Archive for January, 2013

Macro and Micro

January 26, 2013


Obesity and less nutritious foods—two reasons to care about a warming planet.

The federal government has declared that 2012 was officially the hottest year on record, with July alone setting the record as being the hottest month ever recorded in the lower 48 states. The worst drought in 50 years hit (and is still plaguing) the Great Plains, while Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast and caused $79 billion in damages, making it the second most expensive natural disaster in history, after Hurricane Katrina.

In his inaugural address, President Obama vowed to act on climate change, which independent climate scientists have agreed is making extreme weather worse, “knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said.

Yet, it’s not just the raging fires, crippling drought, and more powerful storms he cited that people need to be wary of. Climate change is also exacting a toll on people’s health in ways that are both overt and subtle. Epidemiologists have known for a while that increased heat and stronger storms can inflict a range of problems, including strokes, heat-related illnesses, and more logistical problems such as waterborne diseases from overwhelmed water-treament facilities. But there are other, more subtle health problems that are being exacerbated by higher global temperatures:


11 Climate-Related Health Threats


Greater obesity. More climate-change-driven droughts will lead to higher food prices—which inevitably leads to obesity, according to a series of letters published recently in the American Journal of Public Health. Nutritionists from the University of Washington who have researched the link between food prices and obesity write that droughts tend to raise prices on healthier foods, particularly vegetables and fruits, as well as on dairy, eggs, and meat. “As food prices continue to increase, refined grains, added sugars, and vegetable fats will replace healthier options, first for the poor and later for the middle class,” they write.

Poorer nutrition. In addition to raising food prices on healthy foods, climate change could be making those foods less nutritious. According to the newest National Climate Assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (a government scientific advisory panel), elevated levels of carbon dioxide (which, along with other greenhouse gases, cause climate change) has been found to lower the nitrogen and protein content of grains, which are cheap, healthy vegetarian protein sources for millions of people around the globe. Likewise, scientists have documented declines of calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins, and sugars in fruits and vegetables because carbon dioxide causes plants to grow bigger and more rapidly, but their ability to absorb nutrients from the soil can’t keep pace.

More hormone-disrupting chemicals on food. That same government report noted that the carbon dioxide that causes plants to grow big and fast also causes weeds to grow big and fast—even more so than crops. As a result, “both herbicide use and costs are expected to increase as temperatures and CO2 levels rise,” the report states. Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the U.S., is suspected of interfering with hormones, as is 2,4-D, the second most widely used herbicide in the country. Because weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, “higher concentrations of the chemical and more frequent sprayings thus will be needed.” Or farmers will start turning to 2,4-D, a more potent and dangerous chemical without as many weed-resistance issues.

More contaminated fish. The United Nations recently concluded a meeting in Geneva at which governments of 130 countries were addressing the problem of mercury in the environment. The toxic heavy metal is emitted primarily by coal-burning power plants and builds up in fish, which serve as the main exposure source of mercury for people all over the globe. At the meeting, scientists presented research suggesting that climate change could exacerbate the levels of mercury in our food chain. One reason: Arctic ice deflects mercury in the air as a gas, and as we lose our polar ice stores, more atmospheric mercury lands directly in the water, where it builds up in the fatty tissues of fish. In addition, warm temperatures stunt the growth of certain cold-loving fish species, such as char and lake trout, concentrating the mercury in their systems. (Want to avoid mercury in fish? Stick with the 10 Healthiest Fish on the Planet.)

More birth defects. A number of studies have found that a high fever during certain critical stages of a mother’s pregnancy can trigger birth defects in babies. But it turns out that heat waves and unusually high temperatures raise a mother’s internal core temperature and can have the same effect. Researchers from New York State’s Department of Health and the University of Albany recently analyzed 15 years’ worth of data on birth defects and compared those to average daily temperatures and heat wave occurrences; they found that mothers who experienced high temperatures or heat waves during their pregnancy were more likely than the mothers who didn’t to have babies with congenital cataracts. Congenital cataracts are cloudy spots on an infant’s lenses that blur vision and can lead to permanent blindness if not surgically removed. They are considered to be the leading cause of preventable blindness. The mothers of these babies were exposed to high temperatures during weeks four to seven of their pregnancies, which is the most critical period for eye development.

