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What’s Wrong with Paleo Craze?

By:Dr. Al Sears, MDCaveman

There’s a lot of talk about “paleo” right now, and I welcome it. It’s a huge change and it’s a good thing because paleo is so much healthier.

But why don’t your hear me use the word paleo very much?

I don’t want to split hairs, but I have a better way of talking about this.

“Paleo” focuses on the wrong period in history, and the wrong problem.

You see, Paleolithic is the old stone age, and Neolithic is the new stone age.

Why is that important?

Because that change was a significant advance in technology. It allowed us to become better hunters. So Neolithic is better than Paleo.

We invented better spears and spearheads, hatchets with handles, and figured out how to poke holes in leather to make warmer clothes. We made better tools and taught each other about them, so we started to have a shared culture. Everything got better, and our health didn’t get worse.

So I don’t like using the word paleo because it implies that the technological advance to Neolithic was negative. It implies that we were healthy in Paleolithic times and haven’t been healthy since.

But there’s no evidence for that. We were still healthy at that point. Even better than before.

It was the next advance that got us in trouble — planting seed crops. But that happened only after a few thousand years ago, not in “paleo” times, and only in a few places. Most other areas continued with a very healthy Neolithic culture.

During Ceasar’s Gallic wars, the Roman ruler wrote that one of the reasons he thought the barbarians were so hard to conquer was that they had not yet started eating grains. He thought grains weakened the Romans. That was only 2000 years ago. The rest of Europe was still hunter-gatherer!

So there’s a big time problem with saying that paleo was healthy and that’s what we have to go back to. That’s going back way farther than we need to.

We only need to go back before the agrarian revolution. That’s when people started to use technology to harvest grains. This gave us very low-fat, low- protein, low-nutrient diet. We could feed many more people and outcompete Neolithic cultures by sheer numbers. But people got smaller, and people got sick.

Did you know that the Egyptians started getting arthritis just a short time after they started to rely on grains?

When man switched to a grain-based diet, we became shorter and lost muscle and brain size, too. It happened to the Greeks, who became shrunken and diseased after they switched to farming. And when the American Indians switched to grains instead of hunting meat, they got shrunken jaws, became shorter, and now suffer from diabetes and obesity.

But you don’t have to go back to Paleolithic times to regain good health and a lean strong body. You only have to focus on doing what is natural to you.

When you return to a natural way of eating, shedding extra weight and staying healthy is effortless. That’s the reason paleo is popular. It’s not really that it’s “paleo” because it’s not. But a step in the direction of doing what is natural to us is a much healthier way of eating.

All you have to do is remember where technology took a wrong turn. I don’t want to do without technology, I just want to use it in the right way to mimic our primal environment.

The beginning of where things went wrong was when we abandoned protein for low-fat, low-protein grains. That happened faster here in America than in other places like Europe.

Why is that? Because they still had some strong cultural eating traditions. They aren’t Paleolithic, but they are healthy. Like the tradition of picking up their vegetables fresh. They eat healthy oils and healthy fats, and most of their meat is grass-fed because it’s raised on the hillside near the town.

And sometimes it’s the way they eat. For example, the Italians have a tradition of eating fagioli (pronounced fadj-oh-leh) soup. It’s pasta and beans, served with salad and garlic bread. Yet they don’t get fat. The reason is the Italian white kidney bean is very effective at stopping the grains from creating fat. And they have a tradition of eating those high-protein beans first.

So even if you don’t go back to paleo times, there’s still a lot of good health advice with paleo because it’s a return to our more primal traditions.

This is why I tell my patients these three keys to returning to a natural way of eating to drop weight, and stay lean and youthful:

1) Eat as much high-quality protein as you can. Modern medicine only recommends 50 to 60 grams a day. But that’s not nearly enough. I suggest you eat one gram of protein for every one pound of lean muscle mass you have in your body.

That means if you weigh 160 pounds and have 20 percent body fat, you have 128 pounds of lean muscle. That means your goal is 128 grams of protein for the day. This triggers your body to shed fat, control your appetite and build lean muscle.

People are usually surprised when they realize how much protein I’m suggesting they eat. And I know your body doesn’t need that much protein. But:

2) Overeating protein is the point. When you do that, it sends the metabolic signal to your body that times are good and you don’t need to store fat. Then you’ll melt away the fat. Where will it go? Your body will use it for building bone, replacing cells, and for energy.

3) Free-range eggs and grass-fed beef are the best sources. In fact, one of my favorite ways to start off the day is with a steak and eggs for breakfast. If possible, eat grass-fed beef. The flavor is great, and it’s far better for you because it has the right kinds of fats.

Also, when you cook your meat, try not to use high heat or a lengthy slow-cooking method. Overcooking denatures protein, breaks down vitamins and removes nutrients. That’s a reason I like to eat my steak rare and recommend that my patients do, too.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD


The Safe Gluten-Free Grain (That’s Not)

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetOatmeal

As the market for gluten-free foods continues to grow, oatmeal, the long-time breakfast favorite, has seen a resurgence in popularity as a gluten-free alternative to wheat. Oats are often touted in marketing campaigns as “heart healthy.” And of course, they are loved by bodybuilders and cookie-baking grandmas alike.

But oats might not be the healthy food they’re made out to be…

In fact, a daily dose of gluten-free oatmeal can cause blood sugar imbalances, promote weight gain, increase immune reactivity and more.

Oatmeal: Healthful or Harmful to Blood Sugar?

While oatmeal is marketed as a “slow carb”, many people experience a sharp spike in blood sugar levels after eating it.
That’s because oatmeal has a relatively high (63) glycemic index rating. This is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrates in a given food break down to sugar during digestion.

But there is another – even more important – measure of how a particular food will affect your blood sugar. It’s called the glycemic load (GL). This measurement factors in the glycemic index of a food. But it also takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in a typical serving. And this is an important distinction when it comes to managing your blood sugar.

For example, a piece of hard candy – let’s say, a peppermint – is almost pure sugar and has a glycemic index near the top of the scale (95-100). But the amount of carbohydrate in one peppermint (5g) is actually quite low. So, despite the high glycemic index, eating one piece of candy would have a negligible effect on the blood sugar levels of the average healthy person.

Oatmeal, on the other hand, has a considerably lower glycemic index (63). However, the standard serving size is 250 grams, including 30 grams of carbohydrates that rapidly convert to sugar. Therefore, the glycemic load for a serving of oatmeal is 19 – or 300% higher than the GL of the candy!

While it should be noted that oats do have a lower glycemic impact than other grains (especially if you add a healthy fat source like Kerrygold butter and nuts) eating foods with a high glycemic load on a regular basis can promote insulin resistance and weight gain – especially if you are not engaging in regular, vigorous exercise.

