Time for another installment of “News You Can Use,” highlights of news around the world that points out how we might want to consider alternatives to the way we’re doing things, especially in areas affecting our health.

Another Top Forty “Hit” for American Medicine – American medicine was able to crack the Top Forty statistically in August. Details emerged that infant survival rates for our high-tech, high-cost method of delivering babies has plunged us to a worldwide ranking of #40. That’s right. We’re on a par with Qatar. Want to know where you should live if you want to have a better chance of your infant surviving childbirth? You could move to Slovenia. Or you could move to Lithuania, Cuba, South Korea, Iceland, Malaysia, Taiwan or Hungary and your newborn will stand a better chance of survival. Where’s the best place to have a baby if you want it to survive past one year? Try Singapore, Bermuda or Macau. They all rank in the top ten with Monaco leading the way at No.1.

The Public Library of Science says 2009 stats show we number 40. But CIA estimates say we’re worse off than that. They show the U.S. at number 47. A few years ago we were ranked in the top 30, but we’re not getting better at delivering babies as fast as the rest of the world.

What could be endangering our newborns? Evidence points to too much intervention. Caesarean sections, surgically removing a fetus from the incubation chamber of the mother’s womb rather than allowing the natural process, are still on the rise in the US. In 1965 the rate of C-sections was 4.5 percent. It is now over 31 percent and going up. Nearly one in three moms get surgery in the delivery room, encouraged by the medicos. Studies have shown favorable outcomes are more likely when C-section rates are closer to 5-to-10 percent. But C-sections are just one facet. Sources suggest better access to midwifery services would improve birth outcomes. Fortunately, that access may happen in the Omaha area very soon. More on that in a future column.

Just say “No” to GMO – Genetically modified organisms have been taking over the biosphere since the early ‘90s when George Bush the First, Dan Quayle and their agribusiness cronies foisted them upon us. Leading European countries have banned their use, and heavy-handed enforcement of patent law has made “Monsanto” a dirty word in many farming communities.

GMOs are constructed when genetic material from one species or variety is spliced into that of another, transferring traits that mega-corporations say are desirable. One such example is Roundup Ready soybeans. Splice a gene into a soybean plant and cause it to resist a certain poison (Roundup) and you can spray all day long and not kill the soybean but devastate surrounding plants and weeds. That’s what’s happening now in 97 percent of American soybean fields. But news this month is that corn plants which Monsanto genetically modified to thwart a voracious insect are also falling prey to that very pest in a few Iowa fields – the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop. This raises concern that the way some farmers are using biotech crops could spawn superbugs.

Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann found that western corn rootworms in four northeast Iowa fields have evolved to resist the internal pesticide made by Monsanto’s corn plant; and this could encourage some farmers to switch to insect-proof seeds sold by competitors of the St. Louis crop biotechnology giant, and to return to spraying harsher synthetic insecticides on their fields. In other findings, we learn the overuse of Roundup has spawned weeds that are now resistant to the potent poison, creating what farmers are calling “super weeds.” It’s just another reminder that “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Food choices lower cholesterol better than statin drugs – Here’s some good news if ever there was some. Are you hooked on statins? There’s a good chance you are if you’re an American. Statins are the most popular prescription in the U.S. Over 355 million were filled last year. That’s a lot of payola in the pocket of Big Pharma. Thankfully, what we have suspected is true: Nature does better than drugs in lowering cholesterol. 

Big Pharma says statins lower “bad” cholesterol and decrease risk of heart disease. But research shows some foods lower “bad” cholesterol to half that seen in many patients taking statins. Bottom line: You could lower your cholesterol with diet choices more effectively than with drugs which are filled with nasty side effects. Of course, American medicine doesn’t want you to do that. They want you hooked on their juju and that includes drugs. To wit: Quoted in the Los Angeles Times, cardiologist Steve Nissen said, “Patients don’t want to take the medications, and I’m afraid that if you tell them there’s a diet that works just as well, then they’ll do that instead.” No kidding. And you’d have to trade your Beemer for a Kia.

If Clinton can go vegan, there’s hope for us all. Former President Bill “I never saw a burger I didn’t like” Clinton has embraced the veggie diet promoted by cardio-visionary Dr. Dean Ornish. Ornish found that a vegetarian diet, light exercise and meditation actually reverse heart disease without drugs or surgery and the Ornish Program had a breakout start right here in Omaha with support from Mutual of Omaha. Ornish bases his program on experience gained in studying yoga, and Omaha yoga teacher Susie Gillespie helped him develop a usable plan for mainstream America. Tom Osborne has also used the program to improve heart health. Fun to note that quinoa was served on the Husker training table last week.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice, and it is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at heartlandhealing.com.

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