Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cinnamon Is Truly the Spice of Life!

  • spice up your life

    10 Reasons to Spice Up Your Life  Guest Blogger Kathleen Barnes

    This pungent spice is a staple in every kitchen cabinet. It’s a holiday favorite and an every day treat. But most of us don’t know that it can also help control blood sugar, boost memory, knock out infections and even prevent cancer.
    We all need more—and it’s tasty, too!
    Of course, I’m talking about cinnamon. We’ve all savored cinnamon on oatmeal, cinnamon toast in milk for an upset tummy and the spicy zest of pumpkin pie redolent with cinnamon. Cinnamon is truly the spice of my life!
    And who knew such a delightful taste would pack in so many health benefits?
    Here are some of the most impressive science-backed health benefits of getting half a teaspoon of cinnamon or more a day:
    1. Lowers blood sugar: Research shows that cinnamon slows stomach emptying, stopping the sharp rise in blood sugar after meals. Several studies show cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity.
    2. Protects against side effects of Type 2 diabetes: A University of Georgia study shows that cinnamon prevents tissue damage and inflammation caused by high blood sugars, protecting against the dire side effects of diabetes, including hardening of the arteries.
    3. Fights cancer: A USDA study shows that cinnamon slowed the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cells.
    4. Brain booster: Just smelling cinnamon can improve short-term memory, and eating it daily significantly improves brain function, visual-motor responses and attention. One study from the Agricultural Research Service found that cinnamon can prevent brain swelling often seen after a traumatic brain injury or a stroke.
    5. Fights infections: Cinnamon has proven antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties, meaning it can knock out all types of infections.
    6. Eases arthritis pain: Cinnamon is a storehouse of anti-inflammatory compounds that ease the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A Danish study showed that arthritis sufferers found relief with a tablespoon of honey mixed with half a teaspoon of cinnamon every day.
    7. Thins blood: Cinnamon contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which helps prevent unwanted clotting of blood platelets. It also increases circulation.
    8. Headache relief: It is an effective remedy for headaches and particularly for migraines.
    9. Balances hormones: An effective treatment for menstrual pain and infertility. The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon is study-proven to increase the production of progesterone and decreases the production of testosterone in women, helping to balance hormones.
    10. Reduce blood pressure: A study conducted by the American College of Nutrition shows cinnamon helps reduce blood pressure in people with diabetes and reduces systolic pressure (the top number) in people without diabetes.
    The type of cinnamon you find in your grocery store is actually cassia cinnamon and it’s fine for all of the above purposes. If a little is good, that doesn’t mean you should take a lot. High doses can cause irritation of the lips and mouth and extremely high doses can cause liver problems. If you are a diabetic, you may discover that meds will need to be adjusted as your blood sugars improve, but please do this in conjunction with your doctor. Cinnamon may also interact with other prescription medications, so this is another reason to work with your doctor to get right dose of all medications.
    In the meantime, a little bit of cinnamon sprinkled in your coffee, on your toast or in your oatmeal, will do your health a favor.

    Real Women Facing Their Body Image Insults

    Real Women Facing Their Body Image Issues Head On:
    Rekašiūtė and her team asked 12 women to "open up [and] tell their story and be photographed only in their underwear." She continued, "Each woman shared her profound story and showed us lots of deep scars... We hope by growing this project and sharing the images and stories, we can inspire women to accept and love their bodies as they are: with all their inner and outer scars." 

    True story: I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and said, "Ugh!I'm such a pudgeball!" 
    "Why would I ever start my day attacking my body? It's pretty heartbreaking to think the way I greeted myself was with a cutting insult. But even more troubling is that this kind of comment was not out of the ordinary for me — and you've probably done something similar. How many times have you stood in front of a mirror, and pointed out your flaws or talked about how you "hate" this, that, or the other thing about you?"