Fix It   You don’t have to accept that climate change is inevitable. Here are five easy ways you can do your part to combat climate change.

• Demand organic. The nonprofit Rodale Institute’s 30-year comparison of organic and chemical farming methods found that organic farms use 45 percent less energy (reducing the need for globe-warming fossil fuels) and produce 40 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. Not only that, but organic farms don’t need Roundup, a chemical linked to DNA damage, infertility, and low sperm counts.

• Sign up for a CSA. Community-supported agriculture programs allow you to buy produce directly from a farmer at the start of the growing season, which helps guard against sharp increases in food prices that can make cheap, unhealthy food so attractive. If that’s not an option, try one of these 7 Cheap Ways to Eat Healthy.

• Turn down the thermostat. Yes, it’ll save you energy and keep tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, but it’ll also help you lose weight, according to a 2006 study from the International Journal of Obesity. The study was looking at a number of reasons people have become more overweight in the past 30 years, one of which was that the “thermal standard for winter comfort” in U.S. homes was 64ºF in 1923—and 76ºF in 1986. Your metabolism speeds up in the winter to keep you warm, the study said, but when you’re in a constant state of shirt-sleeves comfort, your body’s warming system doesn’t have to work as hard.

• Walk more. Transportation accounts for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, yet the World Health Organization estimates that 3.2 million deaths from non-communicable diseases, such as heard disease, diabetes, and obesity, could be prevented worldwide if people just led less sedentary lifestyles. Need more convincing? A recent study in the journal Preventive Medicine found that walking just one mile extra every day instead of driving led to weight loss comparable to eating 100 fewer calories per day.


3 Ways Fighting Climate Change Is Really Good For You


• Cut down on meat. And save your heart—as well as our air quality. Reducing animal product consumption by 30 psercent could reduce the amount of heart disease by around 15 percent. Also, agriculture contributes to 12 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, many of which come from raising animals. Not only do animals produce methane (a potent greenhouse gas), but raising them also usually means cutting down trees to create more land for them to breathe. Deforestation accounts for 30 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

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Help Defeat GMO Corn on Steroids (Agent Orange, Folks!)

January 24, 2013

Pesticide Action Network Updates

Dow’s 2,4-D corn is a bad idea. Pass it on.

Stop the GE pipeline

Let’s change “on hold” to “denied.” Urge your friends to help us stop             2,4-D corn!

Share Now

Dear Friend of Healthy Farming,

There will be no 2,4-D corn planted in 2013. This is very, very good news for farmers and rural communities across the country — and you helped make it happen.

The outrage of farmers, consumers, public health officials and concerned citizens like you has slowed approval of Dow’s new genetically engineered (GE) product. But the company is still pushing hard for approval, now hoping to have this next generation of herbicide-tolerant corn in the ground by 2014.

Tell your friends!» We need all hands on deck for a final push to change “on hold” to “denied.” Your signature — along with more than 400,000 others — has already been delivered to USDA Secretary Vilsack. Now we’re asking that you urge your friends to sign on.

Farmers don’t want these new GE crops. Organic and conventional farmers alike are worried about damage to their crops from 2,4-D drift; they also cite health risks to their families, especially their children who are particularly vulnerable to the chemical.

And as you already know, Dow’s 2,4-D corn is just the first in a full pipeline of new herbicide-tolerant GE products. Millions of acres of weeds are now resistant to Monsanto’s RoundUp, leading farmers to spray more and to turn to older, even more hazardous herbicides (like 2,4-D) to try to beat back the weeds. No one wins in this chemical arms race — except the “Big 6” pesticide companies.

 

All hands on deck» We can win this battle. As the 2,4-D delay shows, our opposition is making a difference. Now we need to see it to the finish line, and stop the GE pipeline once and for all. The next batch of signatures will be delivered soon; please urge your friends to sign on.

Thanks for all you do!

