Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Much Salt Should You Consume?

Do you think about how much salt you consume? According to Harvard Medical School, if you are under age 50, your blood pressure is in a healthy range, and your health is good, you probably have little reason to worry about salt intake. A lower-sodium diet is good for people who are older, who are of African American descent, or who have high blood pressure or Diabetes. These individuals should limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300–2,400 mg a day. People with heart failure or kidney disease are advised to keep their sodium intake under 2,000 mg a day.

Keep the following in mind for healthy consumption of salt:
  • Watch processed and packaged foods. These varieties contain much more salt than what you would use if you were preparing something from scratch. That includes any type of food you purchase in a package other than raw meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts, dried rice/beans/legumes, raw grains, spices, and other similar items.
  • Anything that comes in a can, jar, package, or box is subject to having salt added to it. Watch everything from canned soups and broths to boxed cereals, crackers, breads, and packaged meats (hot dogs, lunch meats, bacon), cheeses, sour cream, pickles, prepared drinks, etc. Even frozen and canned fruits and vegetables that claim on the package to be "natural" or organic have often had sodium added. You are better off eating fresh, but if you are purchasing frozen or canned fruits or vegetables, look for those that are organic and have the words "no salt added" and are as natural as possible. Above all, read labels! The type of sodium added to most processed foods is usually the cheapest, most processed variety as well, so use care and avoid these as much as you are able.
  • When you are purchasing salt to add to foods, be certain to look for a good mineral salt that has been refined as little as possible. Some crucial elements missing from modern diets are trace nutrient and minerals that come from untampered foods from nature, and salt. These trace minerals and nutrients are vital to health.
  • Always be certain to add the correct amount of salt for a recipe. If you are guessing, add a little and then taste. You can always add more salt if necessary, but once you put salt in, you cannot take it out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Embrace and Perfect Your Homekeeping Skills

People underestimate the power and importance of good home-keeping. Home-keeping is an amazing lost art that can save a great deal of time and money, and should be viewed as an excellent way to preserve the environment and health as well. Key factors in smart home-keeping include using minimal resources, healthy foods and ingredients, finding ways to shorten your time in doing various activities and tasks, and learning about how to do things in a more economically and health-friendly way. Here are some tips for smart home-keeping:
  • Unless it is a special occasion, do most of your eating from home. An occasion can also be made more special if you prepare a home-cooked meal. You will save money and over time you will develop ways to make groceries last longer than you thought you could.
  • Resist the urge to purchase packaged, processed foods. Not only are these foods more expensive, they are never as healthy as those made at home, and usually involve some type of packaging that will pollute the environment. As much as possible, buy local and organic foods.
  • Instead of purchasing packaged items for the home, think of ways to save money by creating or making them yourself. Home-made cleaners and solutions for just about any type of preparation for sanitation are right in your cupboard - vinegar, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, borax, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils can do the job economically and without toxic side effects. Visit The Family Homestead for ideas on how to make your own cleaners.
  • Discard your modernistic views of getting tasks done. Stop using a microwave and start using your stove and oven. Your food will be healthier -- microwaving effectively removes nutrients from your food and should be considered a dangerous method to cook. Microwaves have also been determined to expose us to radiation and electromagnetic waves that can cause cancer. Whenever possible, don't use your dryer - let your clothes dry naturally. And, don't ever use dryer sheets. They are full of toxic chemicals that can absorb into your skin from your clothing. Always trust your "mothers intuition" about things that seem like they may not be healthy - if you have a doubt, you are probably correct.
  • If you choose to become a stay-at-home-keeper, don't allow what others who may be working full-time are doing to otherwise influence your choice. Many people who stay at home are busier than those who work out of the home. This is one of the most important jobs you will ever undertake, so march forward and don't feel guilty about taking it seriously!
  • Learn to partner with other individuals who share your zest for home-prepared foods and other items such as homemade soaps, candles, cleaning solutions, gardening, knitting, crotcheing, canning & jarring foods, sewing, jewelry-making, wood-working, furniture-building, and raising animals for food and other necessity items (such as for clothing, etc.). You may even consider a cooking co-op where you agree with others, perhaps in your own neighborhood, on a schedule of preparing foods where each family only cooks once or twice a week.
  • Think creatively about preparing a variety of meals at home for your family. Use the Internet for recipe ideas as they are free and vast. Borrow cookbooks from friends or check-out from the library. If you find that you have a hard time sticking to recipes, experiment with your own whims and tastes. Often something really spectacular can come from a crazy idea.
  • Prepare everything you can from scratch. You may be wondering, "where will I ever find the time??" If you re-prioritize your life a bit and make time to prepare home-cooked foods, cleaners, clothing, and other home items, you will find a quiet satisfaction as well as enjoy better health from your efforts. You will start to realize that you can do more from scratch if you just allow yourself the extra moments needed, and your life will start to order itself around these important tasks instead of you ordering yourself around a great deal of other activities that may not be as critical. When you start to slow down, prepare things, and savor the very act of doing these things for your family, you should eventually notice the peace you will feel, improved health, and satisfaction of having put in an afternoon's or mornings time on such fulfilling work.
  • Work on reusing, saving, recycling, and rethinking everything you do to save money, time, and the environment. Use glass containers you get from foods purchased at the store. Eliminate plastic from your house as much as you can and replace with reusable containers made of wood, metal, glass, ceramic, and enamel. If you must use plastic, recycle. Recycle glass, paper, and other items whenever possible.
  • Make at least one meal a day a sit-down occasion at the table with others where no other interruptions prevail. This should be a focused, relaxed time to enjoy healthy food that will nourish your body and join with family or friends, be social, and catch up. Turn off the television and put on some music that will get you in the mood, but will not distract from the task at hand - eating your meal in peace and being able to connect with important people in your life.
  • Don't panic if you cannot get everything done in a day; rarely anyone can. The beauty of the home is that it will always be there tomorrow. And unlike a thankless job you have to go to five days a week, you probably won't have a nasty boss breathing down your neck telling you that you may not go home until you have cleaned the toilets. If you have family members breathing down your neck about such items, it's time to sit down and have a talk about all that is involved in maintaining a house and/or caring for children or other family members.
  • Spend time teaching home-keeping with your family members -- in particular, your children. Getting tasks accomplished for the common good allows you to spend time together and bond over something everyone in your house cares about. Teach children to help with laundry, dishes, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, dusting, baking, tidying up their own rooms and personal items, and cooking meals. Play music, laugh, and have fun while you are engaged in these tasks. As Mary Poppins always says, "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!"
  • When your daily tasks are done, instead of going out enjoy a family game or movie night at home. Invite friends or other family over to share your evening. This is a great way to save gas, promote personal relationships, and avoid activities that tend to separate us as human beings such as being on the computer/playing video games/ watching television.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Health Benefits of Chocolate

