How Can We Eat Organic and Live a More Sustainable Life?

So, you want to eat organic but don’t know how? There are some tips you can live by to bring healthy food to you and your family. One thing to think about is the outside of the fruit or veggie. If it has a thicker peel, like a banana, the pesticides used won’t get into the fruit. Where strawberries or spinach is concerned there is no protective “shell” so the pesticides used have no barriers and will attach to the fruit or veggie.

What does organic mean? Well, for the most part organic farmers don’t use chemical pesticides, only certain types of sustainable and earth friendly bug control. There is more to it, but that is the basic difference between organic and conventional foods.

If you have a limited budget, like we do, going for organic fruits and veggies can be a hang up. Honestly, it would be better if we knew what we should buy organic and what doesn’t need to be. Certain veggies and fruits have characteristics that make them less likely to need pesticide use or what is used doesn’t stick to the plant.

For the fruit and veggies you do have to buy that are not organic you can wash off any pesticide residue with white vinegar. Just fill your sink with water and add at least one cup of vinegar, let soak for 15 minutes, rinse and continue with your meal prep. Don’t worry about the vinegar, it won’t change the flavor of your food but it will take care of the pesticides.

With the information the Environmental Working Group put out, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition put together a list of most pesticide laden foods and the cleanest non-organic foods. You can use this list to save money by buying only the organic foods you should buy and purchasing conventional produce for the cheaper price. Also, buying in bulk and planning your meals will go a long way in keeping food costs down.

Here is the list:

There are some things you can do to help yourself, your family and your community stays healthy, thrive and leave this planet in How to Live a More Sustainable Life better shape than we found it. Buying local products, shopping at your local farmer’s market, choosing sustainable farming foods and restaurants that use local ingredients are great ways to make a difference.

We can start at the bottom, with us consumers, who by our choices can drive the market and force the big conglomerates to change their ways and make our food and our planet better. It all starts with us and our choices. Here are 10 easy ways that you can live a more sustainable lifestyle and tips on how to begin.

1.   Buy local products when possible, otherwise, buy organic and fair-trade products. Ask your grocer or favorite restaurant what local food they carry and try to influence their purchasing decisions. You will support your local economy and small farmers, reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides, improve the taste and quality of your food, and protect the environment from fertilizer and pesticide run-offs.

2.   Shop at your local farmers market, join the Community Supported Agriculture and get weekly deliveries of the season’s harvest and by buy from local grocers and co-ops committed to stocking local foods.

3.   Support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally produced food. When at a restaurant, ask your waiter where the meat and fish comes from. Eventually, as more and more customers ask the same question, they’ll get the message!

4.   Avoid GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) LIKE THE PLAGUE! When buying processed food (anything packaged) buy organic to avoid GMO. Since almost all the soy, corn, and canola in the US is genetically modified, over 70% of all processed food contain GMOs from by-products of these grains.

5.   COOK, CAN, DRY & FREEZE! Our culture has forgotten some of the most basic joys of cooking. Not only is cooking at home better for you and more economical, but it’s an invaluable skill to pass on to your children.

6.   Drink plenty of water, but avoid bottled water when you can. Water bottles pollute the environment and bottled water is often mere tap water. Plastic is harmful to your health and to the environment. Buy a reusable water bottle and invest in a good water filter.

7.   Grow a garden, visit a farm, volunteer in your community garden, teach a child how to garden. GET DIRTY! Have fun!

8.   Volunteer and/or financially support an organization dedicated to promoting a sustainable food system. Stay informed by joining the mailing list of the advocacy groups you trust.

9.   Get involved in your community! Influence what your child eats by engaging the school board, effect city policies by learning about zoning and attending city council meetings, learn about the federal policies that affect your food choice and let your congress person know what you think.

10.   SHARE your passion! Talk to your friends and family about why our food choice matters.

Choosing to look into what food your family eats and purchasing the best you can is the key to health. Whatever you can do for yourself and your family is worth the extra effort.

