Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
By Shubhra Krishan, http://www.care2.com
We do know that high blood pressure can cause heart disease. But it does not stop there. This silent killer has been liked to serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke, dementia, and kidney failure, among others. It is, in fact, the No. 1 killer in America, affecting almost 25 percent of the population, according to extensive research conducted at the University of New Mexico.
The good news is that high blood pressure can be kept in check, and it need not always be done using drugs. Here are some tried and tested ways to maintain healthy blood pressure:
- Eat almonds: Almonds are low in sodium, which is notorious for sending up blood pressure. At the same time, they area rich source of potassium, which helps the heart muscles contract and nerve transmissions strong. The result of this improved heart function is that your blood pressure does not get a chance to rise above normal levels. Two ounces or one quarter cup of almonds daily is the perfect amount to consume, say nutritionists.
- Drink coconut water: A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal shows that its potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C content make it a very heart-healthy drink. The best coconut water comes from young coconuts, which can be found in health stores and international markets.
- Cook with turmeric: results of a study published in the Nutrition Journal conclusively showed that 80 mg of turmeric per day significantly lowered high blood pressure. Not only that, the curcumin in turmeric was seen to lower the risk of liver disease and Alzheimer’s too. Time to reach out for that bowl of curry!
- Move more: If you exercise regularly, you are unlikely to suffer from high blood pressure. Here’s why: Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. Moderate intensity exercise performed for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is adequate for helping you maintain both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, say experts.
- Sing in the shower. Pummel a pillow when you’re angry. Dance. Let your stress find release, but in harmless ways. When you are feeling stressed, your heart starts beating faster. As a result, your blood vessels narrow, and blood pressure shoots up. Prolonged stress can cause long-term hypertension. So, try and be mindful of your stress, and find ways to deal with it before it sets in too deep. I find watching a comedy show or spending time with children very efficient ways of reducing stress. You?
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Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, Food, GMO, health, Science, sustainable development
Despite health concerns authorities push GMO, without fully admitting what they are doing
By Zhang Hong
On Aug. 17 safety certificates for genetically modified GMO varieties of corn and rice were due to be renewed by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, but the deadline came and went with no action being taken.
The failure to act was apparently not an oversight. Huang Dafang, a researcher from the Biotechnology Research Institute and a member of China’s Biosafety Committee, told state-run Xinhua news agency on Sept. 4 that the central authorities have an attitude of “active research and careful promotion” of GMOs.
Because local authorities fear public opinion against GMOs, Huang said, there was “a very slow procedure in getting approval” and the Aug. 17 deadline was missed.
The failure to act in this case amounts to a de facto approval. The curious handling of these safety certificates fits a general pattern of the Chinese regime moving toward a broad adoption of GMO food without publicly acknowledging this is happening.
Although authorities have never approved the commercial distribution of GMO rice in China, the environmental group Greenpeace reported that GMO rice was found in 4 of 15 samples bought by activists in randomly chosen supermarkets in November 2013 in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province.
Last year, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported that 27 countries in Europe have found GMO-contaminated rice among Chinese exports, including 46 shipments in 2010, and 19 shipments in the first 10 months in 2011. According to People’s Daily, although all of the shipments were returned and supposedly destroyed, they were actually sold on the domestic Chinese market.
On July 31, China News published an article headlined, “GMO Rice Grown in Hubei on a Large Scale, Growers Refuse to Eat It Themselves.”
According to the article, farmers who grow GMO rice sell all of it, refusing themselves to eat it. Instead, they grow a small amount of conventional rice for themselves and their families. As a result, GMO rice has taken over.
A rice farmer named Dong Kejiang told China News, “It is now difficult to find conventional rice seeds.”
Not Just Rice
The Economic Observer, a magazine in mainland China, reported in June 2011 that a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture that GMO crops such as corn and rice have been illegally grown in China for a long time.
GMO corn varieties were found all over the country including in the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Liaoning, and Jilin, according to the Economic Observer.
Much of the GMO food consumed in China is imported.
Professor Sun Wenguang from Shandong University Department of Economics told Epoch Times the Communist Party imports large quantities of GMO crops to alleviate food shortages, since GMO foods are relatively inexpensive. The Party intentionally conceals data such as the varieties of and lab results for GMO foods, according to Sun.
According to China-based Science Net, Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said China imports over 70 percent of its soybeans and more than 90 percent of its vegetable seeds, and most of them are genetically modified.
The extent to which the state is pushing GMO food can be seen in budgetary figures mentioned in a 2010 report.
China-based Science and Technology Daily quoted a member of the National People’s Congress who is also a director of a research institute for rice as saying that the central government had approved 30 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) for the research and development of GMO crops, but only 180 million yuan (US$29 million) for non-GMO crops.
The state’s official data doesn’t reveal the extent of the use of GMO in China.
According to the data published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, China has issued GMO Safety Certificates for eight domestically developed, genetically modified crops, including varieties of tomato, cotton, petunia, sweet pepper, chili pepper, papaya, rice, and corn.
However, according to the Plant Genetic Engineering Center in Hebei Province, a government-funded research center, the Ministry of Agriculture has in fact issued as many as 1,110 certificates since 1996.
This plunge into GMOs may have presented Chinese society with a fait accompli.
“GMO has entered so many areas of society, it’s almost impossible to ban it now,” said Li Guoxiang.