Do you eat chocolate? If so, you could be doing yourself a favor. Chocolate has been reported more and more as having a positive effect on our health. According to The Heart and Vascular Institute of Cleveland Clinic, dark chocolate contains certain substances such as flavonoids which are beneficial to the cardiovascular and other body systems: "Flavonoids provide important protective benefits to plants, such as in repairing damage and shielding from environmental toxins. When we consume plant-based foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this 'antioxidant' power." Chocolate also contains antioxidants. These "are believed to help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals, formed by normal bodily processes such as breathing or environmental contaminants like cigarette smoke. When the body lacks adequate levels of antioxidants, free radical damage ensues, leading to increases in LDL-cholesterol oxidation and plaque formation on arterial walls.

Does that give us license to eat any manner and amount of chocolate we please? Unfortunately, no. But a daily dose of minimally-processed, low sugar, dark chocolate is great for your health. As with anything else, eat this food in moderation and watch what other ingredients accompany the chocolate.

Avoid milk chocolate. Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy's National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, and colleagues reported, "Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate ... and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate."

Read labels and become aware of what ingredients to avoid. Avoid anything you cannot pronounce, fillers, and emulsifiers (such as soy lecithin or soy oil). Many brands who sell organic chocolate use soy lecithin and other procesed soy ingredients, which are unhealthy to consume. It is best to spend the extra money on good quality chocolate and spread its consumption out over a period of days to a week. You can find outstanding quality chocolate bars in health food stores from brands such as Art Bar from Ithaca Chocolates, Health by Chocolate from Ecco Bella, and Sweet Earth Chocolate. There are many other good brands, just be mindful of what you are putting in your body and aware of ingredients.

