Keeping it Calm and Healthy…Part Deux

Keep Calm

Greetings and salutations, my friends! I’d like to continue discussing steps to dramatically improve our health and well being. Recall in my last post I compared this to peeling back the layers of an onion, one by one. The first layer involves protecting your gut health by doing the following:

Eliminating antibiotic and hormone-containing foods such as conventional meats and dairy; choose meats and dairy that are free of these nasties or go fully organic

Eliminating GMO’s primarily from processed foods containing conventional corn, corn syrup (AKA corn sugar and high fructose corn syrup) and soy; choose whole GMO-free foods, ideally fresh proteins and vegetables -> see my last blog post for lists of companies who specialize in Non-GMO foods

It may take some time and willpower to implement these changes, but be patient with yourself and you will get there, and it WILL be worth it. A lot of label reading, new menu planning, reprioritizing and ideally more fresh food preparation will be involved. Go for it and May the Force be With You!

The second layer involves saving your pancreas:

–  Eliminating artificial sweeteners and reducing the amount of good old refined sugar, especially from energy and soft drinks; my advice is to step away from the sugar/caffeine/artificial everything bomb (that every part of your body besides your taste buds hates) and grab some old-fashioned water or herbal tea (which every part of your body will love)

The average American consumes an average of 158 lbs of refined sugar a year, which plays havoc with our health. I’ll be the first to admit that it is tough to eliminate sweets completely – I am a total sucker for pastries. The important thing is to consider sweets an occasional treat instead of a daily ritual, because no one here is perfect.  I will elaborate as to why 158 lbs a year is too much by reviewing a book by Dr. Edward Aronoff called Toxic Food, Healthy Food: Your Survival Guide to Healthy Eating and Better Nutrition, Three Came Home Publishing, 2011.

Dr. Aronoff covers a lot of ground within the 64 chapters of this book. He discusses foods to eliminate/moderate (sweeteners, meat, dairy, coffee), scientific studies which support the correlation between diet and disease (diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, celiac disease, food allergies), chemicals in our food, pesticides in our water, recommended foods for all age groups (newborns, toddlers, 3 – 5 year olds, pre-teens, teens, adults), and healing your body with whole food nutrition. Whew – there’s a lot of great information in here, but we are going to focus on the sweeteners only in this post. If you would like to learn more about the other topics, I would recommend reading this book in its entirety.

First of all, sugar addiction is real and something relied upon by the junk food dealers manufacturers. Refined sugar affects the same brain chemicals, e.g. serotonin, that morphine, heroin and amphetamines do (page 79). Therefore if you consume a great deal of sugar every day, going cold turkey will be tough. Please refer to other resources to break a serious sugar habit. My goal here is to convince you to take that important step.

Some biology to start – sugar is necessary because your body needs it to supply its cells with energy. In the best case, simple sugars come from the metabolism of starches and carbohydrates which are broken down slowly. When you consume food, your body metabolizes the sugar that’s ingested and gets it ready to put into the nerve and fat cells. If you have more sugar than your cells need, your body stores the sugar as glycogen in the liver and the muscles to be used later. (Note: this is important and we will come back to it when we discuss high fructose corn syrup and why it is evil.) When the blood sugar begins to fall, a hormone released by the pancreas called glucagon tells the liver to release the glycogen as glucose. Alternatively, when the blood sugar rises, the pancreas releases hormone called insulin to metabolize the blood sugar (page 30 – 31).  That’s our body staying in balance and is all well and good.

Since the average American eats 158 lbs of sugar a year, not all is well and good. Refined sugars enter the blood stream rapidly, not slowly like metabolized starches and carbs, so the pancreas may become over reactive at the constant barrage and will secrete too much insulin and will drive the blood sugar down too much, resulting in low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include fatigue, nervousness, headaches, mood swings, depression, cold sweats, and so on (page 32). Eventually the constant consumption of refined sugars in sodas, breakfast cereals, candies, pastries (!), ice cream, coffee and alcohol can exhaust the pancreas to the point where it can’t control the metabolism of blood glucose. This can bring on Type 2 diabetes. Apparently many people are killing their pancreas in this way because we have a diabetes epidemic on our hands – 1 in 3 Americans have been diagnosed, and there be many more undiagnosed cases. Kicking the sugar habit is more important now when ever, especially with kids!

