Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Choose Fat Wisely

Do you believe reports you hear that tell you to eat the right types of fat? There are definitely good and bad fats, but it may not be in line with what you have been traditionally used to hearing from the health community and your doctor. Here's why:
  • For decades, meat has received a bad reputation as being the culprit of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and other problems. The real problem is how the meat is raised -in factory farm environments with no room to roam nor grass to eat, fed corn, soy, and grains, and administered antibiotics to combat illnesses brought on by the very things animals are eating. Grass-fed and sustainable-raised meats and poultry are healthy and contribute to health in a positive way.
  • Many low-fat and non-fat foods have a negative effect on health. This is because many of these foods are not real, whole foods. Simply put, a real, whole food has not been altered by the food manufacturer in some way from its original state and can deliver maximum nutritional value to the body. Low-fat and non-fat dairy products are a good example of this because their enzymes and proteins have been altered to include less of what you need to utilize nutrients in your body for proper digestion and health. As an example, many lactose intolerant individuals can eat whole, raw dairy from a clean source, while pasteurized, homogenized, and reduced fat varieties cause allergies and illness.
  • Cholesterol has also received a bad name, and the reality is, the human body needs healthy cholesterol from healthy fat found in meat, dairy, and eggs. If the body doesn't have healthy cholesterol on a regular basis, it cannot defend itself against weight gain, heart disease, cancer, and many other conditions. Up until the 1920s, heart disease in the United States was almost non-existent. It was about that time that people's eating habits changed dramatically to include less good fats and more hydrogenated, altered fats.
To keep your health in good condition, it is essential to eat a moderate amount of healthy fats and cholesterol. The following is recommended:
  • Look for raw dairy from reputable sources, grass-fed, sustainable meats and poultry, and eggs from pasture-raised chickens, geese, turkeys, and ducks. Check in your local area.
  • Look for locally-produced grass-fed meats and poultry.
  • Buy local eggs from organic, pasture-raised hens
  • Obtain regular, moderate exercise.
  • Get enough fiber in your diet from whole foods. If you need more fiber, take a supplement as recommended by a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Good, natural brands are best. Avoid mainstream brands such as Metamucil and other which contain chemicals and binders that will harm your digestive tract.
  • Obtain a regular dose of Omega 3 essential fatty acids from a good fish oil source.
  • Maintain a low glycemic diet - this is not the same as a low-carb diet. If in doubt, remember that whole and raw foods are the rule of thumb for health. If it's not, it's probably not low-glycemic.
  • Eat less refined sugars, grains, and products that are not whole foods or are altered in some way. This includes most breads, crackers, bagels, pasta, cookies, "food" bars, and refined sugar products.
  • Eat more fresh, organic vegetables and fruits.
  • Find out about performing detoxification cleanses appropriate for your body and health state. Consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner about this process, as you can do your body more harm than good and waste money trying to determine what you need on your own.
  • Take a good quality probiotic to help boost your immune system and digestion function.
For more information about the dangers of low-fat and controlled diets, visit The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your Body Needs Real Butter!

Are you still avoiding butter because you believe it is unhealthy to eat? Stop believing the untruths told by doctors and many health experts - because that information has long been one of the causes of health problems and disorders, including heart disease, weight gain, and high blood pressure! How can this be?

Until the turn of the 20th century, heart disease was almost non-existent. By 1960, it had risen to the ranks of one of the most prevalent killers. What changed? During those years, foods became more and more processed and a variety of artificial fats and "butter" products started becoming available. In fact, butter consumption decreased from eighteen pounds per person per year down to only four.

Is just any butter good for you? No, in fact most butters on the market fall into the category of "altered" or processed butters, and would have the opposite effect on your health. The reality is that much of our heart disease and other chronic, degenerative disease comes from eating foods that fall into this category. This is because so much more goes into making those butters than just the cow eating grass out in a nice, clean field. Most butter comes from conventional, "factory" farms and is unfit for human consumption. The animals who produce this type of butter are kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions and administered steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics, and fed unhealthy feed. For maximum health benefit, always choose organic, and from animals that are grass-fed (not grain, soy, or corn). Raw butter is the ultimate in health benefit as it contains the maximum amounts of CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid), healthy fat, many vital nutrients (including Vitamin K, Vitamin E, and iodine), and probiotics.

