Friday, February 27, 2009

Natural Cardiovascular Health

Do you worry about heart health? It's definitely a good idea to be aware of the risk factors and lifestyle habits that contribute to a healthy heart and body. But if you are following what popular rhetoric dictates about heart health, you will be headed down the road to circulatory problems and heart disease. Why?

Contrary to popular belief, a so-called "low-fat" diet will not help your heart. Many health experts recommend eating lean meats, low-fat and non-fat dairy products, and other low-fat foods such as processed selections from the grocery store like crackers, breads, cereals, and other items. These foods are not real food, but merely a processed version of those real foods. Chemicals and hormones are added to many of these foods, in addition to the fact that the way the food is produced is completely unnatural to begin with: meats and dairy products, by and large, come from factory farms where animals live in the most unhealthy environments. Meat and dairy products originating from these environments are not healthy to consume. The bottom line is, if you are not eating real food, your body will not be able to absorb it properly and what you will wind up with is health problems. Real food is the fuel and substance your body needs to function properly.

The place where you need to concentrate your efforts is on eating whole foods - that means foods that are as close to the way they occur in nature as possible. As one example, eating red meat is not the problem for your heart - the problem is eating obese meats from animals fed grains, corn, and soy. These types of meats represent the bulk of what is available on the market the consumption of which greatly contributes to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease. It is meats like this which have given healthy meat a bad reputation and have caused doctors to tell their patients to avoid eating it for literally decades. Naturally-raised grass-fed meats contain all the necessary nutrients for heart health - good Omega 3s, conjugated linoleic acid, high protein, low fat, and lower in calories than its conventionally-produced counterpart.

Eat plenty of healthy fats - extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, flax seed oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, real, whole butter from grass-fed cows (raw is even more healthy).

Whole, raw, dairy from a clean source is very good for heart and overall health as well. Low-fat versions of these foods, and most of what you will find on the mainstream market can spell trouble for your heart. Conventional dairy contains additives, chemicals, hormones, and steroids, and is about as far away from natural as you can get. Dairy from factory farms contains improper nutritional value because of what farmers feed cows - corn, grains, and soy. Even many organic brands are unhealthy because they pasteurize their milk and feed their cows the same thing as the conventional variety - corn, soy, and grains (albeit, organic).

You must also include in your diet plenty of organic, fresh and cooked vegetables and fruits. To get enough vegetables and fruits daily, consider adding vegetables to breakfast. Make eggs with cheese and broccoli, spinach, and/or zucchini. Between meals eat fruit, as fruit can cause your digestion to bloat up and slow down when eaten in conjunction with big meals. Make sure you have green vegetables with each meal if possible - cooked or raw; green vegetables are important for heart health: brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce, mustard and collard greens, peas, broccoli, zucchini, and spinach are all good choices.

Include plenty of fiber, if possible from natural sources. If you need more fiber, try good supplements recommended by a knowledgeable practitioner. A good supplement is Colon Plus by Biotics Research.

If you take supplements for health, make sure they are whole-foods based products that are organically produced with co-factors and phytonutrients. You should include the following in your regimen:
  • Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E
  • Folic acid (included in a balanced B complex)
  • Selenium (not to exceed 600 micrograms in a 24-hour period)
  • Vitamin D (natural sunlight exposure is best). Low levels of this vitamin are connected with heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Vitamin K (unless taking anticoagulant drugs - but consider eliminating prescription medications as they cause side-effects and other health problems)
  • Co-enzyme Q10 is an effective supplement which protects the cardiovascular system cells and eliminates free radicals
  • Calcium and magnesium - help to lower high blood pressure - make sure you obtain a good quality cal/mag supplement with zinc and Vitamin D for absorption, and be certain your calcium is not calcium carbonate - a form of calcium derived from limestone that cannot be absorbed by the body
Exercise and stress relief are important too. But you do not have to be a competitive athlete to be in good shape and enjoy an activity in which you have interest. Engaging in a moderate exercise schedule of 20 to 40 minutes three to four times a week is a good place to start. You can work up to additional minutes and more strenuous activity over weeks and months, but if you are just embarking on an exercise plan, it is always best to begin slowly. Other good activities include yoga, pilates, martial arts, meditation, and massage.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Dangers of Artificial Sweetners

Do you use artificial sweeteners? One of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners, Splenda, has been under scrutiny for many years. Yet, despite the health risks associated with its use, people continue to use this and other similar substances for sweeteners daily.

