Chitika

Friday, April 29, 2011

3 Essential Things to Look for on the Ingredient List

Make grocery shopping a breeze by running all packaged foods through this quick check list.

1. Short lists
When you find a packaged food in the supermarket with a long list of ingredients on the label, just set it back on the shelf and look for a simpler version of the food. (We’re talking here about the “Ingredients” part of the label.) The alarming truth is, many of those ingredients are various kinds of sugars and chemical additives, and they’re not put there for you — they’re there to benefit the company that processes the food. They “enhance” the looks, taste, or shelf life — which is all about marketing and shipping and not at all about your health. Most additives aren’t known to be harmful (although the health effects of some are still open to question), but they aren’t about nutrition or taste as nature intended taste to be. In fact, one of their main purposes is to make up for a lack of those things. So check the list of ingredients every time. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, says that almost always, the shorter the better.

2. Water
Water is the magic ingredient in prepared foods, and if it’s first on the list of ingredients, that’s a clue that there’s a long list of additives to follow to give that water some taste and texture. You might not be surprised to see water at the top of the list of ingredients in soups. After all, soup does take a lot of water. It’s more surprising to find it so prominent in SpaghettiOs. Many, many salad dressings contain more water than anything else, and since oil and water don’t mix, it takes a bunch of additives to hold everything together. Water is cheap, so the food industry likes it.

3. MSG
Check out the ingredient list on the labels of prepared foods — on soups, for example. Keep reading, because it’s pretty far down on a long list (although if there is no MSG, that’s usually prominently mentioned at the top). MSG (monosodium glutamate) is sometimes listed under its own name but often under other names, among them hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast, and sodium caseinate. MSG is a synthetic version of the substance umami, as it is known in Japan, which occurs naturally in some foods, including Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and mushrooms. MSG, widely used in Asian cooking, went out of favor when it became associated with headaches and other unpleasant symptoms. Now many Asian restaurants proudly advertise “No MSG” on their menus, but the food industry still sneaks it in as a flavor enhancer. So if you’re concerned about MSG, look for it under all of its names.
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For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

Thursday, April 28, 2011

6 Deadly Dangers of Hot Tubs


As over hundreds of guests recently learned after a dip in the Playboy Mansion’s hot tub, there’s nothing viruses and bacteria love more than warm H2O.
By Korin Miller
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If the idea of a long soak in a steaming hot tub conjures up sigh-inducing images of relaxation and romance, we’re about to, uh, burst your bubble. “People don’t realize it, but a hot tub can be a breeding ground for infections ranging from skin issues to STDs,” says New York internist Holly Phillips. Don’t submerge your bod into one this summer until you read this.

Bugged Out
Yes, hot tubs are chlorinated, but if they aren’t properly maintained, the chemicals won’t kill off all the teeming bacteria that love to call them home. The heat doesn’t fry them either, says hot-tub expert Brenda Murr, member of the American Pool and Spa Professionals retail council. “Bacteria grow even faster in warm water,” she says.

The most common side effect of soaking is pseudomonas folliculitis, a skin infection that produces itchy, bright red bumps. It usually clears up on its own in 10 days or less—a good thing considering that it’s resistant to many antibiotics, according to Albert Lefkovits, a dermatologist in New York City.
Then there are the bacteria that cause toxic shock syndrome (the life-threatening infection tampon boxes warn about). They can get in a tub if another person who has soaked before you carries them and enter your body through a small cut or scrape. Getting toxic shock syndrome from a tub is rare, says Dr. Phillips, but it does happen.

Other possible perils include heat stroke and heat exhaustion from being in one too long (just 10 to 15 minutes is recommended), says Lara McKenzie, PhD. Add alcohol and you’re at greater risk of both, as the warm water gets you tipsy and dehydrated more quickly.

You can even become seriously injured from getting your hair caught in a drain. In a 2009 study on hot-tub injuries, 49 such cases— some of them fatal—were found over a 16-year period.
New legislation was passed in 2007 that requires all public tubs (not just new ones) to have safer drain covers installed that greatly reduce the likelihood that your mane will become entangled, but it’s hard to enforce.

Proximity Effect
There are more unexpected danger zones. Bacteria can live in a tub’s pipes, says Dr. Phillips, and when the jets turn on, air bubbles rise to the surface, burst, and shoot bacteria into the air. Breathing in the bugs can lead to anything from a bad cough to Legionnaires’ disease, a rare but potentially deadly form of pneumonia. (This was the same bacteria that was found in the Playboy Mansion tub earlier this week, leaving 123 people sick).

Think you’d be safe as long as you just sit and watch from the sidelines? Nope. If someone with herpes recently sat on the edge and you take their place, you possibly could contract the virus, even through a bathing suit, says Dr. Lefkovits. The risks are lower than if you’d had unprotected sex, but consider this: Roughly 1 in 6 people from ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes, and the virus loves to live in warm, damp areas like, yes, the rim of a hot tub.

Safer Soaking
You don’t have to swear off hot tubs forever. Just steer clear of high-traffic tubs, like the ones at hotels, gyms, and spas. “The more people in a tub, the higher your risk for getting sick,” says Dr. Phillips. Even in a friend’s hot tub, don’t dunk your head underwater or (sorry) get busy. Both ramp up the odds of infection.
Addicted to being massaged all over by those hot-water jets? Maybe it’s time to invest in your own Jacuzzi bathtub.

As Seen on TV
We know you wouldn’t fall for rumors like these, but we have to set the record straight on a couple of ridiculous claims we saw on our favorite shows.

The Heat Kills Sperm Instantly (Jersey Shore)
Nope—the temperatures aren’t high enough. You can still get pregnant if you have intercourse in a tub without protection.

Sperm can swim from one person to the next. (Glee)

Sperm can’t survive for more than a few seconds in hot, chlorinated water.


For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Which Sleep Position Is The Healthiest?

The Worst Sleeping Position - Sleeping On Your Stomach
The worst: Stomach position
Good for:
Easing snoring
Bad for: Avoiding neck and back pain, minimizing wrinkles, maintaining perky breasts
The scoop: "Stomach-sleeping makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position with your spine," Shannon explains. It puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling. "Think about the soreness you’d feel if you kept your neck turned to one side for 15 minutes during the day," Dr. Diamant explains.


The various sleep positions
By Mindy Berry Walker

Swear you don’t move at all at night? Think again. While you generally spend the most time in the position you fall asleep in, even those who barely have to make their beds in the morning move two to four times an hour, which may add up to 20 or more tosses and turns a night, says Eric Olson, MD, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. "That’s completely normal, and you’ll still go into deep REM sleep, the restorative kind," he says.

Your preferred p.m. pose could be giving you back and neck pain, tummy troubles, even premature wrinkles. Discover the best positions for your body—plus the one you may want to avoid.

The best: Back position
Good for:
Preventing neck and back pain, reducing acid reflux, minimizing wrinkles, maintaining perky breasts
Bad for:
Snoring
The scoop:
Sleeping on your back makes it easy for your head, neck, and spine to maintain a neutral position. You’re not forcing any extra curves into your back, says Steven Diamant, a chiropractor in New York City. It’s also ideal for fighting acid reflux, Dr. Olson says: "If the head is elevated, your stomach will be below your esophagus so acid or food can’t come back up."

