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Do You Really Believe That Eating Organic Food Won’t Cut Your Risk For Developing Cancer?

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A recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer monitored the health of 600,000 women aged 50 or older for nine years and concluded that eating an organic diet will not reduce your risk for developing cancer. Based on these findings should we now throw caution to the wind and eat a non organic diet? What exactly is this study trying to tell us?

Should we eat fruits and vegetables that were grown from genetically modified seeds? Where is the data from long term studies which shows the effects of eating foods that contain GMO’s? Is it safe to eat crops that were grown in soil that was supplemented with chemical fertilizers? Do the results of the study imply that we can now eat plants that contain chemical pesticide residue?

Can we now presume that it is safe to eat the meat from a cloned animal? Feeding your family meat and milk from a cow that isn’t strong enough to stand on its own makes sense? Instead of eating grass as nature intended that same cow is fed corn that has had it’s DNA altered in a lab and we are supposed to believe that our health and the health of our loved ones isn’t being put at risk?

Are you really comfortable feeding your children food that was grown with the help of chemical pesticides? How many pesticides that were used in conventional farming methods for years, have been banned or restricted by the federal government after they were determined to be harmful to humans and the environment?

If eating an organic diet really does not cut the risk of developing cancer why would the President’s Cancer Panel advise Americans to “reduce their cancer risks by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.”

Eating an organic diet just makes common sense. I know organic foods can be a bit more expensive and might be harder to find on your grocery shelves but eating foods produced without the help of synthetic chemicals as nature intended is just the right thing to do. More long term research needs to be done but there are studies that clearly show the benefits of eating an organic diet.

A 2006 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives showed that when children’s diets consisted of mostly organic produce as opposed to conventional produce, traces of pesticides disappeared from children’s urine within five days.

Other studies have shown that organic produce, including strawberries, leafy vegetables and wheat contain much higher levels of phenolic acids than conventional produce. That is an important distinction since phenolic acids act as powerful antioxidants that prevent cellular damage and guard against oxidative stress, inflammation and cancer.

If you need even more evidence as to the health benefits of eating an organic diet check out the results from a recent study that found that organic milk had approximately 62 percent more heart healthy omega-3s as compared to conventional milk.

We can only hope that there will be more research that will show the true effects of eating an organic diet on human health when compared to eating a diet comprised of non organic foods. In the meantime, eat organic foods when you can but if you question whether the health benefits associated with an organic diet are real, at least familiarize yourself with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG)list of “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that are known to be highest is chemical residue. You should try to buy the following in their organic form whenever possible:

1. Apples
2. Strawberries
3. Grapes
4. Celery
5. Peaches
6. Spinach
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines
9. Cucumbers
10. Potatoes
11. Cherry tomatoes
12. Hot peppers

In addition the EWG put together a list of the “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables that have lower concentrations of chemical residue. If you are on a budget the following are safer to buy in their conventional form:

1. Mushrooms
2. Sweet potatoes
3. Cantaloupe
4. Grapefruit
5. Kiwi
6. Eggplant
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Papayas
10. Sweet peas – frozen
11. Cabbage
12. Avocados
13. Pineapple
14. Onions
15. Corn

 

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8 Unorthodox Steps That Will Help You Ensure Heart Health

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I am sure that by now most of us are familiar with the medical community’s conventional recommendations for maintaining a healthy heart. Refraining from using tobacco products, eating a low fat diet and exercising regularly are just some of the strategies that have proven to lower your risk for heart disease. While these are all excellent recommendations, some studies have shown that you can further reduce your chances of developing heart disease by taking precautions that are considered “outside of the norm”. A common theme in many of the recommendations featured in this article is the art of being socially active. Whether you are belting out a song with some friends or enjoying the company of your favorite pet or corresponding with your coworkers, keeping socially active has not only proven to help keep your heart healthy, but it has also been known to help ward off the effects of cognitive diseases like dementia. “Think outside of the box” and utilize some of these strategies along with those recommended by conventional medical practitioners and you will give yourself a fighting chance to live a long and healthy life.

1. Own a dog or cat

A study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, showed that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure than non dog owners. Dog owners also typically engage in higher levels of physical activity than non dog owners since owning Fido necessitates having to walk him on a regular basis.

A new National Health and Nutrition Examination study found that cat owners were less likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases in comparison to people who have never owned a cat.

There are many, many dogs and cats that are in need of a home at animal shelters across the country. Adopt one and you will do yourself and a helpless animal a big favor.

 

2. Find a spouse

A study conducted in Finland found that a single man was 168 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than a married man. Another recent study conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center showed that both married men and women under the age of 50 lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by 12 percent.

