Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
As the barometer rises, good hydration is key
By Mareya Ibrahim
Growing up in a warm country, a prerequisite for a blistering hot day—which was about 10 months out of the year—was to pay a visit to the juice bar around the corner from our apartment. The proprietor would stack the counters up with colorful pyramids of oranges, beets, mangoes, guavas and pomegranates, depending on what was in season.
Vases filled with rods of sugar cane and long carrots anchored the artful arrangements to create an edible landscape. Once the juicers started to whir, the sweet scent of freshness would dance through the steamy streets, luring customers in like a pied piper. The proprietor would create his own signature fruit and veggie “cocktails,” mixing beets with oranges, carrots and mangoes, a soulful blend of sweet and savory.
Little did we know that fresh pressed juice provided us with pure goodness in a glass. Packed with live enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, fresh juice also helps boost metabolism, fight infection, build tissue and strong bones … and help everything move along the way it’s supposed to, if you know what I mean.
Before you reach for that diet soda or mega-can energy drink, you might want to think before you drink. Caffeine and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives can zap you of vital nutrients that keep your system running smoothly.
Now that the barometer is rising, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. But before you reach for that diet soda or mega-can energy drink, you might want to think before you drink. Caffeine and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives can zap you of vital nutrients that keep your system running smoothly.
How does proper hydration keep you fit and healthy? One of the most important features is to keep the body cool. When you’re active—hiking, biking, riding, swimming—it’s even more essential to keep replacing fluids lost through sweat. You may not feel thirsty but your body needs it. Try these simple tips to sip and quench your thirst for better hydration for the whole family.
Drinking half your weight in ounces of clear liquids each day is key to keeping everything running smoothly. In fact, every cell function requires hydration, but most people wait until they’re thirsty before they drink.
- Carry a lightweight, reusable water bottle everywhere. Pick a BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free model and make it part of your repertoire. My favorite is called the Bobble, and it has a filter inside, so you can fill it from any tap and enjoy clean, fresh water while doing your part for the environment. You can get the equivalent of 300 water bottles from one Bobble filter!
- Ditch the energy drinks. Most of the options out there are filled with stimulants and artificial colors and flavors that actually zap your body’s ability to recharge itself. Options like coconut water contain more give you a real pick-me-up while helping to regulate blood pressure and heart function. O.N.E. Coconut Water comes in a variety of flavors and kids’ varieties, mixed with juice in aseptic containers with straws for on-the-go convenience.
- Try rainforest superfruits instead of coffee. Açaí blends offer a natural kick along with an army of antioxidants to help raise immunity and fight disease. Smoothie packs make a refreshingly cool pick-me-up. Sambazon makes their blends ready to drink along with frozen smoothie packs so you can create your own delicious drinks.
- Make time for tea. Getting green tea and flavored water into your daily routine is a good way to keep it fresh. I love the Takeya Flash Chill Tea Maker and Fruit Infuser for an elegant, easy way to enjoy great iced tea and fruit-infused water with the beautiful pitcher system.
- Get your nourishment from Mother Nature. If the heat zaps your appetite, fill up on fruit and veggies along with a good quality protein powder—like Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake—into a glass. Fruit and veggies have a high water content and help keep you hydrated. Add watermelon, spinach, cucumber, and celery to your blender and get your daily supply of produce in a snap! Cucumber is also high in potassium, so it’s a good electrolyte replacement.
Mareya Ibrahim is The Fit Foody, an award-winning chef on ABC’s Emmy-nominated show “Recipe Rehab,” and author and founder of EatCleaner.com. Her book “The Clean Eating Handbook,” a guide on how to eat cleaner and get leaner, was released in May 2013.
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Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, censorship, China, environmental issues, Food, health, Society, sustainable development
By Gu Chunqiu
Following outrage among netizens, demands by Beijing attorneys, and media pressure, the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources recently issued a report on the quality of the nation’s groundwater. The report has failed to address the scope or the severity of the problem, say critics.
Concern about groundwater seized the public’s attention in early February after blog posts by the journalist Dong Fei about the pumping of industrial waste water underground in eastern China’s Shandong Province. Chemical and paper plants in Jiangsu Province, just south of Shangdong, and in Huabei (a region of several provinces in northern China) were also reported using wells to dispose of their waste water.
By mid-February 2.9 million netizens published posts with pictures of water pollution in their hometowns in response to a request from Dong.
Three Beijing attorneys then publicly requested that the authorities publish official data on China’s groundwater pollution and media in China took up the issue.
In later March, a 400-page report titled “2011 Data on Groundwater Quality at Nationally Monitored Sites” appeared.
Environmental scientist Zhao Zhangyuan , a retired member of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, told the state-run Jinghua Times (a subsidiary of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily) that the report used outdated 1993 standards, which do not test for many organic pollutants that make up the bulk of modern pollution.
The Nanjing Survey Center of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences monitored groundwater near the Yangtze River Delta—a heavily urbanized area in eastern China that includes Shanghai—and found that it contained cancer-causing chemicals such as dichloroethane and dichloromethane, and other organic chemicals known to affect the nervous system, kidneys, and liver, such as toluene and chloroform. None of these chemicals are covered under the 1993 standards.
Available evidence suggests that China suffers from groundwater pollution on a much larger scale than the authorities have been willing to disclose.