The GMO rice whose safety certificate expired on Aug. 17 is named Bt Shanyou 63. It has a protein called Bt added to it, which helps the rice resist pests.
Dr. Wang Yuedan of the Department of Medicine at Beijing University noted that Bt is a type of bacterial protein that kills insects and bugs by dissolving and “melting” their intestines.
“The Bt protein is not a natural component of rice,” Wang said. “It is a bacterial protein. There have not been sufficient laboratory tests on the safety of this variety of rice.”
“We do not yet know what possible effects eating this variety of rice will have on human physiology, especially when this bacterial protein is absorbed into the blood stream,” Wang said. “This bacterial protein, when fully integrated into the human body, may cause allergies and may weaken the immune system.”
After Wang injected his lab rats with the Bt protein four times over a four-month period, he found their immune systems became abnormal, their spleens atrophied, and their white blood cell counts changed. He said this shows the Bt protein seriously affects mammals.
Yuan Longping is an agricultural scientist and popularly known as China’s “father of hybrid rice.” He is also a critic of the Bt rice.
During the China Development Forum 2014 Yuan told Xinhua, “A number of transgenic, insect-resistant rice varieties contain a toxic protein. If insects die after ingesting it, what happens when humans eat it? We have to be especially careful.”
Fudan University life sciences professor Yang Jinshui recently told Shanghai Daily, “The bacteria genes in GMO rice cannot be completely metabolized and eliminated.” Yang is a member of the genetic research team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
“Rice is the staple food of the Chinese,” Yang said. “If [GMO rice is] industrialized and commercialized on a large scale, there is no turning back in our country. So we have to be extremely careful.”
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Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, technology
By Zachary Stieber
Steve Jobs, the Apple visionary, didn’t let his children use iPhones or iPads when he was alive.
Jobs, who helped create many of Apple’s most famous products, was the father of two teenage girls and a son before he passed away in 2011.
New York Times reporter Nick Bilton recently revealed a portion of an interview he once had with Jobs.
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” Bilton asked.
“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs responded.
“‘m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow,” Bilton added. “Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”
Jobs didn’t elaborate in the interview, but Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, confirmed that Jobs valued time with his family away from screens.
“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson wrote.
“No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”
The NYT article includes quotes from a number of those involved in the tech world who also strictly limit their children’s screen time, including banning all gadgets on school nights.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics, said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Bilton says that the dangers he refers to include harmful content such as pornography, cyber bullying, and becoming addicted to devices.
Tags: Body & Mind, Nonviolent Communication, psychology, relationships
By Derek Markham, naturalpapa.com
It sometimes feels as if we’re caught between the old model of aggressive and combative manhood, where everything is a battle, and the new, kinder, gentler man, for whom everything is a compromise. And we don’t have a whole lot of examples of men walking the middle path in our modern culture.
It’s either Die Hard or the Simpsons.
So in real life, where confrontations are everywhere, from our kids to our spouse to our boss to a nosy neighbor, how does a good man stay rooted during heated conversations? And does it matter what the age or gender of the other party is?
I’ve also been wondering the same thing…
Anyone else tired of being a yes-man to their boss, their wife, their peers? Are you equally tired of backing down or avoiding confrontations with the know-it-alls, the bad-mouthing gossipers, and the self-righteous proselytizers? Or maybe you’re the one always getting in someone’s face?
Sometimes we don’t even know when we’re being too easy or too domineering in a situation, and in the course of trying to figure some of this out for myself, I came up with some guidelines that have helped me.
A Good Man’s Guide to Dealing with Confrontations:
Know your values. If you focus on what you stand for, instead of on what you’re against, just about any confrontation becomes quite a bit easier. We’re not as concerned with what others think is true for themselves if we’re well grounded in our own values.
Lead, don’t follow. Letting the other person lead you in a conversation or argument is giving away your half of the confrontation. You don’t have to follow. Instead, lead from your values.
Speak softly. Leave the big stick at home. This can be a very hard lesson to learn, and sometimes a painful one. Usually it’s because the other party has a bigger stick. Our deeper voices and tendency to ratchet up the volume when we get angry can also backfire on us by escalating a situation that could best be served by a calm, soft voice.
Toe the line. How would you act if you were in the presence of someone older and wiser than you? If our actions are out of line with our words and our relations, they would call us on it, and we probably need to seriously re-think things.
Keep your cool. Letting anger speak for you will just about always end up with your foot in your mouth (or worse). Cultivate and maintain your own internal reservoir of calm for times when you start to see red, and focus on that instead. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a couple of deep breaths, and other times, it takes all your effort. But it really, really helps.
Know when to fold or go all in. It seems obvious to say that there are more broke gamblers than rich ones, but I’m still surprised how many of us make bad bets every single day. For me, the difference has been in knowing when to cut my losses and just fold. Not too many times will we come across a situation where we know we need to bet the farm, and getting the guts to do that comes from acknowledging how many times we don’t have to. We can walk away.
Think of the children. Even if our kids aren’t around us at the time, they might be the best guides for us. How would they react to our posture and tone of voice? And is that what we want to embody?
Life is full of confrontations. How we deal with them helps to define who we are. Let’s be good men.
Originally published on NaturalPapa
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Scientific Proof for Karma? York U Study Finds Small Acts of Kindness Have Big Impact on Emotional Well-Being16 September, 2014 at 10:04 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology, relationships, Science, Spirituality
TORONTO, May 17, 2011 – Practicing small acts of kindness will make you a happier person, and the boost in mood stays with you for months, according to research out of York University.