Couples in a “good” marriage help to support each other and are more apt to encourage their spouse to eat healthier, exercise and to avoid smoking and using alcohol.

They key point in the results of this study is that you should be involved in a quality relationship. If you are part of a stressful marriage the positive effects mentioned in this study can be reversed.

 

3. Sing, sing a song

It’s time for some karaoke! Ever wonder why aging rock stars in their like Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Steven Tyler are still full of energy and can still rock and roll with the best of them? Researchers in Sweden found that people who sing together have better heart-rate variability and an increase in heart beat variability gives you a better chance of surviving a heart attack.

 

4. Have sex! Lots of sex!

Studies have shown that men who have sex two or three times per week cut their risk of developing heart disease by 45 percent. Enough said. You know what you need to do…

 

5. Get a grip on things

The Journal of Hypertension reports that just four weeks of handgrip training improves blood vessel function and can lower your blood pressure by 10 percent. If you’ve ever engaged in handgrip training you know that this type of training is also effective in helping you deal with anger and stress.

 

6. Be optimistic and have a sunny attitude

Think positive and you can naturally relieve stress and inflammation in your body. Having a sunny attitude can also cut your risk of suffering from heart disease by 50 percent.

 

7. Enjoy some fun in the sun

Speaking of sunny things, spend 20 minutes in the sun every week and you can increase your body’s production of nitric oxide which helps to lower blood pressure. To be on the safe side break down your exposure to the sun into two or three sessions and if you are fair skinned you should consult a dermatologist and consider using sun screen.

 

8. Visit the dentist and floss regularly

According to a study in the Journal of Periodontology, the bacteria that cause gum disease can cause inflammation that attacks your arteries. The American Academy of Periodontology reported that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. In some cases the presence of gum disease can be as good a predictor of heart disease as an individual’s cholesterol levels. At minimum you should rinse regularly with a mouthwash like Listerine that contains thymol, eucalyptol, menthol, and methyl salicylate.

 

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. We insist that you always consult your physician before beginning any medical treatment of any kind.

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Coffee Can Be Both Heavenly And Healthy For You!

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It’s a beverage that advertisers have called “good to the last drop” and “the best part of waking up.” It has been the cornerstone of many social gatherings, business meetings and it also sometimes helps to punctuate a delicious meal. Some can’t function in the morning before they have had their first cup of this popular beverage. By now most of you realize that the beverage we are referring to is good old fashioned coffee.

Coffee has influenced our society for centuries. Legend has it that a ninth century goat herder noticed that one of his goats began “dancing” excitedly after eating coffee beans. He tried some of the beans himself and was soon dancing alongside his herd and the rest shall we say, is history. Some of Bach and Beethoven’s greatest works were produced in coffeehouses. In fact, a main character in one of Bach’s operas was a coffee addicted female. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has created a successful online show where he interviews comedians as they drink coffee called “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”

Over the years reports on the effects of coffee on our health have been mixed. Some studies show that drinking coffee can raise cholesterol levels, blood pressure and cause dehydration. Other studies have shown that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day is likely to raise homocysteine levels, which has been linked to increased incidences of stroke and heart disease. In addition the effects of the high levels of caffeine found in coffee have proven to be somewhat addictive.

On the bright side there are many studies that show that there are several health benefits from imbibing a cup of Joe on a regular basis. One such study showed that coffee contains an overabundance of antioxidants which the human body easily absorbs. A study conducted in 2012 by Dr. Ronald Postuma revealed that “people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.” Although drinking coffee does not help sober you up after drinking alcohol, drinking at least 1 cup a day of java can reduce your risk of developing liver cirrhosis by 20 percent. Studies have also shown that drinking coffee can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, give athletes a boost and put you in a better mood!

Now that we’ve established that drinking coffee in moderation can provide you with some real health benefits think about how those benefits can be magnified if you were to consume organic coffee. Not only would you benefit from the benefits to your own health and well being but you would be helping our environment as well.

Although opinions on matter of taste are subjective, some coffee drinkers feel that organically grown coffee, which is free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has a better taste than conventionally grown coffee. Simply put, when more people drink organically grown coffee, it is better for our environment. While most organic coffee growers cultivate their plants in the shade of the rain forest within an ecosystem that naturally feeds itself, conventional coffee growers clear out tropical forests, leaving behind barren soil that they need to supplement with chemical fertilizers. The natural predators of the pests that attack coffee plants are eliminated in the deforestation process causing conventional coffee farmers to have to use chemical pesticides. When you drink conventional coffee you expose yourself to the dangers caused by the residue of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Unless your primary physician tells you otherwise, drink a cup of coffee or even two every day! Drinking coffee is good for you but make sure that your cup of java was brewed from organic coffee beans. How do you know if your coffee is truly organic? According to Livestrong.com “for a coffee to be certified organic, its grower must prove that both the beans and the soil are fertilizer-, chemical- and residue-free, which typically takes at least three organic growing seasons to accomplish. Triple-certified coffees come from farms that hold Quality Assurance International’s organic certification, are fair trade-certified and also hold the Smithsonian Institution’s shade-grown certification. Triple certified arabica beans are the highest-quality organic beans you can buy.”