A recent report from scientists detailed in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (2008) reveals that Splenda has been found to reduce the amount of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract by 50 percent, increases acidity levels in the intestines, and affects a glycoprotein in the body that can have significant effects on health - and especially if you take certain pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, they found unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to previous claims. The intestinal bacteria help maintain the body's overall balance of friendly versus unfriendly micro-organisms and supports general health. Because so many people are already deficient in good bacteria, heeding the results of these findings is not only critical, but taking a good probiotic supplement daily is also important in regaining health conditions compromised by modern lifestyle habits.

It is important to keep in mind that although Splenda and other sweetners taste like sugar, they are not sugar. Splenda is a chlorinated artificial sweetener which resembles other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin. All have been reported as causing side-effects and dangerous health problems.

In 1998, Splenda was approved by the FDA for use in products such as baked goods, nonalcoholic beverages, chewing gum, frozen dairy desserts, fruit juices, and gelatins. Sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda, is also permitted as a general-purpose sweetener for all processed foods. If you want to avoid Splenda, read labels and make certain that what you consume does not contain this ingredient. The best choice, however, is simply to avoid all processed foods.

Approval for this product was granted after FDA review of over 110 animal and human safety studies. However, only two of the 110 studies were human studies, the lengthiest one conducted over only four days.

As with any unnatural substance, if your body does not recognize what you are consuming, it will likely store it somewhere. Chemicals and toxins stored in the body cause health problems, plain and simple. And getting the chemical into the body is much easier than its removal process. Because scientists discovered that artificial sweeteners are stored in the body as fat, this can mean serious health repercussions from consuming them. This is because the molecules are too large to be absorbed by the digestive tract and it also has an adverse affect on your body's ability to burn fat as well.

Good alternatives to artificial sweeteners are Stevia, raw agave nectar, raw organic sugar, rapadura, real maple syrup, raw organic honey, date "sugar", concentrated organic fruit juices, molasses, and sucanat. Check with your health food store for more details about these products.

For more information on the dangers of Splenda, visit The Truth About Splenda.
Dr. Janet Hull has a booked called Splenda Exposed with detailed information about this chemical sweetener.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stir Fry for Dinner - Healthy, or Not?

Do you ever prepare a stir-fry at home because it's a healthy dish to eat? Stir-frying vegetables and meats can indeed be healthy, but here are some suggestions to make sure the way you prepare your food delivers maximum health benefits as it should:
  • Use organic vegetables
  • Use healthy, sustainably-raised, grass-fed meats and poultry
  • Avoid using soy products like tofu that are processed and unhealthy to consume
  • When you cook, use cast iron, stainless steel, good quality enamel, or ceramic - avoid teflon, aluminum, and Silverstone cookware that can leech chemicals and metals into your food.
  • Use healthy oils in cooking such as olive oil (only if you sautee on low heat). Choose high-smoke point oils such as grapeseed and coconut oil for higher temperatures. Avoid the following unhealthy vegetable oils: canola, soy, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower
  • If you choose to use rice or noodles with your stir fry, use less in quantity and choose brown rice or sprouted grain, organic noodles. These foods are lower in glycemic value (which means less fluctuations in your blood sugar) and contain more nutrients because they are less processed and sprouted.
  • Use healthy seasonings for flavor such as sea salt, pepper, and organic herbs and spices. If you are going to use a soy sauce, choose one that is wheat-free and unpasteurized. You may even be able to find one that is fermented, which is a bonus. Your health food store should have good selections of different types of soy sauces. Consider making your own sauces at home with healthy oils, raw vinegars, and seasonings/spices. Lemon and lime juice, garlic, ginger, certain fruits, and nuts are excellent for augmenting sauce recipes

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Allergies and Disinfection

Are we causing allergies and illness by our habits of over-disinfection? Research shows that through repeated exposure to disinfectant solutions and anti-bacterial substances that are designed to "kill germs", we are contributing to both allergenic responses in the body and resistance to deadly bacteria.

Our immune system is designed to allow the human body to co-exist with the outside environment. Our bodies contain trillions and trillions of cells, many of which are foreign and remain without problem because of our immune system's function. When the immune system becomes ovewhelmed with an abundance of foreign bacteria, however, and friendly bacteria are not allowed to thrive or are killed by anti-bacterial substances, the result is disease and illness - and allergies. Chronic health issues such as asthma, allergies, eczema, and many auto-immune disorders like multiple-sclerosis, lupus, and fibromyalgia are becoming more and more common and have risen exponentially over the last several decades. Children are especially vulnerable and have shown the highest increase in these incidences as they have quadrupled over the last two decades.

What factors contribute to a failing immune system?