More than 700 people took part in a study which charted the effects of being nice to others, in small doses, over the course of a week. Researchers asked participants to act compassionately towards someone for 5-15 minutes a day, by actively helping or interacting with them in a supportive and considerate manner. Six months later, participants reported increased happiness and self-esteem.
“The concept of compassion and kindness resonates with so many religious traditions, yet it has received little empirical evidence until recently,” says lead author Myriam Mongrain, associate professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health. “What’s amazing is that the time investment required for these changes to occur is so small. We’re talking about mere minutes a day,” she says.
Participants’ levels of depression, happiness, and self-esteem were assessed at the study’s onset, and at four subsequent points over the following six months; those in the compassionate condition reported significantly greater increases in self-esteem and happiness at six months compared to those in the control group.
So why does doing good for others make us feel good about ourselves?
Tags: Body & Mind, China, Food, health, technology
By Lu Chen
In ancient China, as the myths goes, the Emperor would use silver chopsticks to eat his food—because they would turn black if the food they touched contained poison.
Modern China now has an app for that: Smart Chopsticks, which promise to detect contaminated water, “gutter oil,” and chemicals in foods.
The product aims to respond to Chinese peoples’ general wariness about what they eat in the face of constant scandals of fake meat, gutter oil—that is, the stuff produced by underground workshops that use leftover oils and animal fats collected from the gutters outside restaurants—and chemical-laced rice and baby formulas.
Like the newest smartphone, the product was unveiled at a tech presentation held by Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine. The chopsticks connect to a phone app using Bluetooth.
“Bringing Chinese people healthy living,” the slogan said at the Baidu Technology Innovation Conference in Beijing on Sept. 3.
“They can detect gutter oil,” Li said, to audience applause.
The device has three basic functions: it can analyze the quality of oil it touches and grade it superior, good, or bad. It can identify the pH levels, a measure of acidity or alkalinity, of liquids. Finally, it is supposed to be able to analyze the level of sweetness and even origin of fruits.
Data collected by the chopsticks is then beamed to the phone app, which analyzes the information and sends a conclusion to the chopsticks. An LED on the devices then lights up: blue means good quality, red means stay away.
Baidu released a video of the Smart Chopsticks on April Fool’s Day this year. The video went viral online, but was taken as a prank.
“But now we have the product made,” Robin Li said. Baidu hasn’t given a timeline for when it will be put on the market.
Reaction online was a mixture of excitement at the product and disappointment that such a product was necessary. “If the safety of our food is guaranteed, would we need something like these chopsticks??” wrote cheer_liu.
Food safety has become a major social issue in China in recent years. The regime on Wednesday announced prison sentences for up to eight years of 39 people in 17 food safety cases. They were guilty of adding chemical contaminants, like industrial salt, during the processing of meat, seafood, vegetables, and even medications. The court says one group produced and sold three tons of contaminated bean sprouts per day.
In 2013, police in the coastal city of Wenzhou uncovered 10 underground mills that used massive amounts of chemical additives and coloring agents to clean out-of-date meat and sell it to the public. The Ministry of Public Security in 2013 released a warning to consumers in Shanghai that recent lamb products may have been either rat, fox, or mink meat.
One of China’s biggest dairy companies, the Sanlu Group, was found to have produced baby formula containing melamine, a deadly chemical, in 2008. The poisoning led to the deaths of six babies and illnesses of over 300,000.
“There’s no food for us to eat,” wrote Internet user KathieCANke on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Everything’s poisoned.”
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology, relationships, Society, Spirituality
By Susanne W. Lamm
Epoch Times Staff
GOTHENBURG, Sweden—A Swedish prison, specialized in treating drug offenders, offered the inmates meditation – under the label of “mindfulness” – as an addition to their regular treatment program. The idea was that prisoners would be able to cope better with everyday life after their release. The method is called “The Path of Freedom”, and has received high praise from inmates and prison staff alike.
Ulrika Lilljegren, former manager of the Högsbo prison facility, says that inmates seem to be more responsive to the other treatment programs if they are combined with yoga or meditation, for instance.
According to Lilljegren, many inmates most likely suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders, like ADHD, or are damaged from long-term drug abuse. They often find it difficult to focus and concentrate.
“We had a guy like that [in the “Path of Freedom”-project],” she says. “Watching him sit still for half an hour, was a completely new experience. He was always very active, just bouncing around the ward, but he had found something in this meditation practice that allowed him to sit still.
Meditation provides new tools for the participants, helping them to perhaps stop and think before they act. They discover ways to adjust their behavior in a way that helps them not get into trouble all the time.
“Of course, different people had different reactions, but for a couple of them, it had a huge impact, and a great influence,” Lilljegren says.
Pake Hall from the Gothenburg Zen Center led the classes. He thinks the prison is a great environment for meditation.
“It’s such a difficult environment,” he mentions. “But you become aware of the fact that you need to face your own dark sides. They emerge when you’re locked up like that, and have nowhere to go. There is also plenty of time for practice. In many ways, it’s like a monastery.”
Hall feels a connection to society’s less fortunate. He often ended up with people that have social problems, with individuals whose behavior is on the borderline between what is and isn’t functional in society. He worked at treatment centers, and also with children with different kinds of difficulties.