Check with your local dairies to find out if you can obtain good quality, organic, grass-fed butter (raw is a plus!). Good store brands include Lurpak and Kerrygold. Also try U.S. Wellness Meats (Monticello, MO) and Organic Pastures (Fresno, CA).

For a list of all the health benefits of eating real butter, visit Body Ecology. For another source that discusses the virtues of butter, visit The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peanut Butter Recall

Many people have eaten peanut butter as a staple for decades. This food has long been a staple of our culture as well as others because of its convenience, taste, and the unwavering belief held by people that it is a health food. Now, thousands and thousands of peanut products are being recalled off the shelves in stores due to an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium.

How does Salmonella get into peanut butter? There are various possibilities. One is due to cross-contamination of machinery or equipment. Salmonella comes from unsanitary conditions in processing of meat and meat products (i.e., feces) - notably from animals raised in confined environments such as factory farms (the bulk source from where meat originates). Another possibility is contaminated water sources.

In 2007, Agribusiness giant Conagra, which produces the well-known Peter Pan peanut butter, was required by the FDA to pull products off the shelves. Because of the widespread use of peanut butter in so many products, consumers are being told to remove anything containing this substance - desserts, toppings, ice cream, cookies, crackers, and many others.

For years it has been commonly known by the public that prior to the peanut butter recall, peanuts were the culprit of allergies in many people. Its negative effects on human health have, in recent years, become widespread. Why? The simple answer is that peanuts contain a substance known as aflatoxin - an allergen which is basically a fungus. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin produced by two types of mold: Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins have also been found in corn, wheat, rice, milk, and tree nuts.

According to Medicine.Net, Aflatoxins are a particular problem in underdeveloped and developing countries. There is some suggestion that the levels of aflatoxin consumption determine whether or not a reaction will occur - in other words, the more the aflatoxin is consumed, the higher the health risk is found to be.

Because peanuts and peanut-flavoring is such a ubiquitous substance in so many foods, it is no wonder allergies have become an issue for so many. Although levels of aflatoxins in one serving of peanut butter eaten might be relatively low, the frequency with which those products are eaten can cause health problems due to the fact that its consumption is repeated and frequent by humans.

According to the Cornell University Department of Animal Science, "because aflatoxins, especially aflatoxin B1, are potent carcinogens in some animals, there is interest in the effects of long-term exposure to low levels of these important mycotoxins on humans . In 1988, the IARC placed aflatoxin B1 on the list of human carcinogens. This is supported by a number of epidemiological studies done in Asia and Africa that have demonstrated a positive association between dietary aflatoxins and Liver Cell Cancer (LCC) . Additionally, the expression of aflatoxin-related diseases in humans may be influenced by factors such as age, sex, nutritional status, and/or concurrent exposure to other causative agents such as viral hepatitis (HBV) or parasite infestation."

As with most food recalls, mainstream, conventional methods in which foods are produced in the modern world are prone to harboring bacteria, toxins, and illness which make people sick and can even cause death. This is not new information. But mainstream news and health resources don't emphasize this fact at all. In most cases, food raised organically and sustainably will not harm people. Over and over again we are witnessing recalls of food in environments which are not sustainable nor truly organic. In the case of peanuts, however, even organic peanut butter can be harmful because organic peanuts contain even more levels of aflatoxtins than the conventional variety. Conventional processing of peanuts removes more aflatoxin content than organic. But does that make conventional peanuts safe to consume? Clearly not, as we are seeing today with thousands of peanut products being pulled off the shelves.

When the peanut recall is over, should you return to eating peanut butter? Many companies maintain that when nuts are roasted, that process sufficiently kills harmful bacteria. Should you take a chance that the bacteria has finally died because the product just so happened to be exposed to high enough levels of heat that it was enough to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella (or maybe not?)?

The choice is yours, but with all the available evidence of harmful effects from eating peanuts - as well as other highly-processed foods, the decision about intelligent health seems resoundingly irrefutable. Eating whole, organic, and sustainable-produced foods should keep you out of the doctor's office. But with conventional food, it's really all just a crap shoot.