If you love someone secretly replace their regular coffee with organic coffee. See if they notice! They’ll thank you later!

 

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Five Natural Methods That You Can Use To Help You Get To Sleep

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The holiday season can be a time of joy for some, but for others, the hustle and bustle sometimes associated with this time of year can lead to many nights spent tossing and turning in bed and deprivation of much needed sleep. Studies show that the average adult needs between 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night and that sleep deprivation can leave you open to the possibility of a myriad of health problems including an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and the potential for weight gain. What measures can you take if you need to catch up on your sleep but want to use natural methods and avoid a pharmaceutical solution?

One of the most important actions you need to take is to set and follow a regular sleeping schedule. While it may not always be possible due to our work and school schedules, listen to your body and try to determine what your best sleep and wake times are. We all like to sleep in on the weekends but disrupting our regular schedules by getting too much sleep on Saturday and Sunday mornings can cause you to have trouble falling asleep on Sunday night and that can leave you open to the experience of  an extremely blue and groggy Monday morning.

Creating a nightly bedtime ritual will also help you to avoid sleep deprivation. You need to let your body know that it is time to go to sleep. Some effective pre-bedtime activities that will help you fall asleep quicker include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book or listening to some comforting music. Engaging in deep breathing exercises or meditating has also proved effective in quieting the mind and body and helping to bring on sleep. Take all of the worries out of your mind and clear your head by jotting down a “to do” list in a notebook that you keep next to your bed. This is especially helpful when that brilliant idea presents itself while you are lying down in bed and you are worried that you won’t remember it the next morning. Record that stray thought in your notebook and fade off to sleep, comforted with the knowledge that your million dollar idea will be waiting for you in the morning.

Engaging in regular physical activity during the day has proven to help you fall asleep more rapidly and exercise has also been known to help you benefit from a deeper and sounder sleep experience. Studies have shown that exercising late in the afternoon is most beneficial in aiding you to get better nights sleep, however you need to make sure your workout is completed at least 3 hours before your bedtime.

Avoid eating a heavy meal or consuming caffeine for at least a few hours before your bed time. Caffeine can stimulate your system for up to 12 hours after it is first consumed and ingesting a large meal before going to bed can lead you to experience heartburn and cause you to feel uncomfortable.

Lastly make sure that your bedroom (or wherever you sleep) is conducive to sleeping.This may mean different things to different people but generally it is best to keep your room cool, dark (if you are afraid of the dark and need a night light – use one!), quiet and free from clutter. Avoid keeping laptops, cell phones and other stress agitators in your bedroom. If you need to use ear plugs or eye shades (even though you may look like the Lone Ranger) to help you get to sleep, by all means use them. The important thing is that you create an environment that is optimal for what you need to get a good nights sleep.

These natural methods for helping you get to sleep are so effective that I fell asleep 3 times while writing this piece. I hope that the tips included in this column contribute to your achieving a better and more restful sleeping experience but if you find that you need even more help check out this link to a classic episode of the 1970’s TV series “The Odd Couple” titled “The Insomniacs”. If it doesn’t put you to sleep, at least you’ll have a smile on your face. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOkgU94ZK0c.

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BEES MAY BE THE KEY TO HELPING US ELIMINATE THE NEED TO USE HARMFUL PESITICIDES

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One of the major concerns that supporters of the organic food movement have is the use of human made chemical pesticides and their potential harmful effects on the health of consumers. Although the organic food market has grown into a multi billion dollar industry, there is still a large segment of the population who simply cannot afford to pay the higher costs of organic food and therefore cannot take advantage of its many benefits. The use of Bee vectoring in the food production process may be one of the answers to both of these problems.

 

With the increased demand of organic produce, farmers need to find innovative ways to lower the costs of producing their crops so that their savings can be passed on to the consumer. One way of accomplishing this goal could be through the use of bees. Since the world already depends on bees for the production of one-third of all of its food, finding new ways to incorporate bees in the food making process seems like a natural approach in helping the organic food movement to grow so that pure and healthy food options are available to all consumers.