As well as because of the over-use of antibiotics, use of anti-bacterial gels, hand lotions, soaps, and other personal care products increase the chance of the body being unable to defend itself from powerful bacteria that can get into the body and cause illness and death. Children who are exposed to bacteria are believed to have stronger immune system response and therefore stand a much better chance of naturally being able to fight off infection than those who have less exposure and would have lower immune system function. When your child becomes sick with a cold or flu, use of these substances does not necessarily allow quicker recovery from illness - and in fact can allow the illness to go on longer or return. In 2000, a study conducted observed 61 infants between 9 and 24 months of age revealed that the more dust the child was exposed to, the less likely an allergic response was to appear. The American Medical Association reported on their web site, "There is no evidence that the use of antibacterial products prevents infection better than ordinary soap. Hand washing with ordinary soap and water is sufficient to reduce the risk of most common infections."

Other reasons related to these issues also stem from the fact that so much processed, packaged foods are readily available and are consumed, versus real whole foods which support the immune system and health in general. Processed foods do not contain nutrients and antioxidants necessary for life, so when these types of eating habits are coupled with continued use of dangerous disinfectant and anti-bacterial chemicals, the stage is set for disaster in health. Many processed foods are available, and in particular, marketed to children and families. Consumption of these foods contributes to an increase of Omega 6 fatty acids and a decrease in Omega 3 fatty acids. Too much Omega 6s actually suppress immune system function while Omega 3s build up immunity and reduce inflammation in the body. The majority of processed foods contain levels of Omega 6s which are too high for healthy consumption. Examples include foods with corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower, sunflower, and peanut oils - such as in many grain products, chips, crackers, pretzels, "food" bars, desserts, fried foods, and many other processed items. Omega 3s are found in hemp, walnut, and flax oils and cold water fatty fish - especially salmon. Plant sources do not contain the best type of Omega 3s for this purpose, so it is important to give young children and infants adequate amounts of fish oil as this type of Omega 3 is the best source in offering protection against the development of allergies and asthma.

Vaccinations are now being suspected as a cause of immune system failure. As most childhood diseases are viruses, they do not respond to antibiotics. This discovery lead to the development of vaccines. When a vaccine is injected directly into the bloodstream, it is granted access to all major tissues and organs without the benefit of the body's total immune response. What results is partial immunity, and then children are required to periodically receive "booster" shots. Because vaccines stimulate a humoral response, their ingredients are never released from the body. The opposite occurs when diseases are contracted naturally. Because these contents do not vacate the body, the body's reaction is one of chronic over-sensitization. Vaccinations have been linked to the increased incidence in asthma - in a study of 448 children, 243 received whooping cough vaccines. Ten percent developed asthma in comparison to the 2% of 205 children in a non-vaccinated group.

For more information on anti-bacterial substances and how they can adversely affect health, visit Food Processing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Traditional Foods

What are traditional foods? Traditional foods are foods eaten by people over the longer course of civilization and which have supported health - those cultivated, produced, and harvested from the earth and out of nature - those foods which are wholly unaltered and organic, and contain the highest levels of nutrition or are nutrient-dense. These foods have been eaten for millennia by people around the world. They are not processed or packaged and sent all over the planet, so in many cases traditional foods are also those found in your local community.

Why eat traditional foods? The most critical reason is for health, as traditional foods by their very nature contain the highest levels of nutrition available. Another reason is for taste. Traditional foods are full of flavor, texture, and aroma. Eating traditional foods supports smaller family farms and food-producing operations. When you eat traditional foods, you are also helping the environment by using your dollars to support sustainable methods of food production.

What are the benefits of consuming traditional foods? There are many, but some of the most important ones are maintaining better health and avoiding allergies. Those who consume traditional foods have less allergies and intolerances to foods; they also have less issues with digestive and cardiovascular health and weight.

What types of foods are traditional foods? The following is a list of some traditional foods:
  • Sustainably-raised, grass-fed animal meats and poultry or game birds such as beef, lamb, venison, rabbit, pork, elk, chicken, turkey, cornish game hens
  • Sustainably-raised, organic eggs
  • Safe, wild-caught, deep sea fish and some seafoods
  • Organ meats produced from healthy, grass-fed animals and birds
  • Organic or sustainably-produced whole fruits and vegetables
  • Organic, whole, sprouted grains and legumes
  • Raw, sustainbly-produced dairy including milk, cheese, cream, butter, kefir, and yogurt
  • Raw nuts from sustainable sources
Eating traditionally means taking the time and effort to deliberately choose healthier foods to eat and avoiding processed, packaged foods which contribute to an overall decline in health. You can buy foods from others or hunt or raise and produce your own. With perseverance, research, and concern for health and the environment, you can change your eating habits from unhealthy to healthy by purchasing, growing, and eating traditional foods. For more information on traditional and slow foods, visit Cooking Traditional Foods and Slow Foods USA.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Go Healthy Snacks!

