Sunday, February 28, 2010

Salmonella... Here we go again

These days it seems salmonella goes with processed food like peanut butter goes with jelly, or hot goes with spicy, or flowers go with spring... It just seems inevitable that if we are buying food that has been handled or manipulated in any way prior to packaging, that sure enough you are playing Russian roulette with your health... your life for that matter!

The latest headline reads, "Shelled pecans recalled over salmonella fears", and it's just another example of the governments (FDA) incompetence when it comes to, well, doing their job; keeping our food supply safe.

When people think of processed food, shelled nuts usually don't come to mind, but shelling is no doubt a "process" that an otherwise healthy food undertakes. On that same note when people think of nuts they tend to focus on the actual nut inside and not the outer shell, but nature put that outer shell there for a reason; to keep the food inside fresh and the nutrients intact. Just like a fruit or vegetable begins to lose its nutrients once it has been peeled and chopped into those nice "ready to eat" size portions, nuts beans and grains do the same.

A nut with the shell can last years, but once that shell is removed so goes that shelf-life. And let's not forget about nutrients; a nut shelled right before eating it has more nutrients than a nut shelled at some processing plant months before. As for salmonella, you don't have to worry about a salmonella tainted nut if its shell is still intact.

So the choice is yours... Eat minimally processed organic whole foods and be healthy, or eat non-organic overly processed foods and add salmonella poisoning to any already long list of unwanted side-effects (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taxing a Poor Diet is a Poor Idea

It's been in the news for some time now, as politicians push to pass legislation which would put a tax on sugary drinks (such as non-diet soda).

I think this is another typical example of our government and society trying to fix a problem with actually addressing the problem, and let me go on record by saying this is not the right approach. I think if history is any example, it should be obvious to see that putting an additional tax on something to try and sway the public not to purchase it does not work; case in point tobacco and alcohol.

How many times does the government have to raise the tax on tobacco products to get people to stop smoking... I'll let you know when it happens!

You cannot create a "healthy society" by making it too expensive to eat poorly.

You have got to educate people on the healthy truth...

  • A healthy diet is everything (Fresh Organic Fruits and Vegetables, Natural Whole Grains and Legumes, Grass-fed Beef Free-Range Chickens and Wild Caught Fish)
  • Processed food causes poor health (Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease, Chronic Pain and Inflammation, Cancer)
  • Non-Organic cosmetics and household chemicals cause Cancer (Soap, Shampoo, Make-up, Skin Products, Perfume, cleaners, deodorizers, disinfectants...)
  • Rx and Over-the-counter Drugs do more harm than good (Pain Killers, Anti-Inflamatories, Muscle Relaxers, Antacids, Antibiotics, Vaccinations, any Prescription Drug)

Do yourself and your family a favor and do the research; you will find that being healthy comes natural when you stop poisoning yourself.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't Be The Biggest Loser

Losing weight for most people, whether you're slightly overweight, obese or morbidly obese, can feel overwhelming and simply put an impossible achievement, which no doubt requires a major lifestyle change on many levels. This is why those brave few who dare take the leap are usually quick to jump on the "fad" band wagon in all its many seductive forms...

Be it the newest fad diet that's all the rave in Hollywood, or the newest fad diet pill that is being pushed hard and fast by some pharmaceutical company trying to make a quick profit before it gets overly scrutinized by the medical and nutritional communities, or let's not forget the network driven ratings hungry people exploiting prime time weight loss show the "Biggest Loser".

I can assure you if you choose any of these roads than you will surely end up right back where you are... over weight and unhappy! Weight loss has to start with diet, and that means throw out everything you currently think you know and START EATING HEALTHY! Your diet must consist mainly of fresh organic fruits vegetables and natural whole grains and legumes. You will not find a healthy diet in a bag, box, can, pill, bar, or cleverly marketed drink, despite the many impostors available at your local grocery or so called "nutritional" store.

This is why fad diets not only don't work but statistics show that those who fail (and the majority do) fall hard.Unfortunately now with ridicules TV shows like "The Biggest Loser", people are being unknowingly suckered into the dangerous belief; exercise hard like some sort of Marine in training and you'll be thin in record time. Unfortunately recent headlines reveal something else, something in the form of injuries and health problems due to over-exertion.