 

The introduction of bee vectoring, using bees as a source of labor to deliver beneficial microbial agents to crops, can help farmers drastically reduce the amount of money that they spend on pesticides. It can also lower labor costs since bees tend to work very cheaply, 7 days a week, no holidays and no weekends!! In theory these cost savings should be passed on to the consumer.

 

Bee vectoring allows pollinating bees like bumble bees and honey bees to deliver microbes obtained through organic pesticides, to farmer’s crops. These microbes are actually viruses which target the specific pests that are known to attack plants. The organic pesticides are placed in trays at the exits of beehives and as the bees walk out of their hives these pesticides attach themselves to their legs.  As the bees move from flower to flower, they deliver the microbes from the organic pesticides and thus help in limiting attacks on crops by insects and infectious diseases.

 

Les Shipp, a Canadian federal research scientist who is a leading proponent of using bee vectoring, indicates that his studies have found that this process has been able to reduce some fungal diseases in greenhouse crops by 80 percent. Bee vectoring falls within organic growing standards and Shipp further says that it is “as effective as chemical spraying.” Using bees to administer the organic pesticides allows delivery to the specific part of the plants that need it such as near or on the plant’s flower.

 

Before bee vectoring can be considered a viable option for food producers, the problem of colony collapse disorder must be addressed. This syndrome has caused a drastic reduction in the U.S. honeybee population with some beekeepers reporting losses of more than 50 percent of their beehives each year. No one has been able to pinpoint the specific cause of this attack on the honeybee population but some scientists attribute new pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are implanted directly into plants, as a possible basis of this problem.  

 

Bee vectoring may not totally replace the need for farmer’s to spray their crops with synthesized chemical sprays however it is an important first step that should be taken and explored so that society can fulfill its responsibility to provide you with the means to put healthy and pure food on your table.

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Global Warming

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Global warming is one of the most hotly debated topics in the world today. Does it exist? Some scientists insist it does. Other weather experts do not believe in the concept of global warming and  point to the fact that over the past 150 years the earth has warmed by just .8C and that difference can simply be explained by natural variables that exist in the world’s climate and weather patterns.

 

Just look outside your door and frankly it does seem that the world’s weather pattern is obviously changing and whether the extreme weather conditions that we have been experiencing recently is the result of a natural cycle or if humanity is playing a part in these climactic changes we all need to take notice and hold ourselves accountable.  We may need to change our behavior so that we can assist in reversing these patterns and thus ensuring the survival of our planet for generations to come.

 

If you don’t believe in global warming just think back to recent weather headlines. Doesn’t it seem that at least one location on our planet is hit by a “storm of the century” every year? This past weekend, more than 80 tornados were reported across several Midwestern states, including Missouri, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, causing the loss of at least 8 lives. The people of the Philippines are still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands and is one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded. Last year “Super Storm” Sandy wreaked havoc all along the United States’ east coast. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, states that are not accustomed to dealing with full blown hurricanes, were hit especially hard by this “storm of the century”. In 2011 the northeast felt the wrath of the previous “storm of the century”, Hurricane Irene. We also can’t forget the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, which was responsible for the deaths of 1833 and caused  more than $80 billion worth of property damage in 2005. 

 

Although scientists agree that natural cycles that influence the world’s climate can account for some of the causes of global warming, many also agree that the extreme weather patterns cannot be explained by these factors alone.

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of scientists put together by the United Nations in order to further study the causes and effects of global warming, issued a report earlier this year indicating that  “human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes.”

 

When talking about global warming we always hear about how the increase of greenhouse gases directly aids in the acceleration of global warming. What are greenhouse gases? According the EPA website “greenhouse gases (which include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) trap heat in the atmosphere, which makes the Earth warmer“.  Humans contribute to the release of these gases in several different ways. CO2 is emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electrical production. The depletion of the earth’s forests also directly effects the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere since trees naturally store this greenhouse gas.   Methane is released in our atmosphere through the breakdown of trash in landfills as well as through the breakdown of food in the digestive systems of grazing animals. Nitrous Oxide is reaches our environment through the use of fertilizers and the gases used in refrigeration and other industrial processes. When the effects of these gases work together to warm the earth’s surface, there is an increase in the evaporation of water which increases the amount of water vapor. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas that has a big effect on the earth’s weather. Its presence in the earth’s atmosphere is not often thought of as a contributor to global warming but it does contribute significantly.

 

Some scientists believe the evidence for global warming is undeniable while others believe the findings put forth by the IPCC report is absolutely false. Those who argue that the earth’s climate change is due to our planet’s natural cycles point to the earth’s cooling period from 1965 to 1975,  followed by a warming trend in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and the fact that the earth’s overall warming trend seems to have paused since the beginning of 1997 as evidence to back up their beliefs.  Unfortunately the interpretation of scientific data regarding climactic change seems to be easily manipulated in order to support whatever ideology that you wish to subscribe to.