Back-sleeping also helps prevent wrinkles, because nothing is pushing against your face, notes Dee Anna Glaser, MD, a professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University. And the weight of your breasts is fully supported, reducing sagginess.

Consider this:"Snoring is usually most frequent and severe when sleeping on the back," Dr. Olson says.

Perfect pillow:One puffy one. The goal is to keep your head and neck supported without propping your head up too much.
The Second Best Sleep Position - The Side Position

Next best: Side position
Good for:
Preventing neck and back pain, reducing acid reflux, snoring less, sleeping during pregnancy
Bad for:
Your skin and your breasts
The scoop:
Side-sleeping is great for overall health—it reduces snoring and keeps your spine elongated. If you suffer from acid reflux, this is the next best thing to sleeping on your back. The downside: "Sleeping on your side can cause you to get wrinkles," Dr. Glaser says. Blame all that smushing of one side of your face into the pillow.

This pose also contributes to breast sag, since your girls are dangling downward, stretching the ligaments, says Health’s Medical Editor Roshini Rajapaksa, MD.

Consider this:If you’re pregnant, sleep on your left side. It’s ideal for blood flow.

Perfect pillow:A thick one. "You need to fill the space above your shoulder so your head and neck are supported in a neutral position," says Ken Shannon, a physical therapist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The Not So Good Sleeping Position - Fetal Position

Not ideal: Fetal position

Good for: Snoring less, sleeping during pregnancy
Bad for: Preventing neck and back pain, minimizing wrinkles, maintaining perky breasts
The scoop: When you snooze with your knees pulled up high and chin tucked into your chest, you may feel it in the morning, especially if you have an arthritic back or joints, Dr. Olson says.

"This curved position also restricts diaphragmatic breathing," adds Dody Chang, a licensed acupuncturist with the Center for Integrative Medicine at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut. And if you make this your nightly pose, you may bring on premature facial wrinkles and breast sag.

Consider this: Just straighten out a bit—try not to tuck your body into an extreme curl.

Perfect pillow:
One plump pillow—the same as side position, to give your head and neck support.

In this position you have your head to one side for hours at a time. You won’t necessarily feel it the next day, but you may soon start to ache.

Consider this: Do you snore? "Stomach-sleeping may even be good for you," Dr. Olson says. Facedown keeps your upper airways more open. So if you snore and aren’t suffering from neck or back pain, it’s fine to try sleeping on your belly.

Perfect pillow: Just one (and make it a thin one) or none at all.

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http://www.healingpowerhour.com/

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The New "All Natural" Packaged Food

By Kristen M

Packaged, so-called “all-natural” foods. They’re coming at you — fast and strong. As this recent article in the Chicago Tribune points out, all the big players in processed food manufacturing are jumping on the bandwagon of “all-natural” and “healthy” foods:
The companies that introduced products such as Doritos, Miracle Whip, Butterfinger and the venti caramel Frappuccino now maintain that the future lies in the health and wellness category. A wave of products expected to hit grocery stores in the next year will raise the ante for shoppers’ attention and compete for their trust. What constitutes “healthy” will ultimately be decided by consumers at the cash register.

Apparently the big wigs are starting to notice that health-conscious consumers are chipping away at their market share. So, they’re making changes. They’re making processed foods “healthier” in the hopes of appealing to this growing segment of the population with the allure of products that “align with organic principles” without actually carrying the heavy price tag of organics.

While I’m glad that the average American is starting to demand healthier food options, I’m actually laughing at the food industry’s response (in a sad, “I-pity-you” sort of way):
In a recent interview, Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke expressed concern about the demonization of food in America.

“We are thinking increasingly in wrong dimensions where we see food as bad, and in French they have an expression, ‘le poison c’est la dose,’ and you would say, ‘the poison is the quantity,’” he said, simultaneously acknowledging that Nestle has “a role to play” in responsible eating.

And while the formula for profitable health food has yet to be discovered, Bulcke maintains that it can be done. Basically, he said, the process is about making “food pleasurable with more goodies and less baddies.” And if that can be accomplished, he said, healthy eating will also be a profitable business. (source)

Of course, as businessmen, it’s all about profit — about discovering the formula for profitable health food. It’s about figuring out a way for the packaged food industry to cash in on this growing trend towards more natural foods.

NEWSFLASH, Mr. Bulcke: IT’S NOT POSSIBLE. By definition, a packaged food that is cheap enough to be manufactured in bulk, durable enough to be shipped across the country or around the world, and stable enough to last for weeks, months, or even years on shelves IS NOT “NATURAL.”

Real Food decomposes. As Michael Pollan has pointed out on numerous occassions, there’s a reason why the Twinkie on his shelf is still as fluffy and soft today as it was more than 2 years ago when he first pulled it out of its packaging. It’s not food! If the bacteria and other microbial life on this planet won’t eat it, neither should we.

Mr. Bulcke says people like me “see food as bad.” Nope. People like me see FAKE FOOD as bad — the kind he manufactures and sells.

Ultimately the Chicago Tribune article points out that the definition of “healthy” is up for grabs. Is it reducing salt? Lowering fat? Reducing ingredients? Avoiding artificial-ingredients so we can slap an “all-natural” label on something?

And therein lies the flaw behind all packaged and processed food production — this belief that with a judicious application of food science, we can actually manufacture fake foods to make them healthier than the real thing.

While I’m ecstatic that the movement towards Real Food has gone mainstream enough to warrant an industry response like this, I’m also saddened that the big food manufacturers don’t really have any hope of getting the underlying message. We want Real Food! Not edible food-like substances created in laboratories instead of kitchens.

So, what will your response be to the billions of dollars worth of “all-natural” and “healthy” packaged foods being introduced by PepsiCo, Kraft, Starbucks, and Nestle be this coming year? Will you be thankful that you can finally get a “healthier” version of your favorite junk foods? Will you avoid the packaged foods like the plague?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Animals Know Best - Bear Does Yoga To Stay Sane

grizzly bear does yoga
Santra the bear practises her yoga stretching routine at Ahtari zoo in Finland to the delight of visitors. Photograph: Meta Penca/BNPS


Not all members of the ursine community waste their time persecuting park rangers, corrupting their diminutive sidekicks and gorging themselves on stolen picnic baskets. As these remarkable pictures demonstrate, Santra is altogether more spiritual – and lithe – than the average bear.

The photographs of the female brown bear performing a 15-minute stretching routine were shot by a Slovenian tourist on a visit to the Ahtari zoo in Finland.

"She held her legs with her hands for a minute or two in a V position and then put them down and relaxed," said Meta Penca, a 29-year-old web programmer.

"Then she put up her left leg and put it straight with her hands and held it with her left hand for a bit. Then she lifted the other leg, straightened it and held it with her right hand for around two minutes and then had a little rest and then all over again.

"It was exactly the same as when you see people do yoga; easy, slow, focused and calm. She looked pretty into it, a really straight face, no looking around just very serious and calm and kept her eyes slightly opened and focused."

Paul Harvey, a Bristol-based yoga teacher and trainer, said Santra was indeed practising the ancient Indian discipline.

"She looks like quite a lonely bear," he said. "Perhaps she's doing yoga to keep herself sane."

Harvey, who has taught yoga for 35 years, identified a number of posture variations in Penca's pictures.

"The first is spread legs, holding big toes or feet – and she's doing a pretty good job with claws," he said.