When he began to meditate earnestly, he felt there was something in it he wanted to pass on to others. He thought about all the people who were locked up, who might be interested in meditation, but who don’t have a chance to learn it.
He joined an American network called Prison Dharma Network. Here he became the mentor of a young American man, serving a double-life sentence for gang-related murders, and who had become interested in practising Buddhism. Their exchange was limited to letters, but the Prison Dharma Network later held a class that would allow Hall to hold Path of Freedom-classes at Swedish criminal facilities.
“The Path of Freedom is based on a very simple idea,” he says. “It’s all about helping people who are locked up.
“It’s about questioning whether these walls really are what’s keeping us from being free, or if there is something else standing in our way,” Hall explains. “Maybe we’re stuck in our own prisons, no matter if we’re sitting in our home in Gothenburg, with unlimited freedom, or locked up in a high-security prison? Maybe we’re all trapped by desire and aversion? This is a way to work with these issues, regardless of your surroundings.”
But shouldn’t society’s resources be used for helping people who fall prey to criminals and their actions, rather than the criminals themselves? Hall has a different perspective.
“I see nothing but victims here,” he says. “As soon as we commit an act that leads to another person’s suffering, that person suffers, but we suffer too, because we have to live with the consequences of that action. There are two victims, not one.”
He adds that the prison is in fact a great place for breaking the patterns of human existence. Many people in prison have deeply rooted patterns of hurting themselves and others. If you can somehow help them get out of these ruts, suffering may be reduced, both for them and for those around them.
The class consisted of 12 sessions. In order to motivate the inmates, they were scheduled in the middle of the week, which meant they could attend mindfulness classes instead of working. Each session lasted between 1 and 1,5 hours, and consisted of both theory and practice, one-on-one talks, and sharing experiences with the group.
Subjects like compassion, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and conflict resolution were at the center of the curriculum. Between the sessions, inmates would have “cell practice”, where they put into practice what they had learned.
“You don’t know how these people are going to take what you’re teaching them,” Hall says. “You sow little seeds during these short sessions. It’s a very, very dull environment. We’re in a locked room, with guards present at all times, for security reasons. New people join all the time, and many participants are having major problems with restlessness and anxiety.”
The “us and them”-culture of the prison was also an obstacle. To inmates, it’s important to not appear vulnerable, to be tough and to maintain their status.
“A mindfulness class is very much about just letting go and opening up,” Hall explains. “It’s about looking at what you’ve got, so of course the group can get sensitive at times. Once you’ve done a few sessions, though, something happens. It becomes a safe place, a ‘container’ for sharing things, or just listening to the teacher without making smart remarks to your neighbor. But as soon as new people enter the group, their masks are put on again, more or less.”
Being a neutral, third party in between prisoners, management and staff was also tricky, according to Hall.
“Everyone wants you to be their ally,” he explains. “The guards want to influence the inmates in a certain direction. Some thoughts and ideas are supposed to be ‘wrong’ from their perspective. And during the sharing with the inmates after the meditation, they would vent their anger with the guards. Not agreeing with them, yet not contradicting them, being there with them and not making them feel like you’re distancing yourself or disrespecting how they feel… It was very interesting, the way that game was always on.”
Overall, the project was a success. The response from the participants was positive. One of them wrote:
“My head is like a (…) ping pong game all the time, with balls flying all over the place, and now I’ve realized I don’t need to return all those balls.”
Another participant described how, when another inmate was “eyeballing him” in the cafeteria line, he remembered what he had learned in class, and just moved his attention down to his feet, instead of resorting to violence.
“That’s great, of course,” Hall says. “Those little seeds you sow, and when they tell you that they really liked it, and wanted more of it. It was worth the time I spent there.”
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Tags: Body & Mind, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, Science, sustainable development, technology
Children who spend five days away from their smartphones, televisions and other screens were substantially better at reading facial emotions afterwards, a new study has found.
The UCLA study suggests that children’s social skills are hurt by spending less and less time interacting face-to-face (Uhls et al., 2014).
Professor Patricia Greenfield, who co-authored the study, said:
“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs.
Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs.
The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology
Tags: Body & Mind, psychology, Science
By Baylor University
Forgiving ourselves for hurting another is easier if we first make amends—thus giving our inner selves a “moral OK,” according to Baylor University psychology researchers.
The research, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, is significant because previous studies show that the inability to self-forgive can be a factor in depression, anxiety, and a weakened immune system, researchers said.
“One of the barriers people face in forgiving themselves appears to be that people feel morally obligated to hang on to those feelings. They feel they deserve to feel bad. Our study found that making amends gives us permission to let go,” said researcher Thomas Carpenter, a doctoral student in psychology in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The research article was based on two studies. In the first, 269 participants recalled diverse “real-world” offenses they had committed, ranging from romantic betrayals to physical injury to gossip to rejection. In the second study, 208 participants were asked about a hypothetical wrong.
In the first study, participants were asked how much they have forgiven themselves for an actual offense; how much they had tried such efforts as apology, asking forgiveness and restitution; how much they felt the other person had forgiven them; and how much they saw self-forgiveness as morally appropriate.
The more they made amends, the more they felt self-forgiveness was morally permissible. Further, receiving forgiveness also appeared to help people feel it was all right.