 

Whether you believe that global warming is caused by humans or not there are some steps that you can take to help our planet. If we all do the following we can help to lower our carbon dioxide emissions on a grand scale and that will help improve our environment and preserve our green earth for the good of future generations:

 

( This list was reprinted from the website of Northwestern University:

http://www.northwestern.edu/fm/sustainability/environmental-education/10-ways-to-stop-global-warming.html)

 

Change a light
Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Drive less
Walk, bike, carpool or take mass transit more often. You’ll save one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don’t drive!

Recycle more
You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

Check your tires
Keeping your tires inflated properly can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Use less hot water
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Use less hot water by taking shorter and cooler showers and washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water (more than 500 pounds of CO2 saved per year).

Avoid products with a lot of packaging
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you reduce your garbage by 10 percent.

Adjust your thermostat
Moving your thermostat down just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Plant a tree
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

Turn off electronic devices
Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

 

For more information about what you can do to stop the acceleration of global warming you can visit the following sites:

 

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-solutions/

http://globalwarming-facts.info/50-tips/

 

 

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Shower Your Pet With Organic Love – They’ve Earned It!!

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You need to remember that it was you who chose your pet; he or she did not choose you. Your dog or cat will give you unconditional love and loyalty that is often hard to find even from your significant other or family member. Your pet will provide you and your family with years of joy and companionship and they will not ask for much in return.  A simple scratch behind the ear, a clean litter box, an airy birdcage, any one of these can easily keep your pet satisfied and happy.  Unfortunately as this video link shows, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5o3AJNUQ8A, you can even beat a dog and treat it horribly, and even then it is difficult for that dog to stop loving you.  

While many of us have changed our eating habits so that our diet includes pure organic foods, recent events show that it may be time for us to pay closer attention to what we are feeding our loyal pets. Like much of the conventional food that we eat, more and more of it is being processed overseas in countries that do not have to adhere to the same stringent food handling laws that are prevalent in the U.S. This has resulted in many instances where you and I have been exposed to contaminated food, but unfortunately our defenseless pets are also increasingly being exposed to the negative effects of poor food preparation, and too many times they have paid with their lives.

For instance, in 2007 the FDA ordered a major recall of various brands of dog and cat food due to Melamine contamination found in vegetable proteins used in pet food that was imported into the United States from China. Without a centralized government database of animal sickness or death in the United States it is difficult to determine the actual number of animal deaths due to this contamination, but some reports indicated that up to 3600 pets may have perished. Making this situation even more dangerous was the fact that some of the animals eating the contaminated food were eventually processed into food that was consumed by human beings.

More recently, the deaths of nearly 600 dogs and cats, as well as 3600 reported illnesses,   have been linked to jerky treats made in China and imported into the U.S. Although they have been unable to pinpoint the specific cause of this outbreak, the FDA has proposed new rules that would require sellers of pet food and animal feed in the United States, to follow specific sanitation practices and detailed food safety plans. All food manufacturers would need to have individual procedures in place to prevent their food from becoming contaminated. These rules are designed to help our pets, but since people can become sick by handling contaminated pet food or animal feed, they will also help to prevent illnesses that might eventually be transferred to humans.

If you consider your pet to be a member of your family, and if you’ve changed your life by trying to eat simpler, healthier and less processed food, isn’t it your responsibility to do the same for your pet? There are many healthy options for feeding your pet with new natural and organic products being introduced to the market everyday.  Protect your pet because when you chose them at that pet shop, or from that breeder or rescued them from that animal shelter, you made a commitment to them and they’ve become totally reliant on you. Remember, a happy and healthy pet is one that will give you a lifetime of unconditional love.

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Stress, The Other Potential Silent Killer

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Stress. You can’t see it, touch it or taste it but almost all of us deal with stress in our every day lives. Whether you are an infant in your crib sitting in a dirty diaper, or a teenager dealing with the pressures associated with the transition into early adulthood or an executive who needs to ensure that next quarters sales figures meet expectations, we all need to manage the stress in our lives. We can eat an organic diet, take supplements and exercise regularly,  but if we aren’t able to handle stress, we can never truly have a healthy mind, body and soul.

Although the amount of stress in our lives depends on our own personal circumstances and environment, some of us are just naturally better at dealing with life’s stressors. Some studies have shown that how we manage the stress in our lives can be directly related to our genetic make up as well as our temperament. Additional research indicates that childhood stress can predispose your brain and lead to a future of higher stress levels. The good news is that we can make changes in our lives in order to better deal with and manage the stress in our lives.