For a good alternative to peanut butter, consider almond butter. Look for raw, organic almond butter in your local health food store, as the roasted varieties are often pasteurized and/or contain irradiated almonds. Other types of spreadable butter include cashew and hazelnut.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Support for Respiratory Health

Do you take care of your respiratory system? Besides eating a healthy diet, exercise, and stress reduction (including deep-breathing exercises), a supplement called Cordyceps extract is known to strengthen respiratory function. This is a powerful mushroom extract which greatly assists optimal function of the respiratory system. The respiratory system is one of the seven channels of elimination and assists the body protecting itself from toxins, pollutants, and allergens.

Research has also shown that use of this herb improves oxygen uptake by both the brain and heart while improving resistance to hypoxia -- a state of oxygen deficiency in the body which is sufficient to cause an impairment of function. This extract is a great alternative to antibiotics and steroids for sufferers of asthma and chronic bronchitis in children and adults alike. Cordyceps extract clears bacteria from the lungs, thus making an environment for illness less likely.

Good practitioner sources to consult for herbal supplementation include homeopathics, naturopathics, and Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine experts. For more information about Cordyceps extract, read Dr. Chi's Herbal Formulas, (pages 59-60).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Are Your Dental Fillings Safe?

Do you have dental fillings? Many individuals do. Dental fillings can cause a number of health issues. Amalgam fillings, the most commonly used type of filling, contain mercury. This substance can cause heavy metal poisoning in the body. The bottom line is, until those fillings are removed, the material in those fillings will continue to empty itself into your body. The result is a variety of health issues that sometimes are extremely difficult to diagnose and cannot be explained. However, care must be exercised in removal of fillings as the process itself can often make matters worse. Discuss your situation with a qualified health care practitioner. A mercury removal specialist is an good place to begin if you have concerns about dental work in your mouth.

While the human body does need trace amounts of certain metals for health function such as iron, copper, zinc,and selenium, others such as arsenic, mercury, lead, iron, cadmium, and aluminum are common metals that can be found in the body and which, at high levels, can cause health issues.

Since 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency has required dentists to treat amalgam fillings that are removed as hazardous waste. However, the various regulatory agencies as well as American Dental Association insist that putting “hazardous waste” in the mouth is safe.

Heavy metals cause problems in the body in the following ways:
  1. Metals accumulate in various parts of the body and disrupt function in vital organs and glands such as the heart, brain, kidneys, bone, liver, etc.
  2. These substances interrupt vital nutritional minerals from where they should be in the body to provide biological function. For example, enzymes are catalysts for virtually every biochemical reaction in all life-sustaining processes of metabolism. But instead of calcium being present in an enzyme reaction, lead or cadmium may be there in its place. Toxic metals can't fulfill the same role as the nutritional minerals, thus their presence becomes critically disruptive to enzyme activity.
The lifestyle you lead is most essential in protecting you from overload of metals in the body, or heavy metal toxicity. That includes diet, exercise, proper rest, stress management, and other factors included in your daily habits. Many people don't realize that exposure to metals is continuous and occurs over time - that these substances are found in everything from the water we drink to the air we breathe to the food we eat.

If you suspect you may have heavy metal issues, a visit to a qualified health care practitioner can help you to identify the problem and decide on a treatment. Detoxification activities are often very useful in alleviating symptoms and problems associated with heavy metal poisoning. Various methods to remove heavy metals include clay baths, oral chelation, infrared saunas, oxygen therapy (in conjunction with oral chelation), Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, and homeopathic remedies.

For a comprehensive overview of heavy metals, visit Life Extension.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More About Your Organic Bedroom

Here are more steps you can take to make an organic bedroom environment in your home:

Remove all carpeting. Most carpeting is neither environmentally friendly nor easy to keep clean and is a common place where dust, mites, and other irritants are found. Good choices to replace flooring with include hypoallergenic cork, ceramic tile, untreated/nontoxic wood flooring, or recycled linoleum called Marmoleum. Keep feet warm with natural area rugs which you can shake out and wash. Try Rawganique and Modern Eco Homes.

Remove draperies, curtains, or shades which may be treated with chemicals that are toxic (such as petroleum-based treatments). Replace your old window coverings with untreated wood blinds, fabric shades, or other window treatments designed with organic fibers.

