics who do not do well without food for prolonged period of time.
  6. Activated Charcoal – absorbs and removes toxins and irritants from the digestive tract such as heavy metals, parasites, food poisoning, and other toxins ingested inadvertently from bad food sources. Great for diarrhea or other commonly known digestive related issues.
  7. Lavender Essential Oil – reliefs skin burns, nerve calming, sleep aid
  8. Tei-fu Essential oil and lotion – headaches, muscle pains/sprains, hot/cold topical treatment, bug bites
  9. Probiotics – room temperature Bacillus Coagulans to balance gut microbiome and help with immune function
  10. Pure Water – when running water is contaminated, either boil water to drink or stock up with filtered ionized water. Get a trustworthy portable water purifier for campers will also work.

Hope this short list is of help to your disaster preparations. My wife and I believe this list so much so that we have this entire list with us on every single travel event. Have never gotten sick on any of our travels for the last 20 years!

What are your favorite natural disaster relief items?

Be prepared!


Arsenics in Rice, Mushrooms, and Wine

Here is a video by Dr. Greger of NutritionFacts.org to further substantiate existence of Arsenic heavy metal in our regular daily food and drinks such as rice, mushrooms, and wine.

In our last blog we viewed a video by Dr. Wright who spoke of importance of avoiding different kind of heavy metals in our body for they can trigger cardiovascular anomalies.

You may not see how prevalent are heavy metals in our daily life? Let me share a small sample of our daily exposure to heavy metals:

  • Dental amalgan, some vaccines, batteries – contain some Mercury.
  • Cookwares and Deodorants – contain Aluminum.
  • Soil and Water – Arsenic.
  • Old paint, batteries, solder, toys, artist paints, fuels, water – Lead.
  • Many food and drinks contain some amount of Tin, Nickel, Cadmium, etc…

Here is a video by Dr. Greger of NutritionFacts.org to further substantiate existence of Arsenic heavy metal in our regular daily food and drinks such as rice, mushrooms, and wine.

What are we to do?

Obviously we want to avoid the heavy metal exposure as much as we can. However given in the world we live in today, this is practically impossible. So the next best thing is to give yourself a chelation treatment on a regular basis. Simplistically, chelation is a process of removing the heavy metal toxins from within our body. Many herbs can do that rather effectively. You are welcome to call us for chelation programs that we have for heavy metals.


Untold Causes of Hypertension

Here is a video that you may find interesting regarding high blood pressure. The points Dr. Wright making here are not generally discussed by medical doctors but they may be highly relevant to your heart health and particularly high blood pressure condition. You don’t have to take my words for it. Watch this video (16 minutes) and see for yourself.

Here is a video that you may find interesting regarding high blood pressure. The points Dr. Wright making here are not generally discussed by medical doctors but they may be highly relevant to your heart health and particularly high blood pressure condition. You don’t have to take my words for it. Watch this video (16 minutes) and see for yourself.

What do you think? If you like what you saw here and would like more information on high blood pressure, here is an excellent book for you to read and dig further into this subject. The title is “The High Blood Pressure Hoax,” by Dr. Sherry A. Rogers, M.D., Prestige Publishing, 2005.

Also, if you are interested in quality Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Berberine, oral chelation program and other heart health related supplements, we have got them all. Give us a call or stop by.


In Defense of Coconut Oil: Rebuttal to USA Today

Found an insightful and well researched article on the recent Coconut Oil controversy introduced by FDA and other health organizations. The media frenzy has ensued since that publication including the USA Today. I enjoy reading both sides of discussion and look for the evidence based analysis and conclusions drawn based on the inductive logic (versus the deductive method).

Found an insightful and well researched article on the recent Coconut Oil controversy introduced by FDA and other health organizations. The media frenzy has ensued since that publication including the USA Today. I enjoy reading both sides of discussion and look for the evidence based analysis and conclusions drawn based on the inductive logic (versus the deductive method).

Enjoy the post below written by Ali Le Vere as it is published here verbatim and acknowledgement to Ali’s work and reference given below.


Posted on: Tuesday, June 20th 2017 at 6:15 am

Written By: Ali Le Vere, B.S., B.S.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the USA Today article entitled, “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy“. Fear-mongering, attention-grabbing headlines certainly sell copy, but do not make for evidence-informed, high quality science reporting.