"The second is the same posture, with chanting. The third is a one leg variation, the fourth a variation with the other leg. The fifth is a seated head-to-foot posture. Six is a single raised leg stretch and seven is a seated, spread-legs forward bend."

The bear's flexibility and balance, he added, marked her out as something of an expert: "These are not beginners' postures. Yogi bear is definitely an advanced practitioner."

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Below is video footage of bears in Finland doing yoga together in a local zoo.




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http://www.healingpowerhour.com/


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Health Tip of The Week

Joint Pain Relief Remedy

 
Ingredients
1 Tbsp Powdered Cayenne
1 Tbsp Powdered Garlic
1 Tbsp Powdered Mustard
1 Tbsp Powdered Ginger
1 Tbsp Warm Water
 
Directions
 
Combine all of the ingredients until you get a thick paste. 
Wrap the paste in a cheese cloth and then a towel and place over the sore joint. 
After that, place a heating pad on top (optional) and keep it on for 30-60 minutes depending on how much relief you need. 
Give the joint lots of rest. The next day or so you should be pain free (results do vary from person to person and the severity of pain).

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Truth About Agave Nectar


by Kristen M.

Is agave nectar good? Is agave nectar bad? Believe it or not, I thought I’d written a definitive post on this topic.

As it turns out, I hadn’t. Earlier this week a reader emailed me, seeking an answer to the classic question: Agave nectar — good or bad? She pointed out that she’d done a search for agave nectar on this site and only turned up two entries. In one, I’d said to avoid it. In another, I mentioned that I’d used agave nectar while experimenting with kombucha and didn’t enjoy the results.

So, she concluded: “Why, if agave nectar is a natural sweetener, should it not be used? What about it is bad? I’ve been preferring it to honey and maple syrup on my waffles, pancakes, and yogurt.”

I realized then that I needed to post a definitive guide to agave nectar, answering the question once and for all. This is it.

Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?
The short answer to that reader’s question is simple: agave nectar is not a “natural sweetener.” Plus, it has more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup. Now, let’s get into the details.

Agave Nectar Is Not A Natural Sweetener
Once upon a time, I picked up a jar of “Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar” at my grocery store. It was the first time I’d ever seen the stuff in real life, and the label looked promising. After all, words like “organic,” “raw,” and “all natural” should mean something. Sadly, agave nectar is neither truly raw, nor is it all natural.
Based on the labeling, I could picture native peoples creating their own agave nectar from the wild agave plants. Surely, this was a traditional food, eaten for thousands of years. Sadly, it is not.
Native Mexican peoples do make a sort of sweetener out of the agave plant. It’s called miel de agave, and it’s made by boiling the agave sap for a couple of hours. Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian maple syrup.

But this is not what agave nectar is. According to one popular agave nectar manufacturer, “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed in the 1990s.” In a recent article now posted on the Weston A. Price foundation’s website, Ramiel Nagel and Sally Fallon Morell write,
Agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules.Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.
The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.
Compare that to the typical fructose content of high fructose corn syrup (55%)!
In a different article, Rami Nagel quotes Russ Bianchi, managing director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company, on the similarities between agave nectar and high fructose corn syrup:
They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup.
So there you have it. Agave nectar is not traditional, is highly refined, and actually has more concentrated fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. It is not a “natural” sweetener. Thus far, the evidence definitely points toward the conclusion: Agave Nectar = Bad.
“But,” you ardent agave nectar enthusiasts say, “agave nectar has a low glycemic index. I’m a diabetic, and it’s the only sweetener I can use!”

What’s wrong with fructose?
First, we need to clarify something. Concentrated fructose is not found in fruit, or anywhere else in nature. When the sugar occurs in nature, it is often called “levulose” and is accompanied by naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin.  Concentrated fructose, on the other hand, is a man-made sugar created by the refining process. To clarify:
Saying fructose is levulose is like saying that margarine is the same as butter. Refined fructose lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin, and fiber. As a result, the body doesn’t recognize refined fructose. Levulose, on the other hand, is naturally occurring in fruits, and is not isolated but bound to other naturally occurring sugars. Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine. Levulose is digested in the intestine. (source)
I want you to pay special attention to those last two sentences, for they are a huge key that will help unlock the mystery of why fructose is bad for you.
Because fructose is digested in your liver, it is immediately turned into triglycerides or stored body fat. Since it doesn’t get converted to blood glucose like other sugars, it doesn’t raise or crash your blood sugar levels. Hence the claim that it is safe for diabetics. But it isn’t.
That’s because fructose inhibits leptin levels — the hormone your body uses to tell you that you’re full. In other words, fructose makes you want to eat more. Besides contributing to weight gain, it also makes you gain the most dangerous kind of fat.

This has been verified in numerous studies. The most definitive one was released just this past year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The full study is available online, but for the sake of space I’m including Stephan’s (of Whole Health Source fame) summary here:
The investigators divided 32 overweight men and women into two groups, and instructed each group to drink a sweetened beverage three times per day. They were told not to eat any other sugar. The drinks were designed to provide 25% of the participants’ caloric intake. That might sound like a lot, but the average American actually gets about 25% of her calories from sugar! That’s the average, so there are people who get a third or more of their calories from sugar. In one group, the drinks were sweetened with glucose, while in the other group they were sweetened with fructose.
After ten weeks, both groups had gained about three pounds. But they didn’t gain it in the same place. The fructose group gained a disproportionate amount of visceral fat, which increased by 14%! Visceral fat is the most dangerous type; it’s associated with and contributes to chronic disease, particularly metabolic syndrome, the quintessential modern metabolic disorder (see the end of the post for more information and references). You can bet their livers were fattening up too.
The good news doesn’t end there. The fructose group saw a worsening of blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity. They also saw an increase in small, dense LDL particles and oxidized LDL, both factors that associate strongly with the risk of heart attack and may in fact contribute to it. Liver synthesis of fat after meals increased by 75%. If you look at table 4, it’s clear that the fructose group experienced a major metabolic shift, and the glucose group didn’t. Practically every parameter they measured in the fructose group changed significantly over the course of the 9 weeks. It’s incredible.
Back to our original question — Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?
The conclusion is clear. Agave nectar is bad for you. It’s not traditional, not natural, highly refined, and contains more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup.
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www.HealingPowerHour.com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is Coffee Good or Bad For You?

Many have said that our country literally runs on coffee. In my opinion, many people are addicted to large amounts of the energy from caffeine that coffee provides, causing us to feel extreme ups and downs in our nervous system.

Caffeine is a highly addictive compound that many people have come to depend on for the perception of increased energy. Caffeine keeps you going by preventing the chemical adenosine from telling the brain it’s time to relax.

The result is a surge of unnatural energy; but over time, the brain becomes accustomed to the threshold and requires even greater amounts of caffeine to provide the same increase in alertness. This is what makes caffeine products such as coffee so addictive and it explains why the lines at coffee shops are always so long.

Did You Know? Over 70% of the world’s coffee supply may be contaminated with toxic pesticides and chemicals. It’s estimated that just one cup of coffee contains thousands of chemicals, many of which are gastrointestinal irritants and cancer-causing agents. Also, The high heat used in roasting coffee beans causes the natural oils to turn rancid, further contributing to its chemical load.