Studies done by the China Geological Survey since 2006 show that in the Huabei region, only 22.2 percent of the region’s groundwater was safe to drink. Groundwater makes up the bulk of the region’s drinking water supply.
The study found that throughout the region, groundwater at shallow levels was found to be heavily polluted. Although the groundwater at deeper levels was found to be cleaner, 12.86 percent of it was found to be polluted as well.
According to the Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, a Shenzhen-based think tank, China will increasingly turn to groundwater sources for its drinking water supplies between now and 2017, due to the country’s relative lack of water resources.
The research institute projects that approximately 70 percent of the Chinese population, or over 400 out of China’s 660 cities, will draw their drinking water primarily from groundwater sources.
China’s rural population draws most of its drinking water supplies from wells, which tap into shallow-level groundwater sources. However the indiscriminate use of fertilizer and pesticide has severely polluted groundwater in the countryside.
“Cancer villages” have appeared in Henan, Anhui, Sichuan, Guangdong, Heilongjiang, and Shandong provinces.
According to a Voice of America report, groundwater in the Huabei region has been found to contain heavy metals far exceeding allowable limits, including mercury, chromium, cadmium, and lead.
In addition, organic substance pollution has appeared in: the southern suburbs of Beijing; Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern China’s Hebei Province; Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province; and the Yuxi Plain in Henan Province. The main pollutants are benzene, carbon tetrachloride, and trichloroethylene, all of which can cause cancer and other health problems.
Besides these pollutants, at least 100 million people in China are drinking groundwater with dangerous levels of arsenic, which can cause cardiovascular problems and an increased risk of cancer, as well as fluorine, which is known to cause bone deformities in children and kidney problems.
According to the Voice of America report, companies throughout China have been digging wells for the sole purpose of discharging industrial effluent into the groundwater for the past 20 years.
Chinese netizens have since gone online to express their unhappiness over the issue. On Sina Weibo—a popular microblog service similar to Twitter—a user named Wang Pan wrote, “Large businesses are heartlessly pumping pollutants into our groundwater supply, and yet the government, blinded by political goals, has ignored and even openly tolerated this.
“Our rivers and streams suffer from the pollution of surface water, but our very water sources suffer from the pollution of groundwater. How is this different from nuclear waste? This will end the lives of our future generations. When there is no more clean water left in China, what will be the use of having GDP?”
Wang Pan’s account was removed shortly after the comment was posted, showing the regime’s unwillingness to allow free discussion of the problem.
According to Fan Xiao, a geologist and chief engineer at the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, China currently lacks official regulations on the discharge of wastewater into groundwater sources, and state agencies lack the capability to enforce regulations.
“[We] are heavily reliant on our groundwater sources, and if they become polluted, cleaning them up will be virtually impossible,” Fan said.
Rapid urbanization has driven the growth of both the extent and severity of mainland China’s groundwater pollution problems. Key to this is the communist regime’s single-minded pursuit of GDP growth.
According to the 2012 Chinese Cancer Registry Annual Report, due to extreme levels of environmental pollution, there are 3.5 million new cases of cancer in mainland China every year, resulting in 2.5 million deaths annually. This is the equivalent of 8,550 new cases of cancer being diagnosed every day.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, Food, health, Society
Thinking Shen Yun Performing Arts would be entertaining for my daughters, I bought tickets as soon as I heard about them. What I got from the performance was not only entertaining—it was enlightening. One historical story after another taught me about grace, kindness, and strength. That evening, I understood more about how to be a good woman than ever before.
Shen Yun is a performing arts company based in New York whose mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture. In honor of Mother’s Day, the Shen Yun website recounts stories of great mothers from Chinese history. The story of how the great philosopher Mencius came to be, and the role that his mother played, really stood out for me.
His father died when he was very young, and his mother was left to raise him. They lived near a cemetery and Mencius started imitating funeral processions. Noticing this, his mother moved them closer to the marketplace. But soon Mencius started speaking in the haggling way that merchants spoke. As a result, Mencius’ mother decided to move them again.
This time they moved next to a school, and Mencius started imitating scholars’ study habits. Pleased about this, Mencius’s mother did not move again, and Mencius grew up to become one of the greatest philosophers in Chinese history.
Just as Mencius’s mother gave him an environment to thrive in as a scholar, we can create the same kind of influence on our children when it comes to their health habits.
I’ve noticed that my children imitate me a lot. This is how they learned to speak, use body language, and react to things.
I had a lot of issues around my body image and my relationship to food, and I did not want to pass these notions on to my daughters. I have met many women who blame their poor eating habits (be it bingeing or starving) on their mothers.
I have more than one relative who suffers from an eating disorder, and I did not want my daughters to do the same. I needed to get clear about my food values so I could lead by example.
It became more important to me that I eat with ease, enjoyment, and respect for my health because that’s what I wanted to teach my daughters.
I stopped complaining about feeling fat or regretting my food choices if they weren’t optimal. It was surprisingly tough to do that. I had gotten into the habit of equating my body fat with my self-worth, and so I went through a bit of withdrawal from self-criticism.
Just as Mencius’s mother saw Mencius copying those around him, I saw my daughters copying me. I saw my clients’ daughters copying them, and I saw my friends’ daughters copying them. I wanted my daughters to learn confidence, healthy habits, and respect.
