author of The Vitamin Bible
Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D. is the author
of 54 books, including Prescription
Alternatives, The Herb Bible,
Dr. Mindell’s 101 Natural Remedies, and the bestseller The Vitamin Bible, which has sold
over 10 million copies worldwide. Dr. Mindell is one of the world’s
foremost authorities on nutrition and natural remedies, and he is a
strong advocate of nutrition as preventative medicine. Dr. Mindell is a
frequent guest on radio and television
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Dr. Mindell, in your book, Prescription Alternatives, you say that Americans have a pill-popping mindset. Do you think this is getting better as alternative therapies become more popular?
I’d say no, absolutely not. It’s 100 times worse than it was before, and it’s going to continue because the advertising of these prescription drugs is becoming more prolific.
So even though the health food stores are doing more business, and there’s more awareness, it’s not helping?
Just turn on the television any particular day or night, and see if the commercials you see are for health foods or drugs! If you look in any conventional magazine, such as Prevention, which is supposedly a health magazine, you’ll find 30 to 40 pages of drug ads in every single issue.
So even though there is more awareness, by and large the average American is getting inundated with the wrong knowledge?
Do you think that drug companies have aligned themselves with HMO’s to push more drugs?
I think it’s the other way around. I think the country is completely controlled by the drug companies.
So what do you think we can do about it?
We can talk about it. Discuss it. Educate people. That’s why I have written 54 books, trying to tell people that there are alternatives. Instead of going directly to the new drugs that are under-tested and toxic, why not try some simpler remedy--and heaven forbid, why not focus on prevention instead of sickness?
What do you think are some of the most over prescribed drugs?
One thing is these so-called stimulant drugs prescribed to children for ADD and ADHD. And then there’s the antidepressant drugs--every woman is supposedly hysterical. All you have to do is watch television any night, and those drugs are the ones that they’re pushing. I think most of them are unnecessary, or there could be other ways of combating the situation. Then there’s the sleeping pills. Right now we are being inundated with ads for these new drugs for sleeping. They’ve got butterflies flying around and everything’s fine. Here’s a thought: How about exercising? If you’re tired, you will sleep very well. How about calcium and magnesium before bedtime? How about tryptophan? It’s available again and it’s a wonderful sleep aid. Valerian is an herb that’s been known for hundreds of years as a sleep aid, or chamomile tea. There are so many natural sleep aids, I could go on and on.
Would you say that the prevalence of over-the-counterdrugs is also a big problem?
Yes. The public has been brainwashed about using drugs. Education is the first line of defense. For most people, if they have a headache, they have to make the ultimate decision: Advil or aspirin or Excedrin? If you go into one of the big drug stores, there are rows and rows and rows of pain relievers. You’re likely to get a headache just looking at all those different products!
Speaking of aspirin, what do you think about taking an aspirin a day to prevent heart disease?
Taking aspirin won’t prevent heart disease. If you’ve had a heart attack, it is one of the ways to help prevent the second heart attack, but it won’t prevent the first one. And there are so many other things that are helpful to prevent heart disease such as vitamin E, fish oil, magnesium, garlic, hawthorn berries, CoQ10, carnitine, and green tea.
With more and more clinical research proving the power of vitamins, minerals, and other supplements in treating various health problems, why don’t med students learn more about this in school?
Hospitals are basically drug distributing facilities. In medical school the students just learn the theoretical stuff. The real factual stuffis learned in hospitals, and the average person is given 12 drugs per day when they go into a hospital.
Then when people go home from the hospital, don’t they often have prescriptions, some of which are ongoing?
That’s right. Fifty percent of American adults are taking prescription drugs. With the elderly, it’s almost 100 percent. I’m 67 and a senior citizen, but I don’t take any drugs, which is very atypical for an American.
How long have you been taking supplements yourself?
I’ve been taking supplements for 42 years. It makes all the difference in the world. What people don’t understand about supplements is the longer you take them, the better the results. On the other hand, the longer you take a drug, the more chance you have of developing side effects, contraindications, or toxicities.
What do you mean when you say that the longer you take supplements, the better?
The human body is an amazing machine. If it’s fed the correct nutrients, it starts to produce a thing called Optimal Health. And that’s something almost unknown in this country. We only think in terms of sickness. But here’s something interesting: the government has known about this for a long time. In fact, at the beginning of the Second World War, during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the government knew that workers would have to become very efficient in what they were doing, because we needed guns, planes, and tanks. Production had to be geared up, so they gave the workers a plot of land called a Victory Garden. They also gave the workers a vitamin supplement. They called it Vitamins for Victory. So 60 years ago they knew that giving the workers a vitamin supplement and having them eat fresh fruits and vegetables would help them to have less sick days and be more efficient at what they were doing. But after World War II, and the advent of penicillin and other synthetic drugs, they dumped all the old remedies and just concentrated on patentable drugs.