But that’s not the only reason to avoid oats. In fact, this gluten-free food may actually trigger an immune response similar to that of gluten-containing foods.

Oatmeal: Is It Gluten-Free?

Avenin is a protein in the prolamine family, which also includes gluten from wheat, rye, and barley, and zein, from corn.

Immune reactions to avenin that cause damage to the small intestine are rare, but they can occur in people with a condition called Avenin Sensitive Enteropathy (ASE).

What’s more, while most people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance can tolerate certified gluten-free oats, there is a risk of cross-reactivity between gluten and avenin.

In fact, a study published in the journal Gut found that 26% of the subjects in the study experienced damage to the nutrient-absorbing villi of the intestine and rash during a period where 50 grams of oats were consumed daily for 12 weeks.  

And like other grains, oats are also high in anti-nutrients, namely phytic acid.

A Comforting Bowl of Anti-Nutrients

Phytic acid (or phytates) actively bind with minerals during digestion, prevents these important nutrients from being absorbed. Phytates also reduce production of an enzyme called pepsin, which is critical for digestion.

So, while oats might be relatively rich in mineral content, the presence of phytic acid will render a good amount of those nutrients inactive and unavailable to your body.

Some studies do show that phytic acid can be reduced (and therefore nutrient absorption increased) by lactic fermentation – soaking oats with whey, yogurt or kefir. However, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, oats lack an enzyme called phytase - and therefore soaking alone cannot eliminate all of the phytic acid. A complementary grain rich in phytase – such as buckwheat – would need to be added to the oats during the soaking process to deactivate the phytates.

What Is YOUR Experience with Oats?

Many people cite adverse reactions to oats. In fact, if you notice that you feel “spacey” or experience nauseas after consuming oats, you’re not alone. This is surprisingly common complaint.

And while blood sugar spikes can cause these effects, that may not be the most likely explanation. Oats can also be contaminated with a mold toxin called deoxynivalenol (DON), which grows during the storage of the grain. This compound is also appropriately referred to as vomitoxin, as it can cause nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

Do you eat oats? If so, what is your experience with how they affect your blood sugar, energy levels and health, in general?

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing information about gluten-free pseudo-grains and grain alternatives that you can enjoy in your gluten-free and Paleo lifestyle.


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product – Better Bread – a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.


1.    University of Sydney Glycemic Index database:
2.    Weston A. Price. Living With Phytic Acid.
3.    C Kilmartin, S Lynch, M Abuzakouk, et al. Avenin fails to induce a Th1 response in coeliac tissue following in vitro culture. Gut 2003;52:47-52 doi:10.1136/gut.52.1.47
4.    Hollén E., Högberg L., Stenhammar L., Fälth-Magnusson K. and Magnusson K.-E. Antibodies to Oat Prolamines (Avenins) in Children with Coeliac Disease. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2003, Vol. 38, No. 7 , Pages 742-746
5.    Guttormsen V1, Løvik A, Bye A, Bratlie J, Mørkrid L, Lundin KE. No induction of anti-avenin IgA by oats in adult, diet-treated coeliac disease. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2008;43(2):161-5. doi: 10.1080/00365520701832822.
6.    K E A Lundin,E M Nilsen,H G Scott,E M Løberg, et al. Oats induced villous atrophy in coeliac disease Gut 2003;52:1649-1652
7.    Bering S, Suchdev S, Sjøltov L, Berggren A, Tetens I, Bukhave K. A lactic acid-fermented oat gruel increases non-haem iron absorption from a phytate-rich meal in healthy women of childbearing age. Br J Nutr. 2006 Jul;96(1):80-5.


US Wellness Feature Farmer Series: Wild Idea Buffalo

Wild Idea Buffalo
Home on the Range!

Our feature farmer series this month takes us to the picturesque Great Plains.  Wild Idea Buffalo Company's two ranches are located in South Dakota between the Black Hills and Badlands National Park, where their buffalo roam the range just like the ancestors of years past.  We are very fortunate to have Wild Idea Buffalo as one of our grass-fed buffalo suppliers, and always look forward to the beautiful pictures they send!

Wild Idea Buffalo raised 100% grass-fed and grass-finished buffalo, who are never fed any grains and are 100% antibiotic & hormone free, and are never confined.  They get to enjoy the wide open plains year round. 

To Wild Idea ranchers, it's not just about producing a quality product, they are just as concerned with the quality of the environment and the land itself.  They successfully manage their grasslands to provide a sustainable environment for the herds for years to come.  For an close-up tour of their farms, be sure to watch the ranch video

Wild Idea Products

BisonYou can find the following Wild Idea Buffalo products in our store now:

You can find some of our favorite bison recipes on Pinterest.  If you have any favorite recipes we should add to the bison board please let us know!



The Fat That Boosts Brain Function (In Just One Dose!)

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetCoconuts

For years, mainstream nutritional advice was that we needed carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) to fuel our brain. This advice seemed to make sense, because the brain can run on sugar… but sugar is not your brain’s preferred fuel.

The same is true for your car. While it can run on dragster fuel, this is not what makes the engine in your car run best. In fact, the same fuel that sends a dragster screaming down the race track will quickly burn up the engine in your car.

So, what is the preferred fuel for your brain?


In fact, the brain works much more efficiently on fat, which provides more units of energy per gram than glucose… and which produces fewer waste byproducts in the process.

And while all healthy fats provide this supercharged fuel for the brain, there is one kind of fat that has been found to have especially beneficial effects on brain function…

Coconut Oil: The Healthy Fat That Boosts Brain Function

Coconut oil is rich in a unique kind of fat molecule, called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The primary benefit of MCTs is that they are highly absorbable, they boost metabolism, and they are converted quickly to energy by the liver.

But that’s not all…

MCTs also produce molecules called ketones. And recent research shows that ketones are nothing short of miraculous when it comes to brain health.

A pioneering study published in the journal, Neurobiology of Aging, reported that cognitive function in older adults with memory disorders almost immediately improved with just one 40 ml dose of MCTs!

The study evaluated 20 patients with either mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. On separate days, the patients were either given MCTs or a placebo. Within just 90 minutes of taking the “shot” of MCTs, researchers found significant increases in ketones in their blood.

So, how did this relate to brain function?

The researchers administered the “gold standard” test for memory and cognition - the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog).

What they found is that patients who were given a SINGLE dose of MCTs had greater improvements in recall compared to those not getting the brain-booster. And these results were seen in all of the patients!