Quick side bar here about newborns, because the sugar addiction can begin with infant formulas. The sad fact is they are full of sugar – tens of grams of it – and their little pancreas’ just can’t handle it (page 36). Formulas which have GMO soy, GMO corn syrup and sugar are just bad news all around and set our children up for a lifetime of health issues. Is it any wonder more children than ever are obese, diabetic, and have attention-deficit disorders? It is quite possibly the crap food that they are fed starting at birth!

As if refined natural sugar isn’t bad enough, now we have artificial varieties which are even worse. In Chapter 7, Dr. Aronoff describes them all. We have:

Sucralose, trade name SPLENDA: Hey this was discovered while trying to develop a new insecticide. That in itself should send you running and screaming away. Nothing remotely similar to chemist-made sucralose is found in nature, despite the natural sounding name. There have been some complaints by users of Sucralose of skin disorders, anxiety, swelling, wheezing and coughing, but no long-term human studies have been done to prove whether it is dangerous or not (here’s one for plausible deniability!). My advice is to stay far away from this franken-crap!

Saccharin, trade name SWEET N’ LOW: Saccharin was banned in 1911 but was lifted because of sugar rationing during WWI. This stuff has been studied and the results are scary. Even the FDA indicated that saccharin caused bladder cancers, though it was not clear what component of it was hazardous, so nothing was done (par for the FDA course). In 1977, a study was done in Canada and concluded that: “Saccharin is carcinogenic for the urinary bladder in rats and mice and most likely carcinogenic in human beings. The neoplasm’s of the urinary bladder are malignant and invade and metastasize.”  Sounds great. I’ll pass.

Aspartame, trade names NUTRASWEET and EQUAL: Robyn O’Brien spent quite a bit of time on this one in her book The Unhealthy Truth, which I reviewed previously. She elaborated on the numerous studies that have been done which indicate how dangerous this sweetener is to health, and the only reason that it sits on store shelves is because of corporate corruption and a dereliction of duty by the FDA, plain and simple. A whole book has even been written by Dr. H.J. Roberts, called Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic. This is seriously bad stuff, likely a carcinogen, that has no place in our grocery stores. Stay far, far, away from this crap which has no business being called food.

So there you have some food for thought about sweeteners! The net is to stay far away from the artificial stuff and moderate your intake of the real stuff. The goal is to consume much, much less than 158 lbs a year!

The one topic I did not get a chance to address today is high fructose corn syrup. We’ll save that one for next week because it is also very important and deserves a complete treatment.

Happy aspartame-free eating!

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Weekend Wrap…How to Keep Calm and Eat Healthier, My Friends

Keep Calm

Welcome and good day! Eating healthier is easier said that done when there are so many temptations and toxins around us. I have found that cleaning up my lifestyle has been like peeling the layers off of an onion. Once one layer is peeled off, you can start peeing off the next one. Doing it this way also keeps you from feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of what may need to be done because you take one step at a time. I would therefore suggest that if you are starting from scratch, then the first layer of the onion to be peeled off involves doing the following to protect your gut health, amongst other things:

Eliminating antibiotic and hormone-containing foods such as conventional meats and dairy; choose meats and dairy that are free of these nasties or go fully organic

Eliminating GMO’s primarily from processed foods containing conventional corn, corn syrup (AKA corn sugar and high fructose corn syrup) and soy; choose whole GMO-free foods, ideally fresh proteins and vegetables

Making the changes above will increase the cost of your grocery bill, but will have a profoundly positive effect on your health and will likely decrease medical expenses in the future. This is because antibiotics and GMO’s play havoc with the beneficial bacteria in our gut, where 70% of our immunity resides and where our food is digested and nourishment obtained. Without energy from assimilated nutrition and resistance to disease, we are left tired, ill, and with painful digestive issues. This is the case for too many people and they may not understand that it is their diet which is a cause of their poor health.

The case for antibiotics playing havoc with our guts is straightforward to understand because their job is to kill bacteria – all bacteria – so the beneficial bacteria in our guts are killed by antibiotics. What is especially concerning is that by eating conventional meat and dairy, you are exposing yourself and your family to antibiotics given to the livestock, who are given a whopping 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US. From http://www.sustainabletable.org/257/antibiotics:

Industrial farms have been adding antibiotics to livestock feed since 1946, when studies showed that antibiotics caused animals to grow faster and put on weight more efficiently, increasing meat producers’ profits.  Between 1985 and 2001, the use of antibiotics in feed for industrial livestock production rose a startling 50%.  Today, antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock, poultry, and fish on industrial farms to promote faster growth and to compensate for the unsanitary conditions in which they are raised.  According to a new report by the FDA, approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals. This means that in the United States only 20 percent of antibiotics, which were originally developed to protect human health, are actually used to treat infections in people. (Note: references for statistics are given on website.)

