Self-Experimentation Update (Continued): The Hundred-Year Lie, A Stress Management Program, and Questions on Probiotics

food supply chain
This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, which I thought was more than long enough as it was.

The Hundred-Year Lie

Randall Fitzgerald’s new book The Hundred-Year Lie is an exhaustively researched condemnation of the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, explaining how these industries, in their search for profit at any cost, have imperiled our health. To me it was reassuring: Everything in the book supports my self-experimentation hypothesis that modern immune-system diseases, both AIHDs and AIDDs, are caused by a combination of ‘modern malnutrition’ (lack of diversity and micronutrients in what we ingest) and exposure to toxic man-made environmental poisons.

But the book was also enormously disappointing — after promising it wouldn’t scare-monger, it does exactly that, and leaves the reader with next to no ideas on how to compensate for and cope with the damage these industries are doing to us.

The best feature of the book is the vast amount of data that it contains, and its thorough refutations of the common myths that our health and longevity are actually improving because of modern foods and drugs, and that reported incidents of spikes in previously-rare diseases are only due to better measurement and reporting mechanisms. We really are living in an era of epidemic diseases, caused by these three industries, diseases for which there are, in most cases, no cures. And we face huge denial, massive and powerful resistance from the rich and powerful industrial lobbies, and huge costs if we want to reform these industries so they stop killing us.

Fitzgerald analyzes the entire food supply chain to explain how the multiplier effect of modern malnutrition and exposure to toxics works to impoverish and poison what we eat:

  • The soil in which foods are grown is depleted (on average 85% of the micronutrients present a century ago are gone) and exhausted from erosion and overuse.
  • Chemicals sprayed on soil and crops kill good as well as bad, and are ingested when we eat the crops.
  • Water used to irrigate the crops is contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, hormone disruptors, industrial chemicals and other toxins.
  • Genetically-manufactured crops homogenize and reduce the diversity of these ‘products’ and contaminate and overrun more diverse food strains.
  • Farmed animals (and our pets!) are fed nutritionally poor feed, contaminated and soaked with waste products and toxins, and injected with dangerous hormones, all of which we ingest when we eat them.
  • Harvested crops are then further soaked in preservatives and other poisons to make them last longer or look better.
  • They are then processed by freezing, canning, irradiation, spraying of further toxins etc. all of which kill much or most of their nutritional value. Water used in processing is also contaminated.
  • Additives are then thrown in, many of them synthetic, untested and arguably dangerous to our health, mostly for flavouring, preservation, aesthetic or cosmetic purposes, which further pollute and deplete the nutritional value of the foods.
  • To try to compensate for the damage done, synthetic vitamins and nutrients are then added, many of which are not properly absorbed by the body as the natural ones stripped out from them would have been. Nevertheless, these additives allow food processors to legally sell these products as ‘enriched’.
  • The food, pharmaceutical and chemical lobbies aggressively interfere with, disrupt and disable the few weak government programs that are meant to try to minimize the dangers to human health created by these industries (e.g. the aspartame lobby’s blocking of bans on its dangerous products and blocking the introduction of safe natural alternatives like stevia).
  • Endemic, pervasive and persistent toxins, like flame retardants in furniture and benzene persisting in carpet fibres, and including many that are so dangerous they have been illegal for decades, continue to show up in all our foods, in the soil, air and water — there’s simply no filtering them out or getting rid of them.
  • We wash or mix these products with water contaminated with other toxins.
  • Plastics and other materials used to package, heat and store these products leach toxins into the foods over time and with exposure to heat.
  • Finally, we eat the resultant, utterly-depleted, toxic stew. And we’re surprised to be both malnourished and poisoned as a result.
  • The vast amounts of antibiotics in which our foods are soaked also cause havoc to good bacteria in our bodies, and enable antibiotic-resistant strains of bad bacteria to evolve which make us ill.
  • Both in utero and through our DNA, we pass along these toxins and the genetic weaknesses they cause to future generations, making them even less resistant to the toxins they will ingest as they eat our modern food products.
  • These chemicals are not only destructive and often dangerous in their own right, but in combination and interaction with other chemicals have been found to be many times (sometimes hundreds of times) as toxic as they are by themselves. There is essentially no testing of such interactions, and to do so now would cost trillions of dollars and take generations because of the sheer number of combinations).

I’ve tried to capture all this in the diagram above.