What’s more, the researchers reported significant overall improvements in the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease after 45 and 90 days of treatment with MCTs.

How Medium Chain Triglycerides Beat “Brain Diabetes”

While it has long been known that many foods provide functional and medicinal benefits, how could it be possible to achieve such profound effects after ingesting such a relatively small amount of MCTs?

The answer lies in the unique structure of these fats and how they are metabolized in the brain.

When the brain is accustomed to using glucose as fuel, insulin resistance and a low metabolic state develop. You can think of this unhealthy state as “brain diabetes.” In fact, many researchers are even calling Alzheimer’s disease Type 3 Diabetes.

This is the same thing that happens in the rest of the body when it runs on sugar. But the brain is extremely sensitive. When its function and ability are compromised, it is much more easily noticed and felt.

As the brain switches over from using glucose to using ketones, brain metabolism and insulin sensitivity increase. This results in clearer thinking and a recharged ability to recall information.

But that’s not all. In the process, ketones help clean up metabolic debris – or “cobwebs” – in neuronal structures of the brain. These cobwebs are partly made up of beta-amyloid protein – a substance that is correlated with Alzheimer’s disease and damages the ability of neurons to generate energy in brain cells.

How to Get the Benefits

Big Pharma has jumped on board with MCTs for Alzheimer’s. In fact, the FDA-approved 'medical food' caprylidene (trade name Axona) is now available by prescription.

But you can get all of the benefits (and none of the potential risks) by enjoying organic virgin coconut oil and other all-natural coconut products. Coconut oil contains approximately two-thirds (66%) MCTs by volume. For coconut milk, approximately 25% of its volume is fat, again, with roughly two-thirds being MCTs.

In addition to enjoying organic virgin coconut oil, protect your brain by following the healthy fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet of our ancestors. Along with enjoying grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured poultry and wild seafood, add more body-and-brain-protecting fats to your diet with tallow, lard, duck fat and bone marrow.


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product – Better Bread – a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.


1.    Reger M, Henderson S, Hale C, et al.  Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4. PMID: 15123336
2.    Anonymous: Medium chain triglycerides.  Alt Med Rev 2002, 7:418-420.
3.    Lauren C Costantini, Linda J Barr, Janet L Vogel, Samuel T Henderson. Hypometabolism as a therapeutic target in Alzheimer's disease. BMC Neurosci. 2008 ;9 Suppl 2:S16. Epub 2008 Dec 3. PMID: 1909098
4.    Nafar F, Mearow KM. Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β on cortical neurons in vitro. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;39(2):233-7. doi: 10.3233/JAD-131436.

Beat Stress With US Marine Mind Trick

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDMarines

“I’m at my wits end,” Todd B. told me as soon as I closed the exam room door.

“I’ve seen eight different people. Two diet experts, a nutrition specialist and five different doctors. I’m taking four prescription medications and spending a lot of money on other natural healthcare products. But none of it’s working.”

He said, “I love being an entrepreneur, but I have to run these companies and I’m working 80 hours a week. I only sleep about 5 hours… I don’t even have time to cook for myself. I eat out. I barely have a few minutes to run on the treadmill in my basement.”

I teach my physician assistants what to look for, but I can often feel it when I walk into the room with a patient. People with severe stress and adrenal overload have a “pressured” kind of speech. They have an uneasiness you can feel if you’re receptive to it.

Todd was overweight, with low energy, anxiety, depression, and an almost non-existent sex drive. My tests showed he had high blood pressure, low testosterone, and high triglyceride levels. He was also deficient in a few key vitamins and nutrients.

I said, “I can help you reverse all of these conditions, but we need to cure the underlying cause.”

I call this kind of long-term stress “adrenal burnout.” It’s a commonly missed diagnosis, and doctors often treat the symptoms instead of the cause.

One of the main physical responses stress sets off is hormonal. Your adrenal glands start to work overtime, and one of the things they do is pump too much cortisol into your bloodstream. This can be devastating to your health over time. Just a few of the effects are:

    Mental Breakdown: Chronic high levels of cortisol put you at greater risk for a host of psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety or worse. Studies show that people who suffer from personality and mood disorders have abnormally high cortisol levels.(1,2)

    Diabetes: High cortisol levels increase your insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. One study shows that insulin resistance increases in step with amount of cortisol in the blood, regardless of your fitness level or body fat.(3)

    Hormonal Hunger and Obesity: Cortisol can strongly influence what you eat. One of the latest studies found that the kind of “daily hassles” Todd B. dealt with stimulates your desire for snack foods even when you are not physically hungry.(4)

I’ve treated dozens of patients with this common issue, so I gave Todd my solution.

“You need to set aside more time to relax.” I gave him a mindfulness exercise that I use and that’s proven to work.

“It’s all because of stress? It can’t be that simple.”

“All it takes is a few minutes a day,” I said. “The U.S. Marines even use this to knock out stress.”

In a recent study, they divided 48 male Marines into two groups before they deployed to war. Thirty-one took a mindfulness meditation course, while the other 17 Marines did nothing out of the ordinary. After only 8 weeks, Marines meditating for about 12 minutes a day scored better on mood evaluations, and had improved working memories.(5)

Another study done by the Mind Fitness Training Institute and the University of Pennsylvania looked at 30 Marines preparing to deploy to Iraq. The high-practice meditation group scored significantly better on test assessing reducing stress and anxiety. The control group that did nothing scored significantly worse.(6)

And in one recent study that is still underway, Marines took a “mindfulness fitness” course at the University of California at San Diego. I read about it in Pacific Standard magazine.(7) After their mindfulness training, Navy researchers took blood and saliva samples from the service members, and also gave them MRIs.

Meditation helped the troops recover better from stressful training. And their brain scans showed similarities to those taken of elite Special Forces soldiers and Olympic athletes in their ability to handle stressful situations.

One of the reasons meditation works so well is that is has a positive effect on your telomeres. Long healthy telomeres help protect your cells from damage and aging. A recent study looked at family caregivers in their very stressful jobs. They found that after only 8 weeks, those who meditated had their bodies’ telomere protection enzymes skyrocket by 43%.(8)

Here’s the technique I gave Todd that the Marines and Special Forces use, and you can use too. One thing to remember is that the benefits come from being mindful and focusing your concentration.

  • Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes.
  • Let your awareness settle on the movement of your breath.
  • Follow the in-breath and out-breath, perhaps by saying “breathing in, breathing out” quietly to yourself.
  • Sit upright, with spine straightened and chin tucked in, while you calmly observe your breath.
  • Do this for ten to fifteen minutes a day.