Avoid the use of VOC paints, sealants, stains and other chemicals. In hospitals, AFM SafeCoat products are used and are recommended by environmental medicine physicians.

Try the Milk Paint Company in Groton, Massachusetts, which offers authentic no-odor milk paint in 16 colors. Read more about safe paints at Mother Earth News. Visit American Clay and check out their selection of 32 colors of natural clay plasters and a variety of finishes.

Another good alternative is hemp wall upholstery which can be stapled into place without the use of adhesives.

Air out bedrooms and bedding. As recommended by The National Lung Association, doctors, and the EPA, opening windows is recommended to encourage recycling of the air in your home. If you have seasonal allergies, consider installing a window guard to eliminate dust and pollen, and dirt particulate from coming into the room. It is the custom of Europeans to place comforters onto the windowsill each morning. Allow your bed to air out awhile before making it.

Keep your sleeping environment clean. Wash bedding often in hot water at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill dust mites. You can kill dust mites in cold water with safe detergents specifically designed to kill dust mites.

Clean the floor often - at least once a week and especially under the bed. Use a fresh mop head or HEPA vacuum and non-toxic cleaners.

For more ideas about making your bedroom and home environmentally safe, visit EcoMall and view this extensive list of useful products and services.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creating an Organic Bedroom

Are you ready to make your bedroom environment organic? To begin, concentrate on eliminating airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold/mildew, viruses and bacteria, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which can disrupt your sleep cycle and bring on long-term health hazards. As recommended by The American Lung Association and the EPA, here are three important actions to take in reducing indoor air pollution:
  1. Control sources of pollution
  2. Make sure your home is vented adequately
  3. Keep indoor air clean
Here are some important steps to making your sleep environment safe:

Consider throwing out your current mattress and purchasing an eco-friendly, environmentally-safe one. This will be the largest expense you incur, but well worth it. Your current mattress is likely covered in flamer-retardant and stain-resistant chemicals applied at the factory. Foam cushioning could contain PBDEs or petrochemicals which are off-gassing (chemical off-gassing) at all times. The time you spend sleeping on your bed is nearly one-third of your life span, so this step is the most critical in moving toward a healthy sleeping environment.

If you have chemical sensitivities (especially to latex odors), select a natural cotton mattress or organic cotton mattress. As cotton mattresses are generally very firm, one option is to purchase a natural wool topper for relieving pressure points as you sleep. A topper will also reduce body indentations occuring over the life of your mattress.

If you are not allergy-prone, choose a natural latex mattress. These types of mattresses are anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, dust-mite proof, and relieves pressure points. Make certain the latex is at least 97% natural -- not a 60/40 blend of natural and petrochemical-based materials.

Because you sleep in the mattress instead of on top of it, a natural latex mattress provides your neck, shoulders, hips and knees with proper support. Tossing and turning will be less frequent and you will find that your sleep is more peaceful. Better sleep means your immune system has a better chance of rejuvenating and preparing for the next day's demands.

If you find that you are unable to replace your mattress, here are some other things you can do. Purchase a pure wool or natural rubber mattress topper. Although the topper eliminate off-gassing, you will experience better rest by putting some distance between yourself the toxins in your mattress.

Replace your current bedding with organic cotton sheets, pillowcases, and even duvet cover for your comforter. You can purchase barrier cloths or zippered encasings which provide protection to your lungs from dust mite allergens. Studies have shown mattress and pillow encasings can relieve eczema suffering. Good choices for pillows include those made with untreated cotton, organic cotton (better), wool (great for moisture wicking and eliminating sweat), buckwheat hulls (great neck support), or natural rubber (97% natural latex).

Consider sheets, blankets, and duvet covers manufactured with untreated or organic cotton or wool. Organic cotton is now available in a variety of colors.

Avoid bedding with down (feathers) such as comforters and pillows. These items hold in moisture and don't dry out quickly. As a result, they tend to produce mold. These items also attract dust mites. Choose a wool comforter to keep warm and encourage moisture-wicking. These comforters are very lightweight. A study conducted at Polytechnic Institute of Wales showed using wool as a fill fiber resulted in calmer heart rates.