The problem is, we can’t rely on government or government agencies, the medical profession, industry or science (which relies heavily on industry grants and sponsorships) to warn us, or to take any meaningful steps to fix the system. The FDA and EPA have no capacity to test or demand information, very limited authority and resources to take legal or other action, a desperate shortage of inspectors and staff, and indifference and even animosity from anti-regulation governments put in power by donations from these industries. Government can’t protect us. The medical profession and Big Pharma profit from our illness. A medical journal study showed that half of all drug advertising and drug information supplied to doctors is so misleading as to encourage mis-prescription and over-prescription of these drugs. Industry cares about profit, not people’s health. And science does and says what the people who dole out money to them tell them to. It’s up to us to protect ourselves. Even the NIH admits to its helplessness:

We’re struggling to look at where genetics and the environment interact in the human cell, causing a molecule to change that starts a kind of chain reaction leading to disease. Scientists liken the changes to a cascade — a series of ever-larger waterfalls of cellular changes — that may lead to cancer, Parkinsons’, arthritis, heart disease or other diseases. Though we still do not understand the root causes of many of these serious chronic diseases, we suspect they can be caused or triggered by chemicals and other environmental exposures, even from years before.

Last year the US Government Accountability Office cited the EPA for abject failure to protect people from tens of thousands of toxic chemicals. But they have no authority to rectify the problem. The EPA relies totally on tests provided by industry itself, and even those biased test results have only been forthcoming for 15% of the chemicals industry has introduced in the last generation.

Fitzgerald criticizes industry and policy-makers for trying to find and push “silver bullet” solutions to health problems instead of looking at programs that combine natural and common-sense actions holistically. But when he finally proffers solutions at the end of the book, they too are of the ‘silver bullet’ variety: Eat “pure foods” and “no synthetics” he says. Go to a detox centre like the Hippocrates Health Centre. Eat wheatgrass and green algae. Fast every second day. Sweat in a “far infrared” sauna. Get your colon cleansed regularly. Some dubious (and recently-challenged by independent sources like Consumers Union) claims for a few popular herbs are also trotted out. Aw, come on, Randall, surely you can do better than that.

Nevertheless, The Hundred-Year Lie is a useful resource to add to your library, if only to understand how the multiplier effect works to ruin our health and to deal with the pervasive myths and naysayers.

A Stress Management Program

As I explained yesterday, so far my body seems to have taken charge of managing my stress level, to the point I feel less stressed than I have at any time in my life. But some of this may be due to the combined effects of drugs, insomnia, fatigue, and anemia, so I don’t want to count on it continuing. Part of Phase 2 of my self-experimentation program will be conscious stress reduction and stress management activities, geared towards strengthening the four stress coping capacities mentioned in yesterday’s research: Perspective (dispassion in the face of stress), Let-Self-Changeability (developing resilience), Outlets (to discharge stress), and Acceptance (of what you cannot control/change). There is a mind-boggling amount of material on the Internet about this subject, but most of it is just common sense. Some of the ideas out there are ludicrous, and some obvious ways to cope with stress are not mentioned at all. I’ve developed the following stress management program, which I hope will supplement and sustain the ten stress-reducing changes I wrote about yesterday that my body has already had the good sense to impose on me:

Perspective and Acceptance Capacity-Building Activities:

  • self-awareness and self-control — monitoring stress level, being aware of how stressed you are at all times, understanding what stress is controllable/predictable and what isn’t, and working quickly and effectively to calm yourself; self-hypnosis
  • meditation
  • identifying and removing the chronic stressers from your life: vexatious and hateful work and people and pollution and noise; unnecessary commutes and trips; urgent but unimportant tasks (learning to say no)
  • building social support network — people who can ‘talk you down’ when you get stressed, and teach you from their own experience how not to get worked up

Let-Self-Change Activities:

  • consuming less sugar and other stimulants and body-stressers
  • anaerobic exercise — strengthening muscle tone, stretching and relaxing exercises, improving posture, yoga
  • physiotherapy and massage — getting the years of tension and distress out of your musculo-skeletal system
  • work habits — working standing up instead of sitting down, using appropriate furniture


  • aerobic exercise — gradual, easy, fun, focused on duration and frequency rather than intensity
  • sex — also focused on duration and frequency rather than intensity; how do I put this delicately?: the kind that gives you that lasting warmth and glow that radiates out from your whole body for days, like the perpetual roller-coaster with the slow build, or the surfer’s endless wave that keeps you right on the edge for what seems forever, and feeds on itself, and if you have a good imagination doesn’t even require a partner
  • social time — activities with no pre-determined objective 
  • physical contact with friends — the power of touches and hugs
  • generosity activities — giving your time, and compliments, to others, and accepting them gracefully and genuinely in return
  • play and fun — hobbies, games, times spent with children and animals, and other things that make you laugh and smile
  • music and crying — for me at least, very cathartic, connected, and not at all stressful
  • nature walks and drives

I’d love to know what you think is missing from this program. I also need to develop measures for each of these, so I can track progress.

