I’ve been promoting a low-carb diet, now re-branded as “ketogenic,” for nearly 20 years. Many things get better when you cut down on sugar and starch, eliminate seed and grain oils, and add good, natural fats. I credit this diet for giving me zero plaque in my heart and arteries and saving my husband’s life after a cardiac arrest. (A person who is adapted to using fat for energy rather than sugar has a better chance of surviving oxygen deprivation without damage.)
We have finally made some progress in spreading the message—a lot of celebrity doctors are jumping on the band wagon and extolling the benefits of butter, avocados, and eggs while sugar is now vilified as more than just empty calories. Weight Watchers has admitted that keto is killing their business and Slim Fast has added a line of keto products. Keto is now in testing as a treatment for cancer; some vets are already using it to treat cancer in dogs. The military is looking into a ketogenic diet for Navy Seals so they can stay underwater longer (they need to breathe less on keto because less carbon dioxide builds up in their blood).
Low carb also prevents the buildup of Advanced Glycation End-products, called by the deliberately chosen acronym, AGEs, because they contribute to aging when they accumulate in the blood. (AGEs are blood cells that have sugar attached to them; the A1c test used by doctors to monitor diabetes control is a count of AGEs in the blood.)
But, to quote diabetes expert and low-carb advocate, Dr. Richard Bernstein, low-carb is a “solution, not a cure.”
Back in the 1950s, obesity and diabetes were rare, Alzheimer’s and autism had not been invented yet, and road rage and mass shootings were unheard of. Everyone ate pies and cakes made with Crisco (partially-hardened cottonseed oil) and put margarine on their white bread. DDT, a toxic insecticide, was sprayed generously on crops, animals, and even children. Gyms were for professional boxers. All the men smoked and the cars burned leaded gasoline, but everyone was healthier than we are.
Seventy percent of Americans over the age of 20 are now overweight or obese and diabetes, heart disease, and cancer have reached epidemic proportions, threatening to bankrupt our economy.
A recent survey reveals the hardships Americans face to cover our ballooning health care expenses. The survey found that we now borrow $88 billion annually to pay for health care and 65 million adults skip treatment due to cost. Federal data show that the United States spent more than $10,700 per person on health care in 2017. That’s more than any other country, yet America consistently ranks near the bottom of major health indices among developed nations and for the third year in a row, our longevity has dropped. If it were not for immigration, our population would be 2% below its replacement number.
In 1850, the 10 leading causes of death were infectious (items in bold are infectious diseases): Tuberculosis, Dysentery/diarrhea, Cholera, Malaria, Typhoid Fever, Pneumonia, Diphtheria, Scarlet Fever, Meningitis, and Whooping Cough.
By 2017, the top 10 were Heart disease, Cancer, Accidents, Lung disease, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Influenza/pneumonia, Kidney disease, and Suicide. Only one was infectious. The other nine were just “bad luck.”
Worse yet, we suffer terribly in the years leading up to death and end-of-life care puts an unprecedented burden on our families and medical institutions. (The average cost of a year in a Nursing Home in the state of Washington is now $70,000 to $80,000.)
Most of our modern diseases have been labeled as auto-immune and attributed to inflammation, but no one has been able to identify the source of all this inflammation, let alone stop it. At least not until now.
Some of you who read my blog may be aware of my ongoing battles with multiple auto-immune diseases and I know a lot of you have been through and are going through similar things. Some are called by vague names like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, allergies, arthritis, and other default diagnoses. Doctors typically say, “We have no idea what is wrong, so use this steroid cream or take Prednisone to dampen the inflammation; use as little as possible, for the shortest time possible, because steroids damage tissues. We have nothing else to offer.”