Researchers said one limitation of the first study was that the offenses varied from person to person. So to further test their hypotheses, in Study 2 they used a standardized hypothetical offense—failing to take the blame for the action that caused a friend’s firing. This study revealed similar results to the first, although—unlike in Study 1—receiving forgiveness from someone else had little effect on whether one forgave oneself.
The research also showed that the guiltier a person felt and the more serious the wrong, the less he or she was likely to self-forgive. Making amends also appeared to help people self-forgive by reducing those feelings, the researchers found. Also, women were generally less self-forgiving than men.
Self-forgiveness may be “morally ambiguous territory,” researchers wrote, and “individuals may, at times, believe that they deserve to continue to pay for their wrongs.” But by making amends, they may be able to “tip the scales of justice.”
Funding for the research was supported in part by a grant from the Fetzer Institute. Study co-authors are Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Robert D. Carlisle, Ph.D., an analyst at Mesa Public Schools and formerly of the department of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor.
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Nature, Society, sustainable development
By Hong Jiang
China’s environment has been so thoroughly assaulted by urban and industrial development that pollution in air, water, and soil has reached alarming levels. “It’s on a scale and speed the world has never known,” according to Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center. What do we know? What can be done?
Beijing’s air pollution reached a level so dramatically high in January 2013 that a new word, “airpocalypse,” was coined for it. The word has since been used to refer to the alarming air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities.
Beijing’s PM2.5 level reached beyond 500 in January 2013, with the high index recurring in 2014.
The smog-choked city experienced a visibility so low that it put schools and work at a halt.
World Health Organization (WHO) measures PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, as a health indicator, as it can penetrate the blood stream and enter the lungs, causing respiratory disease, lung cancer, and various other ailments. Safe exposure to PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter annually, and 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period—called PM2.5 index 12 and 25, respectively.
A research report released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in February 2013 ranked Beijing as the second worst in living environment among 40 major cities in the world, according to the Daily Mail. The study considered Beijing “barely suitable” for living due to its severe air pollution.
Smog is especially severe in northern Chinese cities during the winter heating season when coal burning adds to air pollution. In October 2013, the northern city of Harbin had the record PM2.5 index of 1,000, with visibility reduced to less than 50 meters, according to data from China’s environmental protection agency.
China’s unbridled and coal-dependent development serves as the direct cause of air pollution. China consumes half of the coal in the world, used to fuel the world’s second-largest economy.
Air pollution has caused great harm to human health. Based on a “2010 Global Burden of Disease” study published in December 2013 in The Lancet, a British medical journal, air pollution led to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, which is about 40 percent of the global total.
Air pollution has reduced life expectancy by 5.5 years in Northern China, according to a study done by researchers from China, Israel, and the United States and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year.
China’s airpocalypse not only chokes the Chinese cities, but also affects other countries through long-range transport of air pollutants. About 40–60 percent of fine particulate pollution in Japan comes from China, said Hiroshi Tanimoto at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies to New York Times. The effect on Korea is even greater. Pollutants have crossed the Pacific to affect the western part of the United States.
China’s airpocalypse goes hand in hand with China’s rank as the top emitter of greenhouse gases, aiding the driver of global climate change and the threat of global warming.
Water ‘Too Dangerous to Touch’
If air pollution is bad enough, water pollution is an even worse problem and more difficult to resolve, said a report by The Economist.
“There are large parts of the urban water supply which are not only too dangerous to drink—they are too dangerous to touch,” said John Parker, globalization editor at The Economist, in a video interview. “You cannot even wash in them.”
Data from the Chinese government in 2011 shows that over half of China’s large lakes and reservoirs were too contaminated for human use. Groundwater, which accounts for one-third of China’s water resources, suffers similar pollution. Of the more than 4,700 groundwater-quality testing stations, about 60 percent showed “relatively bad” or worse pollution level. Half of the rural population lacks safe drinking water.
Chemical, pharmaceutical, and power plants spew pollutants into waterways, creating dead zones where they flow. A notable example is central China’s Huai River, pronounced dead by Elizabeth Economy in her well-known 2004 book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black.”
If China’s air pollution makes airpocalypse, water pollution has created incidents that attract international attention. In 2007, Lake Tai suffered from a heavy carpet of blue-green algae that is cancer-inducing, and its gruesome images have circulated on the Web. The 2006 incident of a chemical spill contaminated Songhua River in Northeast China, and the government cover-up was widely criticized. Many more incidents, however, go under reported.
Some incidents of water pollution can be sadly surreal. Urban waterways in the eastern city of Wenzhou were so polluted by chemicals that a lit cigarette set the water on fire, as reported in the Daily Mail earlier this year. This is not the first time a river was on fire, and other images of water pollution show water turning black or red or orange, or carpeted with algae or dead fish.
A report on chinadialogue indicates that in 2012 over half of China’s cities had water of “poor” or worse quality. Ma Jun, an environmentalist who heads a Beijing-based green NGO, told chinadialogue, “Tackling water pollution is as serious and worthy a challenge for the authority as combating air pollution … water pollution poses a bigger health threat to about 300 million people living in rural areas.”
Polluted Soil and Food
China Daily, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese regime, ran an editorial stated, “Soil contaminated with heavy metals is eroding the foundation of the country’s food safety and becoming a looming public health hazard.”
Nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources. Chemicals such as cadmium, nickel, arsenic, lead, and mercury poison the soil, as they are dumped into waters used for irrigation.