That said, I always try to provide you with the good and the bad and talk about the key factor with consuming any potentially toxic food or beverage. Ever since I talked about the dangers of drinking energy drinks, I frequently get questions asking me if drinking coffee in moderation ( 3-4 cups weekly) is OK.
So I did a little research (keeping an open mind) on the health benefits, as well as the negative health effects of drinking coffee. I must be honest and say I do enjoy a cup of organic coffee from time to time but when I do drink coffee I always take 1 capsule of MegaHydrate before I drink it, to help neutralize any potential toxins or volatile oils.

I will leave it up to you to determine whether or not you should drink coffee after evaluating the following research.

The Benefits to Drinking Coffee
Organic, high-quality coffee has been shown to provide some health benefits.
  1. Antioxidants – Organic Coffee is full of antioxidants which help reduce oxidation, cell damage, and aging.
  2. Parkinson’s Disease – Studies from Saaksjarvi et. al show that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease.
  3. Type 2 Diabetes – Other studies show that coffee consumption make protect us against type 2 diabetes.
  4. Liver, Gallstones & Kidney Stones – There is a small amount of evidence that coffee may also protect us against cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, kidney stones
  5. Cognitive Function – Caffeine is a stimulate. Drinking coffee has been shown to increase mental attention in the short term. Some have even suggested that by drinking coffee, we can better cognitive function.
  6. Alzheimer’s Disease – Some studies show that habitual coffee drinking may protect us against developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life

The Dangers of Drinking Coffee

And now, here’s a list of the negative effects of drinking coffee.
  1. Heart Disease – There is controversial scientific evidence linking coffee consumption to heart diseases. Some studies even state that “consumption is associated with significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease.” These same studies have shown a cholesterol-raising effect in some of the chemical compounds of coffee, such as determines, cafestol, kahweol and plasma homocysteine. This may be of-set by some of the antioxidants, but the overall agreement is that coffee may adversely effect the heart.
  1. Blood Vessels – Coffee disturbs the functioning of blood vessels, both in turgidity and tone.
  2. Cardiovascular System – Coffee affects our nervous system, heart rhythms and has been consistently linked to irregular heartbeats. It may also adversely affect blood pressure.
  3. Osteoporosis – Coffee drinking should be heavily avoided by people at risk, or who have Osteoporosis. Studies show a link between drinking coffee and urinary calcium excretion.
  4. Heartburn – Many people report that coffee increases heartburn.
  5. Sleep Disturbance – Coffee, particularly in the evening or at night, can lead to sleep disturbance.
  6. Dehydration – Drinking coffee depletes water reserves in the body.
  7. Addiction – While the FDA recognizes caffeine as “safe,” it is still a drug, as it significantly alters the nervous system, leading to addiction over time.
  8. Extreme Withdrawal Symptoms – You may experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to give up coffee. This can lead to headaches, irritability, body aches, and other more extreme symptoms

Does Coffee Have A Laxative Effect?

Drinking excess caffeine can dehydrate the body and interfere with digestion. Caffeine also interferes with the absorption of magnesium, which is critical in maintaining regular, healthy bowel movements. Coffee over-stimulates the digestive system and can induce a temporary laxative effect, causing the bowels to expel waste before they have the chance to process and utilize vital water and nutrients.
This frequently could lead to a constant state of dehydration and malnourishment among coffee drinkers. This effect is not only due to the caffeine in coffee-the same effects are seen in people who regularly drink decaffeinated coffee.
Coffee is also highly acidic and can lead to an overproduction of stomach acid that can irritate the intestines. Unbelievably, decaffeinated coffee has been shown to trigger even more acid production than regular coffee. This over-production (when combined with coffee’s laxative effects) can cause too much stomach acid to move into the intestines. All this acid can potentially cause damage to the intestinal lining.
NOTE: The best form of coffee is organic, high-quality, and freshly ground. The good parts of coffee that contain antioxidants come from the first brew, when the water passes over the grounds. In a pot of coffee, the first cup or two that comes out has the essential elements that may benefit us. The other 6 cups are less healthy, as they are mostly the acidic, volatile oils and caffeine.

This is the part of coffee that is harmful for the intestinal lining and body. If you drink the first extract by drinking it in the form of espresso, where a small amount of water is rushed over the beans quickly, this allows you to have all the great flavor without the over-extracted volatile oils and caffeine. From my observation, I have seen that most Americans load up on lattes. I am astonished by the fact that, more and more, coffee beverages are sounding more like deserts. Pass on the heavy cream, sugar, whipped cream, chocolate sauces and Italian syrups.

 What About Coffee Substitutes?

If you would like to kick the coffee habit, try substituting store-bought coffee with natural grain coffee.
Grain coffee is to coffee as herbal tea is to tea, and grain coffee is naturally caffeine and toxin free. Grain coffee is a ground mixture of grains, nuts, and dried fruit and provides only natural flavors. Grain coffee is available in regular drip coffee-maker and instant brands.

These coffee substitutes come in a variety of flavors: vanilla nut, java, hazelnut, chocolate mint, almond amaretto, etc. A great way to transition to grain coffee is to mix it with regular coffee as you scoop the dry grounds into your coffee filter.

So if you normally use 4 scoops of ground coffee, then try 3 scoops of coffee with 1 scoop of grain coffee for the first week. Continue to transition gradually until you have eliminated your consumption of regular coffee altogether.
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To learn more about the harmful effects of caffeine please visit our webpage here www.celestialhealing.net/caffeine.htm

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

5 Ways You Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Cancer is one of the leading killers among women after cardiovascular related incidents. Many of the cancers diagnosed can be prevented through very simple lifestyle changes. Here are five easy ways that you can begin to reduce your cancer risk today!
 
Keep Your Weight In a Healthy Range
Sometimes when we’re at the doctor’s office and we look at ‘ideal’ weights, it can be a bit discouraging because you may not necessarily fall into that range even though you are leading an active lifestyle. Instead, focus on having a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. Anything above 24.9 can result in hormone fluctuations and insulin markers that can trigger cancers in the body.
Watch How Much You Consume Alcohol
Too much alcohol can result in an increased risk of both breast and colon cancers in women. The alcohol triggers hormonal changes and can lead to poor nutrient absorption in the colon. Keep your intake of alcoholic beverages to just one a day to avoid these complications.
Exercise!
Cancer hates nothing more than an active lifestyle. The American Cancer Society says that exercise alone can decrease your chances of colon cancer by 30%. Their suggestion is at least 30 minutes a day; five days a week to reap the cancer fighting rewards.
Eat As Little Processed Food As Possible
The chemicals used in today’s food processing can trigger hormonal and digestive responses in the body as well as the processed food tends to lack important nutrients needed to keep your healthy. Aim to eat as fresh and natural as possible to avoid these chemicals and hormones, and get all of the nutrients your body needs.
Quit Smoking!
According to The American Cancer Society, over 30% of deaths from cancer related illnesses are cigarette smoking related. Not just lung cancer, but bladder, kidney, mouth, esophageal, and other cancers are related to cigarette smoking. But if you make the commitment to quit today, your cancer risk will be cut in half in as little as ten years.