Listen to the caveats that follow most drug commercials and you will notice that a lot of them say pretty much the same thing. This one is for Humera, a treatment for psoriasis:
“…Humira is a TNF blocker medicine that can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections …Serious infections have happened in people taking Humira. These serious infections include tuberculosis and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections…For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including Humira, the chance of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase…”Drugs.com
This one is for Enbrel, an expensive drug (over $5,000 per dose) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriasis:
“…Enbrel can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Serious infections have happened in patients taking Enbrel. These infections include tuberculosis and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some patients have died from these infections… There have been some cases of unusual cancers, some resulting in death…”Enbrel.com
The ads sound the same because these diseases are the same; they just affect different locations in the body. The label warnings make it clear that these drugs work by disabling your immune system, leaving you at the mercy of whatever nasty fungus, bacteria, mold, or virus you might encounter, in other words, all the stuff that used to kill us.
Any disease that is not caused by an infection or malnutrition is classified as an auto-immune reaction, a diagnosis that means “we don’t know.” The body, for no known reason, starts attacking and destroying itself. Your immune system gets a message that you are under attack and mobilizes an army to fight the invaders. But there are no invaders. The antibodies detect the distress signals from damaged cells and mistake them for an enemy and so they do exactly what they are supposed to—seek out and destroy. Many of our modern medicines work by preventing the immune system from reaching the cells that are calling out for help.
The autoimmune system targets the epithelial cells, the type of cells that make up the skin, organs, and blood vessels. The names of many chronic diseases designate the body part they affect. If it is the epithelium on your scalp, it is called seborrhea; if it attacks the lungs, it is asthma; if it gives you itchy, peeling, oozy skin, it is eczema; if it affects the lining of the digestive tract, it is Crone’s disease; if it attacks the pancreas, it is diabetes, etc.—but they all share the same root cause.
What is this monster that stalks us? This powerful force is unseen, like a black hole at the center of a galaxy. It escapes our detection because it is disguised as a friend. Retinoic acid (RA), the end metabolite of vitamim-A, burns and destroys epithelial cells. Who would ever suspect a vitamin of being capable of such destruction?
Additionally, when calcium is pulled out of the bones to buffer the caustic acid, the bones soften and swell and become twisted, leading to osteoporosis, spinal curvature, TMJ, malocclusion, spontaneous fractures, and much more. The gnarled, claw-like hands that characterize rheumatoid arthritis are an example of this condition.
“The acute and chronic effects of vitamin A toxicity are well documented in the literature. Emerging evidence suggests that sub-toxicity without clinical signs of toxicity may be a growing concern, because intake from preformed sources of vitamin A often exceeds the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for adults, especially in developed countries. Osteoporosis and hip fracture are associated with preformed vitamin A intakes that are only twice the current RDA…”Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The RDA for vitamin-A for adult males is 900 mcgs and the RDA for women is 700 mcgs. A single three-ounce serving of cooked beef liver has 6,582 mcgs or 22,175 IUs (International Units), which is 731% of the RDA for an adult male.
About two years ago, my adrenal glands stopped functioning and I was told I would have to take Prednisone for the rest of my life. That story is here. It was first diagnosed as being of “unknown cause,” but a later test showed a few antibodies, indicating an auto-immune condition called Addison’s disease. I found a doctor who specialized in balancing hormones who said she would help me get off the Prednisone and onto a more natural steroid.
She did a lot of testing and gave me a prescription for hydro-cortisone to replace the Prednisone plus some other hormones and vitamins, including one for 25,000 IUs per day of vitamin-A. (I skipped a day occasionally, because I was concerned about the high dose.)
I got sicker and sicker over the next year. There were many days when I could hardly get out of bed. I couldn’t walk without holding onto something; I couldn’t focus or concentrate; I was weak, shaky, dizzy, clumsy, and off balance. My muscles and bones ached and I had terrible headaches (the kind called pseudo-tumor cerebri that get worse when you lie down; they are caused by excess cerebro-spinal fluid). I had episodes of tachycardia and palpitations throughout the day and night. I got progressively worse until Jan. 6 when I went into an extreme state of vitamin-A toxicity with nausea, diarrhea, all-over itching, abdominal pains, and blurry vision. Once the symptoms became so severe and so distinct, I started looking online to find the cause. I quickly found that it was hypervitaminosis-A. The symptoms were given, almost word for word, on multiple reputable sites. I started searching for how to fix it. That was when I happened on Grant Genereux’s site, Thank God!