Early this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection admitted that there are 450 pollution-related “cancer villages” in China. Prior to that, soil pollution and its threat to health and food received limited media attention, and the Chinese government had kept data on soil pollution as a “state secret.”
The change was partly brought about by a recent scandal of cadmium in rice that set off a Hunan rice scare. According to the mainland business magazine Caijing, the city of Guangzhou inspected local restaurants and found excessive cadmium level in 44.4 percent of rice and rice products. Most of the rice came from Hunan Province.
According to Caixin’s New Century Magazine, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions had reported on cadmium pollution in 2009. They sampled 100 rice paddies near mines throughout Hunan Province, and found that 65 percent of the samples exceeded the cadmium safety limit. The contaminated rice had entered the local and national market.
WHO’s website states, “Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal, and the respiratory systems.” The heavy metal is leached from mines and chemical factories in Hunan.
Also under the spotlight are Hunan’s new cancer villages, among which, Shuanqiao. China Youth reported that 26 people in Shuanqiao died of cadmium poisoning. Soil samples there showed cadmium content 300 times the permitted level, and 509 of its 2,888 villagers were tested positive for cadmium poisoning. The chemical came from the Xianghe Chemical Plant, whose pollution villagers have complained about since 2006. This example is just the tip of the iceberg of chemical poisoning in China.
Worrisome ‘War Against Pollution’
Facing catastrophic environmental pollution, the Chinese government has become alert. Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced early this year at the National People’s Congress, “We will declare war against pollution.” Li said, “Smog is affecting larger parts of China, and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development.”
The Chinese government has plans to clean up the environment. In September 2013, the government launched a $280 billion plan to clean up the air, and early this year, it announced an investment of $300 billion to tackle water pollution. Experts are uncertain, however, whether these investments will change the situation.
What is worrisome is the regime’s persistent attitude of a “war against nature,” that has rendered past investments in the environment limited in their effect. In Mao’s war against nature, draconian actions in agriculture destroyed the fabric of the rural ecosystem. Post-Mao pursuit of economic development has only trumped the past trend with unprecedented pollution in air, water, and soil from industrial and urban growth.
Experts on China believe the root of China’s environmental problems lies with the top-down control by the Communist Party, which has been trapped in corruption and a lack of political accountability and rule of law. Economic incentives for officials have continued to leave pollution unchecked. As some polluting factories are closed, others pop up.
“Environmental problems are one of the main outcomes of a one party-ruled, corrupted, non-humane government,” said Ahkok Wong, a university lecturer in Hong Kong, to the ROAR Magazine.
Environmental pollution has increasingly become a source of discontent and protest in China. In the 1990s, rural protests in China already included pollution-related land loss. Since the 2000s, large-scale protests expanded to cities where citizens reject polluting factories and plants. According to a Pew survey, environmental issues accounted for half of the protests in 2013 in China.
Short of fundamental changes in the political system, it is hard to foresee major environmental improvements.
As Mao obliterated traditional Chinese belief of harmony between human beings and heaven, and as the post-Mao communist regime continues to favor development over the environment, the moral foundation of the Chinese people has also been eroded, aiding corruption and disregard for others and the environment.
Without a rebuilding of a moral system, the Chinese environment will continue to suffer, along with the Chinese people.
Hong Jiang is associate professor and chair of the geography department at University of Hawaii at Manoa. She specializes in China’s environment and culture.
For more photos: China’s Environmental Catastrophe
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Tags: Body & Mind, health, Science
By Derek Henry
Holistic Health Coach for Healing the Body
The amount of barriers to healing is a long and sordid list, with a dirty food, water and air supply sitting at the top. Combine that with a poor relationship with the sun and the earth, and true healing becomes very difficult. However, if we can reignite our connection with the earth, we may find healing becomes a lot easier.
What is Grounding?
Grounding, also known as earthing, is based on research showing that having a connection to the earth’s electrical energy promotes physical well-being. This connection is made between the electrical frequencies of the human body and that of the earth, which can be achieved directly (e.g., barefoot in grass or on a beach) or by proxy through grounding technology.
Turns out, its one of the core foundations for true health.
The Pioneer and the Science
Clinton Ober, a recognized pioneer in the concept of earthing, knew that the earth’s surface is made up of negatively charged ions, which contain extra electrons. These electrons have the ability to reduce positive charges, like those of free radicals. Free radicals circulate in our body looking for electrons in order to be complete, and once they do, they are “neutralized” and no longer contribute to inflammation in the body.
Ober finally received support in 2004, after many years of personal research, when the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine published one of his studies. The results showed that “earthing during your sleep resynchronizes cortisol secretion more in alignment with its natural, normal rhythm.”
This research has provided us with a whole new way to appreciate the earth.
Read more: Grounding – The Ultimate Healing Technique?
Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, environmental issues, health, IT and Media, Society, sustainable development, technology
By June Fakkert
NEW YORK—Scientists don’t all agree about how much electromagnetic radiation risks cellphones and other devices pose to fetuses and young children, but governments, health organizations, and insurance companies are advocating precautions.
The rapid development of a baby in the womb is a stunningly delicate process, and disruptions to it can have life-long repercussions.