Fantastic chocolate products are available from Dagoba Organic Chocolate including hot chocolate mix that contains no sugar. Simply heat some water on the stove and prepare your cup with a tablespoon of Dagoba. When the water boils, pour it into your cup and stir to blend with the chocolate. When you have thoroughly mixed your chocolate, you can add a bit of sweetner such as Stevia. Before you fill your cup all the way with water, for an absolutely, to-die-for creamy cup of hot chocolate -- add some whole, raw, organic milk or cream to your cup and stir well. Enjoy the great taste and health benefit of a homemade cup of real hot chocolate!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Enzymes for Breast Health

Do you suffer from fibrocystic breast disease? This condition affects many women during the course of their lives. Fibrocystic breast disease is marked by lumpy, fibrous tissue in the breast and can range in discomfort from mild to severe. Women who have not had children, are prone to irregular menstrual activity, and who have a family history of the condition are more likely to develop it. But there are lifestyle choices you can make to minimize this problem or even eliminate its occurrance.

Some health practitioners believe conditions such as this in the breast are caused by a basic congestion of the body's elimination systems such as the liver and lymphatic system. Your liver can become toxic when overloaded with processed foods and substances in your diet. If your liver cannot filter out toxins, they go into your digestive tract and ultimately end up in other places like the lymphatic system. It's true that a diet high in fiber with an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate intake of sprouted whole grains/beans/legumes, and healthy, grass-fed meats and dairy encourages elimination of waste and lowers the levels of estrogen circulating in the body.

A remedy the mainstream medical communities are not as familiar with is digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes have shown positive effects on fibrocystic breast symptoms. These substances act as catalysts that cause chemical reactions to occur. Metabolic enzymes neutralize harmful compounds that are potentially cancer-causing agents. During digestion, enzymes break down food to a molecular level to be absorbed and used by the body. As protein digestion and the breaking down of food occurs, enzymes assist in elimination of bacteria, waste, toxins, and dead tissue. Digestive enzymes also encourage a natural healing response of inflammation in the body, which causes a pain-relieving effect to occur.

Other types of enzymes useful for repair and healing are known as systemic enzymes. These are taken between meals, unlike digestive enzymes (taken with meals). These enzymes maximize entry into the bloodstream for delivery to various parts of the body. Another type of enzyme is Proteolytic which typically comes from animal and non-animal sources such as hog pancreas (pancreatin), pineapple (bromelain), and papaya (papain). Pancreatin feeds the human pancreas and supports both its tissue and function. Another enzyme is serrapeptase, found in the saliva of silkworms who use it to dissolve silk -- one of toughest natural substances in existence.

Studies which used these enzymes had the following outcomes: in one group, 70 women with breast engorgment showed moderate to marked improvement in 86 percent of those who had taken the enzyme supplement, while an identical number of women in a placebo group only showed a 60 percent improvement. In another study, 10 coated tablets were given to 124 women twice daily. Another group received the same dosage but also added 1,000 mg of Vitamin E to their regimen. Six weeks later, researchers found that 80 percent of women taking only the enzyme were free of pain. Under the combined protocol, the percentage of women experiencing improvement increased to 85 percent. Any women experiencing a recurrence (from one to six months later) responded with improved results quickly after resuming enzymatic supplement supplementation.

Enzymedica, the leader in digestive enzymes, offers plant-based, condition-specific supplements. Digest Gold is their gold product for digestive support, while Repair Gold is their highest quality systemic support containing proteolytic enzymes which eliminate damaged tissue and increase the synthesis of protein to minimize discomfort and speeds body healing. Another formula, SerraGold (contains serrapeptase), is a good alternative to Repair Gold and provides excellent support to those processes as well. Visit Enzymedica for more information on the benefits of their products.

Some women experience relief from reducing or eliminating caffeine intake, and some find that increasing intake of real, essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and certain herbs such as red clover tops, nettle leaf, burdock root, and violet leaf are helpful. Visit Organic Family Magazine for more information about these herbs. Ginseng, licorice root, black cohosh, and chaste tree berry are also effective herbs - for more information about these, read Dr. Christine Horner's advice.

Of course it is paramount to maintain a healthy lifestyle with proper diet, exercise, stress-relief and rest. This includes plenty of filtered water, elimination of processed foods such as many grain products (many breads, crackers, pasta, cookies, etc.) and refined carbohydrates, meat and dairy products from animals fed corn, grains, and soy and contain antibiotics/steroids/hormones (stick to organic, pasture-raised meats and organic, raw dairy products), real foods with good sources of essential fatty acids (safe fish, grapeseed, olive, and coconut oils), raw nuts, soaked grains/legumes/beans, and good supplementation including probiotics.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Food Dyes and Additives

There are many toxic substances lurking in foods about which consumers are unaware. Many of those foods are the kinds eaten by children because manufacturers market items to be brightly colored and are engineered to taste good in order to appeal to a child's sense of aesthetic.