I quit taking the mega-supplement immediately. Within three days my cracked and peeling lower lip healed over and my dry mouth got better. After a few more days, I had one really good day, with no symptoms at all; I could walk straight and think! But it was short-lived, as is often the case with detoxing. It took me a while to learn what I needed to do and what to eat, but on February 18, I felt something change. I had reached a turning point and gotten my vitamin-A level low enough to know I was on the right track.
I now believe that most of my problems over the last 25 years have been related to vitamin-A toxicity. It started with bone spurs in my knees after I used a retin-A skin cream for several years. A lot of my friends were using one too, which may explain why more women than men have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, and other auto-immune conditions. (Jennifer Garner is promoting one on TV as I write this.)
Here is a case study from the NIH about a woman who used vitamin-A as a treatment for a genetic skin condition. It includes multiple X-ray images showing retinoic acid arthropathy with flowing ossification and boney growths in the elbows, the pelvis, and the cervical spine caused by the vitamin-A use. (Pain of the cervical spine is often the first symptom experienced by fibromyalgia patients and the last one to go away.)
Generoux theorizes that ALL so-called auto-immune diseases are caused by this toxic molecule; I know that sounds crazy, but he makes a good case for his theory. He also says all auto-immune diseases can be healed with a vitamin-A elimination diet. I really, really hope he is right–if he is, my knees will heal and my adrenal glands will start to work again!
Retinoic Acid is linked to Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Risk, Alzheimer’s, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction
In a recent blog post, he proposes a new theory about Retinal Binding Protein4. It has traditionally been considered a mere transport vehicle for safely moving Retinol from one location in the body to another. He believes it is really an antibody, an indication of how very poisonous Retinol is in its free form. Every single molecule of Retinol is totally wrapped in RBP4 to keep it from coming into contact with body tissues and damaging them.
“GLUT4 – is the glucose transport protein used by cells to take-up insulin from serum. Obviously then, if the GLUT4 proteins are not of sufficient quantity or quality, it then will cause the condition of Insulin Resistance. It’s not hard to imagine that if the cell’s energy and resources are tied up generating RBPs, that could be impairing their production and or functioning of the GLUT4 proteins. This scenario is indeed being demonstrated in clinical research. For example: Nature. 2005 Jul 21;436(7049):356-62.”G. Generoux
Grant links the RBPs to Type 2 Diabetes and the amyloid-β plaques, and implicates it in causing CV disease, Alzheimer’s, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction, but it is the excess retinol that is the root cause of all of them. An overload of retinol forces the adipose (fat) tissues to make more Retinal Binding Proteins (RBPs) to keep it safely contained. This necessitates an increase in visceral fat, which leads to obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes. (https://bit.ly/33vn1kg)
Most people who try low-carb/keto for weight loss do lose weight, but some lose about 50 pounds and then hit a plateau, a set point that they tend to return to no matter what they do. Intermittent fasting can often help them start losing again. This makes sense to me now. The human race would not have survived if our own bodies were trying to kill us. Maybe we need that extra fat to protect us from something far worse than obesity—auto-immune disease! (https://bit.ly/2TsJzhe)
“ …the way that the adipose (fat) stem cells do behave similarly to the epithelium stem cells in response to vitamin-A toxicity is that they too are forced into a perverse state of abnormal rapid replication.”