Stress has been linked to a number of health problems and should not be ignored. Physiologically,  the presence of high levels of stress will lead to increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream,  which will cause you to breathe faster, your blood vessels to constrict, and your glucose levels and pulse rate to rise.  A recent study linked high levels of stress in middle aged women to increased incidences of dementia. Stress has also been linked to addictive behavior, high blood pressure, anxiety, diabetes, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, asthma, accelerated aging, sleep problems and obesity. Based on the potential susceptibility to these myriad of health issues, it is obvious that we all need to work towards negating the effects of stress in our everyday lives.

Some of the techniques that have shown to be effective in helping to manage stress are:

Breathing exercises –  Just a few minutes of taking deep cleansing breaths can help provide you with a calming effect as well as negating  physiologic stress responses.

Engage in regular physical activity and exercise –  Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly tend to have better moods and more energy than people who do not engage in regular physical activity.

Practice Yoga – Yoga has become widely accepted by both males and females as a specific exercise that can benefit you both mentally and physically. This form of exercise, with its series of  movements and controlled breathing, will help you obtain a more flexible body and a calm mind.

Meditation – Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and is designed to help you relax and find inner peace. The goal of  meditation is to focus your attention while eliminating the many thoughts that are crowding your mind and causing you to have stress. You will need to do further research, either by taking a class or by surfing the web,  since there are several meditation techniques, however all are easy to learn and do not require any specialized equipment.

Remove the negativity from your life – This may not be as easy as it sounds so you will have to be resourceful. Many of our stressors relate to our work and family situations, and since we all need to pay our bills and separating yourself from your family may prove difficult, this may be a bit tricky. However, embarking on a goal oriented job hunt or seeking out family therapy can provide you with hope and when you have hope you have a good chance of limiting the amount of stress in your life.

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals – Comfort foods like a healthy stew or soup can work wonders in your attempts to alleviate stress. Foods that boost serotonin production like turkey, and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots are also known to help lower your stress levels.

Add the following to your diet in order to lower and better deal with stress:

Whole grain cereals, pastas and breads and any foods that have complex carbohydrates

Foods that are high in Vitamin C like oranges

Magnesium rich foods like salmon, cooked organic soybeans and green leafy vegetables like spinach

Black tea ( it is also beneficial to limit your intake of caffeine during high stress situations )

Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon ( again 🙂 ) and tuna

Nuts such as pistachios, walnuts, or almonds

Make time for hobbies and interests – Take your mind off of things by blasting your favorite music or take time out to read that favorite novel or comic book. Go fishing, or go for a bike ride. Do whatever helps you calm down.

Get enough rest and sleep – Give your body the time it needs to recover from stressful events.               

Never rely on the effects of alcohol, drugs, or food to reduce stress – This can lead to a dangerous habit that will have you using these substances as a crutch that you will seek out during times of stress. This can also lead to addictive behavior.

 

If none of these methods work for you, it may be advantageous to seek out social support or engage in treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional. Twenty first century living may never allow us to remove all stress from our lives, but for our own health’s sake it is important that we learn to cope and manage our stress levels as best we can. It may just save your life.

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Food Allergies Are Nothing to Sneeze At!!

Would it surprise you to learn that according to the Pediatrics Journal more than six million children have food allergies?  Did you know that according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network more than 30,000 Americans will visit a hospital emergency room and that over 200 Americans die annually as a result of food allergies. A recent study shows that childhood food allergies cost parents in the U.S. $25 billion per year in medical and grocery bills and lost productivity. This isn’t happening in some third world country – this is happening in the United States of America and it is an issue that should not be ignored.

Fortunately, information about the dangers associated with food allergies has been garnering much needed attention. Food processors are creating and labeling food products that are free-from: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish, the major foods that cause  ninety percent of all food allergy reactions.

The 2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act made it easier for consumers with food allergies as this federal law requires that foods containing the eight most threatening food allergens must contain warnings on their food labels written in plain English.

One of the shortcomings associated with this act is that it doesn’t require manufacturers to declare allergenic ingredients introduced through cross-contact, such as producing food without tree nuts using equipment that has been previously exposed to peanut oil. In this situation eliminating a food from your diet on the suspicion that you may be allergic to it does not suffice. Unintentional food exposures do occur. Clearly, the FDA needs to continue its work on ways to standardizing food labels so that consumers are clear as to what is and isn’t safe for them to eat.

Children are especially susceptible to the effects of food allergies, from both a physical and mental perspective. Fellow students can be cruel and special care should be taken so that children do not feel the stigma that is sometimes associated with having a food allergy. Schools should take special care to ensure that their cafeterias offer allergy free foods for their students,  and they need to offer option in a way so that the allergy sufferer does not feel excluded.