In honor of National Healthy Snack Week, here's a challenge to everyone for replacing what's in your house with healthier alternatives for snack time: go through your cupboards and throw out the following: crackers, chips, candy cereals, cookies, rice cakes, pretzels, "food" bars, cookies, drink mixes, fruit rollups, and anything else processed you can find. Next, move on to the refrigerator. Consider throwing out your milk, yogurt, cheese, and processed meats. Why would you do this? Because there are healthier alternatives for snacks. Now, what can you eat? Don't despair! You really can have healthy snacks that are good for you and are delicious. Here are some ideas:
  • Homemade yogurt or kefir. Start with raw milk, if possible. Here is some information on the dangers of processed yogurts and a great recipe for making your own kefir at home. When your kefir is ready to eat, mix with a bit of agave nectar, maple syrup, or stevia or eat with whatever fruit you have in the house. You can also make smoothies in a blender.
  • If you do not want to make your own yogurt, stick with good brands such as Brown Cow or Trader's Point Creamery (available at Whole Foods - this is the most amazing yogurt I've ever tasted!). Here are some others to check out - Ruegsegger Farms, Sidehill Farm, and Straus Family Creamery.
  • Ezekiel bread (sprouted, organic, flourless) with raw butter, almond butter, and a dollop of organic, whole fruit spread or organic fruit pieces.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables - the sky's the limit!
  • Make homemade dips for your fruits and veggies with olive oil or grapeseed oil and spices from your cuboard, and a variety of vinegars available from the store - apple cider, grapeseed, red wine, white wine, or balsamic. Remember, store-bought dressings are unhealthy as can be - loaded with sodium, preservatives, chemcials, and toxic vegetable oils like soy, canola, and cottonseed.
  • Other good store-bought dips would include salsas, hummus, and bean dips. Best brands are Emerald Valley, Tribe, and Amy's Organics.
  • Naturally-raised, grass-fed leftover meats from dinner the night before - use with Ezekiel tortillas and make rollups or cut up into chunks and make kabobs with cheese
  • Raw cheeses (check your local health food stores or co-ops)
  • Raw nuts and seeds - almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts or filberts, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cashews
Take the healthy snack challenge and see if you can improve your's and your child's health through healthier snacking.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Find Ways to Reduce Sugar From Your Diet

Do you ever stop and think about how much sugar you consume each day? It may be more than you think. Sugar cravings are usually a sign of poor eating habits, in general. The more sugar and refined carbohydrates you consume, the more you'll want.If you find yourself constantly having sugar cravings and are unable to stay away from processed foods and refined carbohydrates, here are some suggestions:
  • Resolve to make a food journal and keep track of what you are eating for one week. Make as many changes as you feel comfortable with at a time, but know that completely going off sugar for one week will bring about positive changes you might never have realized possible. Review your journal daily. You will be surprised at what you have kept track of and change will become easier each day.
  • Start replacing snacks like chips, crackers, processed breads, cereals, pretzels, rice cakes, "food bars" and others with choices like raw nuts, raw cheeses, whole fruits and vegetables. When you find yourself going for the unhealthy variety, eat the healthy alternatives instead.
  • At meal times, avoid a lot of starches and eliminate refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat plenty of steamed and raw vegetables.
  • Eat plenty of fruit between meals. Eating fruit with large meals can cause bloating and fermentation in the stomach, and can also lead to digestive difficulty for your digestive tract. Fruit between meals helps keep your blood sugar level and is a great snack choice that delivers nutrients and fiber.
  • Eat natural grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry. Obese meats such as those raised on feedlots and fed corn, grain, and soy add to your overall carbohydrate and glycemic load because those meats contain less protein but more fat and calories. Healthy meats contain the correct amount of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, high protein, low fat and low calories.
  • If you haven't already, begin a regimen of moderate exercise. Choose something you enjoy and can engage in for 30 to 40 minutes three to four times a week. Exercise lowers insulin levels and helps keep your blood sugar even and can aid in reducing sugar cravings.
  • Make sure you are taking a good whole-foods, organically-produced vitamin supplement. Consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner who understands nutrition for recommendations.
  • Make sure you are taking probiotics that are at least 10 million strain, a good fiber product, and essential fatty acid supplementation. Consult with your health care practitioner for recommendations.
  • Consider performing a candida cleanse. People who eat refined foods on a regular basis almost always have a yeast overgrowth problem. This leads to sugar cravings, fatigue, immune system deficiency, weight gain, and long-term degenerative disease. Consult with a knowledgeable complimentary health care practitioner about how to go about this important step in managing health issues.
  • Obtain adequate rest and stress relief daily. Go to bed before 10:30 p.m. nightly and make sure to take time out for yourself during your busy day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alternatives to Wheat