When I started a vitamin-A elimination diet, I lost a pound a week until I got down to 120, then I stopped losing. Grant and others have reported the same experience. He lost 30 pounds then stayed at that weight. Those who have more excess weight to lose report that they are losing amazing amounts very quickly on the low-A diet. (https://bit.ly/2TsJzhe)
The Missing Piece of the Puzzle
Low-carb/keto is a solution, a work-around that helps us manage a problem that we don’t understand—inflammation. Eliminating vitamin-A prevents the inflammation from occurring in the first place. Will it take us back to where we were in the 1950s? It should at least do that. As soon as I am symptom free, I plan to start experimenting with my diet to see if a strict keto AND low-A diet might be more effective than either one alone.
I doubt the medical establishment and even my low-carb friends will accept this new theory without a fight. It will especially be a hard sell to those who make a living from treating sick people, however pure their motives. This will need to be a grass-roots campaign. If people see you aging backwards and reversing your auto-immune conditions, they are going to ask what you are doing.
I recently had a conversation/argument with a well-known health, fitness, and anti-aging expert. He argued that vitamin-A could not be bad for us because it is in almost everything, we co-evolved with it, and our cells have receptors for it. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t want us to live forever. Retinoic acid may be the limiting factor to our lifespan, a time-bomb set to go off when we reach our expiration date. Our vitamin-A starts accumulating from the day we are born (and even in-utero). When we exceed our ability to use it or store it, it is time for us to move over to make room for the next generation.
In everything that I have read about longevity, I’ve seen a lot about telomeres, glycation, mutations, oxidation, toxins, stem cells, and inflammation, but I have never seen anyone include vitamin-A as part of the equation. (I don’t know about the others, but inflammation and glycation may be optional if we avoid vitamin-A and carbohydrates).
Consider the Pacific salmon. They have a trait called semelparity. They only spawn once and then their bodies release hormones that kill them. You might conclude that those hormones are bad for the salmon, but they inherited a system, perfected over millions of years, that insures the survival of a sustainable population or the extinction of one that no longer fits in. Dying is as important as being born.
Go here to start at the beginning with the Introduction to Grant’s first book, Extinguishing the Fires of Hell, and you can follow along with him as he tries to unravel the mystery of what is causing his own head-to toe eczema, fatal kidney disease, brain fog, diabetes, and chronic fatigue. He used scientific methods, but since he is not part of the medical establishment, he was free to explore the issue without prejudice or fear of losing his job.
One warning, when you start to read his material, you will probably find many things you don’t agree with. I’m still trying to decide which things are essential to the protocol and which are not. We all come from different backgrounds and start with some preconceived ideas that we may abandon along the way. You will notice as you read his books and blog posts that Grant is not afraid to change his mind as he learns more. For example, his dietary advice in the first book from 2014 is to keep the intake of salt low. In a recent post from 2019, he says that we need more salt, not less. He has also updated his advice about butter. I find that reassuring and refreshing in today’s world. He invites us to help him test his theories and tell him if we think he has made a mistake. He often repeats the disclaimer from the beginning of his first book: “…please apply your own good judgment to all of this.” I have a number of issues I plan to discuss with him once I am further along with the protocol.
So don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Think of this is another tool we can use to heal ourselves, save others from unnecessary suffering, and keep our economy solvent.
All Genereux’s e-books and blog posts are free. He doesn’t sell anything. I hope you will read all of them.
The main take-ways from Genereux’s work are:
- Vitamin-A can be extremely toxic once you have exceeded your capacity to store it.
- All chronic disease that is not caused by an infection or malnutrition is caused by a poison; vitamin-A is a pervasive poison.
- It is almost impossible to avoid excess vitamin-A in Westernized countries and there is no easy way to get rid of it. (According to The World Health Organization, vitamin-A deficiency is not a problem in any industrialized country. See the map at the top of this article.)
- Although in some cases it may cause permanent liver and kidney damage, most auto-immune diseases can be fully reversed by eating a vitamin-A elimination diet.
If you have any of the conditions listed at the end of this post, or if you just want to prolong your health-span, I hope you will give the vitamin-A detox a try. (Maybe the question shouldn’t be if you have any of these conditions, but how many of these conditions do you have?)