Helping Children Develop Healthy Habits
• Children love fun
Kids are fun-making machines. They love to explore with their hands and their mouths, so take advantage of this, and feed them foods they can interact with. For example, let them add their own sour cream and parsley to their black bean soup or place their own raisins on a celery stick with nut butter for an “ants on a log” treat.
I got my kids off the ice cream kick by letting them whip up really thick smoothies in the blender. They nicknamed these “smoothie ice cream.”
• Children are the best conscious eaters
Because most children approach things very simply, they have a lot of focus. I remember when my daughter had just learned how to tie her own shoelaces. She would breathe heavily as she carefully tied them. It took some serious focus.
Children pay a lot of attention to all of their various experiences. Have you ever seen a child get lost in a game? They aren’t just pretending, they are experiencing. With a little guidance, it is easy to teach them how to pay closer attention to what they are eating.
What does the texture of this food feel like? Is it smooth or rough in your mouth? Do the flavors change as you chew? How long can you chew before you swallow your food?
• Children love learning
Children are incredibly curious. They love to learn. Remember the endless “whys?” Take this curiosity by teaching them about food and health. The more you educate your children about what they are eating, the more they will choose healthy foods.
Get them excited about growing organic vegetables, and explain what happens to the earth’s soil when we use pesticides. Teach them about where dairy comes from, and how too much sugar will affect them.
Warning here: Keep it simple. If you get too technical, you risk your children getting bored, misunderstanding you, or getting scared of eating certain food for fear of illness or death. Keep it simple and light! They will make it fun.
• Children love variety
Notice how schools are often decorated with lots of colors, textures, and shapes. It keeps the children stimulated, interested, and engaged. With food, do the same. The more variety, the better. So build meals with a variety of colors, flavors, textures, and shapes.
When you follow these tips, your children will naturally learn to have a healthier relationship with food. It will become part of the way they live rather than an escape from life.
Give them enough guidance and boundaries with food to feel safe, yet enough freedom to explore, get interested, and be brave.
Mothers, we have a great role to play. Let’s be responsible to our children for better health and more confidence. Have a fabulous Mother’s Day!
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is http://www.lavendermamas.com
Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
Probably the most beneficial and widely unknown use of linseed flax as a household medicine is the external application of the raw oil to any area where ligaments have been torn, cut, or strained, and even where they are too tight or loose. A small amount daily, massaged in thoroughly is all that is required. Too much and you will be left with oily stains on clothing.
When applied in this way linseed oil has the effect of toning and lubricating the affected tendons and ligament tissue.
If you are an office worker with repetitive strain in the wrists, or if you have recently twisted your ankle while out for your morning jog, or you are recovering from surgery or any accident that has resulted in damaged or cut tendons, then linseed oil applied every day can gradually soften and restore flexibility to tendons and ligaments. It should be a permanent fixture in your training bag if you are the type of person who is constantly pushing your body to its physical limits.
For the Skin
If you live in a hot dry climate or just suffer from dry skin at certain times of the year, then you should do as many desert dwelling cultures have and apply the raw oil to your skin to prevent dehydration. In ancient Egypt, linseed oil was used as an additive to preserve the paints that decorated the walls of the ancient tombs and temples. It can do the same thing for your skin, and when regularly applied it will help to prevent dehydration, and yes, prevent the formation of wrinkles!
Linseed oil is not an instant fix, nor does it have anti-inflammatory or warming properties, but if it is used regularly, it can in time restore elasticity to tendons, ligaments, and skin.
A tea brewed from the crushed seeds is helpful in cases of constipation if a dry bowel is the cause. The oil content along with other waxy and resinous substances that are present in the crushed seeds is sufficient to line and lubricate the intestinal tract. The seeds are readily available from health food stores. To prepare the tea just lightly bruise the brown outer cover of the seed and brew as you would any other tea.
Linseed meal has a nutty and slightly bitter flavor. It is sold on its own or sometimes included as an ingredient in muesli mixes, and can also be used as a healthy additive to flour. The seeds are high in vegetable protein, which is very helpful if you are vegetarian. It is also high in lecithin and other phosphorous compounds. Acetic acid is present, which has a stimulatory effect on enzymes and a balancing effect on blood viscosity.
The cultivation of linseed goes so far back into antiquity that it is unknown exactly where this plant originated. Educated guesses place its point of origin in Egypt or Central Asia. Its use was certainly well recorded by the ancient Egyptians, who set aside large tracts of land for its cultivation near the ancient city of Thebes. These fields of linseed produced all manner of essential products for that civilization, including medicine, cosmetics, fine linens for the noble class, as well as bandages for the process of mummification.
It was also important to the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. The Roman author, naturalist, and military commander Pliny the Elder writes of linseed, “What department is there to be found of active life in which flax is not employed?”
In Teutonic mythology linseed was held to be under the protection of the Goddess Hulda, who was said to have first taught mortals the art of growing, spinning, and weaving it.
Remember to only eat the crushed linseed meal, not the whole seeds. Refined and cold pressed linseed oil can be added to other oils for cooking and salad dressings. Raw linseed oil should only be used externally.
Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist and horticulturist based in Sydney, Australia.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, Food, health, Society
By Li Wenhui
Recurring scandals are tarnishing the brand of Tongrentang, a Beijing-based, 360-year-old manufacturer and retailer of traditional Chinese medicine remedies that sells its products around the world. The firm’s difficulties reflect systemic problems with the production of traditional remedies in China.
According to a May 9 report in the mainland Chinese newspaper Southern Daily, on May 7 Hong Kong’s Department of Health ordered a recall of the remedy Jian Ti Wu Bu Wan from all retail outlets because its mercury content was found to be five times the permitted limit. The medicine was not even supposed to contain mercury, said a Department of Health spokesman.
After Jian Ti Wu Bu Wan was withdrawn in Hong Kong, sources in the traditional Chinese medicine industry told Southern Daily that two of the company’s other products, Niu Huang Qian Jin San and Xiao Er Zhi Bao Wan, were found to contain 17.3 percent and 0.72 percent of mercury sulfide by weight, far exceeding international safety limits.
The publicity about the high levels of mercury in these three remedies came just after Tongrentang’s subsidiary, Beijing Tong Ren Tang Chinese Medicine Co Ltd (8138:Hong Kong) launched an IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange on May 6. News of the heavy metal contamination thus gained much media and public attention.
The Tongrentang brand has been considered a benchmark for traditional Chinese medicine. The company was established in 1649 and served the imperial court. Today, its website reports its products are sold in 40 countries and regions, and the Chinese regime mouthpiece People’s Daily has referred to the company as the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine.
According to industry sources cited by Southern Daily in a May 21 report, the problems involving mercury contamination are not limited to a few Tongrentang products.
The sources say around 40 medicinal products widely sold by Tongrentong contain mercury sulfide. In addition, about 30 percent of the company’s medicine products for children also contain mercury sulfide, according to the insiders.
The Chengdu Business Daily in a May 22 article reported that the illegal additive mannitol was detected in January this year in the Pobifong pollen flakes produced by Tongrentang, which violates China’s National Food Safety Standards.
Dried Chinese foxglove slices produced by Beijing Tongrentang (Bozhou) Sliced Chinese Medicine Co. Ltd. failed in April to meet requirements over total ash content as well as acid-insoluble ash content, also according to Chengdu Business Daily.
Dr. Wang Quansheng, vice director of the Integrated Therapy of Traditional and Western Medicines at central China’s Wuhan Union Hospital, told the Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po that according to China’s official pharmacopoeia, the daily intake of mercury sulfide should not exceed 0.1 – 0.5 grams per person. The long-term intake or overdosage of the compound could result in damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.
Tongrentong issued a statement on May 22 on its official website, saying that cinnabarite (or mercury(II) sulfide) is a traditional Chinese medicine with a history of about 2000 years, and as long as patients follow the doctor’s instructions, it should be safe to take.
The quality control issues that have surfaced with Tongrentang are not particular to it.
Shi Lichen, cofounder of the Medical Business Unit at the Alliance PKU Management Consultants Ltd., a specialized management consulting company held by Peking University, said that Chinese companies need to adopt strict controls to ensure that the raw materials they use are free from heavy metal contamination, with possible sources including herbs grown in contaminated soil, and middlemen who secretly add heavy metals to raw produce to increase its market weight. Companies must also ensure that their manufacturing processes do not introduce heavy metals into their medicine products as well.
The public has in the past shown great concern over the issue of heavy metal contamination, and the Tongrentang incident has left some wondering.
Mr. Wang Jingye, a famous Chinese tenor who now lives in Singapore wrote on his Weibo, “If I can’t even trust such an established medicine brand as Tongrentang, is my best hope to await death if I fall ill?” “God, if even medicine is poisonous now, can you please tell us what is still safe to eat [in China]?”
Translated by Leo Chen. Written in English by Shu Yan Tan.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, Food, health, Society
BEIJING— Authorities are investigating rice mills in southern China following tests that found almost half of the staple grain in one of the country’s largest cities was contaminated with a toxic metal.
The mills in Hunan province’s Youxian county were ordered to suspend business and recall their products after samples showed excessive levels of cadmium, according to an official notice issued Tuesday by the county government.
It said the mills had been operating legally and sourced their rice from local farmers.
The announcement followed reports over the weekend that government inspectors discovered that 44.4 percent of rice and rice products tested this year in the southern city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province showed high levels of cadmium. The carcinogenic metal can seriously damage the kidneys and cause other health problems.
Hunan is a heavily agricultural province that borders on Guangdong, although it wasn’t clear if there was a direct connection between the mills and Guangzhou’s tainted rice.
While investigations are continuing, cadmium is believed to have entered the rice from soil polluted with heavy metals. Air and soil pollution are chronic problems in China, caused by poor regulation of industrial emissions and heavy dependence on coal to generate electricity.
China’s food supply also suffers from deliberate faking or adulterating by unscrupulous operators, leading to occasional public panic over products from infant formula to cooking oil and a deep lack of trust in the government’s ability to ensure food safety.
In one of the worst scandals, at least six babies died and 300,000 became sick in 2008 after being fed milk powder tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, which was illegally added to watered-down dairy products to make their protein content appear normal.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Culture, Food, health, Nature
Thyme is without a doubt one of the most useful herbs we have at our disposal, being a powerful germicide with carminative and anti-inflammatory properties. It is described by one of the preeminent herbalists of our time Dorothy Hall as being “powerfully protective and therapeutic”, and one of the “big three of herbal medicine”.