How much wheat do you eat on a daily basis? Did you know that the abundance of wheat in your diet can be causing health problems - some that you may not even be aware of? Wheat is one of the most common substances in many foods - it is also continually increasing the numbers of people who have allergic reactions from eating.

Many people make the mistake of simply replacing the wheat ingredient in foods with something else that can cause health problems as well - like soy or corn. But even these foods can cause allergies and health issues. Just like wheat, a great deal of corn and soy on the market is genetically engineered, treated with herbicides and/or is herbicide resistant from engineering. These foods cause a bevy of health issues when included in a regular diet.

The problem with wheat is twofold - (1) the fact that wheat is found in so many foods people eat each day and multiple times daily and (2) the fact that wheat contains 78% percent gluten. Modern wheat has been engineered to contain more of the gliadin, the substance in gluten which causes the "rise" factor when baking breads and doughs in the oven. Ancient wheats contained much less gliadin and were not eaten in such amounts as we consume today. Just take a look in your grocery store and read the labels on many processed foods. You will find that a majority of those foods do contain wheat.

What happens to the body when wheat is consumed? Your digestive tract can become irritated and hypersensitive to being repeatedly exposed to wheat. Many doctors and health sources report that an allergy is an abnormal reaction by the immune system to benign substances. But what is actually happening with reactions in the body to wheat is the fact that most wheat products are processed foods, which overall are not healthy to consume. When you consume wheat repeatedly, your body is reacting to a substance that is not healthy for your body. The same is true for many foods that people have reactions or allergenic responses to - such as peanuts, dairy, soy, corn, and even fish. Many of these foods are as unnatural as can be and are processed or contain some chemical or artificial ingredient that the body does not want or need.

After many years consuming unfermented, high-gluten grains can cause a long list of health issues including celiac disease, allergies, mental illness, chronic indigestion and candida albicans overgrowth (where unfriendly bacteria and yeast essentially take over the digestive tract and immune system, and eventually other organ systems). Recent research has connected gluten intolerance with multiple sclerosis.

What alternatives are available? There are good wheat alternatives to use that are becoming more and more available in the food marketplace. Some of these include millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. However, use caution because if you are eating 3 - 6 servings of wheat daily already, you don't want to just replace your wheat servings with these and go on your way. Doing this can put you right back into poor health all over again. Why? Because if you are eating that many servings daily of wheat, you need to focus on putting something in your diet that is nutritious and something your body can actually use.

Cooked grains alone are not absorbable by the human digestive tract. You must be open to changing the way you eat grains. Fermented and soaked grains are much more digestible and nutritious than the kind our culture has been accustomed to eating for so many decades. For millinnea, people of the world have fermented and soaked grains because this is the principal method of causing the grain to become a food that the body can absorb and nutrient-dense. When you soak and ferment grains, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are easier to digest and absorb.

For more information about soaking and fermenting grains and how it can transform health, visit the Health Banquet and The Wedge. Also, read about the health benefits of grinding your own flour at The Urban Homemaker.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Much Is Our Health Affected by Family Genetics?

Do you have diseases or health weaknesses that run in your family? If so, don't despair. Your family may have a health history of heart disease, cancer, or Diabetes, but the most important factor that affects your health is the lifestyle habits you choose. It is quite possible that some of the problems experienced by people in your family were exacerbated by those individual's lifestyle choices and not genetics alone. Doctors often tell patients that a family history can put you at greater risk for certain diseases, but that really only amounts to 10 - 20 percent of those instances. Your lifestyle choices are what really matters. If your body is not properly cared for or deficient, it cannot overcome any predispositions it may have to specific problems. And it certainly cannot maintain itself at optimal levels for good health, let alone family history.