Questions on Probiotics:

The idea of probiotics is to replenish the natural ‘flora’ of bacteria and enzymes that take the good stuff out of what you digest and neutralize the bad stuff. The problem is that the natural flora are infinitely varied, while probiotics, whether taken in yogurt or in nutritional supplements, tend to me one or a few specific varieties. There is some evidence that probiotics act only as a temporary working substitute for natural flora, until the latter can replenish themselves, rather than actually replenishing the flora, but that’s OK. The most common probiotic types are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. The current fad product, Activia yogurt from Danone (Dannon in the US), contains a type of bifidobacterium that supposedly speeds passage through the large intestine, which I guess is important for those who suffer from ‘irregularity’ and don’t want to take high-fibre products like psyllium seeds (aka Metamucil). There’s yet another commercial probiotic called saccharomyces boulardii, prescibed as an anti-diarrheal (the opposite effect of Activia).

Another problem with probiotics is the lack of standards: In many products tested recently by the CBC, most of the bacteria were already dead at time of purchase, or died quickly thereafter. Quantities of bacteria promised and delivered per dose are all over the map. There’s even some evidence that most probiotics never make it through the digestive tract (the stomach especially) to the place where they do their magic.

The clinical and empirical evidence for the value of probiotics seems impressive, and I’ve already made them part of my regimen, but I’m not sure it’s doing me any good. Anyone out there suggest some good, credible readings on the subject, or have stories, good or bad, about your use of probiotics? I’d love tohear them.

OK, I’m done. I promise, no more about self-experimentation for awhile. Tomorrow, some musings on co-dependency.

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10 Responses to Self-Experimentation Update (Continued): The Hundred-Year Lie, A Stress Management Program, and Questions on Probiotics

  1. Shannon F. says:

    Hi Dave, Glad to hear the stress-release mechanisms are kicking in. I notice that you mention on your list consuming fewer sugars and stimulants. But I would add a positive statement about eating healthy meals prepared with love in the presence of people you feel comfortable with. And with gratitude. I’m trying to remember to say grace, just be thankful for my food. It’s a different state of mind than to focus on keeping the bad stuff out.About probiotics: Have you read the Body Ecology Diet yet? They talk a lot about re-building the flora in the body, and there are resources for making your own food-based flora (such as with fermented vegetables, which I’m sure is a good idea, but I haven’t come up with a recipe that I find tasty yet). On a somewhat related topic, my dad sent me this link today: It’s about agribusiness and the spread of Terminator seeds which do not propogate a second generation. Very scary stuff.All the best,Shannon

  2. Nathan says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter :) Thanks for the constant high-quality information.Probiotics: to ensure that you receive live cultures, it is easy to ferment your own foods. Kefir ( is easy to make, (here is a list for where to find kefir grains: again, and best wishes! I always enjoy reading more about your journey!

  3. Anant says:

    A simple and simple minded solution to stress: putting your “self” in perspective of all that exists and how little you really matter. Looking outward – you, your family, your community, your town, state, country, world, the planetary system, the galaxy, the limitless cosmos and on and on. Just breathe, smile and relax.

  4. Mariella says:

    On “Let-Self-Change Activities” and “Outlets” : I would suggest no meassurements, and no tracking progress…… just trust it will happen, Trust your inner, or unconscious wisdom, let it act freely….. give your conscious and intelectual hyper active side a break…. both sides need to find new levels of activity… take a deep breath and just let it be…. your snowball is already rolling Dave. “Dare to Trust” is what I add to your list.