Important new research has shown that commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, are linked to hyperactivity, impulsivity, learning difficulties, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in many children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of these dyes, many of which are already being phased out in Europe. For more information about this important subject on the Food Dyes and Children's Behavior web site.

There are also many additives in foods, known as excitotoxins, which are engineered to affect the taste of the food. Read more about this subject on AromaTherapy4U with supporting information from Dr. Russell L. Blaylock and Dr. Colleen Huber - both medical doctors. Another individual who has conducted research on these dangerous toxins is George E. Shambaugh, Jr. M.D. who explains how hidden taste enhancers included in foods actually over-excite neurons in the brain, overworking them and eventually killing them. Various animal tests done with these substances have repeatedly confirmed these findings. Why would you allow your child to eat them? For an informative article about excitotoxins, visit Agriculture Society. To investigate a startling book written by one of the experts on this subject, check out Dr. Russell L. Blaylock's book, Excitotoxins, The Taste that Kills.

Foods you can find these substances in are wide and vast, and would include a majority of processed foods, unless otherwise labeled. Your best bet is to avoid processed foods and eat only whole, real foods. Some organic processed foods do not contain these substances, but the health benefits of any processed food, organic or not, should always be questioned before consumption. Here is a brief list of ingredients that are excitotoxins which are found in many processed foods and should be avoided:
  • Carrageenan
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt extract
  • Natural pork flavoring
  • Citric acid
  • Malt flavoring
  • Bouillon and Broth
  • Natural chicken flavoring
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Natural beef flavoring
  • Ultra-pasteurized
  • Soy sauce
  • Stock
  • Barley malt
  • Soy sauce extract
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Pectin
  • Soy protein
  • Whey protein
  • Protease
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Protease enzymes
  • Anything protein fortified
  • Flavors(s) & Flavoring(s)
  • Anything enzyme modified
  • Anything fermented
  • Natural flavor(s)
  • Enzymes anything
  • Seasonings (the word “seasonings”)
Always be aware of anything that reads "hydrolyzed" in an ingredient list. These substances are more often than not full of excitotoxins or glutamates - which is the group of substances to which Monosodium Glutamate or MSG belongs. Check your labels! Don't just assume something you buy that is packaged, boxed, or canned is good for you to may in fact be deadly!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Natural Treatment for Sore Throats

Sore throats are common during fall and winter months. Some people get the more mild variety - the scratchy, dry throat...while others experience extremely painful throats that can have a profound effect on talking, swallowing, eating, and doing daily tasks. Many sore throats are brought on by viruses and can be a warning sign of an impending cold. Most of us know that antibiotics and other medications are ineffective toward healing this type of illness. The solution for relief is actually closer than you think -- try looking in your own cupboard or refrigerator!

When you are sick, plenty of liquids and a lot of rest are recommended. There are some other things you can try which are often useful as well. Gargling with warm saline or salt water several times a day will help speed the healing process because it will promote better circulation and blood flow to the area and washes away mucous that contains toxins.

Other useful home remedies include the following:
  • Cayenne pepper - add 1/2 teaspoon to one cup boiling water, stir well and gargle while mixture is still warm. This also helps with circulation and allows infection-fighting antibodies to do their work. If desired, you can also add four parts Echinacea, one part garlic bulb, and two parts peppermint leaves to one part cayenne.
  • Aloe vera juice - try gargling with this juice two or three times daily. You can purchase this amazing, healing juice at your local health food store. If you swallow this juice, it is not a problem because Aloe Vera is not a medication and is also used by naturopath and homepath practitioners in healing the digestive tract. In fact, swallowing some of the juice will be beneficial to your throat.
  • Apple cider vinegar - mix one to two teaspoons with a glass of water. Gargle a mouthful once per hour and swallow when finished. Like aloe vera juice, apple cider is a food and it contains nutrients and trace elements the body needs. The acid content in the vinegar can sooth and minimize sore throat pain. The best type of apple cider vinegar is the natural, unpasteurized variety. When you are finished, be certain to rinse your mouth with some water to keep acid from eroding away your teeth's enamel.
  • Grapefruit seed extract - this extract is a powerful antimicrobial agent and also disinfects as well as provides antiseptic property. Add five drops to a glass of water and gargle.
  • Lemon juice - add the juice of one lemon and one teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm water. Gargle three times daily for a minute each session.
  • Slippery elm - this herb which has been used in North America for centuries is an effective remedy for healing many ailments including colds and coughs, wounds and burns, and sore throats. There are several ways to obtain slippery elm, whether it be in a throat-type lozenge, supplement capsule, tea, or in bark form (usually sold in bulk) at your local health food store. This herb can also be found in some of the packaged teas created especially for throat comfort.
Here are some good herbs for use in teas to soothe a sore throat (you can also purchase these items in bulk at a health food store):
  • Chamomile blossoms
  • Echinacea
  • Ginger
  • Goldenseal
  • Hyssop
  • Licorice
  • Marshmallow root bark
You can also find packaged teas that are useful for sore throats, as well as other illnesses. Good brands include Traditional Medicinals and Yogi Tea.