It is straightforward to choose meats and dairy without antibiotics and hormones as the products will be labeled as such. Many restaurant chains are also providing such healthy alternatives, such as Chipotle and Panera Bread. The good news is that we can all vote with our $$ on this one. If there is demand, a greater supply will follow.

Unfortunately, choosing GMO-free is not as straightforward because genetically modified foods are NOT labeled as such. This is by design because (1) the GMO seed producers do not want Americans to be able to knowingly choose GMO or GMO-free, and (2) by introducing GMO’s into our food supply in the 1990’s with no control whatsoever, they do not have any liability as to the consequences. Let’s delve into each of these points and then talk about where we can find non-GMO foods.

GMO seed producers do not want Americans to knowingly choose GMO or GMO-free because there is no advantage to GMO food, only risks. Hence their unmitigated fight against labeling laws, such as I-522 in WA state. Consider:

GMO’s are not cheaper. Fact: GMO seeds are the most expensive and the likes of Monsanto require farmers to buy a new supply of their patented product EVERY YEAR instead of reusing seeds from the previous harvest, as has been done by farmers for millennia. Since 1995, over 250,000 farmers in India have become hopelessly indebted to Monsanto for seed and pesticide costs and have committed suicide. Yes, suicide because of a hopeless financial situation perpetuated by good old Monsanto. Do you really want these people in charge of your food? The good news is that action is being taken: Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya (“nine seeds” http://www.navdanya.org/), is spearheading a movement of thousands of Indian farmers promoting biodiversity and use of native seeds instead of patented genetically modified ones.

GMO’s are not more nutritious. Fact: GMO versions of foods are not more nutritious than their natural counterparts and are comprised of new proteins which can give rise to food allergies and digestive issues. In the case of Bt-corn, from http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/stunning_corn_comparison_gmo_versus_non_gmo:

GMO Corn has 14 ppm of Calcium and NON GMO corn has 6130 ppm. 437 X more.

GMO corn has 2 ppm of Magnesium and NON GMO corn has 113ppm. 56 X more.

GMO corn has 2 ppm of Manganese and NON GMO corn has 14ppm. 7X more.

Again, this is why GMO food producers do not want GMO’s labeled because they are worse and therefore would not be chosen by the informed consumer for purchase.

GMO do not use less pesticides and herbicides. Fact: They use more pesticides and herbicides because of a phenomenon that was obviously overlooked – the fact that organisms adapt to their environment.  GMO “Round-Up ready” crops are therefore becoming less effective because of weeds are adapting and becoming superweeds. So the chemical companies will produce even more toxic herbicides and pesticides in response – based on Agent Orange!  800 million more pounds are planned to be used on GMO crops by using multiple herbicides and pesticides to kill superweeds. (Source: Andrew Kimbrell, Founder and Director for Center for Food Safety, http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/).

Now to address the next point – liability. If, for example, GMO foods were labeled as such starting in the 1990’s and millions of people consumed them and then started having health issues in the subsequent decades, then a correlation could be made and guess who would be liable? GMO seed producers like Monsanto! Instead, they ensured that GMO’s slipped into our food supply unnoticed so that when health issues increased shockingly decades later, e.g. food allergies in children, autism, ADHD, obesity, cancer, etc., there is no provable correlation. Just all of a sudden our children, especially, are plagued by more allergies and illnesses then ever before. Pretty slick, huh?

The net is that the genetic modification experiment has been an abject failure. Instead of working with nature by using biodiversity to our advantage and sustainable farming methods,  we are engaged in escalating chemical warfare with nature. The food that is produced this way has been bathed in ever more toxic chemicals, is less nutritious, contains foreign genetic material which is not managed well by our digestive systems, and contains new proteins give rise to new food allergies.

So what to do? Vote with your food $$!! Once American consumers take a stand like European and British ones have, the tide will turn. Already products like Cheerios are produced with non-GMO ingredients in Europe…but not in America.