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but exercise doesn't have to mean psycho boot camp. Walking and hiking can be some of the best forms of exercise you can get, but start slow... try parking your car in the furthest available parking spot the next time you go shopping, or take the stairs instead of the elevator, and let's not forget simply taking walks outside (not in a gym) and reintroduce yourself to nature.

So remember, eat healthy (organic, fresh, free-grazed, grass-fed, wild caught) and exercise smart (walking and hiking, or body weight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches)... A healthier you is right around the corner!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lets Root for Anti-inflammatorys

Being someone who suffered from chronic inflammation for many years and continually came up short with any Rx or over-the-counter drug, it's no wonder why I have a special place in my heart for any natural anti-inflammatory. So if you're like me and have long given up on popping pills to relieve inflammation, then you're in luck because hands down nature has the best anti-inflammatorys around.

Fear not though, you won't have to Root around very long to find some of these little natural wonders. Actually many of them are right there in your spice rack, and if you buy organic food products, spices in this case, and you're actually using them, then you're definitely getting some of their benefits.

Why stop (short) there though... when a recipe calls for "freshly grated" or "freshly chopped" or "freshly minced" spices then do your food and your health a favor and use the actual root. One of the most commonly called for (fresh spices) and conveniently enough commonly offered "roots" is the ginger root, and take it from someone who cooks/eats homemade meals every day... it's well worth the minuscule amount of extra effort it takes to substitute a couple of shakes of dried powder with the fresh stuff, and the difference in flavor will amaze you.

Since health is always my first priority though, ending with the flavor benefits would be, well, incomplete to say the least. The fact is, studies show that ginger root has many therapeutic properties one of which is the ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds as well as having direct anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger has been used for thousands of years for alleviating gastrointestinal problems (gas to be exact) as well as to aid the digestion process. More recent studies confirm these beneficial qualities by proving ginger to be far superior to Dramamine (or equivalent drugs) for preventing symptoms associated with motion sickness and especially those of sea sickness.

It's true that organic processed foods are no doubt superior to non-organic processed foods, but the fact is that these processes, whether preformed to Organic standards or not, deplete foods of some of their nutritional properties. So remember, fresh is always best whenever possible.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

Everyone knows pumpkins are good for pumpkin pies, but that's usually where the recipe creativity stops with most people. Pumpkins as all winter squash are very nutritious, and like most winter squash make great soups.

Pumpkin Soup (all ingredients are organic)

1 Pumpkin
1/2 Onion
2 c Chicken Broth
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ginger (freshly grated)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Sea salt & Cracked pepper to taste

Cut the pumpkin in half (long ways), peal, and core; put the seeds aside, they are great toasted or raw once dried. In a large pan steam both halves (cores facing down) for about 25min or until soft. Chop the onion and heat them in a skillet until they get translucent and just begin to brown (not burnt). When pumpkin is fully steamed, place in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add other ingredients and stir together well (you may also use a blender at this point to get a smoother consistency). When finished, pour soup into a pot and heat for about 10min or until warm.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Read That Lable On Those prenatals

My wife has a couple of friends who are pregnant and were discussing prenatal vitamins.

They say their doctor insists upon taken them, but are they all they are cracked up to be?

Just because something is prescribed by a doctor don't assume what your taking is truly the best thing for you or your baby. There is no doubt in my mind that expecting mothers should supplement their diets with vitamins and minerals, especially since the majority of Americans are malnourished due to poor diets, but that doesn't mean all prenatal vitamins are created equal.

It is important to really examine the label on these or any multi-vitamin to be sure you are getting the best quality vitamins and minerals that you need, AND NOTHING ELSE! It was very disturbing for me to see that so many of these vitamins that these doctors are prescribing have a laundry list of garbage (in the form of dyes and fillers) listed under "inactive ingredients". A good quality multi contains high quality vitamins and minerals and very minimal "inactive ingredients".

Do pregnant woman really need dyes and food coloring in their vitamins? Does a developing fetus really need vitamins filled with chemicals in the form of fillers and binders? Do expecting mothers really need allergens in the form of whey or the many faces of soy in their vitamins when children and adults alike are becoming more and more allergic to these foods?