I’ve read that the first natural foods store was openedin New York City, around 1910.
Even before that, there was a man by the name of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (founder of Kellogg’s cereals) who was bornin 1852. In the late 1800’s he advocated a diet rich in wholefoods and whole grains, but it was a very fringe thing.
That fringe has grown to become a multi-billion dollar industry today.
It’s really peanuts. The whole natural foods/vitamin supplement industry is not even as big as Lipitor, a drug that’s going to sell $30 billion’s worth this year. And that’s just one drug! The natural foods industry is growing, but it’s still miniscule, because people are not educated about how to take care of themselves.
How many supplements do you take yourself daily?
I take a pack that has 157 different nutrients, and I take that twice a day. It’s a multiple vitamin, mineral, superfood that has all the different green foods as well. That’s my base. I also take several other things. I take a combination of about 3 or 4 different nutrients that help with memory enhancement. And I take MSM, which helps absorb the nutrients, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. I take a fruit and vegetable combo that’s got 52 fruits and vegetables in a bilayered tablet, so they release at different times, because there’s no way I can get my 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
What is MSM?
MSM is organic sulphur, the fourth most common mineral in the body. It has these wonderful benefits. It helps with the assimilation of nutrients. It has anti-inflammatory properties and it’s wonderful for skin, hair, and nails. You can use it also externally, too, as a healing agent.
What about Omega 3 fish oil supplements?
I forgot to mention that. I take 1000 milligrams of Omega 3 fatty acids every day, too. But I also eat fish twice a week. I don’t eat meat, so I’m a big fish fan. I eat salmon, mackerel, cod, halibut, bass, albacore tuna, sardines. Even anchovies are an excellent source of Omega 3’s.
Dr. Mindell, do you eat poultry?
Yes, I do eat poultry. But I avoid the red meat; I eat no beef,pork, veal, lamb, etc.
Do you avoid red meat because of cholesterol?
No, it has nothing to do with cholesterol. It has to do with the antibiotics and growth hormones fed to animals. You know, they have pretty well sold the American public a bill of goods about cholesterol. We’re all so worried about cholesterol, yet there is one of the B vitamins called folic acid that is so absent in the American diet that the government finally made producers of processed foods put a small amount of folic acid in their products. This is because folic acid not only prevents a neural tubular defect called spinabifida, but it also prevents the overproduction of a toxic amino acid called homocystine, which is a greater contributor to heart disease than cholesterol. But you never hear about that. You only hear about cholesterol, and that’s why Lipitor sells $30 billion worth every year!
So they’re shouting about cholesterol, but homocystine is more important?
That’s right. It’s cheap, and there’s no drug for it, so there’s no money in it. I’m a trained pharmacist, so I know about these things. Originally, the demarcation for prescribing a cholesterol drug like Lipitor or Crestor or the other statin drugs was 300 milligrams per deciliter. But business wasn’t too hot, so they dropped it to 200 milligrams--and boom, sales just took off like a shot!
My cholesterol is a little over 200, even though I have a healthy lifestyle, and I’ve been concerned.
Don’t worry about it; 200 is fine. Check the HCL and divide those two up. The ratio should be about 2.5 or 3 to 1.
You mentioned you don’t eat red meat. We’ve all heard about the problem with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Would you agree that antibiotics given to food animals are helping to increase the problem?
Do you think people are taking antibiotics too readily?
There’s no doubt about it. Another major problem that no one ever talks about is throwing old drugs down the toilet. A lot of the rivers and streams are already impregnated with all these drugs.
You don’t recommend taking drugs for osteoporosis. Is it really possible to reverse osteoporosis naturally?
It can be possible to reverse it, and it’s definitely possible to prevent it.
It takes more than just cal-mag supplements for that, doesn’t it?
Calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D, boron, a small amount of Vitamin K, zinc. . . and a thing called EXERCISE. If you don’t want to use the term exercise, call it movement, because exercise scares people. Get up and move. Walking is a wonderful exercise. Everybody can do it. It’s cheap. It’s available almost everywhere in the country, and it works. I recommend 10,000 steps a day.
Sometimes you hear about taking Tums for calcium. Is this a good idea?
No, it’s not. Tums is calcium carbonate, which is exactly the worst thing you can possibly take. It’s an antacid, which causes a decrease in hydrochloric acid, which prevents the absorption of calcium. In this country, 50 percent of women will have osteoporosis or brittle bones by the time they reach age 50. It sounds like a statistic from a third world country, because the U.S. is third world when it comes to nutrition.
What do you recommend for improving or maintaining good vision?
There are wonderful supplements for eye health. Eye Bright is one of them. And vitamin A and carotenoids are very important for night vision and healthy eyesight. They’re found, of course, in the green, orange, and yellow vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, the average person in this country gets only one or two servings of vegetables and fruit a day. That’s it.