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    Are Food Ingredients Safe? You’ll Be Shocked

     Ingredients Safe? You’ll Be Shocked to Read

    Safe Food?
    This is a guest blog post by Richard Perlmutter, MS
    GRAS is the acronym for Generally Recognized as Safe. This is a designation for some food ingredients when they are used as intended. These ingredients are regarded as safe based on:
    1) extensive prior use, or
    2) assessments made by experts with knowledge of food ingredients and their potential hazards.
    Until 1997, the agency reviewed industry food ingredient safety determinations. When found to be valid, the FDA affirmed the GRAS status of these ingredients. Beginning in 1998 the FDA has been guided by interim proposed regulations of its own creation that allow food companies to self-determine the GRAS status of food ingredients.
    The FDA no longer performs these reviews. The Agency indicated that it made the change because it lacked sufficient resources to continue doing them.
    Currently, a food company does not need FDA consent to designate a food ingredient (along with its intended use) as GRAS. Also, a food company is not required to inform the FDA when it has done so. This means that some food ingredients are used in some applications that the FDA knows nothing about.
    Organizations that promote public health have been critical of the FDA over this lack of oversight and concern. This criticism is beginning to bring change.
    In August, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade group representing the largest food and beverage manufacturers, announced it will establish a GRAS database.
    “The database will list information on all GRAS assessments conducted by the food industry.”
    The sentence in quotes is taken from the Association’s press release on the subject. I do not know how the organization can make such a sweeping statement since all of the food industry does not have membership in the GMA.
    The database will not be made public; but it will be made available to the FDA and to other parties that have a legitimate interest in its content. To quote the GMA press release a second time:
    “GMA is establishing a program to ensure the FDA has increased visibility to the ingredients that are assessed as GRAS by members of the food industry.”
    The Association will also develop procedures and standards to be used in making GRAS assessments. It is affiliating with Michigan State University to establish the Center for Research and Ingredients Safety to assist with this work.
    A so-called watchdog group is also promoting change. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is compelling the FDA to bring finality to its 1997 seventeen year old proposed regulation concerning GRAS notifications. In October, the CFS and the FDA agreed in US District Court to a legally binding Consent Decree. This was the outcome of a February 2014 CFS initiated Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against the FDA for not following the procedures for rulemaking as required by the Administrative Procedures Act.
    The FDA consented to publish its final rule regarding “Substances Generally Recognized as Safe” in the Federal Register no later than August 31, 2016. In the Complaint, CFS wanted the FDA to perform food ingredient safety reviews as it had prior to 1998. But the court did not uphold this demand. The Consent Decree does not require that the FDA make any changes in its current procedures that cover industry self-determination of GRAS status.
    The American public believes that the FDA checks the safety of food ingredients and their usage. But in many cases the Agency does not perform these functions. Consumer trust in food and food ingredients is of paramount importance to both producers and consumers. The FDA needs to do what is necessary to insure that this trust is not diminished.
    Richard Perlmutter, MSRichard Perlmutter is the owner of Abington Nutrition Services LLC which prepares nutrition labeling for products manufactured by food and beverage companies. He also takes an interest in seeing that government nutrition policy is in line with nutritional science.

    Saturday, December 13, 2014

    Toxic Personal Care Products

    • toxic personal care products

      By Kathleen Barnes is a passionate natural health advocate, author, writer and publisher who has devoted nearly 40 years to educating the public about healthy living. 