As I expressed in my recent post on social media,

“The internet is full of erroneous claims. Science writers who forgo the nuances of empirical findings in the interest of sensational headlines.

False extrapolations made by people unequipped to interpret the research. Speculations by bloggers who missed the correlation-does-not-equal-causation lesson in epidemiology.

Over-generalizations from poorly designed, low quality in vitro and animal studies and studies that failed the test of statistical significance. Industry-funded, conflict-of-interest ridden rhetoric.

From eating for your blood type, to saturated fat causing heart disease, to heart-healthy whole wheat, to coffee causing gluten cross reactivity—in the natural and mainstream health communities alike, people take an idea and run with it without once going back to the primary and secondary literature to verify its scientific veracity.

The lack of scientific rigor that abounds in many corners of natural medicine is part of the reason that alternative medicine is marginalized by mainstream medicine. However, conventional medicine is equally culpable when it comes to its standards of care lacking a firm evidence-base.

I hope to fill this void, apply a scientific eye, and impart credence to therapeutic nutrition and holistic medicine by substantiating all my claims with high quality scientific data—instead of pulling statements out of thin air, which sadly is commonplace with headline-grabbing, yet substantive discussion-lacking online articles.”

The USA Today article, written in response to an American Heart Association (AHA) statement advising Americans to replace saturated fat with omega-6 rich polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils, exemplifies the lack of journalistic integrity, rushing to conclusions, and flagrant misrepresentation of the data to which I was referring.

The Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio Determines Inflammatory Potential

Contrary to the implications of this USA Today piece, the evidence has elucidated that omega-6 fatty acids, which occur in the corn, cottonseed, canola, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oil that the AHA was recommending, promote carcinogenesis, whereas omega-3 fatty acids inhibit cancer development (Seaman, 2002). Hence, the Standard American Diet, rich in omega-6 fatty acid consumption, generates the pro-inflammatory state that facilitates tumorigenesis (Rose, 1997).

The detrimental effects of omega-6s are articulated by Fernandes and Venkatraman (1993), with,

“The increased consumption of many vegetable oils particularly of the n-6 series is…viewed as pro-inflammatory and is suspected as one of the possible causes for the rise in certain malignant tumors, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases primarily due to the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines” (p. S19).

In contrast, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fatty seafood, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can modify dynamics of the lipid bilayer, including elastic compressability and membrane permeability, promote membrane fluidity, and favorably modify membrane-bound protein activity (Stillwell & Wassall, 2003).

Thus, DHA is preventive in many inflammatory disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease (Stillwell & Wassal, 2003). Specifically, DHA mitigates neuro-inflammation as it facilitates more efficient nerve cell communication (Crawford et al., 2013). The brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are deficient in DHA, and loss of structural and functional integrity of the brain correlates with loss of DHA concentrations in cell membranes in these patients (Seaman, 2002).

DHA and its long chain omega-3 precursor, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are likewise involved in modulation of immune responses. In one study, supplementation of these fatty acids prolonged remission of systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) (Das, 1994). In another autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, omega-3 supplementation was found to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines and eicosanoids involved in the pathogenesis of the disease (Morin, Blier, & Fortin, 2015). Mechanistically, long chain omega-3 fatty acids suppress proliferation of pathogenic T cells and inhibit synthesis of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1 (IL-1), and interleukin-2 (IL-2) (Das, 1994).

The dietary balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which compete for incorporation into the phospholipid bilayer of cellular membranes, is integral for restoration of immune health and for prevention of long-latency, chronic, and degenerative diseases.

In order to generate optimal ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, ditch the toxic industrialized vegetable oils, and moderate consumption of grains and seeds as well, since they contain linoleic acid, the precursor to the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid.

As I illustrated above, arachidonic acid is processed by the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) to produce pro-inflammatory signaling molecules called eicosanoids, including leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxanes. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, promote the production of less inflammatory mediators. Therefore, USA Today’s recommendation to increase consumption of pro-inflammatory vegetable oils, amidst an epidemic of inflammatory chronic diseases, is negligent and irresponsible.

Applying an Ethnographic and Evolutionary Biology Lens

Of all the diets, an ancestral paleolithic diet reminiscent of ancient foragers has the most optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, of 1:1 (Simopoulos, 1991). Traditional hunter-gatherer cultures whose diets are composed of grass-fed game, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild-caught seafood, organic, local fruits and vegetables, roots and tubers, nuts and seeds are virtually free of the long-latency, degenerative diseases that plague Westerners.