  5. Mariella says:

    about pro biotics, try to find natural MISO,(in natural food stores, macrobiotics) this is a fermented soya bean paste that diluted in water makes a very digestive drink, like a soup.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks for all the advice regarding yesterday’s and today’s posts. I’ll take a look at kefir and miso. I confess that some natural food stores unsettle me — an awful lot of extravagant product claims, outrageous prices, and people who look somewhat desperate and not very healthy. In the last two days I have handled two stressful situations badly: Two days ago, after a half hour spent trying to get a home insurance quote (our existing insurer has added 25% to last year’s replacement value and jacked up premiums accordingly, exploiting the hot housing market by gouging customers), in which a guy basically read me questions off the computer (but insisted I could not just enter this data online), and then after getting what seemed a reasonable quote, this clown told me that his boss (assuredly also taking his instruction from the computer) was now insisting that to be insured at all we had to be hooked up to an alarm system with central monitoring. (Out here in the country, with large homes far remote from central stations, where virtually all insurance claims are fire, not burglary related, this is very expensive and impractical). When I asked him why he didn’t tell me this up front he said it only applied to some customers (i.e. the computer he was reading from didn’t tell him to ask it until later). I just lost it. This is a perfect example of the unpredictable ‘surprise’ stresser, exacerbated by my intolerance of stupid and unreasonable people. Then yesterday I was interviewed for a radio program on a post I wrote last spring, and ended up, despite all attempts to be prepared, coming across as nervous and inarticulate, which only made me madder and more disappointed in myself — I just couldn’t ‘slow myself down’ enough to think before I answered and to craft my spoken responses with the same care I do when writing. *sigh* Still got a long way to go.And another question for anyone who wants to take a stab at it: Since the high-dose prednisone steroid apparently didn’t help my colitis (symptoms worsened during 8 days when I took only this drug, then virtually disappeared in 3 days when 5-ASA mesalamine anti-inflammatory was added), what does this mean?: (a) in my case, the steroid did not suppress the hyperactive immune function of my adrenal cortex, which doctors think causes the inflammation and bleeding of colitis, or (b) the steroid did work, but hyperactivity of the adrenal cortex was not the cause of the inflammation and bleeding? It seems to me I need to know which it is before designing a self-experimentation program for this disease, and if it’s (b) (which I suspect) then I need some alternative hypothesis for what physical reaction actually caused the outbreak of inflammation and bleeding. Acidity? Malnutrition alone? Some kind of inadvertently ingested antibiotic or toxin that killed protective bacteria? Some muscular breakdown of the intestine caused by overload or lack of fitness? Anyone hazard a guess?

  7. Scott Schaefer says:

    Good starting point for scientific info on probiotics: have no personal experience, but have three friends with varying opinions. As you may be aware, the raging debate seems to be over whether to take supplements [raising issues of quality, and whether you need special enteral coating], or home-grown/produced food. In addition to kefir, one of my friends reports excellent results with homemade sauerkraut [store-bought sauerkraut is “worse than useless”].

  8. Siona says:

    I’m a huge advocate of kefir; I make it at home and once you’ve got the grains it’s quite an inexpensive procedure. I rely on raw milk to continue feeding my batch . . . though I imagine, Dave, that you wouldn’t even consider another alternative. When it comes to the hundred year lie, I try as much as possible to make sure my diet is as eco-friendly and local as possible; what seems to be missing from the diagram is the way our lifestyles contribute to the left side of the diagram. The downside to this approach is that my weekly meals aren’t quite as diverse as they good be: I have a small collection of sustainable basics that I feel happy relying on and while I know I’m getting everything I need from them, some variety would be nice.The one reminder I’d add to your stress mangagement program is appreciation! I’m sure it’s in there somewhere, but one of the foundational tenets to my belief system is gratitude. It’s so easy to get caught up in the difficulties and challenges of the world, but there’s so much, too, that’s beautiful and right and alive and changing. Remembering to be grateful for the fact that despite it all, my body continues to press on, that I have wonderful friends, that this planet is still so peacefully revolving and evolving and that it all just IS, is tremendously important to me. I find myself spending a large part of each day saying “Thank you” in silence. And thank YOU, Dave, for all of this.

  9. Pearl says:

    Those all sound like they’re on the right track, both congitive restructuring and time and enrgy restructuring. Much the same path I’ve been switching to over the last few years.I shifted to redirecting myself to revotion to random acts of kindness to offset trauma-seeking-defaults. Missing time with ab workout of seeing a comedian. Not just laughter but a rigorous time investment in comedy clubs. Annual membership perhaps. ;) Comedy channel subscription.

  10. Mike says:

    I think there is a much simpler answer. Food Gardening. The extended reply is on my blog ( – sorry for posting it here, too, but I think the “trackback notification” plugin on my blog is broken, so you wouldn’t know about it otherwise.

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