Start making lasting changes today. Make a commitment - one of the most important choices you will make in your life. Don't just accept health problems you've lived with for years and attribute it to family history, lack of motivation or time to deal with the problem, or to "getting older". Take control of your own health by doing something different than you've done in the past by doing the following:
  • Eat whole foods.
  • Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables (7-9 servings a day for adults, 5 for children)
  • Eat foods with healthy fat, calories, and proteins such as naturally raised, grass-fed meats and poultry, raw dairy, safe choice fish, and pasture-raised eggs.
  • Engage in a stress reduction activity that's right for you - yoga, meditation, prayer, Pilates, martial arts, massage or something similar.
  • Get regular, moderate exercise. A brisk walk for 30 minutes 4 times a week is a good place to start. You don't have to be a super athlete to get benefit from regular exercise. Stretching and yoga are beneficial as well.
  • Eliminate processed foods and refined sugars.
  • Drink plenty of purified water daily.
  • Find out about vitamin and mineral supplements that are right for your individual needs.
  • Take fiber, probiotics, essential fatty acids.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour nightly - around 10 p.m. Engage in relaxing activities before bed.
  • Know your limits. You don't need to be a superhuman. Don't overload yourself with too many tasks or activities. These cause stress which contributes to disease.
  • Spend time with those you love often and discard relationships with people that are unproductive or damaging.
Remember, if you don't have your health, you don't have anything.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Do you drink the tap water in your home without a backward glance? You may be surprised to learn that your tap water is actually much more harmful than you would think. Not only does tap water contain lead, arsenic, and other toxic metals, but there are also detectable levels of pharmaceutical chemicals and hormonally active chemicals present as well.

During 2006 and 2007, researchers tested tap water for 51 different chemicals from 19 U.S. cities. According to New Scientist, the 11 most frequently detected compounds were:
  • Atenolol, a beta-blocker used to treat cardiovascular disease
  • Atrazine, an organic herbicide banned in the European Union which has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behavior
  • Carbamazepine, a mood-stabilizing drug used to treat bipolar disorder
  • Estrone, an estrogen hormone secreted by the ovaries and blamed for causing gender changes in fish
  • Gemfibrozil, an anti-cholesterol drug
  • Meprobamate, a tranquilizer used in psychiatric treatment
  • Naproxen, a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence
  • Phenytoin, an anticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy
  • Sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic
  • TCEP, a reducing agent used in molecular biology
  • Trimethoprim, another antibiotic
Although these concentrations are diluted to millions times lower than the average medically recommended dose, Christian Daughton of the EPA's National Exposure Research Laboratory stated that neither this nor other recent water assessments give cause for health concern. "But several point to the potential for risk - especially for the fetus and those with severely compromised health." Unfortunately, the two statements made by Daughton are opposing because in the United States, many people have compromised health and are unaware of their condition. The health and condition of the immune system of the average citizen is below optimal due to poor quality lifestyles and eating habits.

The decision to stay away from tap water and filter your drinking water and/or water in your shower and tub is definitely a personal one. But if you are considering an alternative to tap water, a filter is the way to go. The quality of most bottled waters is too uncertain, and then there is the added health risk of chemicals from the plastic container leeching into the water. Filters add another expense to your household necessities, so if you are going to choose filtering your water, selecting a good filter is important. Various brands on the market such as Brita and PUR are available for reasonable cost, but there is some debate by various health professionals as to whether or not these filters actually remove enough of the undesired material. A good, economical choice is GE Smart Water, which was top rated in Consumer Reports December 2002.

The bottom line is, a preponderance of evidence shows tap water should be avoided because it contains hormones, pharmaceutical compounds, heavy metals, chlorine and may contain fluoride --toxic substances which can have serious health implications with repeated consumption. Avoid distilled water because it has the wrong ionization, pH, polarization and oxidation potentials, and can drain your body of necessary minerals. It has been tied to hair loss, which is often associated with certain mineral deficiencies.

For information about Kangen, one of the most high-quality water systems available which contains antioxidants that are vital for health, visit Very Healthy Water.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Growing Interest in Naturopathic and Complimentary Medicine

Do you visit a naturopathic or complimentary health care provider for your health needs? There is a growing interest and increasing number of individuals who are moving toward natural methods and habits for maintaining health. In addition, more and mores states in America are providing licensing to naturopathic practitioners so that patients have choices in health.

It is from this interest and increasing educational opportunities that patients are being provided the tools with which to take charge of their own health, instead of being limited only to traditional, allopathic practices. From this shift, over the next several decades, we should be able to notice a very observable change in the status of overall health of the average person. Through awareness and education, people are finally being given the freedom to take control of health issues that formerly were believed to be soley at the discretion of the traditionally trained medical doctor that typically waits for a problem to develop and then prescribes drugs or surgery.