“We know that exposures that occur during pregnancy can have life-long impact due to these window periods of vulnerability that occur as the brain grows and develops,” said Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, an integrative pediatric neurologist board-certified in adult and child neurology and pediatrics. She spoke at a recent press conference for the BabySafe Wireless Project, an initiative to raise awareness about risks of electromagnetic exposure in young children.
Children have smaller brains, thinner skulls, softer brain tissue, and a higher number of rapidly dividing cells, which makes them more susceptible to damage from cellphone exposure than adults, Dr. Shetreat-Klein said.
“Disturbing scientific data continues to be revealed regarding the effects of cellphone radiation on developing brains.”
One such study was lead by Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine.
Researchers put cellphones in the cages of pregnant mice, turned some of the cellphones on continuously during the pregnancy, and kept others completely off. The young mice whose mothers were exposed to radiation from the activated cellphones were more hyperactive and had poorer memories than the young mice whose mothers lived with the powered-off cellphones.
“They were running around these cages bouncing off the walls, not a care in the world, something that in our eyes resembles attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children,” Taylor said at the press conference.
Electromagnetic Fields and Common Sense
Underlying the debate about the risks of electromagnetic radiation is the fact that electromagnetic fields can be natural—such as the build-up of ions in the air before a thunderstorm, as well as manmade—such as the energy of a microwave oven that boils your tea water in two to three minutes.
The frequency of an electromagnetic field determines its effect on the human body. So while we aren’t afraid of being exposed to pre-storm air, common sense (and manufacturer safety mechanisms) stop us from sticking our hands into an active microwave to see if our water is hot.
The frequency of the radiation emitted by cellphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi routers falls somewhere between storm air and microwaves, and their safety profile is a murky gray area that requires consumers to stay informed and aware, and to take precautions—even if the science isn’t conclusive.
Cellphone Safety Standards
A reason researchers aren’t likely to definitively prove that cellphone radiation harms children is that it would be unethical to conduct necessary studies. Such experiments would require test and control groups, and no parent would sign up their child to be in the test group, Dr. Devra Davis points out.
Davis is the president of Environmental Health Trust and award-winning author of “Disconnect: The Truth About Cellphone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.”
According to Davis, cellphones were originally tested on full-grown men and have never been tested on women and children.
Cellphone safety standards have also not been updated in 17 years, since smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi became ubiquitous, and the sight of a radiation-emitting device in a child’s hand became common.
Now toy manufacturers produce plastic teething cases with colorful plastic bells and whistles that allow the youngest babies to get really close to their screens, reminding Davis of the baby suits that were once made with asbestos fibers.
The take-home message is one of precaution—that every parent can limit young children’s electromagnetic exposure.
You can keep yourself updated on Twitter with #knowyourexposure
Below is a summary of what some concerned parties say about radiation and exposure to children:
The United States government does not acknowledge known risk of using cellphones that have a specific absorption rate (SAR—the amount of radio frequency absorbed by the body) of 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) or less.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland rated the Apple iPhone 4 at 1.07 W/kg and the Samsung SGH-E330 at 1.17 W/kg. Nokia and Motorola phones tested lower, according to the report.
The European Parliament recommends that schools and classrooms “give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises.”
French law requires that all cellphones sold in the country have SAR clearly labeled as well as the recommendation that users limit cellphone exposure to their heads by using a headset. It also bans advertising cellphones to children under 14 years old and bans giving or selling any device specifically designed for children under 6 that emits radio frequency.
Israel has banned Wi-Fi in preschool and kindergarten classrooms and limited the Wi-Fi to an hour a day in first- to third-grade classrooms.
Belgium has banned the sale of mobile phones to children under 7.
The World Health Organization reports that so far “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”; however, it also cautions that “the electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
High priority on the World Health Organization’s research agenda is developing a better understanding of the effects of radiation in utero and on young children.
The German Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents limit children’s use of mobile phones.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that children “are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cellphone radiation,” in a letter last year urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt radiation standards that protect children. The AAP also recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2.
In the past, Lloyds of London and Swiss Re, two major re-insurers, have both refused to cover cellphone companies for health-related lawsuits filed by cellphone users.
In 2010, Lloyds wrote that “EMF cases could be more complex than asbestos claims” and in its 2013 report on emerging risks, Swiss Re put the “unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields” in the highest impact category for 10 years down the road.
10 Ways to Reduce Your Wireless Exposure
BabySafeProject.org gives the following tips:
1. Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body (that is, in a pocket or bra).
2. Avoid holding any wireless device against your body when in use.
3. Use your cellphone on speaker setting or with an “air tube” headset.
4. Avoid using your wireless device in cars, trains, or elevators.
5. Avoid cordless phones, especially where you sleep.
6. Whenever possible, connect to the Internet with wired cables.
7. When using Wi-Fi, connect only to download, then disconnect.
8. Avoid prolonged or direct exposure to Wi-Fi routers.
9. Unplug your home Wi-Fi router when not in use (that is, at bedtime).
10. Sleep as far away from wireless utility meters (“smart” meters) as possible.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Chinese culture, chinese medicin, health
By Jennifer Dubowsky, http://www.tcm007.com
Last month, I wrote about “The Six Evils” which is how Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies the external causes of disease. Today I’m going to talk about the internal causes of illness which are called the “Seven Emotions” and are Anger, Fear, Shock, Grief, Joy, Pensiveness and Worry. These emotions are considered the major internal sources of disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Remember how you felt when you fell in love? When you were unjustly accused of wrongdoing? When some jerk took your parking space and smirked at you from the window? Yes? Then I don’t have to convince you that emotions have a huge effect on our bodies. Think about how your chest and stomach tighten when you are upset or how your heart beats faster and adrenaline rushes through your veins when you are angry or afraid.