I actually saw soy listed 3 times, under 3 different aliases, in one prenatal vitamin... disturbing indeed, but it's not just the inactive ingredients that need to be scrutinized. I actually saw a number of these vitamins that contain vitamin D in the form of D2, when numerous studies have shown that vitamin D3 is the better more essential form for optimal health.

I recall a fact that I read that stated, "a well informed patent knows more about nutrition than the average MD", and the evidence just keeps piling up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Truth about Coca-Cola's Heart Truth

Coca-Cola's "Heart Truth" campaign is, in a word, ridiculous... No wait, disturbing... It's ridiculously disturbing!

I mean talk about your irony, and I quote...

"The Heart Truth campaign celebrates healthy lifestyle choices, which have become increasingly important to Diet Coke consumers. In the third year of our partnership with the NHLBI, we are proud that we can continue to play an important role in this educational conversation,"

This straight from the horses mouth; William White, Brand Director of Diet Coke North America to be exact.

Oh, Coca-Cola plays a huge role in the health of all too many Americans, but it is nothing to be proud of. Soft drinks are one of the leading causes of obesity, diabetes, and you guessed it, heart disease in children in this country, and based on the latest research it doesn't matter if you're drinking diet or regular soda (What soft drinks are doing to your body).

The research shows that between the artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, which is a chemical that stimulates your body into thinking it wants (needs) more sugar, or the phosphoric acid that not only gives them their bubbly quality but according to tests have shown to deplete your body's blood calcium levels.

So from me to Coke (if you're listening)... If you want to be a part of "heart health" in this country then do everyone, especially children, a favor and stop contributing to what has become an epidemic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't be Fooled by the Acai Berry

I have heard about all I can stand about the "nutritional benefits" of the Acai Berry or Goji Berry or any other so called exotic "Super Berry" out there...

It's not the berry though, that I have a problem with, nope, it's the companies that are taking advantage of the ill-informed public and marketing these fruit drinks and supplements as a "must have" for optimal nutrition.

First of all, all of these companies pushing this voodoo juice use the famous pyramid scheme to not only hook some poor soul into becoming a user, but also a dedicated seller as well with promises of making you rich... oh yea, and healthy too of course.

Secondly, it's the Non-Organic way in which these fruit drink products are produced, and trust me it makes a difference.

Thirdly, it's the (and I'm speculating here so bare with me) poor working conditions, braking many U.S. labor laws I'm sure, that most of the people harvesting these fruits are probably working under... I mean if Martha Stewart "didn't know" about the sweatshops, than can you honestly be sure that these Amazon natives harvesting these fruits are being treated fairly?

Fourth... There are PLENTY of Fresh Organic Seasonal fruits and vegetables from local organic farmers that are just as healthy for you, that I'm sure you're not currently eating.

So is it really worth the carbon footprint that this product leaves, from the jungles of the Amazon to your front door?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stocking Up On The Essentials

The calm before the storm... whether it's a winter blizzard or a summer/fall hurricane stocking up on the essentials becomes priority one with most people, and if you don't believe me try going to the grocery store the day before. What's disturbing though, to me anyway, is what people are stocking up on... what they consider the "essentials". It's always white bread and milk, and I assure you if you had to survive on only one of them or a combination of the two you would be anything but healthy.

As you may or may not know white refined flower is lacking in any of the nutrients it once had in its natural whole grain state, and truthfully the only effect your body will get from eating it is an unwanted spike in your blood sugar immediately after eating it.

And as far as milk goes, since it lacks the proper ratios of calcium to magnesium (which aids in calcium absorption) and calcium to phosphorous (which reduces the utilization of calcium and even promote excretion of calcium if consumed in high enough quantities), it becomes on obvious POOR choice for your daily calcium intake.

Unfortunately these are the "essentials" that we all grew up knowing. Maybe it stemmed from the era of the great depression, when things were so bad that you were considered lucky if you came home with a loaf of bread and some milk... either way it's time to put that behind you and rethink what the word "essentials" really means.

Essentials, for the sake of this subject, would be what is essential for life... health... and in order to LIVE HEALTHY you need to give your body food that contains what really is essential. Your body requires nutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates, as well as anutrients such as antioxidants, enzymes, and carotene. These are the essentials that will be the difference between a healthy state and diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and any of the many chronic illnesses that plague our country.