Eskimos, for instance, who eat a high fish-based diet replete in omega-3s and very low in omega-6s, do not suffer from any of the diseases of modernity, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, diverticulitis, appendicitis, gallstones, or autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or ulcerative colitis (Sinclair, 1981; Nettleton, 1995; Calder, 1998).

In contrast, the Standard American Diet, customary in Western cultures where non-communicable chronic diseases reach epidemic levels, has an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio ranging from 10:1 to 25:1 (Simopoulos, 1991). This is largely due to the inclusion of pro-inflammatory, high-heat processed vegetable oils, which are subject to chemically-laden processes such as caustic refining, bleaching, and degumming, and then have to be chemically deodorized to negate rancidity.

In addition to minimizing vegetable oil intake, incorporating plenty of wild-caught, cold-water fatty fish, including mackerel, salmon, herring, caviar, and sardines, can enhance omega-3 levels. Crawford (1968) also demonstrated that wild animals eating their native diets have significantly more omega-3s compared to domesticated livestock. Grass-fed meat, for example, is replete in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamin E compared to its conventional corn-fed counterparts, so incorporating grass-fed meat into your diet can restore balance in your fatty acid ratio (Daley et al., 2010).

Busting the Cholesterol Myth

Of note, is that the USA Today article vilified coconut oil on the basis that it raises LDL cholesterol. However, the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) removed dietary cholesterol as a nutrient of concern, given that there is “no appreciable relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol or clinical cardiovascular events in general populations,” so cholesterol content should not deter you from consumption of saturated fat (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015, p. 2421).

Low total cholesterol, formerly believed to be protective against cardiovascular disease, has been demonstrated to have a litany of ill effects. In particular, women with a total cholesterol below 195 mg/dL have a higher risk of mortality compared to women with cholesterol above this cut-off (Petrusson, Sigurdsson, Bengtsson, Nilsen, & Getz, 2012).

Low cholesterol has been correlated with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, suicide, homicide, accidental deaths, and morbid depression (Boscarino, Erlich, & Hoffman, 2009; Morgan, Palinkas, Barrett-Connor, & Wingard, 1993, Mielke et al., 2005; Seneff, Wainwright, & Mascitelli, 2011).

In a group of men 50 years and older, researchers found depression to be three times more common in the group with low plasma cholesterol (Morgan, Palinkas, Barrett-Connor, & Wingard, 1993). Shockingly, men with total cholesterol below 165 m/dL were also found to be seven times more likely to die prematurely from unnatural causes, including suicide and accidents (Boscarino, Erlich, & Hoffman, 2009).

In fact, Morgan, Palinkas, Barrett-Connor, and Winged (1993) articulate this with, “In several clinical trials of interventions designed to lower plasma cholesterol, reductions in coronary heart disease mortality have been offset by an unexplained rise in suicides and other violent deaths” (p. 75).

In essence, in progressive circles, the cholesterol-demonizing, artery-clogging model of heart disease has been redacted in favor of one where inflammation leads to endothelial and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction as well as oxidative stress. Like firefighters at a fire, cholesterol is present at the scene of the crime, but it is not the perpetrator—rather, it is a protective antioxidant element that repairs damage to arteries.

Moreover, cholesterol is an important precursor to our steroid hormones and bile acids, a membrane constituent that helps maintain structural integrity and fluidity, and an essential component for transmembrane transport, cell signaling, and nerve conduction.

Saturated Fat is Not Bad For You

Further, the recommendations of the AHA are especially surprising in light of the results of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment performed forty years ago, where the saturated fat in the diets of 9000 institutionalized mental patients was replaced with polyunsaturated fats in the form of corn oil. A 2010 re-evaluation of the data from this experiment was published in the British Medical Journal (Ramsden et al., 2016).

According to this re-analysis, these patients experienced a 22% higher risk of death for each 30 mg/dL reduction in serum cholesterol (Ramsden et al., 2016). Thus, although substituting saturated fat for omega-6 fats led to reductions in cholesterol, these patients suffered poorer health outcomes, highlighting that cholesterol is not the villain it was formerly construed to be.