Here are companies to avoid – the ones that are trying to defeat labeling initiatives such as I-522 in WA state:

http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/10/27/monsanto-and-dupont-spent-nearly-9-million-to-defeat-gmo-labeling-in-washington/

Here are the companies to support – the ones who use Non-GMO ingredients:

http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/10/25/400-companies-that-do-not-use-gmos-in-their-products/

Let’s vote with our $$ and turn the tide! Other countries have done it, and so can we!

On Thursday, I will peel back the second layer of the onion, and this one has to do with the elimination of artificial sweeteners. As you will see, these are truly nasty pieces of work that have no business in our bodies.

Until then, happy nutritious eating!

Let’s talk about GMO’s and other ridiculousness

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Welcome! Next week, I will write a book report on Dr. Arnoff’s Toxic Food, Healthy Food – Your Survival Guide to Healthy Eating and Better Nutrition. I am about halfway through and am learning more about the horrors of our food supply, which I will of course share. Yay!

Speaking of horrors, let’s talk again about GMO’s! In fact, let’s keep talking about GMO’s because we need to arm ourselves with information and not be swayed by Monsanto propaganda (yes, we are looking at you, state of WA). The good news is that progress can be made if we make our collective voices heard.  For example, Mexico banned the planting of GMO corn effective immediately. See other bits of good news here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/huge-gmo-news_b_4129311.html.

Also several multi-nationals already produce non-GMO versions of foods for sale in Europe, which is good, but not the US, which is bad! Here’s the skinny on non-GMO Cheerios that we can’t buy here – yeah, that needs to change:

http://buff.ly/19PTbX6.

If you are not very familiar with what’s going on with GMO’s, watch the short GMOS101 video below for an excellent primer on the subject. If you would like to learn more, check out the other resources in this link, like the non-GMO shopping guide.  To really dive in, sign up for the free online GMO summit which starts tomorrow:

http://gmosummit.org/survivalguide/

In summary, GMO’s are formed when genes from one organism (e.g. bacteria, virus) are forced into the DNA of another species (e.g. plant) to transfer traits. The issue is that this is something that came into prevalence a couple of decades ago, and no testing by the FDA or Monsanto was done to ensure the safety of this process before setting it loose. If this isn’t the definition of hubris, I don’t know what is! The fact of the matter is that WE ARE THE GUINEA PIGS for a process nature never intended unless we make conscious decisions to avoid GMO foods and eliminate their release into the environment so the food supply is not permanently contaminated. There really is no other issue of this magnitude confronting the quality of our food supply today.

As you work on improving the quality of food for yourself and your family, cost may rightly be a concern. Check out this post from the Environmental Working Group for tips to get Good Food on a Tight Budget:

http://www.ewg.org/goodfood/index.php

And on the ridiculousness front, some schools forbid you to send your kid to school with a healthy, non-sugary, non-greasy, non-GMO lunch and instead require that your kid eat Big Food/Big Government sanctioned unhealthy slop unless you can provide a doctor’s note! Whaaaaaa?????

http://www.infowars.com/feds-order-school-to-ban-packed-lunches-without-doctors-note/?utm_content=buffer1eacf&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

I know when I was a kid, this type of heavy-handed ridiculousness would not have flown. The principal would have been promptly laughed out of his or her office for dictating what students could eat for lunch. I hope the parents who experience this intrusiveness do not accept it quietly.

That concludes our post for today! I welcome your comments and wish you the best in your pursuit of health and wellness!

Photo from Whole Foods GMO Infographic.

Weekend Wrap…Pass the lemons, hold the cocamide DEA, please

Lemon in water

Greetings health fans! Let’s talk about the humble lemon again. I reblogged a post from the Bikini Gardener a while ago about the benefits of a fresh-squeezed organic lemon flush in the mornings and I’d like to reiterate it because adding fresh-squeezed lemon water to our daily routines is a simple yet powerfully healthy thing to do. Healthy routines don’t have to be complex! Here is a reminder about the benefits of warm water with lemon (sources: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/health-benefits-lemons and http://www.energiseforlife.com/wordpress/2006/02/10/lemon-water-alkalising-superstar/ and http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/10/20/5-health-benefits-of-warm-water-with-lemon/ ).

High in Vitamin C and potassium – Warm lemon water will boost your immune system, fight colds, stimulate brain and nerve function and help control blood pressure. This is very important during flu season!

Alkalising– Dissociated lemon minerals in the body balance the body’s pH, and make it slightly alkaline, an environment which is not conducive to bacteria and viruses. It is not intuitive that this is the case as lemon juice itself is comprised of citric acid so see the video in energiseforlife for details. Interesting stuff.