When you are sick, this is a sign that your immune system is compromised. Take care of your body holistically and treat more than just your symptoms; be certain to drink plenty of filtered mineral water, eat fresh, whole foods including organic fruits and vegetables, and slow down and make certain you are receiving adequate respite from your everyday grind.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Healing Power of Shiatsu

Have you ever experienced Shiatsu? This form of health care was first mentioned in the book Shiatsu Ho (Shiatsu Method) by Tenpaku Tamai's published in 1919. The practice of Shiatsu is a massage technique that differs from traditional western massage. A Shiatsu practitioner becomes aware of and responds to the chi flow on existing energy pathways known as meridians in the body. When circulation is blocked through the chi counterparts, health can be compromised.

Acupressure points, similar to those used in acupuncture, are identified and targeted during a treatment to affect the flow of chi. Because Shiatsu is founded in the principles that disconnects existing between internal organs, imbalances in yin and yang, and blockages of chi can adversely affect well-being, the application of pressure upon these points releases energy and allows it to flow as needed for restoring and maintenance of proper bodily functions.

Shiatsu uses bodywork employed by by thumbs, fingers, palms and elbows, feet and knees. The practitioner also engages in a type of meditative state which is intended to detect responses in the body to treatment. This action affects the subsequent treatment step by step and allows the practitioner to note how the body is affected by what is being done.

When you go to a Shiatsu session, you will lie on a futon on the floor. Wear comfortable, loose clothing. Prior to your first session, you may be interviewed and requested to fill out an intake form. Some of the questions might be as follows: What is your favorite season? What is your preferred time of year? What type of sleep disturbances, if any, do you experience?

After you have completed the form and the practitioner has gained some information about how you interact with your own body and nature, the session begins. You will lie down, possibly face up, and take some deep breaths. The practitioner will do all of the work, using crawling movements, contact penetration (rather than direct pressure) and movement, and some palpation. The idea is to treat the entire body as one vessel to alleviate or eliminate problems the client may be experiencing.

Shiatsu is effective for many ailments including the following: neck, back, joint, and shoulder pain, digestive issues, headaches, blood pressure, poor circulation, anxiety, and PMS. This type of massage is also quite useful for stress, grief, shock, fear, and other emotional problems.

For more information on Zen Shiatsu, visit the Institute for Traditional Medicine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Power Breakfast When on the Go

Want a quick breakfast that is nutritious and delicious? Here is a great recipe for a fantastic smoothie that is quick and provides the nutrients and energy to start your day:
  • 1 quart of Organic Pastures Dairy raw Qephor (also spelled kefir), or similar quality product (unpastuerized)
  • 1 cup Organic Pastures raw Colostrum (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Organic Pastures raw cream (optional)
  • Whey protein (homemade or purchased at your health food store (good brands are Biochem or Mercola's Pro Optimal Whey)
  • Raw organic, pasture-raised eggs or an organic banana are nutritious but optional ingredients
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh organic fruits - strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, blackberries,
  • For a bit of sweetner, add a small amount of Stevia (optional)
  • Other ingredients you might want to add would be coconut oil, cod liver oil, or ground flaxseeds
  1. Add Qephor (kefir), whey (optional), raw Colostrum (optional), raw cream (optional), flaxseed or oils (optional), berries or other fruits into a blender.
  2. Blend ingredients together. You may use ice if desired. You may need to stop your blender and mix your ingredients up a bit in the beginning with a spoon or butter knife.
  3. Pour smoothie into a glass and enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Energy-Dense Foods and Type 2 Diabetes

Do you eat a lot of fatty and processed foods? If so, you are increasing your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Many medical professionals tell patients that if they have a family history of Diabetes they need to be careful, but studies show that anyone who regularly consumes processed foods and foods where the fats have been altered such as fatty foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, breakfast sandwiches, fried foods, and foods with refined carbohydrates are at high risk for becoming diabetic.

