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In recent months, it has become more than abundantly clear that misinformation surrounding hot health topics is as much an epidemic as the health issues themselves. As someone with more than 4 decades of experience in holistic health and nutrition, I have seen more than my fair share of misinformed health trends take off and crash, leaving people in the lurch. Today I’m going to tackle the 3 biggest health myths that have persisted for decades now – and you may be shocked by what you read.
We’ve all been told that we need the fluoride in our drinking water and our toothpaste, but the truth is that these fluoride supplements do not reduce or prevent tooth decay. At best, these sources of fluoride may temporarily delay tooth decay by about 2 years in childhood. And according to studies, by age 19 the tooth decay rates are the same for fluoridated and non-fluoridated populations.
While naturally occurring calcium fluoride does have some health benefits, the chemical counterparts that are in our water are far from good for us. These chemicals come from the industrial waste solutions from aluminum and fertilizer manufacturing. And these waste products have been shown to be 60 times more toxic than the naturally occurring calcium fluoride.
Prior to the 1950s, the American Dental Association, the US Preventative Health Service, and the American Medical Association were unanimous in their strong opposition to fluoride consumption in any form or concentration. Then suddenly, deals were made for the toxic waste products from the aluminum and fertilizing industries, and the fluoridation of municipal water supplies began. It didn’t take long for symptoms of chronic fluoride poisoning to appear – bone damage, thyroid disorders, hearing and visual disturbances, heart and kidney problems, allergies, back and joint stiffness, and fluorosis, which is when the cells responsible for tooth enamel are killed by fluoride and leave the surface of the tooth discolored and pitted.
It only takes 0.1 milligrams per liter of fluoride to start seeing fluorosis in 1 out of every 6 people ages 4-21 years, and 0.3 milligrams per liter for underactive thyroid rates to raise by as much as 30 percent. But it wasn’t until 2015 that the US Department of Health and Human Services decreased the levels of fluoride in water from 1.2 milligrams per liter to 0.7, which is still above the threshold for tooth fluorosis and underactive thyroid. Even if your water isn’t fluoridated, you are far from immune – it’s in toothpaste, medications and almost all processed foods and drinks, from beer and soft drinks to chicken nuggets and even baby food. It’s even in popular health drinks including green tea and kombucha.
To flush the fluoride from your life, get a high quality water filtration system, choose fluoride-free dental products, eat organic whenever possible – especially grapes, walnuts, cocoa, dried beans, and dried fruits, that not only contain naturally occurring fluoride but also fluoride-laden pesticides. Also consider supplementing with iodine. Dr. David Brownstein estimates over 80% of Americans are deficient in iodine, in large part due to excess fluoride. We accumulate milligrams of fluoride per day but get only micrograms of iodine in our diets – even through iodized salt. Iodine, selenium and magnesium all work together and can protect the thyroid from excess fluoride.
My significant other, James Templeton, had a basal cell skin cancer removed in his twenties. The dermatologist told him to wear sunscreen 24/7 and stay out of the Texas sun. From that point on, he didn’t miss a day of sunscreen.
Despite his faithfulness to these recommendations, he was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in his thirties. It wasn’t responsive to chemotherapy, and it wasn’t long before he was diagnosed with terminal Stage IV Melanoma. He turned to natural therapies and has now been cancer free for more than 3 decades! He recently wrote a book about his journey through cancer and beyond called I Used to Have Cancer, which I highly recommend reading.
The most important thing James learned about melanoma is that it is a whole body, systemic cancer that is expressed through the skin. And the truth is, there is very little data linking melanoma to sun exposure. Since the 1940s, studies show that melanoma has been increasing in indoor workers who have very little exposure to the sun. Think about it – where do they look for melanoma? Behind your ears, in your hair, and other areas that get little to no sun exposure are the most common places searched for this deadly cancer. So if sun exposure isn’t the primary cause, what is?
Most cancers have a root cause related to toxin exposures, and melanoma is no different. James identified several times throughout his life that he had significant exposures to environmental chemicals, but he really needed to look no further than the chemical-laden sunscreen he’d been lathering himself with daily for more than a decade.
Chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and more are active ingredients in most sunscreens and are dangerous hormone disruptors that break down into toxic byproducts once absorbed through the skin. The CDC has found oxybenzone in the blood of 96% of Americans – including children. The Environmental Working Group recommends completely avoiding oxybenzone because it is so toxic, yet it remains the active ingredient in the most popular sunscreens on the market.
James stopped using chemical sunscreens more than 30 years ago and is still an avid outdoorsman today – with no recurrence of cancer. He keeps his vitamin D levels high with regular sun exposure and supplementation, and takes astaxanthin sourced from Hawaiian microalgae to help protect his fair skin from the oxidizing UVA rays that cause sunburn.
As the First Lady of Nutrition, no article on health myths would be complete without tackling the topic of weight loss. In my experience this is one of the most misunderstood – and misinformed – health issues we face! Entire weight loss empires have been built upon the concept of counting calories, only to leave participants with weight that cycles up and down – if it budges at all.
Healthy, consistent weight loss is so important for our overall health and wellbeing. People who have weight fluctuations of 10 pounds or more have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver, and an overall increase in body fat over time – the exact opposite of their goals. Weight loss based on sound science that withstands the test of time contributes to the reversal of many chronic diseases and extends life span.
When my New York Times bestselling Fat Flush plan came out, it revolutionized the diet world. The focus of my plan is not about counting calories at all. I’ll let you in on the secrets of its success – diets don’t work without detox and without being built upon anti-inflammatory foods.
When you encounter more toxins than your body can process and eliminate, your liver sends them to be stored in your fat cells. Once your fat cells take on those toxins, they swell with fluid to dilute those cellular poisons. As an adult, the primary way we gain weight is through those swollen fat cells. Simply reducing calories doesn’t flush the toxins, so those toxic fat cells aren’t going to budge. You must detox these cells and flush the fat to lose the weight for good.
The other nutrition pillar that my Fat Flush plan is built on – and my Radical Metabolism plan expands on – is to choose foods that reduce inflammation in the body. I’ve removed the most common triggers from both diets and added in fats that help rebuild health from the cell level. The carbs that are included are nutrient dense, nourishing cells that have been depleted. The amount of protein is balanced and the sources are high quality.
You can look through my entire Fat Flush family of plans and my Radical Metabolism plan and you won’t find calorie counting anywhere in there. That’s because when you are eating the diet that is optimal for the health of your body, the weight falls off! It may start as inches or it may start as pounds, but either way it’s coming off.
When you choose healthy eating as a lifestyle, there comes a point when you can’t cook every meal at home. This is where James Templeton comes in to save the day. He created the Templeton List, which is a restaurant guide to the healthiest restaurants in your area. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, or just want a convenient place close to home, check out the list for Fat Flush-friendly, Radical places that have your health in mind.