During the Middle Ages, thyme was grown in the monastic gardens of Italy, France and Spain and used to treat those suffering from poor digestion, intestinal parasites and a sore throat. Herbalists used thyme as a powerful germicide to treat patients infected with the plague that swept through Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In 1725 a German apothecary ‘discovered’ thymol, the powerful disinfectant present in the essential oil of thyme, which is effective against bacteria and fungi. Thymol has been found to be very similar to carbolic acid in its action, though more powerful against infection and less irritating to the skin.
In fact cultures as far back as the ancient Sumerians employed thyme as an antiseptic. The ancient Egyptians also used thyme as an antiseptic and preservative in the process of embalming their dead. No doubt the learned physicians of these cultures also knew of and used thyme in all its therapeutic capacity.
Thyme was even used extensively in hospitals during World War I and well into the twentieth century to purify the air and dress the wounds of soldiers.
For medicinal purposes, classical herbalists today use both Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum) and Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) sometimes called Garden thyme.
Thyme is very effective when used to treat respiratory conditions. A cup of thyme tea brewed up can bring relief to those suffering from a sore throat, or better still make a cup at the first signs of a throat infection.
The tea is also very useful as a throat gargle for those people, like singers or football coaches, who use their voices a lot. Thyme tea can be quite strong for some people, so dilute with extra water to taste. Brew a cup of thyme tea only when required, as it is not suited for regular use.
A professional herbalist can prescribe thyme in extract or tincture form if this herb is indicated for you therapeutically.
Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist.
Title quote by Rudyard Kippling.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
The more ‘diet’ foods I consumed, the more addicted to sugar I got
By Tysan Lerner
When I was in my late teens I started struggling with my weight.
I had just decided to focus more on academics, less on dance training, so I drastically cut down my physical activity. Between that and the hormonal changes affecting my 16-year-old body, I started gaining some weight.
I decided to go on a diet. I read Dr. Ornish’s diet book. It taught me that what was making me fat was indeed fat. At the time, low-fat diets had just become a big craze, and so there were plenty of fat-free foods to support my dieting efforts.
Dr. Ornish encouraged whole foods, but I was only 16 and didn’t really know how to cook. So, like many of my fellow North Americans, I turned to the wide selection of low-fat and fat-free processed foods being offered to consumers.
Soon after changing my diet, I found myself feeling hungrier than ever.
A few years later, I read that fat makes you feel satiated, and without it you will never really feel full. So I added the fat back in. But I still ate the fat-free, sugary desserts and still felt chronically hungry, lazy, and tired!
As a result, I gained even more weight, felt tired most of the time, and was chronically hungry despite the large amounts of food I was allowing myself. The more “diet” foods I consumed, the more addicted to sugar I got.
I also started suffering from chronic fatigue, depression, and major weight gain. Eventually I gained 40 pounds from binging on sweets.
What is ‘sugar’?
We all know what sugar is. It is that lovely white or brown powdery stuff that we add to our coffee or tea, and candies and cakes.
But sugar is found in almost all foods, although it manifests in different forms. Some forms of sugars are more toxic, and some less.
Grains and breads contain sugar. Next time you eat some brown rice, chew it 30 to 50 times until it becomes a liquid. You will discover that it ends up tasting sweet.
That sweetness comes from the sugar you have released after chewing the rice. But that sugar is primarily in the form of glucose and does not affect the body the way other forms of sugar do.
In fact, we need glucose to run well, so when I say “kick sugar,” I don’t mean kick carbohydrates such as bread and grains.
I am talking primarily about fructose. Dr. Robert H. Lustig explains in his lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” at the University of California, San Francisco, that the fructose in sugar is toxic for us.
When eaten without the nutrients and fibre found in fruits, which are high in fructose, it causes metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides, a fatty liver, and a big gut.
Consider this: 50 percent of sugar is fructose, 55 percent of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is fructose, and 50 to 70 percent of agave nectar is fructose.
This is all dangerous because the fructose from these sugar sources is not getting digested with the fibre found in fruits. So although the sugar found in fruit is 70 percent fructose, it is not toxic for us since fruit fibre helps to digest it. Fibre is nature’s antidote for fructose.
Most North Americans are getting their fructose fix from soda, juice, chocolate milk, ice cream, cookies, and cake. It is also added into many processed foods to make them taste better. Because HFCS is inexpensive, it is easy to load up food with it.
In 2009, Dr. Lustig helped the American Heart Association rewrite the guidelines for the recommended daily limit on sugar intake. The association now recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women. Having more than that is considered toxic.
Cutting out sugar
After learning about how toxic sugar was and how prevalent it was in our diets, I went on a mission to cut it out. To keep it simple, I started with HFCS. I noticed that it was in much of the treats I loved, including light ice cream, whole wheat bread, and “healthy” morning cereals.
I thought I had been doing so well since I was eating whole wheat bread and only indulging in a 160-calorie daily treat, but in fact, if Dr. Lustig is correct, I was slowly poisoning myself (and my kids).
So out went the bread and cereal with the HFCS. Out went the light ice cream since the only alternative to light ice cream with HFCS was light ice cream with artificial sweeteners, which I do not advocate.