That’s it. Try to do this practice every day. It helps to lower blood pressure, slow down your thoughts, refresh body and mind, and reverse the stress that can shorten your telomeres and cause disease.


1. Yilmaz et al. “Increased Levels of Nitric Oxide, Cortisol and Adrenomedullin in Patients with Chronic Schizophrenia.” Medical Principles and Practice. 2007;16(2):137-141.
2. Wingenfeld et. al. “Overnight urinary cortisol release in women with borderline personality disorder depends on comorbid PTSD and depressive psychopathology.” European Psychiatry. 2007;22(5):309-312.
3. Holt et. al. “Cortisol clearance and associations with insulin sensitivity, body fat and fatty liver in middle-aged men.” Diabetologia 2007;50(5):1024-1032.
4. Newman et. al. “Daily hassles and eating behaviour: The role of cortisol reactivity status.” Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007;32(2):125-132
5.Jha A, Stanley E, Kiyonaga A, Wong L, Gelfand L. “Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience. ” Emotion, 2010;Vol 10(1), 54-64.
6. Stanley E, Schaldach J, Kiyonaga A, Jha A. “Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training: A Case Study of a High-Stress Predeployment Military Cohort.” Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 2011;18, 566–576.
7. Mockenhaupt B. “A State of Military Mind” Pacific Standard. June 18, 2012. Retrieved Jan 21, 2013.
8. Lavretsky H, Blackburn E, Irwin M, et. al. “A pilot study of yogic meditation … effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity.” Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013;28(1):57-65.


Stress Free And 10 Years Younger

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDStress

You know stress hurts. You worry, you feel anxious… you lose sleep. That’s old news. But now, we can actually measure the effects of stress. And the wear and tear is more distressing than we even imagined. It goes all the way to your DNA.

Researchers at the University of California discovered that stress makes your cells die before their time – and produces all the terrible effects we think of as aging.

They compared women who felt a lot of stress to women under little stress. Using certain cellular markers, they discovered the high-stress women were up to 10 years “older” than women with low stress levels!(1)

The cellular markers they used are “telomeres.” Telomeres are the “time keepers” attached to every strand of DNA. As they get shorter, you get older and your body breaks down.

What’s more, the effects of stress on telomeres get worse with age. A North Carolina study found that stressed women over 55 had significantly shorter telomeres.(2) Therefore, the older we get, the more important it is to control the stress in our lives.

It’s not just women. An Ohio State University study linked shorter telomeres to high-stress occupations such as long-term caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. The Alzheimer’s caregivers showed a four to eight year shortening of life span.(3)

That’s why it’s so important for you to get rid of stress. “Toughing it out” could be the biggest mistake you ever make. But stopping stress in its tracks can help you make your body 10 years younger.

Today I’ll give you the supplements you can take to help your body overcome stress. Plus, I’ll give you a way to repair the damage that stress has already done to your cells.

Slow Telomere Shortening with Antioxidants

When you’re under stress, your body needs more antioxidants.

Researchers in France studied the lifestyles of a wide range of men and women. They were looking to see which behaviors affected their ability to fight off free radicals. Not surprisingly, behaviors such as smoking and drinking lowered their bodies’ antioxidant ability. But the researchers found that psychological stress had the same effect.(4)

Scientists at Tokyo Medical and Dental University got similar results when they tested three groups of workers at a drug company. When the men were subjected to stress – making a speech in front of company executives – their bodies produced higher levels of a certain free radical.(5)

Perhaps more importantly, the French researchers also linked lower antioxidant capacity to a higher risk of cancer and heart problems. So building up your antioxidants when you’re stressed is particularly important.

A natural multivitamin and mineral supplement is a good place to start. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who took a multivitamin daily had 5.1 percent longer telomeres than non-users.(6)

Specifically, the study pointed to vitamins B12, C, and E for maintaining telomere length.

Vitamin B12 – I recommend taking at least 100 mcg per day. Although, I have advised my patients to take as much as 500 mcg per day or more for improving things like brain function and energy levels.

Vitamin C – based on my own experience, taking up to 3,000 mg per day is a good amount if you’re currently in good health. I always recommend pregnant women get at least 6,000 mg per day. And in times of stress or sickness, you can take up to 20,000 mg.

You also want to make sure that you get the natural form of vitamin C and not the synthetic form. In one particular study, natural vitamin C was 148% more effective than the synthetic form. And it stayed in the test participants’ systems longer.(7)

Vitamin E – There are actually eight forms of vitamin E, divided up into two groups: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Studies show the tocotrienols and the alpha tocopherol protects telomeres.8 But in a multivitamin, you want “mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols” because the alpha tocopherol is more absorbable and bioavailable when it’s in this natural mixed form.(9)

I recommend 200 to 400 IU of mixed tocopherols a day and 15 mg of mixed tocotrienols a day. Unlike vitamins B12 and C, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it needs fat to get absorbed in your body. So be sure to take it with food.

Besides fighting off the effects of stress with antioxidants, you can also help your body adapt to stress. That’s where herbs come in.

Adaptogens: Your Secret Weapon against Stress

In my experience, natural alternatives are usually superior to drugs. And my patients tend to agree. Herbs and other natural supplements are usually more effective and more economical than prescription drugs. And they rarely have the dangerous side effects.

Best of all, these natural alternatives don’t just mask symptoms the way most drugs do. Instead, they strengthen your body’s own natural defenses. And that means you’re dealing directly with the problem, not just covering it up.

This is the situation with some herbs called “adaptogens.” These herbs help your body adjust to stress – including psychological stress. And two of the best adaptogens are panax (Asian) ginseng, and Ginkgo biloba.

Both are approved for use by Commission E, the German government’s official natural medicine committee. And with good reason, too. They are effective in fighting stress. Better yet, this helps protect your telomeres.

For example, an animal study in India compared the effects of Ginkgo biloba and panax ginseng. The study found that both herbs show powerful stress-fighting properties. And ginseng was particularly effective against chronic stress – the kind of relentless pressure that’s so common in our society.(10)

In one study the treated a type of endothelial cell with ginkgo. The ginkgo prevented the cells from dying due to stress by protecting the telomeres and keeping them from shortening.(11)

What all this means to you is that you can get relief from stress, even if you can’t avoid it.

I advise my patients to take 120 mg of Ginkgo biloba and 200 mg to 500 mg of Panax ginseng daily if they are feeling stressed.


Editors Note:  Dr. Al Sears, M.D. is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears' Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor's Heart Cure. To get his free special report on the proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life, go here now. You'll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.