What’s more, although the USA Today article declares the dangers of saturated fat, a recent meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which compiled data from 21 studies including 347,747 people that were followed for an average of 14 years, concluded that there is no appreciable relationship between saturated fat consumption and incidence of cardiovascular disease or stroke (Siri-Tarino, Sun, Hu, & Krauss, 2010).

Another meta-analysis published in 2015 in the British Journal of Medicine concluded that there is no association between saturated fat and risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, type 2 diabetes, or all-cause mortality (the risk of death from any cause) (de Souza et al., 2015).

Along similar lines, a trial published in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2016 showed that eating a high fat diet, and deriving a large proportion of calories from saturated fat, improved biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance, such as insulin, HDL, triglycerides, C-peptide, and glycated hemoglobin (Veum et al., 2016). The researchers conclude, “Our data do not support the idea that dietary fat per se promotes ectopic adiposity and cardiometabolic syndrome in humans” (Veum et al., 2016).

In actuality, saturated fat has been demonstrated to exert beneficial effects on levels of triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), the latter of which has been characterized as the “good cholesterol” that scavenges or transports cholesterol deposited in the bloodstream back to the liver (Mensink, Zock, Kester, & Katan, 2003). Saturated fat has also been shown to elicit minimal effects on apolipoprotein B, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, relative to carbohydrates (Mensink, Zock, Kester, & Katan, 2003).

In addition, in a recent article in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, an expert panel held jointly between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the relationship between saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD) (FAO/WHO, 2009).

From their examination of epidemiological studies, they found that saturated fatty acid intake was not significantly correlated with coronary heart disease events or mortality (FAO/WHO, 2009). Similarly, from their investigation of intervention studies, which are more powerful in that they can prove causality, they found that incidence of fatal coronary heart disease was not reduced by low-fat diets (FAO/WHO, 2009).

According to Mozaffarian and Ludwig (2015), “The 2015 DGAC report tacitly acknowledges the lack of convincing evidence to recommend low-fat–high-carbohydrate diets for the general public in the prevention or treatment of any major health outcome, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or obesity” (p. 2422).

Part of this reversal in guidelines is based on the fact that replacing protein or carbohydrates with healthy fats in excess of the current 35% of the daily caloric fat limit reduces risk of cardiovascular disease (Appel et al., 2005; Estruch et al., 2013).

In a similar vein, “The 2015 DGAC report specifies that, ‘Consumption of ‘low-fat’ or ‘nonfat’ products with high amounts of refined grains and added sugars should be discouraged’” (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015, p.2422). Despite new guidelines, the Nutrition Facts Panel still employs the outdated 30% limit on dietary fat, which Mozaffarian and Ludwig (2015) remark has been “obsolete for more than a decade” (p.2422).

Coconut Oil Doesn’t Negate Health—It Engenders It

Not only do these meta-analyses put the nail in the coffin as far as saturated fat causing heart disease, but a plethora of health benefits have been elucidated in the scientific literature regarding coconut oil consumption. For instance, the following studies, as catalogued in the GreenMedInfo database, have revealed metabolic, immunomodulatory, and cognitive benefits of the dietary inclusion of coconut oil.

For instance, extra virgin coconut oil consumption has been demonstrated to significantly reduce body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) and produce significant increases in concentrations of HDL cholesterol in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) (Cardoso et al., 2015). Another study by Liau in colleagues (2011) concluded that virgin coconut oil is efficacious for the reduction of waist circumference, especially in a male cohort. Likewise, a study by Assunção and colleagues (2009) demonstrated that dietary coconut oil reduces visceral adiposity and elevates HDL cholesterol in women, thus improving both anthropometric and biochemical risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

In rodent models, dietary virgin coconut oil improves glycemic control in high fructose fed rats, and is postulated to be “an efficient nutraceutical in preventing the development of diet induced insulin resistance and associated complications possibly through its antioxidant efficacy” (Narayanankutty et al., 2016). Research supports the use of coconut oil for obesity, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, hypertension, and pathologically elevated LDL, all of which constitute risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s, the last of which is being re-conceptualized as type 3 diabetes (Fernando et al., 2015).