I got into making baked apples with cinnamon or baked blueberries with coconut. That hit my sweet tooth and cut my cravings for more dessert. As a result, I lost the last 6 lbs I had been struggling with for years.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is www.lavendermamas.com
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Tags: environmental issues, Food, sustainable development
Spring has sprung, and it’s time to start planting vegetable seeds indoors to transplant into the garden.
Jennifer Zoch, seed technician at Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds based in Iowa, explains that the benefits to starting plants by seed include keeping garden costs down as well as the fact that there are many plant varieties that cannot be found at local garden centres.
“The process begins with deciding what you and your family like to eat and size of the garden and seed selection,” Zoch said.
Seed selection options are heirloom (seeds used by past generations), hybrid (plants cross-bred for special traits), and organic (non-synthetic pesticides or fertilizers).
Regarding heirloom seeds, Zoch said, “Flavours are better and the vegetables come in different shapes and colours. There are specialty crops which apply to a region or provide for special needs, like apples for making cider.”
Ideal veggies to start early by seed are cold-weather crops such as lettuce, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, and cabbage.
When to plant indoors
To start various plant seeds indoors, count backward from the expected last frost date pertaining to the number of days for the plant to be ready to plant outdoors according to the seed packet instructions.
Containers and soil
Any container—even yogurt cups with plenty of holes for drainage—can be used along with a mixture of organic potting soil (soil, peat, and compost), explains Zoch.
Local garden centres sell seed-starting trays and plastic covers. Peat plugs are simple but peat has no nutrients, thus fertilizing is needed when the plants get their second round of leaves.
“Liquid fish emulsion added with water meets organic standards for fertilizer but is a little smelly,” Zoch said.
“Do not use raw manure or compost with grass clippings contaminated with herbicides as the residue might kill your seedlings. That is why it is good to be familiar with the source of the product you are using, and to buy local and/or organic whenever possible.”
Plastic covers trap moisture and warmth, but remove immediately after the seeds sprout in order to avoid fungus.
Once the seeds sprout, they need a lot of water, light, and ventilation, Zoch said.
“Many beginners kill plants by over watering. Water once a day (if needed) and at the same time each day before noon, so foliage can dry before nightfall to avoid fungus.” – Jennifer Zoch, Seed Savers Exchange
“Many beginners kill plants by over watering. Water once a day (if needed) and at the same time each day before noon, so foliage can dry before nightfall to avoid fungus.”
Re-pot when there are more than a couple of roots wrapped around the inside of the container or the drainage holes, or poking out of the peat plug. Zoch explains that plants can have a tough time getting established, stop growing, or even die if the root hairs are damaged while taking them out of the pot due to being root-bound.
The next step includes “decreasing water, moving plants to a cooler room for a few days, and regularly brushing your hand over the plants, or a few hours of an electric fan blowing gently on them to simulate wind,” Zoch said.
“This simulation strengthens the plant cells in the stem.”
One to two weeks later, gradually introduce the plants to the outdoor elements by placing them on the west side of a building or under a tree in the shade, then gradually move them away from the tree or building into more light. Cover the plants at night.
A couple of days prior to planting, till the garden soil and then till in peat and compost. Add granulated organic fertilizer and peat into each seed hole. Zoch advises covering with dirt any areas that may have peat exposed as it will pull moisture away from the plant and kill it.
“Set the plants about 1/2-inch lower than ground level for good watering and root development,” she said. “Water the plants gently with a watering can. Avoid getting the foliage wet.”
Never step on areas where plants will be planted, but rather walk between rows to make a path to weed, water, fertilize, and pick the produce.
Now, get the satisfaction of watching the plants you’ve carefully nurtured grow and produce.
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit that preserves heirloom plant varieties through regeneration, distribution, and seed exchange. To learn more from a webinar presented by Jennifer Zoch and Seed Savers Exchange, go to http://www.seedsavers.org/Education/Webinar-Archive/#seed_collection.
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Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, Food, health, Science, Society, sustainable development
By Jack Phillips
Earlier this week the U.S. Congress quietly passed the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which has been derided by opponents as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” it was reported.
In the appropriations bill, the provision essentially protects purveyors of genetically modified seeds, including Monsanto, from lawsuits amid potential health risks, according to Salon.com.
President Obama signed the measure into law on Tuesday.
More than 250,000 people have signed a petition that opposes the Monsanto Protection Act, according to Food Democracy Now.
“Once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry have used their lobbying power to undermine your basic rights,” reads a statement on Food Democracy’s website.
There has been anger over how the provision passed through Congress, without being reviewed by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The provision was introduced anonymously as the Agricultural Appropriations Bill progressed, according to Salon.
Now, the Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food Safety have blamed the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
The Center for Food Safety said that “many Democrats were unaware of its presence in the larger bill,” according to its website.
“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, the head of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.
He added: “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Senator Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, Food, health, Nature, sustainable development
“You should eat more fish” is a remark I often make to patients. But I find that recently more patients reply, “But are fish safe to eat?”
They worry about the amount of mercury and PCBs that may be in fish. So today when it appears that everything has a touch of contamination, how safe are fish to eat?