So there you have it. By making these five lifestyle changes you can start today, your chances of getting cancer are greatly reduced. When you think about it, seems pretty minor to make these little adjustments to give you a better quality of life for many years to come. Personally, I have some risk factors for certain cancers in my family, so when I heard that there were simple things I could do to minimize my risk, I jumped at the chance to give them a try. Which one are you going to try first?
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Natural Tips for Better Aging

With exciting, new medical advances, people are living longer than ever, but it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to make these extra years especially golden. Take advantage of the following natural tips for better aging.

 

Organice Fruits and VegetablesEat plenty of whole, organic fruits and vegetables. When waging war against the effects of time, there are anti-aging fruits and vegetables that actually work. They help to hydrate the body and provide fiber and important disease-fighting antioxidants. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, bananas are loaded with potassium and berries contain a host of vital anti-oxidants. Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce and kale are loaded with nutrients, and broccoli, carrots and cucumbers provide fiber and a good, crunchy texture!

 

Discover the importance of water for healthy aging. Drink at least 64 ounces of pure, filtered or spring water throughout the day. When aging skin is not properly hydrated, it loses resilience and becomes more susceptible to wrinkling. Water fights wrinkles by keeping skin moist and supple and helps to deliver essential nutrients to skin cells.

 

Natural HGH Supplements for Anti-AgingLook into natural HGH supplement products. A 1990 medical study published by Dr. Daniel Rudman in the New England Journal of Medicine reported exciting results from the injection of synthetic human growth hormone (HGH ) in men over 60 years old. These included an increase in muscle mass, decreased body fat, elevated energy levels, improved sleep and enhanced skin and muscle tone. This synthetic, injection therapy is very expensive, but today there are several natural, non-prescription HGH supplement products on the market (called releasers) that stimulate release of the body’s own human growth hormone by the pituitary gland.

 

Essential Fatty Acids for Anti-AgingGet plenty of essential fatty acids. Among the nutrients that our bodies need for good health are essential fatty acids – alpha-linolenic acid (of the Omega 3 family) and linoleic acid of the Omega 6 family. These essential fats also help to promote youthful skin and can be obtained through supplementation or through diet. Alpha-linolenic acid can be found in flaxseed, canola oil, wheat germ and soybeans, and vegetable oils and grass-fed beef are good sources of linoleic acid.

 

The benefits of EFAs to the body are many, but they are of particular importance to body cells as they are a fundamental component of cell membranes. A steady supply of EFAs in the diet is necessary to maintain healthy-looking skin because skin cells are regularly reproduced.

 

Try glucosamine supplements to retain moisture in aging skin. Research by the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School studied the effects of N-acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide on in-vitro human skin cultures and on women aged 35-60 in clinical trials with fine-to-moderate wrinkles. The research found that the two compounds accelerated the production of hyaluronic acid, a key ingredient in skin hydration and in the formation of collagen.

 

The tests also showed that in human subjects, improved hydration brought about by glucosamine and niacinamide led to a visible reduction in fine lines and wrinkles of tested subjects, particularly in the area around the eyes. The researchers concluded that together these compounds could be a highly effective  anti-aging treatment.

 

These tips are but a few of the many new, natural anti-aging practices coming to light! For many who are approaching the golden years, there is still a lot of living to do. Adopt a few of these natural habits to promote healthy and graceful aging!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Health Benefits of Lemon


The Ayurveda has regarded lemon as a valuable fruit and admired its properties. Lemon is sour, warm, promoter of gastric fire, light, good for vision, pungent and astringent. It checks the excessive flow of bile and cleanses the mouth. It dislodges phlegm (cough) and expels wind from the digestive tract. It helps in digestion and removes constipation. It prevents vomiting, throat trouble, acidity and rheumatism. It destroys intestinal worms.

Though lemon is acidic to the taste, it leaves off alkaline residues in the body. This is why it is useful in all symptoms of acidosis.

Lemon-juice is a powerful antibacterial. It has been proved by experiments that the bacteria of malaria, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other deadly diseases are destroyed in lemon-juice.

It also contains some vitamin A. Natural vitamin C is much more effective than the synthetic one. Vitamin C of lemon-juice is very effective because it is combined with bioflavonoids (vitamin P). In addition to Vitamin C, lemon also contains niacin and thiamin in small amounts.

One should not take concentrated lemon-juice. It should be diluted with water before taking it. Pure lemon­juice contains acid which is injurious to the enamel of teeth.

The body is well cleansed if lemon-juice mixed with cold water and honey is taken on an empty stomach early in the morning. Warm water may be used occasionally to get relieved of constipation.
Lemon-juice prevents or restrains influenza, malaria and cold.

Lemon-juice gives good relief in fever. Lemon-juice mixed with water is useful in quenching the thirst of the patients suffering from diabetes. It gives immediate relief in abdominal disorders. Lemon acts as a sedative for the nerves and the heart and allays troublesome palpitation.

Lemon is especially appreciated for its Vitamin C value. When Vasco da Gama made his voyage round the Cape of Good Hope nearly two-thirds of his crew died of scurvy. But at present the recurrence of such a disaster is no longer possible owing to the widespread use of lemon. Innumerable boatmen moving in sea have saved their lives with the use of lemon.

Vitamin P in lemon strengthens the blood vessels and prevents internal hemorrhage. It is, therefore, extremely useful in high blood pressure, in which cerebro-vascular accidents commonly occur.

The most valuable ingredient of lemon, next to vitamin C, is citric acid, of which it contains 7.2 per cent. Lemon contains more potassium than apple or grapes, which is beneficial to the heart.

Lemon is very much useful in maintaining the health of the teeth and the bones. The vitamin C content of lemon helps considerably in calcium metabolism.

Lemon has been used for many years in gout and rheumatism. Lemon-juice is a diuretic. It, therefore, gives relief in kidney and bladder disorders. It has been used in destroying intestinal worms. It prevents vomiting and helps to cure hepatitis and other innumerable diseases.

Lemon has been proved to be a blessing for mountaineers. In the cases of insufficient oxygen and difficulty in breathing lemon comes to their rescue. Edmund Hillary, the first man to put his foot on the top of Mt. Everest, has admitted that his victory over Mt. Everest was greatly due to lemon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

People with fewer teeth prone to die of heart disease: study

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - People with dented smiles run a far greater risk of dying of heart disease than those who still have all their pearly whites, a Swedish researcher said Monday.
"Cardiovascular disease and in particular coronary heart disease is closely related to the number of teeth" that a person has left, Anders Holmlund told AFP, explaining the results of a Swedish study to be published in the Journal of Periodontology.

"A person with fewer than 10 of their own teeth has a seven times higher risk for death by coronary heart disease than a person of the same age and of the same sex with more than 25 teeth left," Holmlund said.
Although many studies published in the past 15 years have showed a link between oral health and cardiovascular disease, Holmlund's study shows a direct relationship between cardiovascular disease and the number of teeth in a person's mouth.

The study, conducted with colleagues Gunnar Holm and Lars Lind, surveyed 7,674 women and men, most suffering from periodontal disease, for an average of 12 years, and examined the cause of death of the 629 people who died during the period.

For 299 of the subjects, the cause of death was cardiovascular disease.
The theory connecting teeth numbers and heart disease, Holmlund explained, maintains that "infections in the mouth and around the teeth can spill over to the systemic circulation system and cause a low graded chronic inflammation," which is known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and other cardiovascular episodes.
The number of natural teeth a person had left "could reflect how much chronic inflammation one has been exposed to in a lifetime," he added.