10 Tips For Staying Healthy This Winter

January 23, 2013

and one of them is NOT getting the flu shot. The following comes from an article from mercola.com: see the  ENTIRE ARTICLE (which goes into great detail about why the current flu shot is not such a great idea).

    • Optimize Your Gut Flora. This may be the single most important strategy you can implement as the bacteria in your gut have enormous control of your immune response. The best way to improve your beneficial bacteria ratio is avoid apply avoid sugars as they will feed the pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, processed foods and most grains should be limited and replacing with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs and nuts. Once you change your diet than regular use of fermented foods can radically optimize the function of your immune response.
    • Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I’ve previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency may actually be the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu – not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. Regularly monitor your vitamin D levels to confirm your levels are within the therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.

Be sure to take vitamin K2 if you are taking high dose oral vitamin D as it has a powerful synergy and will help prevent any D toxicity.

  • Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods. Sugar impairs the quality of your immune response almost immediately, and as you likely know, a healthy immune system is one of the most important keys to fighting off viruses and other illness. It also can decimate your beneficial bacteria and feed the pathogenic yeast and viruses. Be aware that sugar (typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice. If you are healthy than sugar can be consumed but the LAST thing you should be eating when you are sick is sugar. Avoid it like poison while you are sick.
  • Get Plenty of Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you’re tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
  • Have Effective Tools to Address Stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma.
  • Get Regular Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. Be sure to stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, it would be wise to radically reduce the intensity of your workouts while you are sick. No Peak Fitness exercises until you are better.
  • Take a High-Quality Source of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils that are trans fats and in processed foods as it will seriously damage your immune response.
  • Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don’t use antibacterial soap for this – antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
  • Tried and True Hygiene Measures. In addition to washing your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If possible, avoid close contact with those, who are sick and, if you are sick, avoid close contact with those who are well.
  • Use Natural Antibiotics. Examples include oil of oregano and garlic. These work like broad-spectrum antibiotics against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance.
  • Avoid Hospitals. I’d recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you’re having an emergency and need expert medical care, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds. The best place to get plenty of rest and recover from illness that is not life-threatening is usually in the comfort of your own home.

Wash Your Hands!

January 12, 2013

This article came from Yahoo news, and is succinct, full of great info, and shocking…the hand-washing rates of all of us (but especially doctors secretly being observed) is SCARY.

GO HERE to read about hand washing. As the article states: cheapest and easiest way to stay healthy.

More Info On Staying Healthy This Winter

January 9, 2013

Here’s some good advice about which foods to eat more of to help prevent colds and flu.

Prone to respiratory infections? Check out this Swedish study on Vit D.

Here’s the summary from a great, fairly detailed scientific article on boosting immunity and immune response:

To read the entire article, go HERE.

Summary

Basic nutrition can make a profound difference in fighting the flu. Generally improved nutrition in our country would reduce the spread and severity of any seasonal flu, reduce the severity of flu symptoms, and reduce the overall number of flu cases.

Whether or not you get a flu vaccine is your choice (I’m no fan, as outlined in my article, The Narrow Scope of Flu Vaccine Usefulness). Regardless of whether you do or don’t get a flu vaccine, nutrition is profoundly beneficial to help your immune system perform in a time of need.

An idea as simple as making immune cells is of extreme importance and requires protein, iron, folic acid, and B12.

Dendritic cells are vital players in the response to any flu challenge and especially when the type of flu coming around has not been seen before. Dendritic cells must function under very high stress, and so need the ability to tolerate excessive antigen presentation and inflammation.

The key nutrients that allow this are vitamin D and vitamin A; lactoferrin can also be used. Quercetin works synergistically in this picture to reduce inflammation involving front line troops. Many other nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties that would lend support to better balance within this vital system.

Improving the efficient function of immune cells is vital. Zinc and vitamin C head the list, and are supported by the entire antioxidant network (NAC, vitamin E, etc).

Managing stress, improving digestion, reducing any inflammatory health problem (not with immune suppressing or toxic drugs), and losing weight healthfully are all extremely beneficial toward creating the likelihood for a healthier immune response in a time of need.