1. Epel E, Blackburn E, Lin J, Dhabhar F, Adler N, Morrow J, Cawthon R. “Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004;101(49):17312-5.
2. Parks C, et. al. “Telomere length, current perceived stress, and urinary stress hormones in women.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(2):551-60.
3. Damjanovic A, et. al. “Accelerated Telomere Erosion Is Associated with a Declining Immune Function of Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients,” The Journal of Immunology. 2007. 179, 4249 -4254.
4. Lesgards J, et. al. “Assessment of lifestyle effects on the overall antioxidant capacity of healthy subjects.” Environ Health Perspect. 2002;110(5):479-86.
5. Yamaguchi T, et al. Psychological stress increases bilirubin metabolites in human urine. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2002;Volume 293, Issue 1, 26, Pages 517-520.
6. Xu Q, Parks C, DeRoo L, Cawthon R, Sandler D, Chen H. “Multivitamin use and telomere length in women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1857-63.
7. Vinson J, Bose P. “Comparative Bioavailability of Synthetic and Natural Vitamin C in Guinea Pigs.” Nutrition Reports International, 1983;27, no. 4.
8. Tanaka Y, Moritoh Y, Miwa N. “Age-dependent telomere-shortening is repressed by phosphorylated alpha-tocopherol….” J Cell Biochem. 2007;102(3):689-703.
9. Burton G, et. Al. “Human plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol concentrations in response to supplementation…” Amer J of Clin Nutr, Vol 67, 669-684
10. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, M. Blumenthal, et al., eds. (Austin, TX: American Botanical Council, 1998) pp 124, 136, 138.
11. Dong X, Hui Z, Xiang W, Rong Z, Jian S, Zhu C. “Ginkgo biloba extract reduces endothelial progenitor-cell senescence through augmentation of telomerase activity.” J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2007;49(2):111-5.

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CoQ10 Supplements… Eat Your Heart Out!

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetFish Oil

Today, I’d like to tell you about a nutrient that is absolutely vital to your health. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough, because it’s found in so few foods. Of course, you could take it as a supplement… if you don’t mind paying up to $120 a month.

But here’s the good news. I’ll also show you the unique and delicious food that contains more of this nutrient than any other, plus how you can consume as much as your body needs for just a few dollars per month.

The nutrient that I’m talking about is Coenzyme Q10. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of CoQ10. You might even be taking it as a supplement. But you might not know why this essential nutrient is so beneficial.

CoQ10 is a molecule that is found in the greatest concentration in the mitochondria of cells. This is the powerhouse of each cell, where energy is produced. And CoQ10 is vital for this process.

This is one reason why CoQ10 levels are closely related to athletic endurance and time to exhaustion. It is also why high levels promote a strong heart beat. In fact, CoQ10 is crucial for the heart because of the constant energy that is required to be produced.

Supplementing with CoQ10 has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve arterial health, and dramatically cut the risk of heart failure. In fact, many hospitals use this nutrient specifically to treat congestive heart failure.

CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant and immune booster that guards against disease-promoting damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA. CoQ10 is vital to the health of virtually all human tissues and organs, including the brain as well.

Unfortunately, CoQ10 levels in the brain begin declining at the age of 20 and sharply decline after the age of 35. However, age is not the only culprit when it comes to declining CoQ10. This vital compound can also be depleted by:

•    Pharmaceutical drugs (Statin medications, in particular, decrease the body's internal production of Coenzyme Q10 by as much as 40%)
•    Long duration exercise
•    Consuming a vegan diet or avoiding red meat

And the depletion of CoQ10 – whether it is the natural result of aging or other factors – is bad news for your health. Scientific studies have linked CoQ10 deficiency with a wide variety of health conditions, including:

•    Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
•    Cancer
•    Gum disease
•    Mitochondrial disorders and chronic fatigue
•    Obesity and diabetes
•    Parkinson's disease
•    Gastric ulcers
•    Allergies
•    Migraine headaches
•    Muscular dystrophy

If you have a forward-thinking holistic doctor, he or she may have recommended that you take a high quality CoQ10 supplement (in the most bio-available form: ubiquinol).

This is certainly a beneficial step and it can make a world of difference in your health and energy levels. But it can also be very expensive. For example, Dr. Julian Whitaker recommends that most adults take 100 – 200 mg of CoQ10 daily. For those with existing health conditions – particularly heart trouble and diabetes – he recommends 300 – 600 mg daily.

Depending on the brand of supplement you buy, this could run upwards of $100 per month. That’s certainly worth it if your life depends on it… but the good news is that there is an even more effective and much less expensive way to get youth-promoting, disease-fighting CoQ10 into your cells…

Eat Your Heart Out: Introducing the SUPERIOR Source of CoQ10

CoQ10 was first identified in the mitochondria (the tiny powerhouse of each cell) of beef heart in 1957.

Why the heart?

Because CoQ10 is most abundant in the organs with the highest rates of cellular metabolism –first and foremost – the heart. In fact, CoQ10 levels in the heart are roughly THREE times that found in the liver and FOUR times higher than levels found in muscle meats.

Take a look at the foods that contain the greatest CoQ10 levels per gram:

Food CoQ10 (mcg/g)
Beef Heart 113
Sardines 64
Mackerel 43
Beef Liver 39
Beef 31-37
Pork 24-41
Pork Liver 23
Chicken 14-21
Tuna 16
Lard 10
Butter 7
Eggs 1-4

There are small levels of CoQ10 in certain fruits and vegetables. For example, spinach and broccoli contain about 10 micrograms per gram. But most plant foods have only about 1 microgram per gram – not nearly enough to provide the benefits you need.

As you can see, animal foods clearly top the list. And it is the organs – namely the heart – that contain the most of all. According Dr. Al Sears, M.D. and author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure, the organs of wild, grass-fed animals have up to ten times more CoQ10 than the organs of grain-fed animals. He says:

"Unless you regularly consume wild game or eat internal organs of grass-fed animals, it is difficult to maintain good blood levels of CoQ10 from dietary sources alone."

So, how much beef heart would you need to consume to get the upper limit of CoQ10 recommended by Dr. Whitaker for those with heart trouble?

I’ll save you the calculations. You would need to eat about 1.8 ounces of beef heart to consume 600 mg of CoQ10 daily. On the other hand, you would need to eat only one third of an ounce daily to consume the amount he recommends for “most people.”

How does that compare to supplements in terms of price?

If you were to purchase a 30-count bottle of 200 mg soft gels of CoQ10 (ubiquinol) from the Puritan’s Pride website, it would cost you $39.59. If you were to take the upper limit recommended by Dr. Whitaker, your monthly expenditure would be around $120.