High in Pectin Fiber – Lemons also help with the weight loss process because they help fight hunger cravings.

Aids digestion – The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis and since lemons are high in minerals and vitamins they help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.

Hydrates the lymph system – Lemon water helps prevent dehydration and adrenal fatigue, helping the body perform all of its proper functions.

Adding a fresh-squeezed organic lemon to green or herbal tea with some locally sourced honey sounds like a yummy variation for later in the day! Actually that sounds really good…hold please…

In addition to adding good things to our routines, it is important to take bad things out as well. I know it seems like everything is toxic, so it is difficult to live toxin free. However there are some really bad actors that should be avoided, and one is cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), which was listed by the state of CA as a carcinogen last year. This posting by the Center for Environmental Health lists the nearly 100 shampoos and soaps that have this chemical in them: http://www.ceh.org/news-events/press-releases/content/lawsuit-launched-testing-finds-cancer-causing-chemical-in-100-shampoos-haircare-products/. To stay informed about this and other topics related to healthy living, check out the CEH website and sign up for their free newsletter: http://www.ceh.org/. I just did!

That wraps it up for this week. I hope this advice is helpful and wish you all the best in your quest for healthy living! (It ain’t easy in the land of craptacular foods and chemicals…pardon my redundancy.) Comments welcome!

Photo credit: © Mikdam | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Book Report for the week: Be Afraid, Very Afraid, of What Passes for Food in America

ID-10039900

Okay, the title of the amazing book I will review is actually The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into The Dangers of America’s Food Supply – And What Every Family Can Do To Protect Itself, by Robyn O’Brien, Broadway Books, 2009 (a better title to be sure). What Robyn does within 268 pages is spectacular – she provides a no-holds-barred look at the issues with our food supply AND takes individuals, corporations, government agencies and foundations to task for their roles in the dysfunction. She names names and describes what those in positions of authority have done and not done to ensure that America’s foods are full of artificial colors, flavors, additives, hormones, and genetically modified ingredients – many of which are banned in other countries like England and Australia – all the while ensuring that corporations like Monsanto achieve record profits on the backs of unsuspecting American consumers (because of a lack of GMO labeling laws – yes, we’re looking at you, WA and OR).

Robyn starts by describing the food allergies she discovered in her young children, how she received little helpful information from her doctors as to the causes and why food allergies have increased so dramatically, and how that galvanized her into conducting in-depth research into the relationship between kid’s food allergies and the substandard quality of our food supply. This led her to discover unsavory aspects of genetically modified corn, soy consumption, and recombinant bovine somatotrophine (rBST) A.K.A. recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in milk. For example:

  • Genetically modified corn, known as Bt corn, has been scientifically altered to include the genetic code of an insecticide called Bt protein, a toxin that kills the corn rootworms that try to eat it (page 121). Recall from my previous post “GMO here, there everywhere” that 88% of corn is Bt corn, so if you have consumed anything with conventional corn in it, you have consumed a Frankenfood composed of corn proteins and an insecticide protein. This is frightening on several levels: (1) We are consuming an insecticide protein, and I don’t care if “the authorities” say it is at a safe level, I don’t believe it. (2) This combination of proteins may result in the unintended creation of new proteins, and it is proteins the body interprets as foreign and dangerous (whether they are or not) that trigger allergic reactions. As Robyn asks on page 91, “Creating new proteins was what genetic engineering was all about – and since these proteins had never before existed, how did you find out whether people might be allergic to them?”. (3) This genetic combination of a food and insecticide goes against all rules of nature and in order to make this happen, nature’s barriers against the combination of genetic materials from different species need to be overcome. Extraordinary measures that nature never intended need to be taken, and Robyn describes them beautifully in Chapter 5. This must be read to be believed.
  • A 1997 study in Britain’s prestigious medical journal The Lancet showed that infants given soy formula had in their blood stream extremely high levels of isoflavones (which help produce estrogen and might be toxic to the thyroid). In fact, they had levels from 5 – 10x that of adult women who were taking soy supplements. Note that among girls and women, high levels of estrogen have been associated with cancers, obesity and early puberty. In a warning letter to the FDA, doctors warned that soy-fed babies were taking part in “a large, uncontrolled, and basically unmonitored human infant experiment.” The United States FDA did nothing with this information, so that soy formula is still prevalent here, whereas the British consider soy formula as an absolute last resort (page 77). Was your child fed soy formula? Did you think it was perfectly safe? If so, how does this make you feel?
  • The claimed benefit of rBGH is that it increases milk production, but the cost to the dairy cows is high. The package even warns that it “may increase risk of clinical mastitis” among other things. This one is serious because it is a painful type of udder infection that causes cows to pump out bacteria and pus along with the milk, requiring treatment with antibiotics and other meds that can end up in the milk (p. 99). So a glass of conventional milk can be loaded with growth hormone, antibiotics, cow bacteria and udder pus. As if this wasn’t bad enough, there may be a correlation between rBGH and premenopausal breast cancer (p.102) which is becoming more common. Is this what you thought you were feeding your growing children? Recall also in my previous posts about Paul Pitchford’s book Healing with Whole Foods that green leafy vegetables are a better source of bone-building calcium anyway, so the whole “Got Milk” slogan is a beautiful bit of marketing, but otherwise is a scam.