If you haven't found a knowledgeable health care practitioner who uses alternative methods and treatments and think you might be ready, now is the time to start looking into what's available. In large cities, towns, and even sleepy corners of the world can be found a variety of practitioners who are experienced and trained in the method that may be just right for you - chiropractors, Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors, and acupuncturists, colon hydrotherapists, naturopathic and homeopathic practitioners, nutritional therapists, massage therapists, hypnotherapists, aromatherapy practitioners, osteopaths, and many others are awaiting your call.

For a list of different types of practitioners, visit World Wide Health Center. Consider changing your philosophy of taking drugs and having surgery for health issues and join millions who have taken their health into their own hands by visiting an alternative health care practitioner. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Daily Fruit and Vegetable Servings

How many whole fruits and vegetables do you eat daily? Here are guidelines you should be following to keep up on your body's need for these important foods:
  • Eat 95% of your daily produce as whole. Most Fruit and vegetable juices don't count as a serving. Why? Because these juices are highly processed, contain little more than carbohydrates and sugar, and unless otherwise noted are pasteurized (not raw) and have been stripped of their vital live nutrients. If you are juicing at home, the outcome has the potential to be better, but only if you follow specific guidelines. For example, many people use carrots and beets in juices because they taste good, but these vegetables in fact offer less nutrients and a higher glycemic index. It is important to start out slow with certain vegetables and over time add as many greens as possible to your juicing regimen. Visit Dr. Mercola for optimal juicing guidelines.
  • Dried fruits and vegetables do not count as a daily serving because again, they are highly processed, often contain fillers and chemicals (such as sulfur), and have a higher glycemic index than the whole fruit or vegetable because they have been dried.
  • Juice and vegetable supplements do not fully live up to their claims on packages. The best way to achieve optimal health is by eating real, whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Whenever possible, buy your produce local. This cuts out excess toxins which accumulate on produce from travel (and saves petroleum), even when they are organic.
  • Certified organic remains the best choice for produce. Organic varieties are lower in synthetic, persistent pesticides and herbicides. New research also suggests they are higher in nutrient and antioxidant value than the conventional variety. A study released in the Journal of Applied Nutrition in 1993 stated that organically grown foods contained 63 percent more calcium, 73 percent more iron, 118 percent more magnesium, 91 percent more phosphorus, 125 percent more potassium, 60 percent more zinc and a 178 percent more molybdenum than non-organic foods. Besides containing an impressive amount of minerals, the organically grown food was found to contain 29 percent less mercury, a potentially dangerous chemical. Another study published in the the 2003 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that organically grown fruits and vegetables contained significantly more antioxidants than food grown by conventional means.
  • Adults should eat 7 - 9 servings per day, while children should have at least 5. A serving equals 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or 1/2 cup chopped raw, cooked, or frozen vegetables. Avoid canned as these vegetables have been processed and cooked, and do not offer the same nutrient value as frozen or fresh. One serving of fruit equals 1 medium-sized piece of whole fruit such as an apple or pear, or 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or frozen fruit.
  • Remember that nutrients and antioxidants don't last long in the body, so eat these foods throughout the day for optimal health. Snack on these foods between meals instead of chips, crackers, bagels, pretzels, and other similar processed foods.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Colon Cleansing - Does it Benefit Your Health?

Have you ever conducted a colon cleanse? Many holistic health care practitioners believe this is an important step to bringing your health back to optimal levels - and for most Americans with poor diet and lifestyle, their health state is not where it should be. Many allopathic or traditional doctors believe that colon cleansing is not only unnecessary but can be damaging to health. They believe the colon can purge out toxins on its own and that this process can disrupt the delicate electrolyte balance of the body. Who is right? Let's look at the facts:
  • Colon cancer is blamed as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The American Cancer Society recommends screenings for colon cancer begin at age 50. But why would you want to wait until you are 50 to do something about a problem that has taken years to develop? Cancer does not rear its head overnight. It takes years of poor lifestyle choices to be able to observe the outward affects of cancer. Prevention can eliminate the need for expensive drugs, surgery, and years of needless discomfort and suffering. Colon cleansing is one such preventative measure that helps the body clean out years of built up toxins and residue from poor lifestyle choices before cancer has a chance to develop.
  • The colon is one of the main systems of elimination in your body, and when it is not functioning properly, the rest of your health will suffer. When people eat healthy, their digestive system and health flourishes. Most people don't eat as healthy as they can - and in fact, eat an abundance of dead, processed foods. When you maintain a diet of these kinds of foods, toxins build up in your colon, your bloodstream, and your entire body system.
According to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, "an unhealthy colon is one in which fecal matter has been allowed to build up on its walls and within its cells. Over time, this fecal matter becomes encrusted in the colon, blocking its openings and slowing down the passage of stools. This fecal matter then continues to build up for days, weeks, months, and even years, putrefying and then poisoning your entire system." Dr. Kellogg maintains that poor colon health can indeed be the culprit of many other health problems. Conditions including but not limited to cancer, cardiovascular disease, influenza, colds, influenza, allergies, and arthritis, are all examples of diseases that can be connected to a colon with built-up toxins. "In fact, in most cases, the severity of a disease can be linked directly to the level of toxicity in the colon."