At today’s price on the U.S. Wellness Meats website, the same amount of CoQ10 in the form of beef heart would cost you just $19 a month. And keep in mind – this comes in the form of a healthy and delicious food, not just a supplement. If your goal was to consume the lower end of the recommended daily dose, it would cost you just over $3 a month!

That is a very small price to pay for one of the most beneficial and necessary nutrients your body requires.

If you’re new to eating organ meats, you may wonder: What’s the best way to enjoy heart?  

Your Recipe for Bountiful Energy, Cellular Health and Longevity

As a muscle, beef heart is the mildest member of the offal family. In fact, it tastes a lot like steak or brisket. And while you can certainly grill or sauté it, or grind it into any recipe that calls for ground meat, a good amount of CoQ10 will be lost during cooking.

In fact, studies show that CoQ10 begins to degrade around 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) and nutrient loss will vary with the cooking method.

A great way to preserve the nutritional benefits and maximize those precious grams of CoQ10 is to enjoy beef heart as the Europeans have for centuries: tartare.

Steak tartare, popular in Parisian bistros, is simply “highly seasoned ground beef eaten raw”. Using beef heart, we can create this same delicious and elegant appetizer, but with a hefty 250 mg of CoQ10 per 1-ounce serving.

Grass-Fed Beef Heart Tartare Recipe

•    3 pounds raw grass-fed beef heart*, trimmed
•    2 tsp. capers, rinsed
•    2 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced
•    2 organic Serrano peppers, sliced thin
•    10 organic Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
•    2 tsp. organic lemon zest, finely grated
•    1 organic fire-roasted red pepper, sliced into ½ inch strips
•    Extra-virgin olive oil
•    1 Tbsp. organic red wine vinegar
•    4 tsp. fresh basil, julienned
•    4 tsp. fresh mint, julienned
•    2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
•    ½ tsp. mineral-rich sea salt or Maldon salt
•    Bunch of fresh parsley, for garnish
•    Grain free bread, sliced and toasted
1.    First, prepare the heart. Trim off any sinew and gristle and cut into pieces small enough to fit through a meat grinder on medium dice. Alternately, cut the beef heart into ¼-inch pieces.
2.     In a medium, non-reactive bowl, combine the heart with the capers, red onion, Serrano and fire roasted peppers, Kalamata olives and lemon zest.
3.    Gently mix with your hands, taking care to not over-mix the ingredients.
4.    Sprinkle with salt, olive oil, vinegar, oil and herbs and mix gently.
5.    Place tartare over a bed of fresh parsley and serve with sliced and toasted grain-free bread.

*Consuming raw meat can increase the risk for foodborne illness. Always be sure to purchase grass-fed meat from a purveyor you trust.


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product – Better Bread – a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.


1.    Pinar Ercan, Sedef Nehir. Changes in content of coenzyme Q10 in beef muscle, beef liver and beef heart with cooking and in vitro digestion. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Volume 24, Issue 8, December 2011, Pages 1136–1140
2.    G. De Pinieux, M. Ammi-Sai, et al. Lipid-lowering drugs and mitochondrial function: effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors on serum ubiquinone and blood lactate/pyruvate ratio. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1996; 42: 333–337
3.    Kamei et al., “The distribution and content of ubiquinone in foods,” Internat. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. 56 (1986) 57-63.
4.    Mattila, et al., “Coenzymes Q9 and Q10: contents in foods and dietary intake,” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 14 (2001) 409-417.
5.    Ghirlanda, et al., "Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect of HMG-COA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study," Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1993 Mar; 33(3):226-229.
6.    Linus Pauling IN stitute's Micronutrient InformationCenter. CoQ10
7.    Sears, Al, MD, The Doctor's Heart Cure: Discover the Simple, Easy, Enjoyable and Above-All PROVEN Plan to Lose Weight and Achieve a Shock-Proof, Disease-Resistance Heart — with Delicious, Natural Foods and Just a Few Minutes of Exercise a Day, St. Paul: Dragon Door, 2004, 133-146.
8.    Weber et al., "The coenzyme Q10 content of the average Danish diet," Int J Vitam Nutr Res. Vol. 67 No. 2 (1997) 123-129.

What are Nightshades and Why Should You Care?

By: Eileen Laird
What are Nightshades?

You may have heard of the term “deadly nightshade” referring to a plant called belladonna, which was used as a poison in ancient times. Lesser known are the commonly eaten vegetables in the same nightshade family. They aren’t deadly, but they contain enough toxins to cause inflammation in some people, particularly those with leaky gut or autoimmune disease. Often, we don’t realize just how much, until we stop eating them. Here’s the list:

•    Tomatoes
•    Tomatillos
•    Potatoes
•    Eggplants
•    Peppers (bell peppers, banana peppers, chili peppers, etc.)
•    Pimentos
•    Goji berries
•    Ground cherries
•    Ashwagandha (an ayurvedic herb)
•    Tobacco
•    And red pepper seasonings (paprika, chili powder, cayenne, curry, etc.)
•    Read labels: terms like “spices” and “natural flavors” often contain the above seasonings.
•    Similar sounding foods that are not nightshades: Sweet Potatoes and Peppercorns (black, white and pink)

How Are They Harmful?

First of all, nightshades aren’t harmful to everyone, but they are harmful to some of us. Why? They contain toxic compounds called alkaloids. In nature, these  protect the plants against insects, by poisoning the insect and dissolving its cell membranes. Unfortunately, alkaloids can have a similar effect in humans, increasing our inflammation, overactivating our immune system, and causing permeability in our intestinal membranes (known as leaky gut.) If someone’s healthy, with low inflammation in their body, a balanced immune system, and a healthy and strong digestive tract, they can often eat nightshade vegetables without a problem. However, if you have health issues, particularly if you have autoimmune disease, nightshades are a common food trigger which can make your symptoms worse..

If you want more details on these compounds and how they affect the body, here are two excellent articles:

What are Symptoms of Nightshade Sensitivity?

•    Joint pain
•    Stiffness upon waking, or stiffness after sitting for longs periods of time
•    Muscle pain and tension
•    Muscle tremors
•    Sensitivity to weather changes
•    Poor healing
•    Insomnia
•    Skin rashes
•    Heartburn
•    Stomach discomfort
•    Digestive difficulties
•    Headaches
•    Mood swings
•    Depression

How Do I Learn If I’m Sensitive?

The only way to know is to eliminate them from your diet for at least 30 days. (No cheating.) Then, reintroduce them into your diet as a test: eat them at least 3 times over a 2-day period, and then stop eating them, and monitor your symptoms for 72 hours. Did you improve during the 30 days? Did you have a negative reaction when you ate them again?  If yes, you’re nightshade-sensitive. If no, you’re not.