A report from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, published in Environmental Science and Technology, analyzed seafood inspection data from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
It states that today 85 percent of seafood used in North America is imported, and much of it is farm-raised (a practice called aquaculture) in Asia and elsewhere in the developing world.
One negative is that other nations have varying standards for aquaculture. For instance, they may use drugs that are banned in North America. But the big negative is that North American officials do not inspect most overseas farms. This means that only a fraction of imported seafood is tested for drug residues, microbes, and heavy metals.
In fact, on the world stage, U.S. inspection leaves much to be desired. For example, the Hopkins report says the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States checks only a mere 2 percent for these contaminants. This compares with 20 to 50 percent in Europe, 18 percent in Japan, and 15 percent in Canada. Moreover, Europe tests for the presence of 34 drugs, but the United States tests for only 13.
There was more bad news for me. I love shrimp, but according to Hopkins’ researchers, shrimp and prawns were the seafood that most often exceeded drug- residue limits. Crab, basa (a kind of catfish), eel, and tilapia were other problem fish—many of which are farmed.
Vietnam was the country that had the most drug violations, followed by China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
The question is, how much of a problem are drugs that are used to control diseases when fish are so crowded in farm operations? The greatest hazard is for farm workers. For the rest of us, no one knows how much chronic low-level exposure harms us. There’s also concern that bacteria may develop resistance to antibiotics.
So, if like me, you enjoy fish, how can you eat it without becoming depressed? Dr. David Lowe, author of the Hopkins study, suggests trying to locate domestic farmed seafood, which has a greater chance of being inspected. And if you’re lucky to live in Canada, there is no history of export violations.
The Seafood Watch Program in the United States lists the following fish that are high in omega-3 fats, low in mercury, PCBs, and pesticides: oysters (farmed), Pacific sardines (wild caught), rainbow trout (farmed), salmon (wild caught from Alaska), freshwater Coho salmon (farmed in tanks in the United States), albacore tuna from the United States or British Columbia, and arctic char (farmed).
It’s best to select small fish, which are less likely to contain contaminants and have higher amounts of omega-3 fats. But since larger fish eat these smaller fish, they have a higher concentration of contaminants. Wild and canned salmon are always a good choice.
Remember too that all fish are not created equal. A three-ounce serving of farmed salmon contains over 2,000 milligrams (mgs) of omega-3 fats. Shrimp have only 250 mg.
If you’re looking for fish with high amounts of magnesium, which protects against fatal cardiac arrhythmias, order tuna or crawfish. If you’re concerned about blood cholesterol, boiled or steamed lobster has only 72 mgs per 100 grams compared to 75 for skinless chicken and 2 poached eggs.
Looking at the total picture, the health benefits of fish far outweigh the risks. In fact, while I write this column, researchers report that people who eat fish regularly were 12 percent less likely to develop colon and rectal cancer.
Today, there are many risky contaminants in our air and water that are worrying. But I’m not losing any sleep over those in fish.
Dr. Gifford-Jones is a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto. His website is DocGiff.com. He may be contacted at Info@docgiff.com.
Tags: CCP, China, environmental issues, Food, Society, sustainable development
Farmers in several areas of China’s Henan Province have been forced to irrigate their fields with industrial wastewater, because groundwater sources have dried up or been polluted by industry, according to state media.
The crops harvested from the polluted fields are all sold, because none of the farmers dare to eat their own produce, according to locals.
A report by Chinese state-run media Dahe described the wastewater discharged by Dongfeng Papermaking Co. in Dakuai Township, Fengquan District of Xinxiang City, as “gray and sticky.” A 200-meter-long open trench takes the water directly into nearby farmlands for irrigation without prior treatment, and a thick layer of pulp has settled on the surface of fields, it said.
Pan Kangping, manager of the Dongfeng paper mill, was quoted as saying that the village committee had signed an agreement with them, allowing the use of papermaking wastewater for agricultural irrigation.
Mr. Zhang, a local villager, told Dahe that the farmlands used to be irrigated by water taken from a well about 20 to 30 meters deep. After the papermaking mill was built, it drilled four wells up to 100 meters deep to pump groundwater for manufacturing. The farmers, however, were deprived of irrigation water as the previous wells were drained.
Villagers then approached the village committee and the paper mill to reach a settlement, Zhang said. The paper mill said that villagers could either buy groundwater pumped from the deep wells or use the post-treatment wastewater from the paper mill.
Villagers felt their interests had been violated, and they refused to buy water from the mill.
But they couldn’t wait and let the wheat seedlings dry up, Zhang said, and without a better alternative, all that they could do was to use the wastewater, as it came without a charge.
“We sold all of the harvest to the market. We don’t dare to keep any of it for our own consumption,” Zhang admitted.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
Superfoods. The name itself carries so much hype, and many nutritionists can’t stand it. The concept, however, has the best of intentions. Essentially, superfood is used to describe food with a particularly high nutrient profile and minimal negative ingredients.
We’re not saying to eat them constantly. What we are saying is buying them at the store and incorporating them into your diet will have benefits on your waistline and overall health and wellness.
Rich in healthy monounsaturated fat, avocados also loaded with fiber and lutein, an antioxidant linked to eye and skin health.
Loaded with antioxidants, mainly anthocyanins, blueberries can help with brain function and your vision. They also make a great snack.