Robyn also discovered that many foundations, research institutions and government agencies, like the FDA, are in deep cahoots with the likes of Monsanto and these relationships taint the advice and information they provide as they do not want to offend their Big Corporate Overlord, as this could put a lucrative job offer or grant from them in jeopardy. It’s good to hear that these people have their priorities straight – hmmm…groom myself for a big job offer or protect integrity of food supply for generations to come? What a toughie! Seriously, what kind of a cynical, self-centered person chooses the former? And do we want these people in charge of the genetic composition of our food supply?

On page 198, Robyn writes the following about genetic engineering: “The phrase that to me best sums up the problem is Michael Pollan’s evocative “playing God in the garden”, which he first used in a 1998 New York Times article, presumably to express the depth of his concern about what might happen when humans could indeed “play God”. What’s disturbing to Pollan – and to me – about genetic engineering is that not only are we manipulating the DNA of living organisms for our own purposes, but that we then take the process a step further and forcibly cross tow living species that all the laws of nature have been designed to prevent from mating.” In other words, the level of hubris we are seeing from those in charge of our food supply is simply astounding. I wonder if they think they and their families will be immune from the damage they cause to the entire planet.

Robyn covers much more ground in this book about the science behind what triggers an allergic reaction, how food allergies are likely related to additives and genetic modification, pitfalls of genetic modification, the startling increase in food allergies, how to protect your family, Monsanto’s sleazy and predatory business practices, and so on. I really encourage you to read this book because you will be changed as a result. Once you gain the knowledge about the relationship between the food you consume and your family’s health and well-being, there is no going back to the grocery store and buying the artificial junk that Monsanto and the FDA want us to believe is food.

And on a final note, Robyn took her concern a step further as she started a foundation to help allergy parents with the information she uncovered, called AllergyKids (http://www.allergykids.com/). Check it out if you are the parent of a child with food allergies because you will get unbiased information there as she is not beholden to corporate interests.

That concludes this week’s book report! I hope it was informative and helpful. I am now reading Toxic Food – Healthy Food by Dr. Edward Aronoff and will submit a book report on that in 2 weeks. I am sure what I learn will scare the hell out of me as well!

Weekend Wrap…Benefits of non-inflammatory diet & other antics

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Welcome health fans! Today I’d like to present Dr. Weil’s non-inflammatory way of eating. Note that this is not a diet to be done temporarily as a means to an end, but more of a lifestyle choice. The goal is to decrease inflammation in the body because although inflammation can be beneficial when we are injured, it is dangerous when it becomes a persistent or chronic condition. Chronic inflammation has been shown to be associated with heart disease and cancer. In relation to heart disease, it can cause coronary blockage, and a heart  attack. We’ve been told for years to keep our cholesterol down to avoid the  buildup of plaque in our arteries, but scientist now believe that inflammation  plays just as important a role as cholesterol and plaque. [1] Many other diseases are also associated with inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis,  osteoarthritis, MS, lupus, emphysema, and gingivitis are all inflammatory  diseases. Indeed, any disease with a name ending with “itis” is an inflammatory  disease. A few examples are: bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, hepatitis, and  colitis. [1]

Now that we’ve covered the dangers of chronic inflammation, let’s discuss how to minimize it. The major causes of chronic inflammation are:

1. Our genes

2. The food we eat, particularly saturated fats

3. Lack of sleep

4. Lack of exercise

5. Polluted air and water

6. Smoking

7. High cholesterol

Some of these items are in our control, like our diet, and Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet is described here:  http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet.