Many people have a tendency to count calories, and it's true that high calorie amounts can add to health issues. But if you are eating healthy, whole foods from nature you should have no problem with your caloric intake. When health professionals tell people to count calories, they are doing their patients a disservice because they are failing to make a distinction between processed foods which are higher in calories and contain less nutrients versus whole, natural foods which contain the correct amount of calories needed for optimal health and are nutrient-dense by their very nature.

The following foods are not optimal for health and can lead to Type 2 Diabetes as well as other issues like high-blood pressure, weight gain, and heart disease:
  • crackers
  • most breads (try Ezekiel brand) including many "homemade" breads
  • pastas
  • rice cakes
  • french fries, tater tots
  • chips - soy, potato, corn (including the baked varieties)
  • boxed cereals
  • desserts, cookies, candies, cakes, pies, etc.
  • bagels
  • muffins
  • scones
  • packaged dairy products including many cheeses, yogurts, some kefir, butter, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and cream cheese
  • commercial and factory farmed meats, and even "family" raised meats which come from animals that are confined, administered antibiotics/hormones/chemcials, and are fed grains, soy, or corn instead of alfalfa or grass
  • packaged fruit and nut products such as many dried fruits, fruit rollups, yogurt covered raisins, and roasted nuts
  • many packaged beverages such as energy drinks, soda or carbonated pops or juices, juice drinks, alcohol, and coffee
Try the following for optimal health and weight:
  • fresh or frozen fresh fruits and vegetables (organic and in season is a plus)
  • grass-fed, organic meats and poultry (including pork, mutton, lamb, and game animals)
  • wild-caught, safe choice fish
  • raw, organic dairy (milk, cheese, cream, butter) from reputable sources
  • raw, organic nuts
  • healthy oils such as grapeseed, coconut, and olive oil (flax is good if consumed raw only)
  • moderate amounts of whole (grains not ground up into flour, which causes grain to go rancid quickly and raises the glycemic index), sprouted, organic grains (soaked if for cereal and other types of preparations)
  • moderate amounts of organic, soaked beans and legumes
  • organic brown and wild rices
  • purified or filtered water (with minerals is a plus)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Do you get sick a great deal in the fall and winter months? Many people believe that merely washing your hands more often should do the trick to keep illnesses at bay. But actually, there are many other factors which come into play toward keeping healthy. If you are a person who tends to catch every cold or flu that comes along, here are some tips that really work for avoiding viruses:
  • Avoid eating processed foods and refined sugars. Fall and Winter months are times when people tend to eat more sugary and processed foods due to holiday activities and gatherings. Sugar is a poison to your body and lowers immune system function. This includes foods such as crackers, chips, most breads, bagels, pastas, cookies, desserts, candy juice, soda pop, and other related items. All of these items contribute to lowered immune system and poor health. A good rule of thumb to follow - if it is not a whole food, avoid eating it regularly. Load up on real, raw, whole foods for snacks and meals alike.
  • Continue to eat plenty of fresh fruits in vegetables -- especially those in season in your local area. Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants which help thwart the development of disease and illness.
  • Drink plenty of filtered water (mineral water is a plus). Keep a glass container with you throughout the day and sip frequently rather than trying to gulp down many ounces at a time spread farther apart. Avoid plastic containers, tap water, and bottled water. Tap water contains toxins and plastic contains pthalates - both of which supress immune system and health.
  • Make sure you are taking good-quality supplements to fill in the holes where your diet leaves off. Whole-food based, organically produced vitamins and nutrients are the best variety. Don't skimp on this important component of your health and purchase cheap varieties of these items. Ask a qualified health care practitioner to recommend something for your individual needs.
  • Be certain to take a good probiotic each day. Good brands include PB8, Biotics Research, Jarrow, Nature's Life liquid probiotics (great for kids), and Prescript-Assist for especially low immune function.
  • Be certain to take fiber each day. Good brands include Sonne's, Fiber Fusion by Enzymatic Therapy, and Colon Plus by Biotics Research. Digestive enzymes are a plus as well as they provide digestive enzymes to make certain your food is properly digested and absorbed. A good brand is Digest Gold by Enzymedica. Remember -- health begins and ends in the digestive tract. If you are not eating healthy foods, your health will suffer.
  • Be certain to take essential fatty acids each day. Good brands include SIBU, Nordic Naturals, and Solgar. Read this FAQ about why people need good essential fatty acid support.
  • Watch intake of alcoholic beverages, which tend to increase during holiday months. Drinking excess alcohol can have adverse affects on appetite, blood sugar, blood pressure and cardiovascular function, metabolic processes, and weight. If you are a binge drinker during special occasions, cut yourself off after two drinks and make certain you are eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water at the same time.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate rest and not overextending yourself. If necessary, say no to extra tasks that you know you really won't have time or energy to accomplish. Stay home on a night where you might normally go out and rest, relax, catch up, and go to bed early. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
  • Set aside time for some regular exercise, preferably outdoors. In the colder months people tend to go to health clubs more. Many more germs and toxins lurk indoors during colder months, so bundle up and go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. You'll be pleased with how exhilarated you feel afterward. If you are a winter sport enthusiast, get out on the slopes and go skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding. If you are an equine enthusiast, make time to get out on your horse or a friend's mount during weather that is not icy.
  • Set aside time for contemplation, stress reduction, and relaxation. Whether that is a hot bath, a massage, tai chi, yoga, stretching, meditation or some other method you prefer, make sure you give yourself this time to recharge.
  • If you do get sick, load up on probiotics, vegetables, fruits, and other raw foods. Take time to pamper yourself, rest and put off things that aren't necessary so you can get back to a state of health quicker and easier.
  • Avoid going to a doctor who will prescribe pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics. These substances rarely help your body to get better sooner, and actually cause nutrient depletion and lowered immune system function by wiping out friendly bacteria that is vital to health. For information on nutrient depletion caused by drugs, read Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutrition by Dr. Hyla Cass, M.D.
  • If you cannot shake a cold, flu, or illness, consider visiting an alternative health care practitioner such as a chiropractor, naturopathic physician, or other qualified individual. These practitioners are often very successful in alleviating health issues and perform treatment based on the cause of the problem rather than just treating symptoms.
If you maintain a good schedule of eating healthy, avoiding processed foods and beverages, take proper supplementation, obtain moderate activity, exercise, rest, and relaxation, you will notice an enormous improvement in the way your health responds. You will have more energy, feel more productive, and avoid catching flus and colds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Safe Vaccines?

