All posts by Rob Brown

Dr. Rob Covers PFAS Hazards on Physician Outlook

If you’ve ever wondered about the safety of your food packaging — the material that helps popcorn pop, keeps your microwave pizzas from getting soggy, and surrounds your candy bar treat — you’ll want to read Dr. Rob’s thoughts on PFAS on Physician Outlook:

I watched as my cousin poured lemonade into a paper cup and handed it to her son. Then, my daughter’s friend took a chocolate bar out of a bag. She carefully unwrapped the obviously melted candy and held it up to her mouth. I watched with a little apprehension as she pushed her jaw forward and carefully scraped the melted chocolate off the wrapper, being careful not to get the messy goop on her chin.

Years ago, I didn’t think twice about such common behavior. I never questioned why paper cups don’t actually get wet when they are filled with water (or any liquid) or whether or not it was safe to eat stuck candy from a wrapper. In fact, I remember that I used to occasionally chew candy wrappers during childhood. But now, I am more aware of the industrial processes that are used to create everyday products.  Paper cups, food wrappers, and containers often contain toxic, bio-persistent compounds collectively referred to as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that have been produced in the US since the 1940s.

Consider it required reading for keeping a safe, nurturing home. Read it here.

Clearing the Haze of COVID Misinformation: A Video Interview Worth Watching…

Over the past year, an unbelievable amount of misinformation has circulated on the internet regarding all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conspiracy theories have gained extraordinary traction, while recognized leaders and members in the wellness field and others have opined, and in some cases misunderstood and misrepresented statistics and facts – willfully, in some cases-  on their enormous platforms.

I read emails and message threads from friends and colleagues  trying to alert me to the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, the dangers of mRNA vaccines,  bizarre ferromagnetic injection sites, and others. I was even gifted a book on COVID-19 by the well-known and well-respected osteopath, Joseph Mercola, the #1 wellness doc. Although I am grateful to him for calling out many important environmental toxins in the past, I’m  not sure why his opinions retain enormous credibility in the COVID-19 discussion. I would imagine he has limited clinical experience treating COVID patients working in a private practice in Cape Coral, FL.

Amidst the smoke and mirrors, it was refreshing to finally watch a recently posted video that clarifies much misinformation and covers many if not all of the public vaccine concerns out there, such as:

– Will the vaccine cause antibodies to react against the placenta and harm my pregnancy?

– Because the spike protein is dangerous all by itself, will the spike protein created by the vaccine damage my organs and blood vessels?

– Why are so many people dying after receiving the vaccine (according to the vaccine adverse event reporting system – VAERS)?

– What is the risk for myocarditis in people who receive the vaccine?

– How can this vaccine be safe when a scientist who says he created this technology (20 years ago) has reported in interviews that he believes this technology isn’t safe?!

This video is over 2 hours long. It is an excellent interview with a pulmonologist/critical care specialist, Roger Seheult, MD and Rhonda Patrick, PhD., a biomedical scientist. Although this webinar is designed for physicians and other medical practitioners. I believe the information is presented clearly and most of the concepts can be understood by those without a background in medicine.

If you are wary of “what is going on” with the COVID vaccinations or if you have friends or family members who are suspicious and possibly misinformed, please take some time to watch at least part of this discussion. You will hopefully be able to explain why some of their fears are based on misconceptions.

Be well and stay well!!

Is Diet Coke Bad For You? Signs Point To….

is diet coke bad for you - picture of diet coke

Elaine was a great teacher and fun to be around. We residents all looked forward to working with her. It was obvious which reading room she had taken in the department each day because her signature can of Diet Coke would be sitting on the countertop underneath the alternator. Back then, radiologists read films that were hung on moveable panels that could hold up to 50 different patient studies.

On Elaine’s 36th birthday, as a token of appreciation, I bought her 36 cans of Diet Coke and stacked them up on her desk in an oversized pyramidal shape as a surprise. We laughed together as she walked into the room with her mouth ajar, and squealed with delight!

Back in the early ’90s, I was “technically” a doctor, meaning I had graduated from medical school and passed my board exams. But at that point, I knew nothing about the health effects of environmental toxins, aside from those that presented with correlative findings on medical imaging studies, such as asbestos exposure. I had no idea that a product like Diet Coke could potentially cause harmful health effects. I look back to that day now and think, Gee, I was trying to be thoughtful and creative, but … I gave my friend and mentor 36 cans of an addictive, chemically laden, potentially harmful drink.

Elaine wasn’t the only person in my life that adored Diet Coke. One of my best buddies from grade school also had an addiction to Diet Coke. He drank daily “Big Gulps” filled to the brim with the synthetically sweet beverage.