The study had been limited by the fact that it had not been possible to adjust the results for socio-economic factors and to fully adjust them according to other cardiovascular risk factors, he acknowledged.
Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide, claiming upward of 17 million lives every year according to the World Health Organization.

Friday, April 15, 2011

8 Sneaky Ways To Burn Calories Without Going To The Gym

Activity is not just about "exercise," it's about moving your body more all day long. This type of light activity is essential, whether you're a card-carrying couch potato or a marathon runner. Growing evidence finds that too much sitting harms your heart health. Worse, that damage is not easily undone by jumping on the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes in the morning if you spend the other 23 ½ hours sleeping and sitting.  A recent study of 1,579 people found that people whose jobs require more than 6 hours of chair time a day are 68% more likely to wind up overweight than those who sit less.

The solution: Stand more. By using these tips you'll be in motion more all day long. That alone could be enough to help you shed stubborn pounds for good. 

1.  Limit yourself to one TV show: Watching TV is a great way to unwind. But when it comes to the tube, there's such a thing as too much downtime. The average American tunes in for 3 hours a day, which is really bad news for your waistline, especially when you consider that watching TV burns only slightly more calories than sleeping. Harvard researchers have found that every 2 hours spent watching television increases the likelihood of obesity by 23% and raises your risk of developing diabetes by 14%. Trade 1 hour of TV time for one long walk, and you can slash your obesity risk by 24% and lower your risk of diabetes by 34%. 
2.  Step it up: There's a reason an exercise machine called the Stair-Master exists: Taking the stairs is really, really good exercise! In one study, exercise scientists calculated that by taking just two more flights of stairs (up and down) each day, you could burn off 6 pounds in a year. Find excuses to make multiple trips between floors at work (using a restroom on another floor is one way) and at home.


3.  Walk the halls at work:
When you're stuck for ideas at work, get up and walk the halls. Stand and stretch during phone calls. Twice a day, get up and walk to talk to a colleague instead of e-mailing. Stanford University researchers calculated that if you were to walk across your office building and back to talk to a coworker instead of spending the same 2 minutes e-mailing, you could spare yourself 11 pounds over 10 years--effectively avoiding the "midlife spread."
4.  Stand at your desk: Here's a very simple move that every office worker can do: Stand up. Sitting at your desk for an hour burns 63 calories. Standing burns 127, twice as many. If you have a cordless phone, you might even be able to pace a bit, just to get the blood flowing even more. Many workplaces are now offering drafting-style tables and high chairs for office workers, which gives you the option of working on your feet most of the day and sitting down to take breaks (instead of the other way around--standing when you need a break). Ask your human resources manager about them. You'll be surprised how much more energy you have when you spend your day on your feet rather than in your seat.
Sitting at desk on swiss ball5.  Get on the ball: Sit on a large stability or Swiss ball while checking e-mail in the evening. It's an easy way to engage all of your muscles for 15 to 20 minutes. You might even be inspired to do a few stretches and crunches after you log off.

6.  Fire the maid and gardener:
All those services that you hire to make your life easier can also end up making you heavier. Small daily tasks, like weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, and cleaning house, can add up to an aerobic workout. In a 2-year study of 230 overweight and inactive men and women, researchers at the Cooper Institute, an aerobics-research organization in Dallas, found that those who spent 30 minutes a day raking the lawn, taking the stairs, and walking from far spaces in parking lots achieved the same improvements in fitness, blood pressure, and body fat as those who went to the gym for vigorous exercise 20 to 60 minutes at a time, 5 days a week.
7.  Prep yourself slim: Cooking is a great wayo burn calories. Slicing, dicing, and braising burns twice as many , in fact, as calling your Chinese takeout place. Because you're in charge of the ingredients, cook with metabolism-boosting ingredients like those from the Active Calorie Diet. Limit takeout and delivery to two meals a week, tops.

8. Consider a stepper: Office workers are ideal candidates for a portable mini stepper like the Stamina InStride Electronic Mini Stepper--essentially, just two small Stair-climber  -like pedals without the giant machine attached. Research from the Mayo Clinic found that workers who used these clever step devices while making phone calls or answering e-mail burned an extra 290 calories an hour--enough to burn off more than 40 pounds over the course of a year if they used the machines just 2 hours a day. The strategy is a little unconventional but worth considering. The stepper is relatively inexpensive and small enough to slide under your desk when you're not using it. Stepping is also something you can do while watching TV at night.
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To learn more about other weight loss tips or to have a personalize fitness program created for your weight lost goals browse through our fitness page by clicking here

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Ten Worst Foods To Eat

Quite simply, you really are what you eat, but the standard American diet leaves plenty of nutrients lacking … and gives you an excess of unhealthy fats, sodium, preservatives and chemical additives.

Every day, 7 percent of the U.S. population visits a McDonald's, and 20-25 percent eat fast food of some kind, says Steven Gortmaker, professor of society, human development, and health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Harvard Magazine. As for children, 30 percent between the ages of 4 and 19 eat fast food on any given day.

When Morgan Spurlock, the mastermind behind the film Super Size Me, ate only McDonald’s for 30 days straight, his body fell apart and he gained 25 pounds!

"My body just basically falls apart over the course of this diet," Spurlock told Newsweek. "I start to get tired, I start to get headaches; my liver basically starts to fill up with fat because there’s so much fat and sugar in this food. My blood sugar skyrockets, my cholesterol goes up off the charts, my blood pressure becomes completely unmanageable. The doctors were like, ‘You have to stop.’"

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Americans get processed food not only from fast-food restaurants but also from their neighborhood grocery stores. As it stands, about 90 percent of the money that Americans spend on food is used to buy -- that's right -- processed foods.

So you have a choice to make when you eat. You can eat foods that will nourish your body, give you energy, and keep you healthy, or you can choose those that may lead to chronic disease, fatigue and weight gain.
Eating healthy will become obvious if you truly listen to your body. One hour after eating how do you feel? Time it and ask yourself. Do you feel better with more energy or worse one hour after eating or drinking something? If worse, then stop ingesting what makes you feel bad instead of what will make you feel better or even great!