A study released in this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that food allergies increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. Why is this happening?

One theory is that with the accelerated use of  antibacterial soaps and other sanitation methods children are not exposed to as many germs as in the past and the result is that they are not developing strong immune systems.

Another theory is that more and more parents are delaying the introduction of foods with high potential for allergies into their children’s diets. For instance there is evidence that cultures that introduce peanuts into their children’s diets earlier in life have less food allergies than those who have delayed the introduction of this food with a high potential for allergic reactions.

The fact that GMOs began to be widely used in commercial farming beginning in 1996, has many questioning whether the results of the study showing a 50% increase in food allergies beginning in 1997, are linked. Is it a mere coincidence that food allergy occurrences greatly accelerated at the same time that GMOs were introduced into our food supply? Unfortunately there is no definitive answer since there have been no long term studies regarding the effects of human consumption of foods containing GMOs as of yet.

If you do suspect that you have a food allergy make sure to see your doctor and he or she will determine what course of action to take. One of the first lines of defense is epinephrine which can be injected at the first signs of a food allergy attack via the use of an Epi-Pen.

Eating a diet comprised of organic foods is not a cure for those who have food allergies however it can help you to avoid eating foods that contain GMOs, which may or may not (science has not yet been able to determine),  be contributing to the growing number of food allergy sufferers. To find out more about food allergies please visit the Food Allergy Research & Education website at http://www.foodallergy.org/ and watch what you eat!!

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What are GMOs?

If you are diligent about doing your research on living the green lifestyle and using organic products there is no doubt that you have come across the term GMO. What exactly are GMOs?

GMO is an abbreviation for genetically modified organism. By definition a GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been changed, usually in a lab, by the use of genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are found in various products, but their inclusion in many of the foods we eat has caused great concerns since there is a lack of long term studies available which detail the effects of ingesting foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

There are currently no US laws requiring mandatory labeling of products which contain GMO ingredients. Proponents for GMO labeling argue that since genetic engineering involves the alteration of genes within the foods we eat, food producers are using the American public as human guinea pigs. They also point to the fact that over 60 countries, including those within the European Union, Australia and Japan, currently ban or require labeling foods that contain GMO ingredients. Although no ban exists in the U.S., food producers can voluntarily adorn their labels with “non or no GMOs”.  Some also argue that the GMO debate is based on a conflict of interest since the U.S. government has approved the use of GMOs as a result of studies sponsored by the same corporations that create GMOs and profit from their sale.

One of the largest companies associated with the GMO debate is Monsanto.  Monsanto controls over 90 percent of the soybean crop through a patent on their soybean seed which has been engineered to withstand the effects of Roundup, a weed killer that it currently produces. Monsanto detractors, like the Non GMO Project, argue that economics are what is driving the move towards GMOs. Their website describes themselves as a “non-profit organization with a mission of protecting the non-GMO food supply and giving consumers an informed choice.” Their site further indicates that “over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, the use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.” Farmers, who in the past would collect seeds from their strongest soybean plants and use them to plant a new crop, are being forced to use Monsanto’s soybean seeds that cannot be replanted because they are a “terminating seed”. If a farmer tries to use soybean seeds that have not been engineered by Monsanto’s scientists they risk prosecution for “patent infringement.”

The original idea behind GMOs involved fighting world hunger by using more efficient farming and creating seeds that would produce food that has greater nutritional benefits for the average consumer. Monsanto defenders argue that in 1970 a typical family farm produced 75 bushels of corn for each acre. Today the typical US family farm averages 160 bushels an acre, and  Monsanto scientists are predicted to create seeds that will produce plants that will yield 300 bushels an acre. Supporters further argue that Monsanto scientists and GMOs can help create more nutritious food like a soybean that contains Omega 3 fatty acids for increased heart health and drought-resistant wheat.

Numerous studies have shown that consumers support GMO labeling. The Non GMO Project was created to fight for GMO labeling so that consumers can make an informed choice regarding the products and food that they buy. They maintain a product list which includes products and brands that do not use GMOs that you can access on their website and through this link – http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/.  If you as a consumer wish to ensure that there are no GMOs in the products that you use, always buy products that contain the USDA Organic label.

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What does organic mean?

What does organic mean? You may hear a lot about organic food and products and you may be asking your self just what does organic mean? According to Businessweek.com the term “organic” can be broadly ( and simply )  described as food grown without the assistance of man-made chemicals.