Packed with flavonols and antioxidants, one piece of dark (80%+ cacao is best) provides a healthy dose of disease-fighting compounds and may help to reduce cholesterol.
Rich in protein and minerals including zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron, oats also packed an excellent dose of soluble fiber! Great for breakfast.
One of, if not the most, protein-rich foods on earth, eggs are also loaded with amino acids and other nutrients. It’s also OK to eat the yolks.
Full of cholesterol-lowering fiber and monounsaturated fat, almonds make a great snack or can be easily incorporated into virtually any meal.
One glass of red wine a night has been shown to boost levels of healthy cholesterol and packs a healthy dose of antioxidants, resveratrol and saponins.
(Kristinas comment: Pregnant women should not drink alcoholic beverages at all, since it will harm the unborn child.)
According to The American Heart Association, eating fish two meals per week, helps cut the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. Fatty fish, such as salmon, may also help alleviate depression. Just make sure it’s wild-caught, never frozen and comes from a store that supports sustainable agriculture.
Heirloom and ancient grains carry a far superior nutritional makeup than modern wheat, which has been crossbred and may be genetically modified. Grains such as Kamut khorasan, spelt, and amaranth generally contain higher levels of protein, antioxidants and minerals and generally taste better, too!
Chia, quinoa, and flax seeds all carry a host of nutritional benefits ranging from antioxidants and minerals to protein and fiber.
Eco18 is a collective of creative-writing individuals from different backgrounds with a common goal—to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Their combined expertise, humor, and opinions explore green and sustainable in a practical, fun way. www.eco18.com
Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
To help you lose weight, become healthier, and feel better, cut down on your sugar intake. Of course, this is easier said than done since sweets are addictive.
To help you lose weight, become healthier, and feel better, cut down on your sugar intake. Of course, this is easier said than done since sweets are addictive.
Worse, sugar is added to so many of our daily foods, including tomato sauces, yogurts, cereals, milk alternatives, breads, ketchups, and even some pickles.
Read the ingredient lists and look out for sugar (including high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, fructose) and how many grams of sugar are listed. Generally speaking, 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of sugar.
How to Kick Sugar
I asked Dr. Jingduan Yang, M.D., an expert in traditional Chinese medicine, what he would recommend to help cut out sugar, and he gave five tips:
Tip 1: Get Enough Sleep
Fatigue makes us vulnerable to giving in to our sugar cravings. If you haven’t slept enough, and you are suddenly reaching for chocolate to stay awake, drink some water and take a 10-minute power nap instead. Not only will you wake up feeling refreshed, you will also wake up no longer craving sugar!
Tip 2: Eat Fruit Instead
Fruit is sweet and high in fructose, but because it is nutritious and high in fiber, it is not considered toxic or bad for you the way sugar is. Fruit will help satisfy that sweet tooth when you are craving dessert.
Tip 3: Eat Greens to Help Heal Your Liver
According to traditional Chinese medicine, green is the color associated with the liver organ system. Eating greens will help replenish your liver, and in turn calm your sugar cravings.
Dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, watercress, and bok choy are great options. Sauté them with garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and some sesame oil for a Chinese side dish, or garlic, lemon and olive oil for a more Mediterranean flair.
Tip 4: Exercise Regularly
Not only will exercise help you metabolize the sugar you do eat more effectively, it will also pick up your energy and mood.
Tip 5: Get to the Root
The first question Dr. Yang asked when I inquired about how to stop eating so much sugar was, “What is it that you are self-medicating?”
We all have our issues, and many of us learn to deal with them with food. Some eat for fun, some eat for stress release, and some eat to fill a void in their life. If you suspect you are “using” sugar to self-medicate, get to the root of your problem and address it directly.
Mindfulness-based meditation has been shown to be highly beneficial for dealing with emotional stress.
Once you cut out sugar, and replace it with “sweet” things in life, you will enjoy a flatter belly, a thinner body, more energy, less mood swings, and overall better health.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is www.lavenderm
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Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health, Science, sustainable development
Is sugar toxic? This is a question that many have pondered over amid skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates in many developed nations. A new study, publicized in the New York Times this week, answers “yes.”
The number one problem with the American diet is sugar, according to a new study publicized Wednesday after Mark Bittman, in a New York Times article, described the ubiquitous sweetener as “toxic.”
The study found that when people ingest more sugar, there is an increased chance of diabetes, regardless of obesity. The study was published in a PloS One issue on Feb. 27 and used “econometric models of repeated cross-sectional data on diabetes and nutritional components of food from 175 countries,” according to an abstract.
Regarding sugar, “no other food types yielded significant individual associations with diabetes prevalence after controlling for obesity and other confounders,” the abstract reads. “Differences in sugar availability statistically explain variations in diabetes prevalence rates at a population level that are not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity,” it continues.
Rob Lustig, an author of the study with the University of California, San Francisco, said the paper was highly comprehensive.
“You could not enact a real-world study that would be more conclusive than this one,” he told the Times.
The study took into account poverty, aging, obesity, urbanization, and physical activity. It also controlled other foods.
The study found that “for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up” by 1 percent, Bittman said, and concluded: “The take-away: it isn’t simply overeating that can make you sick; it’s overeating sugar. We finally have the proof we need for a verdict: sugar is toxic.”