In addition, in a prospective study of patients with Alzheimer’s, improvements in cognitive function were observed for patients administered extra virgin coconut oil, since “medium chain triglycerides are a direct source of cellular energy and can be a nonpharmacological alternative to the neuronal death for lack of it, that occurs in Alzheimer patients” (Yang et al., 2015). Notably, the hormones, or cytokinins, and phenolic compounds found in coconut may prevent aggregation of amyloid-β peptide into plaques, thus arresting a critical step in pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s (Fernando et al., 2015). Research also suggests that coconut oil may directly stimulate ketogenesis in astrocytes and provide fuel to neighboring neurons as a consequence, thus improving brain health (Nonaka et al., 2016). On a different note, coconut oil mitigates amyloid beta toxicity in cortical neurons by up-regulating signaling of cell survival pathways (Nafar, Clarke, & Mearow, 2017).

Lastly, studies have illuminated anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and anti-pyretic properties of virgin coconut oil (Intahphuak, Khonsung, & Panthong, 2010; Ogbolu et al., 2007). Thus, unless you are part of the minority of the population that carries the APOE4 allele, a polymorphism that confers increased risk with saturated fat consumption, there is no reason to avoid coconut oil or saturated fat (Barberger-Gateau et al., 2011). Thus, instead of trashing your coconut oil, do yourself a favor and eat an extra helping—your body will thank you.

For evidence-based reseach on coconut oil, visit the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard.


Appel, L.J., Sacks, F.M., Carey, V.J., Obarzanek, E. Swain, J.F., Miller, E.R. 3rd,…OmniHeart Collaborative Research Group. (2005). Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(19):2455-2464.

Assunção, M.L., Ferreira, H.S., dos Santos, A.F., Cabral, C.R., & Florêncio, T.M.M.T. (2009). Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids, 44(7), 593-601.

Barberger-Gateua, P., Samieri, C., Feart, C., & Plourde, M. (2012). Dietary omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and Alzheimer’s disease: interaction with apolipoprotein E genotype. Current Alzheimer’s Research, 8(5), 479-491.

Calder, P.C. (1998). Dietary fatty acids and the immune system. Nutritional Reviews, II, S70-S83.

Cardoso et al. (2015). A coconut extra virgin oil-rich diet increases HDL cholesterol and decreases waist circumference and body mass in coronary artery disease patients. Nutrition Hospitals, 32(5), 2144-2152. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9642.

Crawford, M.A., Broadhurst, C.L., Guest, M., Nagar, A., Wang, Y., Ghebremeskel, K., & Schmidt, W. (2013). A quantum theory for the irreplaceable role of docosahexaenoic acid in neural cell signaling throughout evolution. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 88(1), 5-13.

Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 10.

Das, U.N. (1994). Beneficial effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in the management of systemic lupus erythematosus and its relationship to the cytokine network. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 51(3), 207-213.

de Souza et al. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-anlaysis of observational studies. British Medical Journal, 351.

Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvado, J., Covas, M.I., Corella, D., Aros, F.,…PREDIMED Study Investigators. (2013). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(14), 1279-1290. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200303

FAO/WHO. (2009). Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition. Proceedings of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation. November 10-14, 2008. Geneva, Switzerland. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 55, 1-3.

Fernando, W.M.A.D.B., Martins, I.J., Goozee, K.G., Brennan, C.S., Jayasena, V., & Martins, R.N. (2015). The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action. British Journal of Nutrition, 1-14.
Intahphuak, S., Khonsung, P., & Panthong, A. (2010). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharmacological Biology, 48(2), 151-157.

Kalmijn, S., Feskens, E.J.M., & Kromhout, D. (1997). Polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and cognitive function in very old men. American journal of Epidemiology, 145, 33-41.

Liau, K.M., Lee, Y.Y., Chen, C.K., & Rasool, A.H.G. (2011). An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology. doi: 10.5402/2011/949686

Mensink, R.P., Zock, P.L., Kester, A.D., & Katan, M.B. (2003). Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 77(5), 1146-1155.

Mielke, M.M., Zandi, P.P., Sjogren, M., Gustafson, D., Ostling, S., Steen, B., & Skoog, I. (2005). High total cholesterol levels in late life associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Neurology, 64(10), 1689-1695.

Mozaffarian, D., & Ludwig, D.S. (2015). The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines: Lifting the Ban on Total Dietary Fat. Journal of the American Medical Association, 313(24), 2421-2422.