Purchase a good air purifier. Make certain the purifier you purchase uses HEPA filtration. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. A good quality HEPA filter will eliminate 99.97% of all particles the size of 3 microns or larger.

Make certain you keep up on replacing your air filter. Some units require on-going filter replacement and prove very expensive in the long run, so do some thorough checking on filter types and prices before you purchase.

If you have a mold or mildew problem in your home, remove it using bleach or inquire about having professionals come into your home and removing it. When you have eliminated molds and mildews, consider investing in an Airfree air sterilizer. This air cleaner is capable of killing mold without producing ozone.

An alternative to the above would be to install a whole house air cleaning system. Or install special furnace filters that are specially designed to eliminate 90% or more of allergens and particles 2-10 microns in size. A good product called AllergyZone was invented by an allergist for allergy sufferers.

Check back for our next post where we will continue discussion of additional steps you can take to create a healthier sleep environment in your bedroom.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coconut Flour for Health

Want a good alternative to wheat flour? Try coconut flour, a food that is high in protein but low in sugar, and a gluten-free alternative to wheat that is nutritious and delicious. It is superlative for a variety of reasons to all grains due to its nutrient density and fiber content.

According to Dr. Mercola: "coconut flour is unlike any other flour consisting of 14 percent coconut oil and 58 percent dietary fiber. The remaining 28% consists of water, protein, and carbohydrate. If you haven't tried coconut flour yet, here are some more excellent reasons to start:
  • Coconut Flour is ideal for baking. It has fewer digestible (net) carbs than other flours, and it even has fewer digestible carbs than some vegetables!

  • Coconut Flour is gluten-free and hypoallergenic. With as much protein as wheat flour, coconut flour has none of the specific protein in wheat called "gluten". This is an advantage for a growing percentage of the population who have allergies to gluten or a wheat sensitivity.

  • Coconut Flour consists of the highest percentage of dietary fiber( 58%) found in any flour. Wheat bran has only is 27% fiber.

  • Coconut Flour can help you reach a healthy weight. Ideal for those who follow a low-carb eating plan, coconut flour works well as part of a weight loss program because it has high fiber, and foods with high fiber can help promote a feeling of fullness."

For recipes using this fantastic health food, visit Tiana.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Are You Feeding Your Kids?

Do your children eat a healthy diet? You may be under the impression that your children eat healthy food when you feed them at home, or even when you go out to a restaurant. Here are some foods commonly eaten by children, which many parents mistakenly believe are included in a healthy diet:
  • crackers
  • rice cakes
  • goldfish
  • "food bars"
  • fruit roll-ups
  • packaged cereals
  • "healthy" cookies
  • any other processed items used as snacks that really fall into the dessert or treat category
  • baked foods that are normally fried with batter on them such as chicken fingers, fish sticks, or other similar foods
  • popcorn
  • many bread, bagel, and grain products
  • baked chips
  • other processed products with no "trans fats" in them
  • cold lunch meats
  • pasteurized dairy products of all types - cheese, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. - especially those that are low-fat and non-fat
  • frozen meals such as breakfast burritos, waffles, and pancakes
  • tofu or soy foods (many of which are processed and contain pesticides and are genetically modified)
  • corn and corn products (many of which are also processed and contain pesticides, and are genetically modified)
  • peanut butter
  • roasted and salted nuts (many are over-salted and manufacturers use unhealthy vegetable oils to bind the salt to the nuts such as soybean, cottonseed, or canola oil)
Often parents feed their children foods like these because they are sold everywhere and are convenient. Parents may see their friend's children eating these foods and believe they are healthy when they are by and large, nutritionally deficient instead of nutrient-dense like whole foods. By its very nature, processing cleans foods out of their nutrients. Many of these foods are high in carbohydrates but lacking in nutrients, protein, or healthy fats.

Over time, continual consumption of these types of foods will lead to weight gain, premature heart disease, high blood pressure, sugar cravings, inability to feel full, dental caries, lack of concentration and patience, insulin resistance, lowered immune system function, mood disorders, aggression, irritability, lower academic performance, frequent illnesses and disease, and Diabetes.