And you’re supposed to have nine, theoretically?
Yes, at least. The average person, when they eat a salad, they eat dead lettuce and Thousand Island dressing and a tomato that is hard enough that you could throw it against a wall, and it wouldn’t even bruise!
What do you think are the best immune support supplements?
The antioxidants are very important, of course. I like garlic, and I also like selenium, which is found in onions and seafood and brown rice--things that many people don’t eat often.
There’s been a lot of attention given to antioxidants recently, and they talk about the ORAC values of certain things like blueberries, acai berries, and goji berries.
I don’t tell people about ORAC values. That’s irrelevant. I think ORAC is for-profit, and if you pay them, they’ll rate you higher than anybody else, because there are 6 different ORAC designations. I care about people taking supplements and eating foods on a regular basis that are going to be healthy.
I’ve read that the color of vegetables and fruits is important, and that the richer colors have more nutrients.
That’s correct. The darker the color, the more nutritionally dense, so a good rule of thumb when you’re going to buy vegetables and fruit, is get ones that are darker and richer in color. This is not a technical thing. People have survived over the eons by eating real foods. Today, if you go into a grocery store, you can’t even find real foods. You have to go into a natural foods store, and then you still have to read the labels. But I’m happy that the beginning of a revolution is occurring; it took a long time.
Do you think they don’t want us to be healthy, because it’s not good for business?
That’s right. The business of America is sickness, not health.
So is this why we get food that isn’t at its freshest, because it’s going to promote aging?
That doesn’t have anything to do with it. The processed food is cheaper to make and it has a long shelf life, and that’s what the people want. The story in the marketplace is very simple. Give people what they want, and they want Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and doughnuts. People are addicted to sugar. They’re addicted to salt. They’re addicted to processed carbohydrates, and they want more.
What do you think is the ideal diet, and are you a proponent of vegetarianism?
I’m not a proponent of vegetarianism, but we should definitely be increasing our vegetable intake. I think we should eat like they do in Asian countries, where meat is like a condiment. So if you’re going to eat meat, have very small amounts of it. Even the government admits to that, and they don’t usually admit to anything unless it’s something that is beneficial to their pocketbook.
How important do you think it is to eat organic food?
It’s very important. I think it’s great that the public is becoming more aware of it. It’s becoming more of a stylish thing to have products free of any kind of pesticide, insecticide, herbicide residue, etc. It’s just a matter of making it available to the public at a price they can afford. Everything is supply and demand. If the demand is there, the supply increases and the price goes down.
You’ve written about the importance of drinking water. When I interviewed Dr. Valerie Saxion, she suggested people drink half their body weight in water. So if I’m 200 pounds, that would be 100 ounces per day.
Yes, I think that’s great. In general, the most important nutrient we put in our body every day is water. You can survive 30 to 45 days without eating, but try going more than 7 days without drinking water and you’re dead.
Can your water intake include drinks like tea or juice?
No, because a lot of those other things are diuretics that cause water to be lost.
So my green tea in the morning doesn’t really count?
No. But you don’t need to drink more than 2-3 ounces at a time. Just get in the habit of sipping water on a regular basis, because water does a couple of things. First of all, it’s a solvent. It absorbs some of the fat in the blood stream. Also, it can dissipate the hunger pangs so that if you think you’re hungry, drink water and have a little fiber with it, and you’ll find that you won’t eat as much.
In The Diet Bible, you recommend some interesting supplements for helping with weight loss.
Yes, one of them is called Banaba, which no one’s ever heard of. I talk about it extensively in that book. Banaba is a leaf.They extract the active ingredient from this leaf, which is well known in the Philippines, because it helps to normalize blood sugar, so you don’t have the cravings for sugar or processed carbohydrates. It’s not about a diet; it’s a step before dieting. Dieting doesn’t work. The key is overcoming the cravings and the addictions to certain foods.
Do you think food allergies and food sensitivities are a big health problem?
Well, if you’re sensitive to peanuts, and you get near peanuts, you’re in big trouble, but I don’t think it’s a major problem in this country. I’ve never heard of anybody that’s allergic to Bud Light, have you?
Some experts, such as Dr. Elson Haas, says it’s best not to eat the same food every day, to avoid sensitivities.
Well, of course, but that’s a different conversation. Food allergies are a problem for some people, but I don’t think it’s to the extent that obesity is a problem. I wish people were allergic to processed foods, but that isn’t what’s happening.
You’ve written 54 books. What do you want to do next? What does the future hold for holistic health?
The future is to continue the work. The future is there’s more people listening. I think the future is to focus on WELLNESS. And it’s going to happen, simply because it’s just getting too expensive to be sick. Let’s hope that people start to wake up so that I can accomplish my goal, which is to close half the hospitals, because we won’t need them.
Learn more from Dr. Mindell at www.Dr.EarlMindell.com
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