Morin, C., Blier, P.U., & Fortin, S. (2015). Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid monoglycerides are more potent than docosahexaenoic acid monoglyceride to resolve inflammation in a rheumatoid arthritis model. Arthritis Research Therapies, 17, 142. doi: 10.1186/s13075-015-0653-y.

Morgan, R.E., Palinkas, L.A., Barrett-Connor, E.L., & Wingard, D.L. (1993). Plasma cholesterol and depressive symptoms in older men. The Lancet, 341(8837), 75-79. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(93)92556-9

Nafar, F., Clarke, J.P., & Mearow, K.M. (2017). Coconut oil protects cortical neurons from amyloid beta toxicity by enhancing signaling of cell survival pathways. Neurochemical International, 105, 64-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2017.01.008.

Narayanankutty, A., Mukesh, R.K., Ayoob, S.K., Ramavarma, S.K., Suseela, I.M., Manalil, J.J.,…Raghavamenon, A.C. (2016). Virgin coconut oil maintains redox status and improves glycemic conditions in high fructose fed rats. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 53(1), 895-901.

Nettleton, J. (1995). omega-3 fatty acids and health. New York Chapman & Hall. p. 67-73.

Nonaka, Y., Takagi, T., Inai, M., Nishimura, S., Urashima, S., Honda, K.,…Terada, S. (2016). Lauric acid stimulates ketone body production in the KT-5 astrocyte cell line. Journal of Oleo Science, 65(8), 693-699.

Ogbolu, D.O., Oni, A.A., Daini, O.A., & Oloko, A.P. (2007). In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. Journal of Medical Foods, 10(2), 384-387.

Petrusson, H., Sigurdsson, J.A., Bengtsson, C., Nilsen, T.I., & Getz, L. (2012). Is the use of cholesterol in mortality risk algorithms in clinical guidelines valid? Ten years prospective data from the Norwegian HUNT 2 study. Journal of the Evaluation of Clinical Practice, 18(1), 159-168.

Ramsden et al. (2016). Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-1973). British Medical Journal, 353.Simopoulos, A.P., & Salem Jr., N. (1992). Egg yolk as a source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in infant feeding. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 55, 411-414.

Rose, D.P. (1997). Dietary fatty acids and cancer. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(suppl), 998S-1003S.

Seaman, D.R. (2002). The diet-induced pro-inflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 25(3), 168-179.

Seneff, S., Wainwright, G., & Mascitelli, L. (2011). Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 1-7.

Simopoulos, A.P. (1991). Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54, 483-463.

Sinclair, H. (1981). The relative importance of essential fatty acids of the linoleum and linolenic families: studies with an Eskimo diet. Progress in Lipid Research, 20, 897-899.

Siri-Tarino, P.W., Sun, Q., Hu, F.B., & Krauss, R.M. (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(3), 535-546.

Stillwell, W., & Wassall, S.R. (2003). Docosahexaenoic acid: membrane properties of a unique fatty acid. Chemistry and Physical Lipids, 126(1), 1-27.

Veum et al. (2016). Visceral adiposity and metabolic syndrome after very high-fat and low fat isocaloric diets: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.123463

Yang, H.Y., de la Rubia Orti, J.E., Sabater, P.S., Castillo, S.S., Rochina, M.J., Ramon, N.M., & Montoya-Castilla, I. (2015). Coconut oil: Non-alternative drug treatment against Alzheimer’s disease. Nutrition in Hospitals, 32(6), 2822-2877.

Ali Le Vere holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Human Biology and Psychology, minors in Health Promotion and in Bioethics, Humanities, and Society, and is a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine candidate. Having contended with chronic illness, her mission is to educate the public about the transformative potential of therapeutic nutrition and to disseminate information on evidence-based, empirically rooted holistic healing modalities. Read more at @empoweredautoimmune on Instagram and at www.EmpoweredAutoimmune.com: Science-based natural remedies for autoimmune disease, dysautonomia, Lyme disease, and other chronic, inflammatory illnesses.


Amazon Plans to Buy Whole Foods: What Does This Mean for the Future of Food?

By now, most of us have heard the big news in the organic food business – Amazon.com plans to buy Whole Foods before 2017 is over. I have read many blogs, news updates, and commentaries from all different persuasions. The blog listed below is the only one that I feel is the most factual, fair, and worth republishing on my site.