So the next time you go to the store for the "essentials" pick up some fresh organic fruits and vegetables, natural whole grains and legumes, because that's what's really essential for good health.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Effects of Stress

Stress effects our bodies in many ways, and although our bodies have evolved to handle even high stress situations in short bursts, it's the chronic stress lasting days weeks and even months that so many people in today's society often deal with that is relatively new for our bodies and is doing the most damage.

As I sit here writing this post I am well aware of this fact... I am also well aware of the slightly painful knot that sits just below and to the inside of my shoulder blade. It is no doubt stress related; work the past month or so has been extremely stressful, and I know I am not alone when it comes to stressful jobs. Unfortunately we need our jobs if we plan to remain living in our houses and driving our cars and well eating for that matter, which leads me to believe that it (the stress) will always be there.

This of course leads me directly to the point... it's how we deal with this stress that can make all the difference in the world. There are many approaches to dealing with stress; meditation, exercise, talking it out with friends, but at the center of it all a healthy diet must be a part of your regiment. There are many nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as anutrients (antioxidants, caratenes, etc.) that our bodies require in order to deal with stress and the toll they take on our immune system.

It is important to address the cause and not to get caught up with trying to deal with all the many side effects as if they were independent and unrelated. If you simply pop a pill for the aches and pains, and a pill to help you sleep, and a pill to help with the anxiety then you are fighting the same losing battle that so many others get caught up in... the same losing battle that is making pharmaceutical companies very very rich.

What your body needs is nutritional support that you can only get from a healthy diet consisting of fresh organic produce and natural whole grains, a "break from the madness" in the form of daily meditation or yoga or exercise, and any of the many natural (non-medical) remedies to help deal with the many symptoms your stress has brought with it.

For me it's this painful knot in my back, and I can assure you I will not be reaching for any over-the-counter drug for pain relief.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't Ignore Your Body

I've learned this myself the hard way and continue to tell others this when I see them going down the same road I did... Don't ignore your body!

Our body speaks to us all the time letting us know when we are mistreating it, whether it's physically (pushing ourselves too hard with physical labor be it at the gym, at work, or at home), or mentally, or and for the sake of this post, with our diets (food allergies). When you eat something that you are allergic to and ignore the symptoms; stomach pains, intestinal issues, ear aches, headaches, hives, swelling... you are damaging your digestive system and ultimately your immune system.

I've mentioned this in earlier posts, how (from my own personal experience) ignoring symptoms of a dairy allergy affected me and my body's ability to properly digest other foods, resulting in (in my opinion) my food allergy to soy, along with a handful of other health issues most of which I have since fixed.

I bring this topic up again because of a question a fellow co-worker asked me today. She informed me of an allergic reaction she had over the weekend to something she ate, and also mentioned that she feels she has become allergic to more and more foods over the past few years; she blames it on "getting older", I disagree. I reminded her of a few other food allergies that she has had for some time now (chocolate and cherries to name a few) that she continues to consume and continues to ignore her body's cry for help. She will eat the chocolate and complain about the headaches that always follow or the cherries and comment on the numbness/pins-and-needles feeling in the tongue and lips, but doesn't seem to realize that these seemingly insignificant reactions are the body's way of trying to alarm her to a much more serious issue going on inside her.

When our bodies cannot break down the proteins within a food, it causes poorly digested food to enter the small intestine. These undigested food particles collect along the intestinal wall, damaging the lining and allowing some of these undigested food molecules to enter the bloodstream where they are perceived as being foreign bodies attacking the body. This is what triggers histamines to be released causing the inflammatory response we all know as itching, swelling, pain...

Unfortunately most people think that if the allergic reaction isn't anaphylactic shock it's no big deal, and that's where we are so wrong. It's not just the undigested food molecules that escape into the bloodstream that we need to worry about, but the effects it has as well as those that collect on the inner lining of the intestinal wall, have on our immune system. Once the integrity of the intestinal wall is compromised it's like we've opened Pandora's Box, allowing parasites and unwanted bacteria to thrive which can only lead to bad news.

It has been documented that food allergies are the cause of many of the chronic health issues so many people are living with and this include a hyper sensitivity to other foods. It's a snowball effect that inevitably makes us susceptible to many diseases and illnesses.

So we can choose to address a food allergy with the urgency it requires, or ignore it and deal with the debilitating and eventually lethal effect it has on our body.

AllergyFree Search Engine