Does the Amount Matter? Can I Eat Just a Little?

I don’t recommend it. When I first went nightshade-free, I gave up the vegetables but kept eating the spices. I thought, ‘How can such a small amount hurt me?’ My inflammation lessened, but some remained. Then I did a strict elimination protocol, avoiding the spices as well. When I reintroduced them 30 days later, I had a huge reaction. Every joint in my body hurt, and it took 2 weeks before I returned to feeling normal again. Elimination diets are powerful learning tools, because by removing a food from your circulation altogether, you eliminate the chronic inflammatory response. When the food is reintroduced, if you’re sensitive, you will get an acute short-term reaction. It’s a very clear communication from your body on what foods are good for you and what foods are not.

How Can I Live Without Them?

•    US Wellness is here to help. Many snack foods and meats commonly contain nightshades, so we’ve compiled a list of our nightshade-free offerings:

•    If you’re craving potatoes, replace them with a starchy alternative: sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, butternut squash. You can cook all of these the same way you cook potatoes: fries, chips, roasted, mashed, and you know what? They have more flavor, too!
•    Although there’s really no substitute for a fresh summer tomato, there IS a substitute for a classic tomato sauce, thanks to Danielle from Against All Grain.
•    Nightshade spices usually give food a hot kick. You can still get this sensation through non-nightshade spices: white pepper, black pepper, ginger and horseradish. Usually you’ll need more of these spices than you would of the red peppers. Experiment.
•    Restaurants are tricky. Many sauces and spice blends contain nightshade spices. You have two options: ask your waiter how the food is seasoned (and trust them to tell you the truth). Or order your food unseasoned and bring some spices with you.
•    All of the recipes on my blog, Phoenix Helix, are nightshade-free.
•    My final gift to you is a recipe for a nightshade-free curry, which you can use in any of your favorite curry recipes. Put all of these spices in a bowl and stir to blend well, then pour into a spice jar & use as needed:

           Nightshade Free CurryCurry

  • 2 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 4 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard


Eileen Laird


Eileen Laird, author of the blog, Phoenix Helix, used the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol to reduce her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by 95%. Learning about her nightshade sensitivity was a key to her healing. Her blog features recipes, research and personal stories about the autoimmune experience.


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Miracle Fatty Acid Adds Years to Your Life

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDFish Oil

Dear Health Conscious Reader,

Omega-3s may determine how long you’ll live – and it’s not just because they’re good for your heart.

Omega-3s may now have a profound effect on anti-aging by slowing down the shortening of telomeres.

What are telomeres? They’re protective tips that cap the ends of your DNA. Each time your cells divide, your telomeres get shorter. When your telomeres run down, cell division stops, and your life ends.

While this may sound like a clip from a science fiction movie, it’s real. And it’s about to change the world of medicine. Everything you’ve been told about aging is about to be transformed by this new science.

You may not have heard about this new breakthrough yet. That doesn’t surprise me.

Organized forces in the mainstream media and established medical community don’t want you to know about this. Even though the Nobel Prize was awarded last year for telomere research, the importance of this life-changing discovery has been ignored.

In fact, they say anti-aging is impossible.

But the truth is it’s now possible to slow down the shortening of your telomeres. I just read about it in a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which confirmed the connection with Omega-3s.(1)

Just because you may not be hearing about this on the evening news, don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of this important scientific breakthrough.

You already know the many benefits of Omega-3s. Now it’s possible for you to add years to your life, simply by doing something you already believe in. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Here are three steps you can take to bulk-up on Omega-3s right now:

Step 1: Eat fresh fish three or four times a week.  I recommend coldwater, high-fat variety fish like:

Step 2: Eat more raw nuts and seeds.  For many years, nuts have gotten a bad rap for being high in fat. But in reality, nuts are a great source of Omega-3 and other life-enhancing nutrients. Here are some of my favorites:

Step 3: Take 3 to 5 grams of Omega-3 fish oil a day.  I recommend my formulation of Peruvian fish oil that packs two to three times the Omega-3s you find in leading brands, and five times more Omega-3s than a can of tuna – without the mercury. These oils can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart and blood vessels
  • Maintain blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range
  • Help support joint and muscle health
  • Keep your triglycerides (blood fat) in the safe range
  • Sustain healthy HDL (good cholesterol) levels
  • Boost your memory and brainpower
  • Protect your blood vessels and nerves

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD


Editors Note:  Dr. Al Sears, M.D. is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears' Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor's Heart Cure. To get his free special report on the proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life, go here now. You'll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.



Ramin Farzaneh-Far, MD; Jue Lin, PhD; Elissa S. Epel, PhD; William S. Harris, PhD; Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD;Mary A. Whooley, MD. “Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease.”JAMA. 2010;303(3):250-257, January 20, 2010.

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The Hidden Danger in Your Slow Cooker

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetSlow Cooker

In the 1970s, the electric slow cooker became almost as popular as disco music and pet rocks. Nearly every household in America had at least one “Crock Pot.” And for good reason…

This kitchen appliance is easy to use and makes clean up a snap. And what’s not to love about the convenience of investing just a few minutes of prep time to have a fresh, hot meal ready at the end of the day.

As you probably already know, the slow cooker has made a dramatic resurgence in recent years. And it’s not just for their convenience (although that’s still a top selling factor).

It’s also because “slow cooking” is a very healthy way to cook. Cooking “slow and low” in a sealed chamber helps to keep the moisture and the nutrients in your food. It also helps to prevent the formation of cancer-causing compounds – such as lipid oxidation products (LOPs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These dangerous compounds form when certain fats and most meats are cooked at high temperature.

Unfortunately, there is a potential danger lurking in your slow cooker that you may not know about:  lead.

The Dangers of Lead

Lead is a neurotoxic heavy metal and a systemic poison that affects every organ in the body.

The medical consensus is that there is no safe level of lead exposure. And while the health risks of lead are great for all of us, they are especially harmful to children, who absorb a higher proportion per body weight and are more vulnerable to its effects.

What’s more, lead exposure is cumulative over time. According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over a period of months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems.”

So while one serving of food prepared using contaminated cookware won’t kill you, over the years, it could lead to lead poisoning. In adults, lead poisoning is linked to a wide number of neurological problems. In children it is linked to:

•    Learning disabilities
•    Developmental delays
•    Lower IQ scores

And what’s more, lead poisoning is often “silent” with no obvious symptoms.  

Is Your Slow Cooker Leaching Lead?

