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Green Blessings ...
with Susun Weed

Top Ten Worst Diet and Healthcare Choices
& Ten Better Choices # 9

9.    Sprouts may be health food, but they are not healthy food. In fact, eating sprouts may be the biggest mistake of your life.

Mike Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety says "I consider sprouts to be among the most risky foods sold at retail."

•    Sprouts have caused the two worst e-coli outbreaks in history.
•    In June 2011 sprouts in Germany killed 53 people and sickened more than 3,950.
•    In Japan in 1996 sprouts caused 9,441 illnesses, and killed 12.
•    In the US there were about 40 sprout-caused illness outbreaks between 1990 and 2010, causing kidney-failure, hospitalizations, and death.
•    In 2010 tainted alfalfa sprouts sold by Walmart sickened 22 people.
•    According to the World Health Organization, sprouts caused $1.3 billion in losses for farmers and industries and $236 million in emergency aid payments.
•    If the number of deaths and illnesses caused by sprouts were caused by terrorists, we would be outraged. But the real risks of eating sprouts are downplayed by those devoted to them.

FDA recommends: "If you purchase a sandwich or salad at a restaurant or delicatessen, make sure that raw sprouts have not been added." (I always remove any sprouts from food I am served.) Furthermore, according to the FDA: "Rinsing sprouts first will not remove bacteria."
Growing sprouts yourself is not safer. It is the nature of sprouts to be poisonous to humans. Sprouts are, after all, plant babies, and all babies have some protection. There are three major problems with sprouts: 1. Any bacteria on the seeds used for sprouting reproduce rapidly in the conditions ideal for sprouting. 2. Pathogens are created by the process of sprouting. 3. They are practically devoid of nutrition.

Note that when sprouts are successfully used by humans – as in malting grain prior to making beer or the addition of mung bean sprouts to Chinese dishes – they are well cooked and often allowed to grow to the stage of first true leaves.

Problem 1.
Disease-causing bacteria on seeds can double their numbers every 20 minutes in the warm, moist environment provided for sprouts. Since it takes days to grow sprouts big enough to eat, the bacterial count can reach astronomical numbers.  In nature, UV light kills off the bacteria, but sprouts are usually grown indoors, allowing any bacteria on the seeds (from animal feces) or in the water used to rinse them to thrive and multiply.

Problem 2.
Dr. Ames, UC Berkeley, was the first to identify carcinogens created by sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts contain up to 2% by weight canavanine, an arginine analog (arginine is an amino acid) that is incorporated into proteins, and has been shown to be associated with the development of lupus erythematosis (an autoimmune disease) in monkeys.

Dr. Ames maintains that many foods normally eaten contain carcinogens -- like hydrogen peroxide and methyl glyoxal in coffee, estragole in basil, safrole in saffron, symphitine in comfrey tea, psoralens in parsley and celery, hydrazines in mushrooms, piperine in black pepper, and allyl isothiocyanate in cabbage-family plant like broccoli.  And that the carcinogenic hazards of Nature's pesticides are far greater than the minute traces of man-made pesticide in our diets. He estimated the average daily intake of pesticide residues in the U.S. at 150 micrograms, which is 10,000 fold less than the levels of naturally occurring pesticides we ordinarily eat.

It is telling that nothing in nature eats sprouts. Even the cut worms and flea beetles in my garden wait until true leaves appear on the baby plants before munching them down. And, as further evidence, the only culture that regularly eats sprouts – Chinese – lets their mung beans sprout until true leaves have emerged before cooking and eating them.

Problem 3.
Soaking a seed starts a complex chain of chemical and hormonal events which results in the growth of a radical (the root) and the emergence of the cotyledons (the seed leaves). This immature plant is called a sprout. When true leaves appear, the chemical and hormonal signature of the plant changes and it is now called a "micro-green."
In the process of sprouting, the nutrition in the seed is first converted to sugars and then used up to create the root and seed leaves. Slightly-sprouted grains, like barley, when roasted, make malt, a sweetener.

Even if sprouts were nutritious (The Center for Science in the Public Interest puts them at last place in their list of nutrition in vegetables), those who eat them raw would not get those nutrients. And even if sprouts were nutritious and we could get nutrition from raw sprouts, we would still come up far short of the promises for sprouts weigh so little that one could eat a huge amount and still get very little.

Drink nourishing herbal infusions daily. Eaten well-cooked leafy greens. If you want fresh greens, grow your own salad mix; lettuces need little soil, grow fast, tolerate shade, and are unlikely to poison you.

Learn More:

Ames, BN. Dietary Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens. Science, September 23, 1983, 221: 1256-64.

Ames BN. Profet M, Gold LS, Dietary pesticides (99.99% all natural). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., October 1990, 87: 7777-82.

Top Ten Worst Diet and Healthcare Choices
& Ten Better Choices # 10

10.     Blue-green algae
I have saved the best (or worst) of my ten worst, for last: eating blue-green algae, such as spirulina or Klamath Lake AFA. If you eat blue-green algae, you won't necessarily die (although you might), but your nervous system and your liver will suffer. Blue-green algae will interact with your genes and set the stage for nervous system dysfunction and breakdown in the years to come.

What are the facts?