Do you follow current recommendations regarding vaccinations for your child? If so, you could be putting your child in danger. Vaccinations contain dangerous chemicals and preservatives that have been suspected of causing various health issues including digestive disorders, allergies, rashes, and autism.

On June 4th at the Capital Grounds in Washington D.C., actors Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy led a march and rally with national advocacy organizations for health to eliminate toxic substances and green our vaccines. Watch the video here. Over 8,500 parents marched, picketed, and chanted the words "too many too soon". Jim Carrey reported that the amount of vaccinations required by doctors has gone from 10 to 36. He made certain to state that they are not against all vaccines, but that the amount of vaccinations required are simply too many. Requests are being made that CDC and AAP reduce the amount of required vaccinations and clean up the ingredients included in these drugs.

Vaccines contain (among others) the following ingredients: mercury, aluminum antifreeze, aborted human fetus cells, formaldehyde, monkey kidney cells, chick embryos, and fetal bovine serum. Numerous scientific studies exist which link vaccines to autism, and the subject has become one of the most controversial in medical and health circles.

Autism is becoming more and more prevalent, and is more common than childhood cancer. It is estimated that two to six children in every 1000 will be diagnosed with the disorder. Parents feel overwelmed and trapped with little options available from traditional medical treatments other than pharmaceutical intervention. TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) helps families realize the potential to help their children with combinations between biomedical, alternative, and dietary therapies. Some of the problems families have had success in treating include the following: lack of sleep or severe sleep disturbances; extreme digestive disorders (often including alternating diarrhea and constipation); rare parasites, viruses, yeast overgrowth or bacteria; extreme allergies to foods or substances in the environment; unexplained rashes; sallow complexions; dark eye circles; and behaviors that ebb and flow in patterns that may coincide with physical symptoms.

It is important to locate a health care practitioner who is willing to go the distance in an alternative type program which embraces methods not commonly used by allopathic or traditional doctors. Traditional doctors tend to treat the symptoms and prescribe medications which mask the problem and can make symptoms more acute. Be wary of any medical professional who puts symptoms aside and claims that these are just part of the syndrome. Finding a health care practitioner whom you trust and is willing to get to the heart of the issues and find out what exactly is causing your child's health care issues takes some doing, but is well worth the results for your child.