In 2004, Bill Gebhardt of Salt Lake City’s KUTV investigated the lead content in a number of kitchen tools, including slow cookers. In his investigation, he took a number of slow cookers to the Data Chem Lab in Salt Lake where they were analyzed for lead.

His analysis found that 20% of slow cookers were leaching measurable amounts of lead into food.

When ceramic vessels are heated to just 80 degrees Fahrenheit, they release ten times the amount of lead than they do at room temperature. And slow cookers heat up to more than 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

While temperature is part of the equation, time and acidity also impact lead leaching. This means that acidic ingredients like vinegar, tomatoes or citrus, as well as longer cooking times will cause more lead to be released from the vessel and into the food.

From the reports available on the topic, most of the lead leaching is believed to come from the glaze – the smooth, often brightly-colored coating on the inside of the slow cooker vessel. This is because lead compounds, such as lead oxide, have historically been used in glaze formulations.

A vast majority of slow cookers state that their products do not contain leaded glaze or that their slow cooker is in accordance with government guidelines for lead (the FDA Complaince Policy states that leach levels of 1 mcg/mL are acceptable for large vessels such as slow cookers).

However, these levels do not necessarily infer safety. Nor is this level indicative of the actual leaching that can occur with normal cooking and the variables of time, temperature or acidity of ingredients.

Many other companies purport that their product is “safe” as long as there is no cracking, chipping or haziness of the glaze.  But that isn’t a very reassuring statement given the fact that micro-fissures could be undetectable to the eye and lead is a systemic poison with cumulative effects.     

And how about unglazed inserts? These too can pose an issue as lead is naturally found in all ceramic materials and clay.

So, let’s take a look at the popular slow cooker brands and their statements on lead contamination of their products. (Keep in mind, “meets FDA guidelines” does not mean it is free of lead, and “lead free” only means that it does not contain “extractable” lead.)

Slow Cooker Brands and Lead Contamination
1.    VitaClay: This unglazed earthenware was independently tested and found to be 99.99% lead free.  
2.    Elite Gourmet Quart Transparent Slow Cooker: Insert is glass, so no known risk of lead exposure.
3.    Precise Heat 12-Inch Surgical Stainless Steel Deep Electric Skillet/Slow Cooker: Insert is surgical grade stainless steel, so no known risk of lead.
4.    Proctor Silex: States there is no lead or cadmium in the crock.
5.    KitchenAid: States their slow cooker glazes are lead-free.
6.    Sunpentown SC-5355 Zisha Slow Cooker: Contains a clay insert and states that it is lead free .
7.    CrockPot & Rival: States their product meets FDA guidelines for lead.
8.    Cuisinart: States their slow cooker glazes are lead-free.
9.    Hamilton Beach: “Satisfy FDA heavy metal requirements”.
10.    West Bend: “Glazes are inspected for maximum allowable amounts of trace elements in accordance with the United States Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines. If the glazes are chipped or cracked, the vessel should not be used.”
Prop 65 and Lead Contamination in Slow Cookers

While the FDA guidelines (and even individual companies) are unhelpful in regards to determining how much lead your slow cooker may be leaching, California Prop 65 - The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, can provide additional clarity on this murky issue.

Per this initiative, warning labels must be placed on products that exceed specified limits of harmful chemicals – including lead. But here’s the thing… the limits are typically 10 to 1,000 times lower than FDA requirements.

With Prop 65, you can determine if your slow cooker leaches more than 0.1 parts per million of lead (this is 10 times LESS than the FDA limit of 1.0 ppm or 1 mcg/ml).  

An easy way to find out if your slow cooker is subject to Prop 65 labeling? Check out Amazon. Look under the “Product Details” section. If the item has a Prop 65 label, there will be a statement:

“California residents: click here for Proposition 65 warning.”

While this provides an added layer of protection from what the FDA mandates, unfortunately, amounts of lead even below the Prop 65 limit of .1 ppm can be measurably harmful (especially for developing fetuses and children).

How to Protect Your Family from Lead Exposure

In this day and age, there are many potential hazards in our food supply and cookware.

Here are three ways you can help protect your family from lead exposure:

1.    Go Inert: Opting for tried-and-true inert cookware - including glass (like Pyrex), stainless steel, cast iron, and enameled cast iron. Always do your research before purchasing.
2.    Avoid “Made in China”: Do not buy glazed plates or cooking items that come in contact with food that are made in China – they have less regulation on chemical contamination.   
3.    Detox Naturally: Detoxify from heavy metals. Along with foods that boost your body’s detoxification (like whey protein, gelatin, garlic, cilantro, cruciferous vegetables and turmeric, to name a few), there are a number of chelating supplements that can help remove heavy metals from your body.


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product – Better Bread – a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.

1.    Levin, Ronnie, et al. “Lead Exposures in U.S. Children, 2008: Implications for Prevention,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2008 October; 116(10): 1285–1293. Published online 2008 May 19. doi:  10.1289/ehp.11241, Bellinger, David, C., Harvard Medical School. “Very low lead exposures and children’s neurodevelopment,” Current Opinion in Pediatrics: April 2008 – Volume 20 – Issue 2 – p 172-177,
2.    Brown, Mary, Centers for Disease Control. “Interpreting and Managing Blood Lead Levels <10 micrograms/dL in Children and Reducing Childhood Exposures to Lead; Recommendations of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention,” CDC, Nov. 2, 2007
3.    Brody, Jane E. “Personal Health; Even Low Lead Levels Pose Perils for Children,” New York Times, Aug. 5, 2003
4.     “CPG Sec. 545.450 Pottery (Ceramics); Import and Domestic – Lead Contamination,” issued 10/1/80; revised 4/16/92, 12/12/95 (60 FR 63721), 5/2005; updated 11/29/05:
5.    Time, temperature, and acidity: Hight, S. C., et al. “Lead and Cadmium Release Under Conditions of Consumer Use: FDA Experiments With Cookware, Glass Tumblers, Lead Crystal Baby Bottles, And Ceramic Mugs,” Ceramic Transactions, Vol. 61 , pp. 11-22, 1995:
6.     “Policy Statement Concerning Lead Leaching From Glass Tableware Into Foodstuffs,” Partial Agreement in the Social and Health Field, Council of Europe Public Health Committee
7.     California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment,
8.    Cheng, John, FDA. “Elemental Analysis Manual: Section 4.6: Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrometric Determination of Cadmium and Lead Extracted from Ceramic Foodware,” August 2010
9.    “Draft Lead Report,” California Department of Toxic Substances Control,  Hazardous Waste Management Program Regulatory and Program Development Division, August 2004.
10.    FDA. CPG Sec. 545.450 Pottery (Ceramics); Import and Domestic - Lead Contamination

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