By now, most of us have heard the big news in the organic food business – Amazon.com plans to buy Whole Foods before 2017 is over. I have read many blogs, news updates, and commentaries from all different persuasions. The blog listed below is the only one that I feel is the most factual, fair, and worth republishing on my site.

Please note that I am not the author of the article below which I am re-publishing verbatim. I give full credit to Lindsay Oberst of The Food Revolution Network.

Future of food: Amazon merges with Whole Foods


Amazon has announced plans to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. This is a big move that shocked many. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or both? What does it mean for the future of food — and the future of natural and organic foods, in particular?

These are all important questions. But first, let’s take a step back.

How did this takeover happen?

Whole Foods has been struggling. The company has been experiencing declining sales for months. As demand for organic food has been rising, organic food has come to be sold in more places and often for cheaper prices.

As a result, in many communities, Whole Foods is no longer the primary option for organic and healthier options. Mainstream supermarkets like Kroger, Costco, Safeway, and Walmart now stock natural and organic foods, too – right alongside their conventional (and “junk food”) offerings.

Recently, Whole Foods has been under enormous pressure from investors to merge with another company — though very few expected it would be Amazon.

Amazon is an enormous company that’s come to be known as “the everything store.” But even though the company has been trying to muscle its way into the grocery and produce business, it hasn’t been able to master online groceries the way it’s mastered other areas, such as books.

Now as the owner of Whole Foods, the company could be poised to dominate the online grocery business — which it sees as a major emerging opportunity.

The deal still needs to be approved by Whole Foods shareholders and regulators, but it’s considered likely to happen later in 2017.

If the merger does happen, John Mackey will remain CEO of Whole Foods, and the store will continue to operate under the Whole Foods brand, according to a joint statement by the two companies.

How will this change Whole Foods?

Whole Foods has long been controversial amongst natural foods consumers. On the one hand, the company has pioneered taking fresh, organic, fair trade and sustainable foods into the mainstream.

On the other hand, it has driven many independently owned natural foods stores out of business, and advanced consolidation and corporate takeover of the natural foods industry.

Now, Whole Foods may soon be controlled by Amazon, a company that is known for being efficient and standardized, but that has a poor environmental record and questionable labor practices. Amazon is known for selling things faster and cheaper. And for selling just about everything, without regard to its impact on health, workers, or the environment.

So undoubtedly, changes are coming for Whole Foods stores. But exactly what changes will occur, and how much things will actually change remains to be seen.

Will the Amazon-Whole Foods merger change how people shop for food?

Right now, most people go to a physical place to shop for groceries. But in the future, you may be doing all your shopping online — without ever leaving your home. And if you do shop in a store, the experience will likely be very different – and more focused on technological innovations.

Some are saying this is the first step to changing how society shops for food in general.

For example, AmazonFresh Pickup, which launched in March, allows customers to order online, and then drive to an Amazon-run store, where employees will bring out their food to them in a matter of minutes. Amazon has opened two stores, but now it could potentially expand this idea to Whole Foods markets nationwide. Amazon has also pioneered shopping and paying with a smartphone app – without having to go through a checkout line.

A report from the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen found that only around a quarter of U.S. households currently shop online for groceries, but predicts that more than 70% will do so within 10 years. In particular, millennials are the largest group of consumers using online grocery shopping.

So, for better or for worse, it seems that online shopping really could be a part of the future of grocery shopping — and by purchasing Whole Foods, Amazon could be setting itself up to shape and perhaps even define this new direction.

5 ways the Amazon-Whole Foods merger could be a good thing for the future of food

While it remains to be seen what effects this merger will have if it does happen, here are five potentially good things this change could bring.

1) It could help healthy and organic foods become more accessible and more affordable.

This move could speed up the growth of organic food and expand organic farming. As Jeff Church, CEO and founder of the organic company Suja Juice said, this acquisition proves “that organic is the future.”

And organic analyst Max Goldberg told us, “With [Jeff Bezos’] purchase of Whole Foods, he has made it very clear that organic, Non-GMO and healthy food is the future, something that is indisputable.”

The demand for organic is rising globally. The global food and drink market is expected to reach $320.5 billion by 2025. And organic spending is rising in the U.S. too.According to the Organic Trade Organization, Americans spent 8% more in 2016 on organic foods than they did the previous year.

2) It could bring fresh, plant-powered food to more people.

Amazon would be able to use the 460 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., Canada, and the UK to bring the accessibility of its organic and plant-powered foods to unprecedented levels.