Read labels! Just because a processed food reads "organic" or "natural" on the package does not make it healthy. The only difference between a conventional packaged food and an organic packaged food is the quality of ingredients used (no chemicals, pesticides, etc.). The nutrient quality of the organic processed food may be similar to that of the processed variety. Any processed food included on the above list that is organic should be used sparingly and as a treat.

Here are some ideas for healthy foods/snacks to feed children:
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • raisins
  • raw nuts
  • raw cheese
  • organic, pasture-raised eggs
  • organic, grass-fed beef, turkey, or salmon jerky
  • grass-fed meat and poultry
  • almond butter (raw is best)
  • sprouted grain bread products, such as Ezekiel
  • tuna fish (tongol is a healthy choice)
  • homemade, organic popcorn with real butter and healthy oils
  • healthy oils such as cod liver, coconut, grapeseed, flax, and olive oil
  • moderate amounts of grains, rice, and legumes (4 - 5 times per week only) - all organic, sprouted, and/or soaked
Make sure your child gets the best start possible. Don't load your children up with carbohydrates and empty calories that fail to support health, learning, growth, or development. Feed your children nutrient-dense foods that help their immune systems stay healthy and support all the major body systems development - especially brain development.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Evidence that Organic Foods are Better

Some people believe there is not much difference between organic and conventional foods. But did you know that the average American eats a pound of herbicides and pesticides each year? It may be asserted that trace amounts of these substances cause little to no harm. However, if an individual consumes in one year's time a pound of unnatural chemicals that are intended to kill living organisms, doesn't it seem likely that damage to the human body could conceivably be observed?

In general, organically grown foods contain higher levels of nutrients because organic farmers are more conscientious regarding their animals’ health and how they maintain and care for soils where food is grown. A study conducted by Bob Smith from Doctor’s Data, examined organic versus commercially grown apples, pears, potatoes, wheat and wheat berries. Findings revealed that mineral levels in organically grown food were twice as high, on average, as commercially grown foods. When produce and animals are raised without being sprayed or administered artificial hormones and antibiotics, these substances cannot be passed along to humans! As time goes on, more studies and research connect these substances with many disorders such as reproductive cancers and endocrine disorders.

So, choose organic as often as possible. It may cost more, but what is your health worth? Spend more now on good quality food and you will notice your health costs over the long-term going down. You will spend less time in the doctor's office or hospital and more time on things that are really important.

For a list of the most important foods to eat organic, visit Delicious Foods.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Soy, The Miracle Health Food?

Soy is one of the most touted health foods on the market. But did you know that the consumption of soy is not as healthy as the companies who market it would have you believe? Here's why:
  • Most soy is genetically modified. If you are eating soy, chances are likely you are eating a genetically modified food.
  • The process of farming soy has created vast environmental damage to lands such as forests, cottage industries, and small family farms. It has caused as least as much damage or more than the industrial cattle industry. Here is a list of big companies whose interests lie in profit and not taking care of our earth (you'll recognize them): Dupont, Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Nestle, and Solae. Some of America's largest food manufacturers sell soy foods or use soy ingredients heavily in their products. The list includes well-knowns such as Kellogg, Kraft, General Mills, ConAgra, Heinz, Dean Foods, and Unilever Best Foods.
  • Infant formula containing soy is a popular replacement for cow's milk formulas. According to Soy Online Service, "babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula". With all the xenoestrogens in our environment and food, do our children really need more in their bodies? Soy is basically birth control for babies! Excess estrogen, by the way, has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
  • A major allergen, soy is used as filler in thousands of products, (due to its low cost) including all types of processed foods - chips, crackers, cereals, cookies, candy, cakes and many other desserts, food bars, meats, sauces, condiments, salad dressings, and 'vegetable oil'.
  • Soy contains the following compounds which adversely affect health: goitrogens, which damage the thyroid; lectins which cause red blood cells to lump together and may trigger abnormal immunity responses; oligosaccarides -- sugars that cause bloating and gas; and oxalates which prevent calcium absorption and cause painful kidney stones and vulvodynia, a vaginal disorder.
  • Many plant foods including soy contain phytates and phytic acid, naturally occurring 'pesticides' to keep plants from being eaten while growing. Phytates impair mineral absorption and remove minerals stored in the body including zinc, iron, and calcium. Cooking foods containing phytates can remove this substance, but the level of phytate in soy is extremely high and difficult to eliminate.
  • Soy contains isoflavones, which are accoladed as natural estrogens but are in fact endocrine disruptors, lower testosterone, cause menstrual disorders, and the proliferation of cancer cells.
  • Protease inhibitors in soy wreak havoc with digestive enzymes, while the saponin-content may lower good cholesterol and damage intestinal wall lining.
  • Soy milk, cheese, and other soy foods are as unnatural and processed as can be. Soymilk is is replete with rancid fats and is high in sugar. Soy cheeses are mostly manufactured with hydrogenated oils which are continually stated from many mainstream sources as being unhealthy for consumption.
  • Much health rhetoric continually reminds us how healthy the Asian populations of the world are with low cancer, obesity, and heart disease due to their intake of soy foods. The problem with these assertions is that Asians do not consume soy on the same scale nor the same type of soy we do -- they use it as a condiment or as a fermented food in the form of miso or tempeh -- this is vastly different from the mass quantities of an industrially-processed product we consume as a society in the United States. Overall, a traditional Asian diet also consists of a vastly different menu of foods than the typical Western diet - including a much larger amount of natural proteins from fish and nutritious vegetables.
The basic tenet of eating soy as a health food is that most of what is represented on the soy market is a processed food that is not a whole, healthy food -- plain and simple. If you wonder whether something you are eating is a real, whole food, a little bit of label reading and even some research could answer your questions and change the way you think about health and eating.