You have nothing to lose. You don’t have to buy anything or do anything except avoid vitamin-A. You will probably see some improvements in the first few days or weeks but most people find it takes about six months to reverse most of their symptoms. (Mind you, a cure for any one of these conditions would be worth millions to the pharmaceutical companies, IF they had a cure for any of them, which they don’t.) For some of us, it may take up to two years, probably depending on how old you are, how sick you were to start with, and whether you ever used topical Retin-A or Accutane. (Guilty on all three!) Grant says he and his family continue to see improvement after five years. He plans to continue the protocol for another five, not because he needs to, but because he wants to prove that we can live for at least 10 years without vitamin-A with no ill effects.
I started out following his dietary recommendations while I learned more. It worked, but my diet has now changed quite a bit and it still works. The really important thing is to keep the vitamin-A intake as close to zero as possible. This is all very new and it is still in a trial and error stage. Up to now, vitamin-A, a fat-soluble molecule, has been almost a one-way street—it builds up and up—unless you make a conscious effort to draw down the load. There are only a few of us who have ever tried that and we don’t really know what to expect. I went to get my hair done last week and the beautician was shocked to see that I had stopped coloring my hair. Most people would assume that I had mousey brown hair that was turning gray, but she has known me for 20 years, and she knew I had gray hair turning brown! (As I was leaving, she said, “Give me that guy’s name.”)
If at any time you change your mind and want to quit, all you have to do is eat an egg yolk.
Eyes and Skin
The first thing you will hear if you tell someone what you are doing is, “Oh no, you will ruin your eyes!” The common belief is that vitamin-A is essential for healthy eyes and skin. It is amazing that this belief has persisted for almost a hundred years when it is so easy to refute. In his second e-book, Poisoning for Profit (pp. 123-127), Grant included pictures of Japanese and German prisoners from World War II. The Japanese captives were held for 3½ years and fed only a cup of rice per day (rice has no vitamin-A). The German captives got watery turnip soup (also, no vitamin-A). You can see in the pictures that, although they look like living skeletons, their eyes and skin are perfect. One picture shows a group of them reading newspapers to catch up on what they have missed!
The original rodent studies done on vitamin-A in the 1930s were seriously bungled. The symptoms the researchers attributed to vitamin-A deficiency, were actually the result of too much vitamin-A. Since RA was not discovered until around 1960, these researchers could not have known that it was what they called, the hidden toxic principle, that caused the disease and death of their animals. By the time later studies were done that failed to validate the original findings, the issue was considered settled science and the contradictory results were written off as flukes or with a dismissive, “more study needed.” Grant shows you how you can duplicate the experiments with small animals and see for yourself what happens when you give them a truly zero vitamin-A diet. (Spoiler alert—happy, healthy, rodents!)
I have been avoiding vitamin-A for about seven months and my eyes and skin have gotten dramatically better. I no longer have red blood vessels in the white part of my eyes and I may even be regaining some central vision in my right eye, which I never had before due to amblyopia. I have an eye checkup scheduled next month. I hope the cataract in my right eye will also show some improvement. The doctor previously told me, “That doesn’t happen.” I’ll let you know if I have proved her wrong.
Skin and eye improvements are the two changes most often mentioned in the comments on the vitamin-A forums. Here’s a typical example:
“Eating a zero VA-diet is improving my vision considerably; it gets better and better as time goes on. My field of view has also grown. The first and the most noticeable symptom I get if I eat something with a lot of vitamin A is that my vision quickly gets blurrier again. A couple of months ago I tried eating some liver to see if it would make my symptoms worse, it took me over 2 weeks to get my vision back to where it was, not to mention all the joint pain, brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue etc.” Guesthttps://ggenereux.blog
Can a serum blood test for vitamin-A be trusted?