According to the Organic Trade Association  “organic agriculture and production assures consumers that the products maintain the organic integrity that begins on the farm.” When you eat organic food you are eating something that maintains its pure form, just as nature intended.  The USDA calls for organic food production to exclude “all synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones in crop and livestock production.”

The Organic Trade Association Organic further indicates that organic food “production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Cloning animals or using their products would be considered inconsistent with organic practices.  Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food.”

Sustainable.org describes the art of organic farming as using “practices in balance with the natural environment.”  Our society needs to work in conjunction with nature’s intentions and not ignore them. In theory, organics are healthier for you and our environment as well. The organic philosophy takes into account the natural order which supports earth’s continuous existence and viability. The green movement takes pains in order to ensure that it doesn’t jeopardize earth’s future.

The facts surrounding conventional livestock that we use as “nourishment”  isn’t pretty. For instance, “broiler chickens” are intentionally bred for human consumption,  and are given antibiotics that accelerate their growth so that they become full grown by the time they are 45 days old. A typical chicken should normally reach adulthood when it is 6 months old.  According to Sustainable.org “organic meat, poultry and egg products come from farms that use organic feed, do not administer added hormones to promote growth or any antibiotics and they allow animals the space and freedom to behave naturally.”

Typical food labeling that you will come across is as follows:


100% Organic

  • All ingredients must be certified organic
  • Any processing aids must be organic
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.

Organic

  • All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic, except where specified the National List
  • Non-organic ingredients allowed per National List may be used up to a combined total of 5 % of non-organic content ( excluding salt and water )
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel

Made With Organics

At least 70 percent of the product must be certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water).

  • Any remaining agricultural products are not required to be organically produced but must be produced without excluded methods
  • Non-agricultural products must be specifically allowed on the National List.
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel

Natural

Foods carrying the Natural label not contain artificial colors, flavoring or preservatives. Although you are protected from having artificial additives these foods can contain GMO’s and antibiotics.

There are varying viewpoints on the benefits of eating an organic food diet and using organic products and some studies have shown that there is no significant difference in the nutritional values between conventional and organic foods,  eating an organic diet will protect you from the as of yet undetermined effects of long term exposure to foods made with genetically engineered ingredients. Details regarding genetically modified ingredients in the food we eat will be examined in future posts.

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What is Organic Vibrations?

What is OrganicVibrations.com?

OrganicVibrations.com is an on-line retailer of organic and earth friendly products. It was created by an “Average Joe”. This “Average Joe” is just like the typical guy that you may run into everyday during your morning commute to work or the guy you come across while waiting for your local train or bus. He could be any one of you who has and is trying to fulfill a life long dream.

His dream was to start a business that would not only help him feed his family but his business will also help to feed your family too. What’s even better is that the food that this business sells is pure and free of genetically engineered products.

Like you, Joe became disillusioned with the hypocrisy that is rampant in corporate America today, and is using OrganicVibrations.com as a means to get out of the rat race and create a business that can help you maintain an organic lifestyle while helping to sustain and nourish our mother earth.

Joe believes that you are what you eat and that the components that make up your breakfast, lunch and dinner should not be created in a chemical lab. Over the years Joe saw many people around him, both young and old, contract rare forms of cancers and other deadly diseases and he decided that he would create a business that would promote the use of simpler, cleaner and organic goods.

OrganicVibrations.com offers a wide variety of organic and earth friendly products from brands that you’ll instantly recognize and some that you might not have otherwise been exposed to. Their offerings range from organic pastas, to baby products and you’ll even be able to purchase organic foods for your pets.

Admittedly OrganicVibrations.com may not always be able to compete with the prices offered by “the big guys” but remember those “big guys” also sell products that are connected to GMO giant Monsanto.

OrganicVibrations.com has some of the lowest shipping charges in the industry and you will never pay any more than $5.95 in shipping costs on any order! As a matter of fact OrganicVibrations.com offers FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $100. Support OrganicVibrations.com! Visit their website and like their Facebook page!  You’ll be supporting a company founded on the principles that you live by that is committed to providing you with a truly organic experience.

What is Organic Vibrations?

Organic Vibrations

What is OrganicVibrations.com?

OrganicVibrations.com is an on-line retailer of organic and earth friendly products. It was created by an “Average Joe”. This “Average Joe” is just like the typical guy that you may run into everyday during your morning commute to work or the guy you come across while waiting for your local train or bus. He could be any one of you who has and is trying to fulfill a life long dream.

His dream was to start a business that would not only help him feed his family but his business will also help to feed your family too. What’s even better is that the food that this business sells is pure and free of genetically engineered products.

Like you, Joe became disillusioned with the hypocrisy that is rampant in corporate America today, and is using OrganicVibrations.com as a means to get out of the rat race and…

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