For more information about the dangers of soy consumption, visit the Healing Crow.
Also visit the Weston A. Price Foundation for authoritative information about why soy is not the glorified health food it has been made out to be.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Increased Cancer Risk with Radioactive Iodine

Do you take thyroid medication? If so, you may be interested to learn that there is an increased risk of cancer associated with radioactive iodine medication - a drug commonly given to thyroid patients by doctors.

According to the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation Washington, D.C., October 2000: researchers declared a connection between post-surgical administration of radioactive iodine (RAI) treatments for thyroid cancer and the development of breast cancer later on. Using the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, they found that young women ages 30 - 34 years of age who had thyroid cancer were shown as having the greatest potential for developing breast cancer.

Women between the ages of 40 and 44 at initial diagnosis of thyroid cancer were believed to be at a significantly higher risk of developing the disease - with the greatest risk appearing 15 - 20 years after the appearance of thyroid cancer.

The conclusion of the study found that adult Caucasian women in pre-menopausal years treated for differentiated thyroid cancer show higher risks of breast cancer development - anywhere from 5 to 20 years later. This discovery depicts a clear connection of increased breast cancer risk after thyroid cancer to the thyroid cancer treatment itself - radioactive iodine, then, is the suspected culprit for boosting the cancer risk development.

Diet and lifestyle always play a part in the development of disease and illness. There are ways to prevent the development of fatal illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and auto-immune disorders. Paying close attention to eating healthy foods, getting adequate rest and stress relief, and minimizing exposure to toxins is key. However, people who have auto-immune disorders such as thyroid problems (as well as others such as lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and others) can benefit tremendously from and in many cases have their symptoms greatly reduced or eliminated simply by seeing a knowledgeable health care practitioner who can determine the underlying cause of the disorder. Auto-immune disorders are usually related to heavy metal toxification, parasites, or a viral infection and can often be cleared up with homeopathic, naturopathic, or other complimentary medical treatment.

For more information on these disorders, visit a knowledgeable health care practitioner who is willing to implement alternative and complimentary treatments and considerations such as an osteopath, acupuncturist/Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner, naturopath, homeopath, chiropractor, or nutritional therapist.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Whole and Processed Foods

Do you know what differentiates whole foods from processed foods? There are many misconceptions about whole and processed foods. Generally, processed foods do come in packages, cans, and boxes. Many whole foods come in packages, cans, and boxes as well, but the critical difference is in the ingredients and the way the food is actually processed or not. Anything which has been altered from nature is processed. That should be simple enough, right? Not always. Here are some examples:

Dairy products. Just because the label states "organic" or "natural" does not make it a whole food. Most dairy products are pasteurized, which denatures fragile proteins, fats, and digestive enzymes - and also life-giving probiotic properties which sustain health. Many dairy foods contain chemicals such as growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Unless the product reads "organic", you are likely to be purchasing a product that contains these ingredients. Many dairy foods come from cattle or goats which are fed corn, soy, or grains. These feeds make dairy products unhealthy to consume. Make certain your dairy products come from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals.