Life’s too short to not feel the best you can and help your body be the healthiest and strongest it can be.
Here we’ve detailed the 10 worst food choices in American's diets so that this can help you make the best food choices for your health.
  1. Pork Scratchings Heavy and hard, we are talking fatty pig skin deep fried and then doused in salt. Also, if you are lucky you might even get one sporting a few hairs; pig hair is usually removed by quickly burning the skin before it is cut into pieces and cooked in the hot fat. Plus they are not great for your teeth either; we couldn't get the stats on how many dental injuries have been inflicted by eating these suckers but we are guessing it's pretty high.
  2. Fried Desserts Fried desserts feature high up on the list of worst foods to eat as essentially you are dipping something in batter that is already high in sugar and fat, and then deep frying it. And don't be fooled by pineapple and banana fritters either, they are no better because they are fruit, the layer of batter and the fact they are swimming in sugary syrup make them no go dishes too.
  3. Cheesy Nacho Chips, Chips or fries could feature as a bad food on their own, but, as you know we are all about moderation here at and seriously cutting chips from your life totally would be a hard move.  But taking a plate of chips and layering them in cheese, well, that takes them up a notch in the bad food stakes. Cheese typically contains over 10 times as much saturated fat as fish and white meat and coupled with deep fried carbs, a serving of cheesy chips are a big bad no no.
  4. Pop and Soda Drinks - yeah they're bad, mainly because they pack massive amounts of calories even in  small quantities, so you are adding to your daily calorie quota and getting little nutritional value in return.  Studies have also linked fizzy drink consumption to osteoporosis, tooth decay and heart disease. And diet drinks are not recommended either, granted they are lower in calories but as they contribute to dental erosion (the bubbles in the drink are acidic) they are a no go as well.
  5. Hydrogenated fats - These are mostly man-made fats that are used in bakery items and stick margarine. Studies show that it isn't so much how much fat there is in your diet that causes problems, as what kind of fat, and hydrogenated fats are the worst. Avoid buying cookies, crackers, baked goods or anything else that has hydrogenated oil on the ingredient list. Fortunately, the FDA now requires that food manufactures identify the amount of hydrogenated fats in their products—look for trans fats on the nutrition panel.
  6. Liquid Meals Okay, they aren't inherently bad for you, but liquid meals or meal-replacement drinks do keep you from eating proper food. You need to make sure you eat eating whole, natural foods to ensure you gain all your nutrients. Meal replacements maybe okay for people who are too ill to eat, but don't let them replace the real foods in your diet. 
  7.  Processed Meats These are also sometimes referred to as 'mystery meats' because it's ambiguous as to what some of them actually contain. But you can be assured that if it comes from a can and is kind of unrecognisable - it's not going to be great for your body. Try to steer clear of sausages and salamis too, these food stuffs are generally all the unwanted bits churned up with fat and salt, we are talking heads, knees and toes (plus a few other less-desirable bits).
  8. Chicken Nuggets First off, chicken nuggets that are not made from fillets are the real bad guys. Again it's similar to the sausages situation, all the leftover carcass bits mixed up with sawdust-type stuff to bulk out the meat so manufacturers can crank out more portions.  But it's when these little nuggets are deep fried that really boosts their 'worst-food' status and it's all to do with the size. Smaller fried items, i.e. nuggets absorb more fat that larger pieces of fried goods, so a portion of nuggets will pack way more fat that a single larger fried piece. So if you want fried chicken - go for a big breast.
  9. Doughnuts If there is one food that epitomises the 21st century junk food it's the doughnut. Coated, filled, glazed, sugared, jam crammed or plain old ring they are not great for your body.  And it's not only the refined flour, refined sugar and then the frying in the refined oil that makes them bad for you. Doughnuts will upset blood-sugar balance, and give a quick high followed by a crash and burn low, then you guessed it,  you're hungry again and reaching for another one - that's why they generally come in bags of 10.
  10. Canned Soups Now, soups don't seem to be one of the bad boys and in comparison to some of the above, and they probably can sit quite comfy in the middle of the bad-food scale, but it's their salt-packing stealth that gets them into this list. Soups mainly sport a healthy identity; wholesome, warming and good for you. The reality is many canned varieties are super-high in salt, so if you must have soup, avoid the canned ones or make your own.  
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For more healthy food ideas, recipes and information please visit our Health Tips Pagehttp://www.celestialhealing.net/healthintro..htm

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vitamin D May Help Prevent Vision Loss in Women

Eating fresh water fish or drinking a tall glass of soymilk daily could cut your risk for vision loss later in life. According to a new study led by Amy Millen, Ph.D., of the University at Buffalo in New York, maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D can significantly reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in women. The details of the study were recently published in the medical journal Archives of Ophthalmology.
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans aged 65 and older. The condition is caused by degeneration of the macula (the part of the retina responsible for the precise, central vision necessary for such activities as reading and driving) that leads to central vision loss. It is estimated that about 1.75 million Americans currently suffer from advanced AMD, and that the number of people diagnosed with the condition will reach nearly 3 million by 2020.
For their study, Millen and her colleagues examined data from the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS), a part of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study in which the women were screened for the levels of vitamin D in their bodies. Vitamin D status was assessed using the blood measure of 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25 (OH) D. This level is generally considered the means by which nutritional vitamin D status is defined. The analysis included data on 1,313 women ages 50 to 79.
Findings showed that among women aged 50 to 74 an increased intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements combined was associated with 59 percent decrease in the likelihood of developing early age-related macular degeneration. Overall, 241 of the women developed early AMD, while 26 developed advanced disease.
A strong note of interest is that the results of the study revealed that it was not exposure to the sunlight that decreased the risk of AMD, but food sources rich in vitamin D such as milk, fish, omega 3 fish oils, fortified cereals, fortified margarine, and other dairy products. In addition, the researchers found that the lowest risk of AMD was observed among women who consumed 720 international units (IU) of Vitamin D per day, which exceeds the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation for an intake of 600 IU daily.
The study findings confirm the link between high vitamin D concentrations and early AMD found in a previous analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). However, further investigation into the effects of genetics and lifestyle factors on the study results are warranted. The authors acknowledged, “More studies are needed to verify this association prospectively as well as to better understand the potential interaction between vitamin D status and genetic and lifestyle factors with respect to risk of early age-related macular degeneration.”
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For more healthy food ideas, recipes and information please visit our Health Tips Pagehttp://www.celestialhealing.net/healthintro..htm

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't be misled by food label tricks