I can’t say anything about caffeine, as I typically enjoy two cups of coffee each morning. However, for me, aspartame, the sweetener in Diet Coke, is a no-no. Aspartame tastes 200 times sweeter than table sugar, but its physiological effects are different from sugar and confuse the body. Monsanto (think Round Up) bought Searle, the company that created aspartame, and marketed it as NutraSweet in 1984. 

The mastermind chemist behind the Diet Coke formula deserves special recognition for creating a beverage as addicting as Diet Coke. In fact, there was an article published recently in the New York Times called “I was Powerless Over Diet Coke”, and it talked about one user’s ordeal as she tried to break the habit. Anecdotally, these side effects might include headaches and fatigue. But it generally doesn’t last long.

Although the negative health effects from synthetic sugars remain somewhat ambiguous, I would strongly suggest you avoid these chemicals. In particular, if you drink a lot of Diet Coke, think about cutting back, and eventually giving it up. Most Diet Coke drinkers I know want to quit, but can’t muster up the drive to actually do it. They love the taste of the drink, but also know they are consuming something unhealthy and truly unnatural. (If you’re Googling, “is diet coke bad for you,” as I know some of you have, you’re concerned.) Knowing puts one on the right track — but quitting will get you there and likely improve your health by reducing  your exposure to the unpredictable and possibly dangerous effects of these chemicals. I’m sure you’ll be better off for it in ways you may not expect.

If you think that by drinking these human made sugars you are losing weight or keeping your weight under control, think again. Research has indicated that the opposite may be true

In research published in April 2021, aspartame has been found to be associated with increased risk of cancer in rodents. And that prenatal exposure to aspartame is associated with increased cancer risk in offspring. Their results suggest that an Advisory Group to the International Agency for Research on Cancer reevaluate aspartame’s carcinogenicity potential in humans.

Removing Diet Coke and aspartame from your diet may be difficult. It will require long-range focus, and dedication, and perhaps some aspirin! But it will be worth it in the long run when you get your body’s systems to function more coherently.

What You Need to Know About Synthetic Fats

synthetic fats

Synthetic fats may be as bad (if not worse) for your health as synthetic sugars. Unfortunately, identifying these chemical additives on ingredient panels can be challenging. Synthetic fat production began with the creation of Crisco, the first shortening to be entirely made from vegetable oil. Crisco, that old-time kitchen staple with which Grandma used to make amazing pie crust, was introduced to the market in the mid-1920s, and by the thirties and forties, everyone who was anyone used Crisco. Free cookbooks were even handed out with Crisco recipes. Crisco became the ingredient of higher society! What an amazing marketing feat to have been able to convince people living on farms that they needed to buy a synthetic fat for cooking instead of using the butter and lard they could render from their own animals. Some think that the cardiovascular health problems in the US began with the introduction of processed vegetable oils and fats into our diet.

Since Crisco, many synthetic fats have hit the market. The best-known synthetic fat in production today is known as olestra (OleanTM), which was approved for use in foods by the FDA in 1996. This product was created by the NutraSweet Company by chemically binding a sugar molecule (sucrose) to a fatty acid, resulting in a sucrose-polyester compound that looks, tastes, and feels like fat. Our bodies do not have the necessary enzymes to break down this material and it passes through the digestive tract without being digested or absorbed. In larger amounts, this synthetic material can function as a stool softener and cause malabsorption symptoms, such as abdominal cramping, excessive gas, and loose bowel movements. Olestra intake has also been associated with decreased intestinal absorption of some nutrients and vitamins.

Simplesse, a synthetic “fat” made from egg and dairy whey protein, is currently used in commercially prepared salad dressings, sauces, yogurts, and other cold foods—it can’t be used in hot foods. Simplesse was created by breaking down whey protein molecules into tiny microparticles, one micron in diameter. The tiny size of the particles gives the product its fatty texture and other properties. At the present time, research for potential health effects on this material is lacking. These microparticles are highly processed and I prefer eating packaged foods without nebulous ingredients such as whey protein concentrate, milk protein, or dairy protein, all approved labels for “Simplesse.”

Trans fats, which are fatty acids created by the hydrogenation of unsaturated oils, are inexpensive, stable, synthetic vegetable oils that increase the shelf life of the products that contain them. Trans fats have a less greasy feel than other fats and have been used in all kinds of processed foods for many years. Research has shown trans fats to be associated with the development of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and many other inflammatory diseases. Because trans fats have been associated with coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death, the FDA began requiring labeling of all foods containing trans fats in 2006. Under public pressure, the FDA in 2013 made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) are no longer generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in human food. A governmental ban on trans fats, approved in 2015, will require US food manufacturers to remove trans fats from all food products by 2018. In preparation, many processed food companies have already changed their recipes and replaced trans fats with other materials thought to be less hazardous.