Sheryl O’Loughlin, CEO of Rebbl, said, “This acquisition [would allow] many more consumers to access real, fresh and organic foods, which is a huge benefit for the industry and a win for consumers.”

3) It could reduce food insecurity.

People who live in food deserts without access to fresh, healthy food could now have greater access to good food on account of expanded online sales.

4) It could drive down the cost of organic.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Amazon wants to shed Whole Foods “whole paycheck” image and to make natural, organic food more competitive with larger retailers, like Walmart.

5) It could drive other grocery stores to offer more high-quality, organic food.

In order to be competitive, grocery stores are going to need to offer more organic food.

“If anything, broader availability of foods with Whole Foods’ very high standards should raise the bar for the entire market and retailers everywhere, in order to compete,” John Foraker, president or organic food company Annie’s, told Max Goldberg. “That will be good for farmers, ranchers, and the sustainability of our food supply.”

5 ways the Amazon-Whole Foods merger could be a bad thing for the future of food

On the other hand, here are five challenges this merger could bring.

1) It could be too much power for one corporation.

The grocery industry is already dominated by a handful of big retailers. This merger would further that direction.

John Roulac, CEO and founder of Nutiva, said, “This is an accumulation of a 20-year, Wall Street-funded, corporate roll-up of the organic and natural industry.”

As he points out, the environment could become hyper-competitive, and independent retailers and brands would have even more difficulty being successful. There are even some observers and members of Congress who think the merger may violate antitrust laws.

2) It could reduce the quality of organic foods.

As pressure is put on the industry to lower the price of organic foods, organic standards may suffer. And in turn, small family farmers could be impacted as well.

3) Whole Foods could lower its quality standards.

As major grocers go, Whole Foods is known for its commitment to quality standards. But Amazon is known for selling anything, quickly and for the lowest price.

Gunnar Lovelace, CEO of Thrive Market, which offers organic and natural products at discounted prices, believes that many consumers are concerned about this merger. He told us:

“I’ve looked extensively at consumer responses to the Amazon acquisition of Wholefoods and there is a lot of concern about Amazon getting too big and of not being a trustworthy source of groceries which validates our investment in an authentic brand, clean-transparent supply chains, genuine community and advocacy work as a business.”

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has said that quality standards at Whole Foods would remain the same after the merger. But whether or not this is true remains to be seen – and is likely to soon be out of his control.

4) It could bad for workers.

Some people fear that this merger will lead to fewer jobs. Amazon is knowing for using automation instead of people, and could bring this mentality to Whole Foods stores.

“Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs,” Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, toldBuzzfeed. “That is the reality today at Amazon, and it will no doubt become the reality at Whole Foods.”

5) It could be hard on farmers.

Though organic farming will likely grow, farmers could suffer as the demand for lower cost organic foods rises quickly. Many small-scale organic growers could lose their farms as quality and principle are compromised for quantity and lower prices – at any cost.

In summary

More people are demanding food that is good for people and the planet, and this merger could help grow and sustain this trend. Organic, plant-powered food could become more accessible – and more affordable.

But it’s also likely that quality will be diluted, and that standards for how food is grown, processed, prepared, and even packaged may go down. This could put more pressure than ever on consumers to make wise and conscious choices.

How you can support healthy, conscious food

Where you shop matters. Supporting establishments that have ethical integrity and moral fiber, and that are more interested in health than just in profits, is one of the ways that you can invest in your wellness, in your community, and in our common future.

Farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are a great way to support local organic farmers and to invest in your health at the same time. So are independent, locally owned natural foods stores and coops. And if you want to save 30% or more off typical Whole Foods market prices, while having 100% non-GMO foods delivered to your door, Thrive Market could be another outstanding option.

To find out more about Thrive Market, click here. (Full disclosure – if you join Thrive Market, they will contribute a portion of their proceeds to support the work of the Food Revolution Network.)

In the end, every purchase you or I make is a vote. So it’s up to each of us to use our dollars to vote for the health and the future we deserve.

Let us know in the comments below. What do you think about this development? And what changes do you think it will bring?

Source: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/future-of-food/amazon-whole-foods-merger/?utm_campaign=frn17&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email-automated&utm_content=3007&utm_term=existing-email-list&email=healthyindeed%40gmail.com&firstname=Paul&lastname=Tsui