      Toxic Personal Care Products

      We live in a toxic world. Toxic exposure is inevitable unless we can learn to live without breathing, eating or interacting with any substances around us. If you’ve figured out how to do any of those, please let me know your secret!
      Several studies now show us that fetuses are exposed to toxins in the womb. We like to think of our newborns as pure and perfect, but studies from the U.S. Environmental Working Group published ten years ago showed 287 environmental toxins, industrial chemicals, pesticides and cancer-causing substances in the cord blood of newborns.
      Today, I’d just like to take a look at our morning routines and the numbers of toxic exposures we all get in the course of simply getting ready to leave the house for the day.
      The Basics
      What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body.
      • Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It is porous, so what you put on the outside of your skin is quickly absorbed into your entire system. Think of your skin more as a sponge than as a barrier.
      • Clothing made from natural and organic fibers prevents your skin and lungs from being in contact with toxic substances and vapors.
      • Basic personal care products ranging from soap to toothpaste to shampoo are loaded with potentially dangerous chemicals.
      • Cosmetics are particularly easily absorbed because they are typically put on our most fragile skin and, in the case of facial makeup, they remain on our bodies for hours at a time and they contain a wide array of toxic substances.
      Basic personal care items most of us use every day can pose a serious danger to you. Worst of all, many of these toxic substances are not listed on labels, or they can actually be added to products labeled as “natural.” Read your labels. I promise you will be shocked.
      Here’s a short list of the most dangerous:
      1. Pthalates: Those petrochemicals used to make rigid plastics soft and pliable, are also commonly added to cosmetics. Pthalates are linked to elevated rates of endocrine disruption, increasing the risk of breast cancer and other hormonally-related cancers in both men and women. Perfumes, nail polishes, lotions, hair sprays and many other body care products contain phthalates also labeled DBP and DEHP. DBP is used extensively in body care products and DEHP is present in many household products, which we’ll address in the next chapter.
      2. Parabens: Another type of hormone disruptor commonly used in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers. They are xenoestrogens—false estrogens—that interrupt the fertility cycle and can lead to early puberty in children.
      3. Sodium laureth sulfate: You’ll find it in shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, household cleaning products. Originally made as a pesticide, when combined with other common chemicals, it can form cancer-causing nitrosamines.
      4. DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (monoethanolomine), TEA (triethanolamine): Commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers. These are all hormone disruptors, with a strong link to liver and kidney cancer.
      5. Propylene glycol: This is antifreeze—found everywhere in shampoos, cosmetics, conditioners, toothpaste, stick deodorants–and ice cream. It’s linked to kidney and liver disease.
      6. Petrolatum (minerals oil and paraffin): This base of cream, baby rash ointments and many other personal care products coats the skin like plastic, causing toxins to accumulate, disrupting hormonal activity, increasing the risk of cancers and accelerating skin aging.
      7. Formaldehyde: Found in body lotions, shampoos and conditioners, body washing style gels, sunscreens, makeup and nail polish, formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that is toxic to the immune system and respiratory tract.
      This list is far from a complete list, but it gives you the idea of the level of toxicity we encounter in the most basic products most of us use daily.
      What to do
      Toothpaste: Most toothpastes have fluoride, an industrial waste product that disrupts thyroid activity and can cause a rare form of bone cancer. Many toothpastes also include petrochemicals, artificial colors and mineral oil that can cause a wide range of debilitating symptoms, including extreme fatigue, muscle pain, respiratory problems and possibly cancer.
      The fix: Use baking soda or a fluoride-free natural toothpaste is a better choice.
      Shampoos: Shampoos are commonly made with formaldehyde as a preservative, often labeled quaternium-15, a carcinogen that is also an irritant to skin, eyes and respiratory passages, even in small amounts. Although the government requires some products to carry a warning label, shampoo is not included.
      Many shampoos (and body washes and bubble baths) contain chemicals that look like an alphabet soup called BNPD, TEA and DEA that can combine at random to form carcinogenic nitrosamines. Since nitrosamines are easily absorbed through the skin and your pores are open because you’re using hot water, it’s best to avoid products containing them.
      Dandruff shampoos usually contain selenium sulfide, which can cause vital organs to degenerate if swallowed. Resorcinol, another easily absorbed ingredient in dandruff shampoos, can cause skin and eye irritation, drowsiness, unconsciousness and convulsions.
      The fix: There are dozens of brands of non-toxic shampoos. Look for an organic shampoos and read the label carefully. The best topical remedy for dandruff is baking soda.
      Soap: Many soaps contain petroleum-derived synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, and mineral oil that may cause skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
      The fix: Look for vegetable oil-based soaps without artificial fragrances.
      Deodorant: Ordinary deodorants can be a source of harmful chemicals. Virtually all antiperspirants have aluminum chlorhydrate, the active ingredient that prevents wetness that can cause infections in the hair follicles and skin irritations that may be severe enough to require medical attention. It is possible that the aluminum in deodorants may also contribute to the buildup of aluminum in the body, since aluminum from other sources has been linked to brain disorders. Aerosol sprays containing aluminum chlorhydrate can also be inhaled, potentially worsening the problem.
      The fix: There are lots of natural deodorants. Just walk through the natural body care aisle at your local health food store and you will see a wealth of choices. Plain baking soda works very well, even for people with very strong body odor. The deodorant crystal-stone available in natural food stores are made from crystallized minerals, including alum, not aluminum. They’re very effective and though they are a bit pricey, one stone will last for years.
      I’ve got lots more to say in this subject. We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with today’s post. Stay tuned.   
      My Best to You, Dr Kathleen Fuller