One such material that food companies are now using is known as interesterified fat. These synthetic fats are generated by using naturally occurring fat molecules, referred to as triacylglycerols, which are composed of three fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Our digestive enzymes recognize these components and are able to break them down during the digestive process. The length and composition of the fatty acids give a fat molecule its physical properties and biochemical characteristics. Using this knowledge, interesterified fats are created biochemically by swapping or rearranging the location and length of the fatty acid chains to create unique molecules with desirable properties, such as a long shelf life. But as research accumulates, these products are being discovered to cause significant health problems.22 There are currently no labeling requirements for interesterified fats. If an ingredient says 0 grams trans fat or no trans fat, check the ingredients and see if the product contains vegetable oil. If it does, you can be certain that the product contains either fully hydrogenated vegetable oil, interesterified fats, or less than 0.5g per serving of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is considered a small enough amount to be labeled 0 grams.

Many vegetable oils are highly processed foods extracted from seeds and other plant materials, margarine included. Margarine was first created in the early 1800s as an inexpensive substitute for butter. Early margarines were made from animal fat, but now, margarine is manufactured from a vegetable oil substrate. The manufacturing process is not as secret as the process for creating high-fructose corn syrup and can be found on the Internet. It is as follows:

Synthetic Fats: The Recipe to Create Margarine

  1. Seeds from plants such as corn, cotton, soybean, and safflower are collected and the oils are extracted by utilizing hexane, an organic (Organic in this context means that it contains carbon atoms— six carbon atoms in the case of hexane). The process of extraction results in free radicals.
  2. The oil is steamed to remove most of the impurities, thereby destroying the vitamins and natural antioxidants found in the
  3. Hydrogen gas is bubbled through the liquid oil in the presence of a catalyst (usually nickel). This forces unsaturated fatty acids to become saturated and solid. The more complete the hydrogenation process, the firmer the finished Margarine undergoes partial hydrogenation to make it semi-solid. The resulting lump of gray grease contains a high content of trans fats.
  4. Emulsifiers are mixed in with the mixture to remove lumps and the mixture is bleached to change the gray color to
  5. A second steam cleaning removes any odors that may be attributed to residual chemicals in the mixture.
  6. Chemists add artificial colors and yellow dye to make the product appear more palatable. The final product is then packaged and marketed as a healthier alternative to butter!

In my home, we use natural fats. Organic butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and even lard are my preferred cooking fats. All lard, however, is not equal. A healthy, pasture-raised, organically raised pig that hasn’t been raised on GMO grain, antibiotics, or hormones is a preferable source of lard. As animal fat accumulates toxins, eating or cooking with lard will potentially expose one to the toxins an animal was exposed to during its life. If you are going to cook with lard, make it yourself by rendering the pork fat and then storing it in a jar. Lard can be frozen, refrigerated, or placed in a clean canning jar on the shelf. If the fat is properly rendered, lard should last for up to a year in the refrigerator or three years in a freezer.

See all our posts on food safety here

Are Canned Fruits and Vegetables Healthy?

are canned goods healthy - grocery store

Are canned foods healthy? The answer is mixed. Canned fruits and vegetables are not as nutritious as their freshly picked counterparts, as processing destroys some of their vitamins and other nutrients. But the nutritional loss from processing doesn’t make these products harmful. The quality of the fruit or vegetable chosen for processing and the materials chosen for packaging are both very important.

Cans, one of the oldest methods for storing food, can be made of steel, tin-coated steel, or aluminum. There has been an interesting evolution of aluminum cans — and if you’re wondering are canned foods healthy, this has been a point of concern. Initially, cans were implicated in lead poisoning, as the sealing process utilized a lead-containing metallic alloy. Health issues also arose from the corrosion of the tin lining by acidic foods, which caused toxicity. As a solution, cans were lined with a plastic coating containing BPA. Now a known endocrine disruptor, BPA can leach into the food contained within the can. Acidic foods and those cans exposed to increased temperatures will result in more BPA leaching out into the food. Just as with plastic bottles, chemical companies have made new BPA-free can liners. But many of these new chemicals are also turning out to be endocrine disruptors. It is preferable to purchase canned vegetables and fruits in glass jars, especially acidic foods, such as tomato sauce. If a can’s lid is not vacuum-sealed, toss it out. Botulism caused by Clostridium bacteria can contaminate improperly canned food and result in severe illness.

Frozen foods are processed, but less so than canned goods. There is no concern for plastic-related toxins dissolving into frozen food, and frozen vegetables contain much less salt than their canned varieties. Avoid consuming traces of pesticides and herbicides by eating frozen organic fruits and vegetables rather than conventionally grown produce, as with canned goods.

See all our posts on food safety here

Photo by Bernard Hermant