Emotional responses can cause a cascade of chemical reactions in the body stimulating some organ systems and shutting down others. It is normal and healthy to have emotional responses. However, when the reactions are severe and/or prolonged, they can injure your organs and make you more vulnerable to disease.
In Chinese Medicine, the Seven Emotions are each associated with an organ. Therefore, it follows that if you have a strong negative emotion, the organ associated with that emotion will be affected.
Below, I have listed the Seven Emotions and their associated organs.
1. Anger – Liver
2. Fear – Kidneys
3. Fright/Shock (acute condition) – Kidneys/Heart
4. Joy – Heart
5. Pensiveness (excessive thinking and mental stimulation.) – Spleen
6. Worry – Spleen/Lungs
7. Grief – Lungs
For example, prolonged grief will affect your lungs. The reverse is also true – if you have a long term physical problem, let’s use your lungs again, you will be affected emotionally and you may experience feelings of sadness. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Here’s another example: if you carry a lot of anger with you for a long time, it will begin to affect the health of your liver and cause an imbalance. Also, if you have chronic liver disease, you might develop a shorter temper, have trouble tolerating frustration, and even become depressed.
This ancient concept of the Seven Emotions illustrates the importance of holistic treatment of disease because our bodies are not isolated parts. The WHOLE person needs to be treated. A disease or physical problem affects the rest of the body and the mind. Healing includes treating all the psychological, physical and spiritual imbalances.
Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at www.tcm007.com.
More in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
By Dr. Frank Lipman, http://www.drfranklipman.com
Most of us believe that age related diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, adult onset diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc. are the inevitable consequences of aging, but we are now finding out that this is not necessarily true. We actually have a lot more control over how we age than you might think. Healthy aging is mainly the result of how we “communicate” with our genes – through our diet, our lifestyle and the environment we bathe them in.
Healthy habits nurture healthy genes.
When most of us think of genes, we think of the ones that determine particular characteristics such as whether we have brown hair, blue eyes or long legs, or those that predict specific childhood diseases. These are our genes that are “fixed” and are only few in number. By far the vast majority are the thousands of genes that direct all our biochemical processes that render us susceptible to the many chronic diseases so many people are experiencing today. While we are each born with a set of genes – a baseline set of conditions which we can’t change – we can change how they are expressed.
This means that most genes in and of themselves do not create disease. Rather the likelihood of developing disease and disability is determined by the way we live our lives and by the choices we make. You may have the genes for and be susceptible to heart disease or diabetes or arthritis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get those diseases. In other words, these genes do not cause disease per se unless they are thrust into a detrimental environment, one conducive to expressing these genes as chronic disease.
There are multiple factors in your diet, environment and lifestyle that affect your genes and how you age. Many of these are within your control. Of all the factors, diet is the easiest to control and probably the most important determinant of how our genes are expressed.
A revolutionary new science, Nutrigenomics, is showing how different foods may interact with specific genes, how food “talks” to our genes and how our genes express themselves after the conversation. It is confirming that food provides potent dietary signals that directly influence the metabolic programming of our cells and modify the risk of common chronic diseases. It is telling us that food is information, that it contains “instructions” which are communicated directly to our genes.
Armed with this information, your genes commandeer various metabolic actions and affect millions of critical biological processes, including cholesterol levels, aging, hormone regulation, weight gain and loss, and much more. Eat the right foods and they will send instructions to your genes for good health. Eating the wrong foods however, sends messages for disease.
What we are finding out is that there is so much more to food than just the nutrients we have discovered thus far. Real food is packed with thousands of compounds which have a complex and dynamic relationship with one another and your genes. With processed foods however, these micronutrients have either been altered or are missing, and therefore they can never deliver the same beneficial messages to your genes. Just as a computer program won’t function well when it gets fed bad data, neither will your body. Once you understand that food is “data” or complex information that the body uses to direct the multifaceted actions that keep us vibrantly alive, it’s easy to understand that loading up on junk food is like taking the fast lane to a giant system failure.
Foods loaded with sugar, trans fats and chemicals, and foods processed beyond recognition, are simply “bad data” for human consumption. I call these “food-like substances” because they are not real food. If you eat these regularly, your body stops working properly.
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it. When you bathe your genes in an unhealthy environment, like the one created when you eat junk food, your genes “miscue”metabolic actions that can trigger disease. For example your body responds to “food-like substances” as if they are “foreign bodies.” This prompts an inflammatory response as your body tries to protect itself. Over time, continued consumption can lead to the development of a low grade chronic inflammatory condition which is now becoming recognized as an important precursor to a variety of more serious forms of illness. Bottom line: the food you eat affects the functioning of your genes.
Top 10 Tips for Eating for Your Genes
1) Eat real food i.e fresh, whole, unrefined and unprocessed food. Food is more than a delivery system for nutrients containing protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Real food is more than the sum of its parts, it’s about how it all works together, about the integrity of the information or the total message. Although you should know how to read food labels, most real food does not come with a label – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grass fed meats, wild fish, organic eggs and chickens etc.
Read more: 10 Tips for Eating for Your Genes and Jeans