Removal of these toxins leads to increased energy and vitality, weight loss, improved function of the digestive tract, clearer skin, improved mental function, and subsequently better health. In addition to these benefits, improved bowel function is restored, eliminating constipation, diarrhea, and other disorders.

There are a variety of colon cleansing activities to perform - and you can choose a variety of combinations with proper advise from a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Locate an experienced colon hydrotherapist that you can trust, and work with him or her to determine the best course for your own health. Colon hydrotherapy can and should be used in conjunction with nutritional supplements and colonic fasting diets.

It is important to support your body during cleansing and afterwards with the proper resources including plenty of water, nutritious foods, probiotics, and fiber. How much fiber do you need each day? According to the Mayo Clinic:
  • 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women 50 and younger
  • 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women 51 and older
For more information about colon cleansing and how it can positively affect your health, visit the Colon Cleansing and Constipation Resource Center.

For other valuable resources and reputable colon-cleansing products, visit Blessed Herbs. This site comes highly recommended by many knowledgeable colon hydrotherapy practitioners and other holistic health care providers.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Health Begins With Digestion

Do you think much about how your digestion affects health? It has a profound effect on how well you feel and how your entire body functions. Here are some tips for successful digestive function:
  • Limit beverage intake while eating - most overeating occurs because of dehydration, so hydrate before and after you eat - 1/2 hour before and 1 to 2 hours after eating. If you do drink with meals, limit your intake to something warm that will aid digestion such as chamomile, peppermint, or ginger tea. And drink no more than 4 ounces.
  • Chew your food well - at least twenty times.
  • Use correct food combinations when eating - eat fruit alone, between meals. Avoid mixing proteins and carbohydrates - eat rice, potatoes, and grains away from proteins and vegetables. Eat dairy products alone.
  • Eliminate refined and processed foods from your diet.
  • Eliminate trans fats and hydrogenated oils. Replace with grapeseed and coconut oils (for high heat cooking), and pumpkin seed oil and olive oil for raw consumption (great for salads).
  • Eat raw dairy - milk, butter, cheese, cream, and yogurt.
  • Take an Omega 3 supplement daily - cod liver oil is best in winter. Try Carlson's and Mercola's brand.
  • If you eat grains, give yourself a break from wheat, which is normally the most processed and causes the most allergies/health problems. Try whole sprouted grains (such as Ezekiel) including amaranth, quinoa, millet, kamut, buckwheat, and occasionally spelt. But use care not to eat a large number of servings of grains per day. One to two servings is sufficient and will help keep away issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, candida syndrome, and other more serious problems like IBS or Crohn's Disease.
  • Eat more fermented foods - kefir and real yogurt made from raw milk, cultured vegetables, and sauerkraut.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Raw juicing with plenty of greens is a good way to get your daily intake. When juicing, avoid high glycemic choices such as carrots and beets. For a good guide to juicing, visit Dr. Mercola's site.
  • Eat your largest meal earlier in the day. Don't eat after 6:00 p.m.
  • Avoid soy unless fermented such as miso or tempeh. Do not eat soy cheese, milk, or soy proteins. These foods are all processed and soy contains phytic acid which inhibits the absorption of minerals and nutrients into the body. Soy also contains estrogen which can be harmful in excess and especially for men and boy's reproductive systems.
  • Drink half of your weight in water daily - for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water.
  • Make sure you take plenty of fiber in your daily regimen. Ground flax seeds are a good choice (available in the bulk section of the health food store). Good products to take include Colon Plus by Biotics Research, Sonnes products, and Fiber Harmony.
  • Take a good probiotic daily. Good brands include PB8, Nature's Life, Complete Probiotics from Dr. Mercola, BioDophilus Caps and BioDophilus FOS by Biotics Research, and Prescipt-Assist. As you have trillions of cells in your body, you cannot overdose on these friendly bacteria which are one of the most critical keys to good health and proper digestion.
  • Mealtime should be relaxed and stress-free. If you are anxious or upset, avoid eating.
  • Foods that do not digest properly such as processed foods or because of stress result in overgrowth of harmful bacteria and digestive disorders as well as lethargy, mood disorders, and other issues.