To get the answers you need, conduct research, interview practitioners, and read books on the subject. Here is some recommended reading:
  • Unraveling The Mystery of Autism, by Karyn Seroussi
  • Evidence of Harm, by David Kirby
  • Is This Your Child?: Discovering and Treating Unrecognized Allergies in Children and Adults, by Dr. Doris J. Rapp
  • Children with Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2007 Edition, by Dr. Jacquelyn McCandless
  • Autism: Have We Done Everything We Can for this Child? Effective Biomedical Treatments, by Dr. Sidney Baker and Dr. Jon Pangborn
  • What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations, by Dr. Stephanie Cave
For more information about greening vaccines and making a difference in the way we treat illnesses and disease, and making a better future for your child, visit the following web sites:

Autism Today
Adventures in Autism

Monday, November 3, 2008

Toxins in Pork

Do you eat pork? Recently, public health officials discovered a deadly bacteria that is now associated with pork called MRSA. MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. This is a fatal, flesh-eating bacteria that can kill. Federal Food Safety and Public Health Officials are being instructed to check meats sold all over the nation. Researchers have confirmed the presence of this toxic bacteria in both pigs and farm workers in the United States.

Already the cause of more deaths than AIDS, what makes this drug-resistant bacteria potentially dangerous is the fact that a person can become infected just by topical exposure.
"MRSA is a very different kind of bacteria," said Goldburg. A few months ago, a virulent strain of MRSA was discovered in pigs in a University of Iowa study. Despite this alarming finding, the USDA has made no plans to mandate testing or checking of regulations about how this meat is produced and sold. "As far as I'm concerned," said Goldburg, "USDA and FDA are kind of asleep at the wheel on this one."

What is most ironic about all these bacteria and toxins found in meats that are reported on a regular basis to the mainstream news media is the fact that seldom does anyone mention how these toxins are normally not found in meats produced in healthy, organic environments - that is, farmers and food producers who use sustainable and safe farming practices in their everyday activities. Of course, not all bacteria can be avoided. However, if farmers were required to maintain healthy and humane practices of animal keeping and slaughtering, we would see a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of these types of bacteria.

MRSA can be killed if cooked thoroughly. However, unlike E. coli or salmonella, MRSA causes skin infections. Simply touching uncooked meat harboring the toxin could be a problem, according to both Dr. Mansour Samadpour, an expert bacterial microbiologist with IEH Laboratories and Dr. Rebecca Goldburg, a biologist with Keep Antibiotics Working. Ask the question -- even though cooking the meat will theoretically kill harmful bacteria such as MRSA, would you really still want to consume it?

Healthy-raised meats do not support harmful bacteria such as MRSA, E. coli, and others. If you have to cook something "thoroughly" just to kill any harmful bacteria to make it edible, something about that scenario just doesn't seem right. Healthy-raised meats are safe to consume when cooked medium-rare or medium-well, and actually deliver more nutrient value because vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins are not completely denatured in the cooking process. The same cannot be said for unhealthy, factory-farmed meats which represent the bulk of meat available to consumers.

The overuse of antibiotics has long been the known cause for many of these unstoppable diseases and bacteria. Indeed, the discovery of the usefulness of antibiotics to save human life over 60 years ago changed the face of modern medicine. But antibiotics are now used for everyday ailments and illnesses, and have become the rule rather than the exception in treating health issues. In many farm environments, they are used liberally to compensate for overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

According to the Soil Association, "Farm-animal MRSA is spreading like wildfire on intensive farms in continental Europe. In the Netherlands it already affects 39% of pigs and almost 50% of pig farmers. In Dutch hospitals 25% of all MRSA cases are now caused by the farm-animal strain, and farmers are no longer permitted in general wards without prior screening. It has been found in chickens, dairy cows and calves and in 20% of pork, 21% of chicken and 3% of beef. It has also been found in farm animals and people in Germany and Denmark from which we import large quantities of pork."

Because the government does not require farmers and farm owners to be accountable and responsible with animal management practices, these super-bacteria will continue to appear and will become more and more prevalent as time goes on.

The bottom line is, if people are going to eat meat, why cannot we have the simple assurance that our meat is raised in the most humane, sanitary, sustainable conditions possible? These assurances are for the sake of health and humane regard for animals, which should be of paramount consideration to everyone. Many farmers have been and are starting to use these preferred practices, and have been made aware of the dangers of producing meat in any other manner.

For more information, visit the UK's Soil Association web site.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has an interesting article on the subject of factory-farming and what it is doing to our health.

Also, check out Ethics and Animals for information on how animals are raised on the typical farm.