I’d like to call out a couple of salient points that he makes:

Regarding Healthy Sweets (my downfall!)
Healthy choices: Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet
Why: Dark chocolate provides polyphenols with antioxidant activity. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa and have an ounce a few times a week. Fruit sorbet is a better option than other frozen desserts.

Please note that one sweetener that is present in many processed foods is high fructose corn syrup, likely from GMO corn (which we covered in a previous post). See this post for the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, which Big Food has taken to the airwaves to dispute. Don’t believe the glossy ads because their only concern is profits and not your health:

http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

Regarding Cooked Asian Mushrooms
Healthy choices: Shiitake, enokidake,maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available)
Why: These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including crimini and portobello). This part was news to me!

Regarding Pasta (al dente)
Healthy choices: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba
Why: Pasta cooked al dente (when it has “tooth” to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels which could lead to inflammation.

The bad for this week: BPA

Here are ways to limit your exposure to bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is likely present in plastic food containers that are not labeled otherwise. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it upsets the balance of hormones within the human body which can lead to a variety of health problems. Learn more here: http://naturalsociety.com/4-simple-ways-limit-bpa-exposure/

One big take away message is to always avoid microwaving food in plastic containers. There are plenty of good glass food containers available these days.

The ugly for this week: Crooks in the EPA

Craziness now in the EPA, you know, those people tasked with protecting us and stuff.

http://www.naturalnews.com/042387_epa_corrupt_officials_money_laundering.html

That wraps it up for today! Thanks for joining me and please feel free to share any comments!

[1] Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1264028

GMO’s here, there, everywhere ===> yikes

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From Whole Foods Infographic

Yikes, indeed, as it may surprise you how prevalent GMO’s are in our food supply. See the infographic from Whole Foods below for insight on this topic:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/sites/default/files/media/Global/WFM_GMO_Infographic_1.pdf?utm_source=RM&utm_medium=FTC&utm_campaign=WFMTemplateRM2013_RM_ALL

If you consume processed foods with corn or soy by-products, then you are exposing yourself and your family to GMO’s.  And the kicker? Since labeling of GMO’s is not required, you weren’t even given the option to choose them, or not. This would not be a concern if there were a preponderance of data which indicated that there were no long-term health effects. However, that is simply not the case. The book The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into The Dangers of America’s Food Supply – And What Every Family Can Do To Protect Itself by Robyn O’Brien, Broadway Books, 2009, discusses these health effects in detail, specifically regarding the relationship between GMO’s and the increase in children’s food allergies. For example, Dean Metcalfe, who headed the National Institute Of Health’s Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, explained that although you could test genetically engineered crops for known proteins (which will cause an allergic reaction, including fatal anaphylaxis) it was the unintended creation of new proteins that made it difficult to test GM crops for allergenicity. Robyn then asks if creating new proteins was what genetic engineering was all about – and since these proteins never before existed, how did you find out whether people may be allergic to them? Good question Robyn!

Robyn also points out the gaping hole in our food safety oversight. Regarding GMO’s, the FDA position is that: “Ultimately it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety” (p. 103). However if you approach a company, say Monsanto, their position is that: “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job” (p. 104).

Huh. Basically the government agency supported by our tax dollars to protect the integrity of our food supply does not think protecting the integrity of our food supply is in their mandate. So that makes us guinea pigs in the largest food experiment in the history of humankind? Bear in mind that other countries want nothing to do with this experiment, including the EU and its member states, Australia, and New Zealand, to name a few. See the full list here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/countrieswithbans.cfm.

The bottom line is that awareness of this issue is critical. You can do the following to protect yourself and your family:

– Be aware of the fight to pass GMO labeling laws, and Monsanto’s fight against them. There is currently a battle raging in OR. There is absolutely no good reason (other than Monsanto’s profits) for not labeling which foods have been genetically modified so that consumers can make the choice.

– Check the label of everything you buy. If it contains corn or soy, then chances are they are the GM variety. Robyn goes into the prevalence of soy in baby formula, and the associated serious concerns about high levels of isoflavones as well (p. 76 – 80). Many products indicate they are GMO free, so choose those instead.

– Even better, choose organic, which by definition can not be genetically modified.

So there we have it! Happy Organic Eating health fans!