Many dairy products are also non-fat or low-fat, reducing the healthful properties of raw dairy products produced in clean environments. For many years, misinformation has been given to the public by health experts about the importance of eating low-fat and non-fat dairy products -- touting them as health foods when they are not. For more information, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation, a respected, non-profit group promoting health through whole foods.

Grains. These foods are some of the most notorious for having labels which read "whole grains", when in reality, most of them are not whole at all. You have only to read the label to uncover the fact that most "whole grain" foods are not whole because the main ingredient is some type of flour, which goes rancid quickly after grinding. There are almost always other ingredients in these products as well, from sugars to emulsifiers and other chemicals you cannot pronounce to bind the product together. Many of these products also contain soy or corn, and sometimes roasted nuts (also not a whole food). The way to know if a grain is whole or not is to read the label. Simply put -- if the product contains flour, it is not a whole grain. Sprouted, whole grains are healthiest - and consumed in moderation. Good choices are Ezekiel breads (sprouted whole grain varieties), and organic grains from the bulk section that are whole and not ground up.

Canned and packaged vegetables and fruits. Some of the best examples of processed foods can be found in canned and packaged produce. Most canned produce contains at least some sodium. Others contain chemical preservatives to keep the product fresh longer or sugar of one form or another. Canned and packaged fruits and vegetables are never as high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients as compared to their fresh or frozen counterparts because many of those have already been cooked.Best bets are organic, local, in-season produce or frozen fresh organic selections.

Nuts. Any nut that has been roasted is not a whole food. Raw nuts with nothing added are whole foods. Roasting alters delicate oils and proteins in nuts, rendering them denatured and are unrecognizable by the body as a whole food. Sprouted, raw nuts are a good choice too.

Meats, fish, and poultry. These are by far one of the most confusing foods to determine whether they are whole or not. When you pay a visit to your local grocery store and go to the meat counter, you may believe that all meats available in fact whole foods. The problem lies with how the animals are raised before they are slaughtered. As with dairy products, animals that are fed soy, corn, or grains, and then slaughtered for food are unhealthy to consume. Cattle and other animals have stomachs that are designed to digest grasses - not other feeds like grains and soy. Because these animals have a difficult time digesting these feeds, they become sick and farmers administer antibiotics. Many of these same animals are also administered steroids and hormones to speed up the growth process - leading to faster turnover in farm production and profits. These meats are not good for your health to consume. Look for organic, sustainable meats that are grass-fed and pasture-raised.

Fish selections should be in keeping with safe fish choices and generally not from farmed sources. Visit the Monterey Aquarium site for more information on safe seafoods.

Oils. Safe and healthy oils are those that are the least processed - extra virgin olive and coconut oils, flaxseed oil, and grapeseed oils that are cold pressed in dark bottles and have not been sitting on the shelf more than a couple of weeks. Any packaged product containing an oil should be suspect because you cannot determine what type of oil is used with ease and how long it has been sitting around. Unhealthy oils include most vegetable oils, and in particular, soy, cottonseed, and canola oils. These are not whole foods as they have been highly processed from their original sources (canola oil comes from the rapeseed plant) - and are considered industrial grade products.

Fruit and vegetable juices (and juice products such as supplements and pills). Most juices have been pasteurized and filtered, thus eliminating nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. What remains is liquid sugar in most cases. Pills and supplements simply cannot contain all you need for health, as well as valuable nutrients are effectively dead by the time you consume them in those forms. You are better off eating the raw fruits or vegetables. Except in rare cases, despite what many labels claim, you cannot get your daily nutrients from drinking bottles of juice and fruit and vegetable "pills". Making your own juices at home and including a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to benefit from drinking juice. Avoid high glycemic vegetables such as carrots and include as many greens as possible. Visit Dr. Mercola's web site for information on the proper ways to juice.