Serum tests only detect Retinol, the inactive form of vitamin-A. You need more than one kind of test to see what your storage levels are, but most doctors only offer serum tests. The surest way to test for hypervitaminosis-A is to try the elimination diet for a while and see what happens, which is what I did.
Here is the explanation about what the tests can and cannot show from Dr. Garret Smith: https://nutritionrestored.com/.
Lists of some of the diseases and conditions caused by hypervitaminosis-A
This list is from Poisoning for Profit (pp. 206-207).
Alzheimer’s and dementia, MS and epilepsy, Crohn’s, colitis and IBD, diabetes , kidney disease, most cancers, eczema, asthma, lupus, Sjögrens, arthritis, all the other autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, rosacea, psoriasis, depression, ADHD, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, Celiac, obesity, acne, reproductive issues, low sperm count and erectile dysfunction, loss of enamel on teeth and subsequent tooth decay, twisted bones, spines, and jaws, spontaneous bone fractures, chronic dry eyes, chronic dry skin, xerophthalmia (progressive blindness), preterm births, birth defects, many follow-on chronic infections due to deformed epitheliums, breast cancer, Parkinson’s, cataracts, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, hip joint failures, SIDS.
This list is also from Poisoning for Profit, quoted from a book called, Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisoning, 2nd ed. Williams and Wilkins, 1997, (pp. 1021).
In Children: Alopecia, anorexia, bone pain and tenderness, bulging of fontanelles, craniotabes, fissuring at lip corners, hepatomegaly, hyperostosis, premature epiphyseal closure, photophobia, pruritis, pseudotumor cerebri, skin desquamation, skin erythema.
In Adults: Alopecia, anemia, anorexia, ataxia, bone pain, bone abnormalities, brittle nails, cheilitis, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, diplopia, dryness of mucous membranes, dysuria, edema, elevated CSF pressure, epistaxis, exanthema, facial dermatitis, fatigue, fever, headache, hepatomegaly, hepatotoxicity, hyperostosis, insomnia, irritability, menstrual abnormalities, muscular stiffness and pain, nausea, negative nitrogen balance, nervous abnormalities, papilledema, petechiae, polydypsia, pruritis, pseudotumor cerebri, skin desquamation, skin erythema, skin rash, skin scaliness, splenomegaly, vomiting, weight loss.
(Some of the above may be duplicates. I didn’t look up all the medical terms. JBB)
The following are ones that I have added from various other sources, including Grant’s other writings and my own experience. There are many, many more.
Leaky gut and resulting allergies, receding gums, cracked and peeling lips, dry mouth, blurred vision, double vision,* bone spurs, callouses, sinus problems, Hashimoto’s, tinnitus, itching, explosive rage, suicide, male-pattern baldness, gray hair, spider veins, cherry angiomas, losing the outer half of the eyebrows, age spots, wrinkles, incontinence and frequent urination, coma, and death.
*Hillary Clinton wears special glasses to compensate for double vision. She keeps pepper sauce (high in vitamin A) in her purse and puts it on everything. Coincidence?
As I was compiling the lists of chronic diseases caused by excess vitamin-A, I realized that they included all the things usually considered to be part of normal aging. Hmmm—if we can prevent and cure the effects of aging, will we live longer? Do different societies have different expiration dates depending on vitamin-A intake?
Male-pattern baldness, gray hair, receding gums, incontinence, belly fat, age spots, and such may be early signs of chronic vitamin-A overdose. Can we slow it down with an occasional vitamin-A detox? Cancer specialist, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, says you can make yourself cancer-proof by doing a three- or four-day fast four times a year. If you are fasting, you are depleting vitamin-A, which could be the mechanism for the effectiveness of his protocol, but if you eat vitamin-A-rich foods and/or take supplemental A between fasts, the fasting probably won’t be enough to protect you.
You now have permission to stop eating liver and kale. You’re welcome.
Eureka Part 2, What Changed?
© 2019 Judy Barnes Baker