It's a fact of the grocery store that the healthiest food often has the least marketing muscle behind it. The best sources of fiber and vitamins are fresh vegetables and fruit, and yet it's the processed, packaged junk food fortified with vitamin and fiber powder that screams for attention. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently published a comprehensive report on the subject, a persuasive indictment delicately called "Food Labeling Chaos."
"Consumers need honest labeling so they can spend their food dollars wisely and avoid diet-related disease," said CSPI senior staff attorney Ilene Ringel Heller, co-author of the report. "Companies should market their foods without resorting to the deceit and dishonesty that's so common today. And, if they don't, the FDA should make them."
You can often decipher the truth amid the lies and misdirection by carefully reading food labels.
We take a look at nine things the CSPI identified as the most common ways food labels mislead so you can prepare before your next trip to the grocery store.
Made with whole grains
You're standing in the grocery aisle, faced with a choice. On the one hand, there are the Thomas' English Muffins of your youth: White and filled with nooks and crannies practically screaming to be filled with pools of melted butter. On the other: Thomas' Hearty Grains English Muffins, which are "made with the goodness of whole grains." You reach, somewhat grudgingly, for the healthy option, since experts tell you that 50% of your grains should be whole grains.  
What you don't realize is that unbleached wheat flour is the main ingredient; whole wheat flour is the third on the list, "indicating that the product contains relatively little," according to the CSPI.
Once again, one truth -- the presence of whole grains -- masks another, that whole grains make up an insignificant portion of the food.
Some products that trumpet their whole-grain credentials (like Keebler's Zesta saltine crackers) use caramel to mimic the brown color that results from the use of whole grains. In fact, the CSPI notes that these crackers have almost as much salt as whole grains. Other purportedly healthy crackers have more sugar than whole wheat.
So much for healthy whole grains (or truth in advertising).
Ingredients
What could be more straight-forward than ingredient lists? So you might think, but there's a lot of room for deception and misdirection in the average ingredient list, which lists ingredients in order from most to least.
Exhibit A from the CSPI: the Tasty Living Mocha Cherry Double Chocolate Layer Cake. The first ingredient is enriched wheat flour.
This cake must be sort-of nutritious, since it's mostly made out of nutritious wheat flour, right? Sorry, but the biggest ingredient in this cake is sugar, as the CSPI points out. How is it possible?
Just add up all the sugars that go by different names: sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and white grape juice concentrate. Boom! This cake is nearly one-third sugar.
The CSPI argues that U.S. nutrition labels and ingredient lists should be more consumer friendly. By grouping major ingredients and separating minor ingredients, we'd all be better able to make smarter purchases.
Which can of diced tomatoes is 60% tomato and 40% water, and which is 70% tomato? How much fruit is actually in that fruity-looking "health" bar? Right now, there's no way to know ... without a chemistry kit.
Serving size
A 20-oz. soda fits easily in your hand, fits easily in your car's cup holder, and might even come free with a sandwich at the local deli. But even if a reasonable person might perceive that bottle as a single-serving delivery system, there are 2.5 official servings in there, meaning 100 calories per "serving" ... but 240 calories per bottle.
While major soda bottlers have begun spelling out this single-serving conundrum to the junk food-consuming public, most serving-size calculations are based on standards developed decades ago!
Just try to remember the size of the sodas and popcorn customarily dolled out in 1977 at the drive-in, compared to today at the megaplex, and you get a sense for how much our sense of portion proportion has gone out of whack (er, changed) in the last generation.
And yet, the serving-size data on our foods reflect a slimmer more restrained era, when an 8-oz. soda was a weekly treat, not a single glug between fistfuls of Cool Ranch Doritos (serving size: 11 chips).
How many people do you know restrain themselves to 11 chips? Or to a 1/2 cup of ice cream? Or a single cup of cooked pasta?
Made with real fruit
Hey wow! That candy has real fruit in it. It must be good for my kid.
The marketing around "real fruit" is so egregious that, for many shoppers, it doesn't pass the sniff test. But we all get weak-kneed when faced with something potentially yummy, so let's take a look at some of those misleading marketing techniques.
Case-in-point: Gerber Fruit Juice Treats for Preschoolers. Its package blooming with pictures of ripe oranges, raspberries, cherries, peaches, grapes, and pineapple, its only fruit-like ingredient is fruit juice concentrate, which the Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers just another form of sugar.
Not surprisingly, the primary ingredients are also sugar and ... well, sugar (corn syrup). It's candy.
Similarly, Betty Crocker Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers says it's made with real fruit, but the only thing approximating fruit is pear concentrate (sugar) with Red No. 40 for "strawberry" color. Overall, the gushers are half sugar (a.k.a., candy).
Bottom line: If you want real fruit, buy real fruit. If you want candy, buy candy.
(And watch out for the same tricky marketing used on supposedly vegetable-rich products like Knorr Pasta Sides Chicken Broccoli Fettuccine. As the CSPI points out, there's more salt than broccoli in this pasta dish. Of course, it isn't called Chicken Salt Fettuccine ... because presumably no one would buy it.)
Zero trans fat
Like some kind of Frankenstein's monster, we stagger down the grocery aisles, arms outstretched, growling, "Trans fats bad!" And yes, they are bad.
After numerous studies showed that these fats boost "bad" LDL-cholesterol levels and lower "good" HDL-cholesterol counts (they've been called "the most potent type of fatty acid in terms of increasing the risk of coronary heart disease"), the U.S. required companies to disclose trans fat content in their foods.
But it's marketers who made our modern Frankenstein mutter: While some companies reformulated their products to reduce the use of risky fats, many just replaced trans fats with saturated fats. These reformulated foods are basically just as bad.
 Free range eggs
Ah, the idyllic red barn. The rays of sunshine streaming over the hillside. You feel good buying those "free range" eggs knowing that the chickens tasked with producing those little protein-filled shells lived happy cage-free lives. The sunny label says so.
But the few extra cents you plunk down for the "free range" eggs might be paying a savvy marketer, rather than an ethical farmer, because the government doesn't regulate the use of the phrase "free range" or "cage free" on eggs.
Legally speaking, it's meaningless, according to Consumer Reports' Eco Label Decoder.
The Department of Agriculture does have rules for use of the term on poultry. It means chickens must be granted the luxury of exactly five minutes of "access" to the outdoors everyday, a token prize for a short dirty life that can also include an unceremonious severing of the beak, wing-to-wing crowding in a shed that's more hangar than coop, and more chicken poop than you ever want to contemplate while planning a meal.
Those eggs you buy may have been raised ethically, with room enough for hens to roam the yard and peck contentedly at the dirt. But there's no guarantee in the "free range" label. There are some farmers who do adhere to the organic ways of our ancestors when it comes to raising chickens but you must do some extensive research to find out who they are.  To be on the safe side just buy eggs that says "vegetarian fed" or "hormone free" eggs.
Fiber
Fiber is fiber is fiber. Right? Who would have any reason to think otherwise?
You might if you knew the fibers advertised in many foods are mainly "purified powders" called inulin, polydextrose, and maltodextrin, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
These "isolated" unnatural fibers are unlikely to lower blood cholesterol or blood sugar, as other fibers can, and two of the three won't even "help with regularity," says the CSPI.
"Currently, fiber is being added to foods such as ice creams, yogurts, juices, and drinks so that manufacturers can brag about their fiber content," the group contends. "But these products do not contain the traditional sources of fiber associated with a variety of health benefits."
There may be nothing harmful about maltodextrin, (made from corn, wheat, rice, or potato starch), polydextrose (made from glucose and sorbitol), or inulin (a carbohydrate derived mostly from chicory roots and other plant roots). But these ingredients act more as low-calorie filling agents (and high-value marketing agents) than proven health agents.
For the real thing in fiber, look for foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
Food With Medicinal Health Claims!
Food isn't medicine ... or is it? Certain micronutrients, after all, can prevent diabetes, cure cancer, make you smarter, improve your sex life, polish your furniture, and more...
In truth, the FDA allows food manufacturers to make certain pre-approved "qualified health claims" about the health benefits of nutrients in food, but only if those foods meet a range of healthy criteria, like low fat, cholesterol, and sodium content. But, according to the CSPI, marketers have stretched this inch into a long mile.
For instance, food makers can't say that their product "helps reduce the risk of heart disease" without FDA approval, so they say that it "helps maintain a healthy heart." That's why several public health groups, including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, have voiced concern about this trend.
In the most famous recent example, the FDA stopped General Mills from labeling Cheerios with cholesterol reducing claims it wouldn't allow on some prescription drugs. Another, which the California attorney general helped stamp out, was the Kellogg's claim that its children cereals "support your child's immunity" because, even though some are 40% sugar, they are fortified with vitamins.
"While a severe deficiency in those vitamins could interfere with the proper functioning of the body's immune system (and any other system), there is no evidence that Cocoa Krispies actually improves a children's immune status or wards off disease," CSPI argues. But Kellogg's is far from alone.
Even as Kellogg's stopped that line of marketing, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, Juicy Juice Berry Beverage, Nestlé's Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Kraft's Crystal Light all make similar claims.
Other foods make claims about boosting your kid's intelligence (Juicy Juice), protecting healthy joints (orange juice), and improving heart health (Quaker Cinnamon and Spice Instant Oatmeal, which is almost one-third sugar).
Bottom line: Food is food, not medicine.
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