Cyanobacteria are simple, primitive life forms found in all fresh and salt waters. When the water warms, they "bloom," going from invisible to teeming with amazing rapidity. Cyanobacteria produce some of the most powerful natural poisons known, called cyanotoxins. With warming climates worldwide, cyanobacteria blooms are increasing, and incidents of poisoning by blue green algae are becoming more and more common and widespread.

When wildlife – including cattle, ducks, geese and other, birds, even marine mammals – drink water contaminated with cyanobacteria, they die "rapidly and terribly." 

Worse yet, as blue-green algae blooms increase, so do neuronal diseases in humans, and there is strong evidence that there is a cause and effect relationship.

Experts agree: Cyanobacteria toxins can be lethal in relatively small amounts.

How lethal? Cyanotoxins "have gained increasing significance as potential candidates for weaponization." (1)

The probability that a bloom will be toxic when consumed is 45-75%. Toxicity is hard to predict. Cyanobacteria that test fine one day can turn toxic the very next day. Only laboratory tests can confirm whether a bloom is toxic or non-toxic. While cyanotoxins are generally contained within the living blue–green algal cell, when the cell is damaged or dies, the toxins are released into the water. Supplements of blue-green algae with "broken cells for better absorption" may be particularly problematic Many cases of human poisoning from algal toxins have occurred after chemical treatments of blue-green blooms.

•    1979, an outbreak of hepato–enteritis in Australia due to an algal bloom treated with copper sulphate – which killed the algae but caused it to release the toxin cylindrospermopsin – resulted in the hospitalization of 150 children and adults with vomiting, headache, painful liver enlargement, constipation, then bloody diarrhea, and dehydration.

•    In 1991/92, Australia experienced the world's largest recorded blue–green algal bloom along 1000 km of the Barwon–Darling River. A State of Emergency was declared and drinking water supplies bought in to avoid death and injury.

•    In 1988, in Brazil, more than 2,000 people who drank water with blue-green algae suffered from gastro–enteritis; 88 of them died. This is most human deaths reported from cyanotoxins.

•    In 1996, eight years later, another 50 people in Brazil died from cyanotoxins when a dialysis clinic used water contaminated with cyanobacteria to treat patients.

Why would anyone intentionally eat such a potentially dangerous substance? Money (of course). A quick look at the history of "the rise of spirulina and chlorella" is more than enough to reveal the crass commercialism involved. In the 1980's Dr. Christopher Hills wrote books on blue-green algae as a way to promote his special formulas with "potentized" algae. (Remember: You can tell, or you can sell, but doing both is a clear conflict of interest. Buyer beware.) As if that isn't enough, Hills' products were not sold in the open market, but by multi-level marketing, which is a huge scam, like a Ponzi scheme.

Gruesome details: Cyanotoxins include microcystins, anatoxin-A, cylindrospermopsin, lipopolysachharides, saxitoxin, and others.

Microcystins -- the most commonly-found cyanobacterial toxins and the one most responsible for human and animal poisonings – are hepatoxins. Hepatotoxins cause blood to collect in the liver causing circulatory shock and can lead to death by internal hemorrhaging. They can cause weakness, vomiting and diarrhea.  Microcystins are very stable and last for a long time once released from the algal cells.

Anatoxin-A is a potent neurotoxin which causes lethargy, muscle aches, confusion, memory impairment, and, at sufficiently high concentrations, death. The cyanobacteria neurotoxin BMAA may be an environmental cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease. Neurotoxins interfere with the functioning of the nervous system and can cause death within minutes by paralysing the respiratory muscles.

Cylindrospermopsin is a non-specific, relatively slow-acting toxin that damages most organs in the body including the liver.

Lipopolysachharides have been associated with outbreaks of gastroenteritis, skin and eye irritations, hayfever, asthma, eczema, and blisters in the lining of the nose and mouth in humans. All blue–green algae have lipopolysachharides in their cell walls.

Saxitoxin is produced by the freshwater blue–green algae Anabaena circinalis. Ingesting this blue-green algae can cause tingling and numbness of the mouth, tongue and extremities, nausea and vomiting, and severe neurological symptoms such as ataxia, muscle weakness, and dizziness.

Yet another cyanotoxin, one found in Lyngbya (mermaids hair or fire weed) is known to promote tumors.

The cell walls of all blue–green algae contain contact irritants which can cause gastrointestinal, skin, eye and respiratory irritations to humans and animals. There may be stinging, burning or itching within minutes of exposure with red swellings and blisters common. Those prone to asthma or eczema are most sensitive.
Instead: Have you been led to believe that blue-green algae are nutritious? Commercial spirulina and chlorella products are heated during processing. Their cell walls "carmelize" as they are spray dried, resulting in an increase in toxity and a decrease in assimilation of all nutritional components.

Instead, drink nettle infusion. It contains more protein, more minerals, more vitamins, and no cyanotoxins. It costs a lot lot less too!

Learn More: The first published report that blue-green algae or cyanobacteria could have lethal effects appeared in Nature in 1878.
AFA is Aphanizomenon flos aquae.Nerve and liver damage have been observed following long-term exposure.
(1)    Dixit A, Dhaked RK, Alam SI, Singh L (2005). "Military potential of biological neurotoxins". Informa Healthcare. 24 (2): 175–207. doi:10.1081/TXR-200057850

Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way

Publication date: June 21, 2011

Author: Susun S. Weed

Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health.
Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations

Retails for $29.95





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