Importance of Dietary Fiber and its Benefits

How important is fiber to the proper function of our bodies? In this article we look in deep about the different types of fiber and what their roles are.

Lots of importance is placed on vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies for our everyday supplementation, but one of the fundamental elements to good health lies in the amount of fiber we eat.

The fiber we consume, called roughage, come from grain husks, the skins and flesh of fruit and the tough, fibrous material in vegetables. It is unable to be broken down by digestive enzymes and is not able to be absorbed into the system as it passes through the stomach and intestine. Fiber has few, if any, calories or nutrients, and is usually processed out of the many packaged foods consumed today.

There are two different types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber play important roles in keeping your digestive system running right. No single food, not even popular bran, is a good source of all the beneficial types of fiber.

Insoluble Fiber – Found in whole grain products, seeds, fresh fruits and veggie – provides bulk, making movements easier and helping to avoid constipation. Scientists studying diets high in fiber and low in fat speculate that insoluble fiber may avoid various gastrointestinal difficulties and could reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber has been proven to help lower cholesterol. Found in oat bran and dried beans, it tends to slow down the release of food from the stomach, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable so that you can avoid the feeling of fatigue and weakness connected with low blood sugar levels.

How Dietary Fiber Works

Fiber is an essential part of our diets. High fiber foods are filling, but low in calories, so they aid in the management of weight. Fiber has a very important role to play in maintaining a healthy body. By increasing the bulk of fecal material, it aids in the efficient passage of waste products through the intestine. It also draws in water from the surrounding blood vessels, which softens the stools, making elimination more regular and easier, thus helping to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. By reducing the absorption of digested fats, blood cholesterol levels are lowed, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

Every adult should eat about 25-30 grams of fiber a day. However, the people nowadays eating the typical Western diet high in animal fats and refined carbohydrates, consumes only about half the amount needed. The National Academy of Sciences recently upped its fiber guidelines to 25g daily for women and 38g daily for men. For children add 5g to your child’s age for the proper amount.

In summary of the benefit of fiber as below:

–  Fiber absorbs and holds moisture in the digestive system, acting like a sponge and making the contents of the colon softer and more bulky. This reduces the amount of time waste materials stay in our 30 foot span of intestinal tract and also eases their passage, lowering the pressure in the colon.

 

–  Fiber reduces problems from constipation and diverticulitis which is a weakening if the wall of large intestine caused by pressure from hard stools and is usually accompanied with infection. Fiber cleans the intestines by means of its natural scrubbing action.

 

–  By increasing the transit rate of materials through the colon, fiber lessens the chance of harmful effects from a number of drugs, food additives and chemicals. It also helps remove toxins released during digestion.

 

–  A diet high in dietary fiber may lower blood cholesterol levels simply by reducing the transit time of dietary cholesterol through the gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the absorption of cholesterol from foods.

What Supplements Are Safe?

Think about the supplements in the grocery stores; they have rows with enticing prices and odd labels. But where do these supplements come from? Who is responsible for the quality control? When it comes to grocery store supplements the answer is more muddled than it should be. Taking a closer look at the companies and what kind of quality control they use is one way to make sure you know what you are buying. Here is yet another great thought provoking message from Dr. Stephen Chaney. (Tips from The Professor: Who’s Testing Your Supplements?)

It’s so tempting…

You’ve been getting your supplements from a company that you know and trust – a company that does clinical studies on their products and performs rigorous quality controls.

You know their products are pure, safe and effective

BUT…

You’re shopping in your favorite drug store or discount store and you see the same supplements for just a couple of dollars!

You can’t help thinking…

“Wow! Here’s the same stuff I’ve been taking for a lot less money”…”Why not save my money?”…”They must have run some quality control tests on their products”…

“After all, how bad can they be?”

The answer is – pretty bad!

The events of 2010 illustrate just how bad.

On March 2nd, 2010 the makers and sellers of fish oil supplements were sued by the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation in California for not telling consumers that their products contained toxic levels of PCBs.

Toxic chemical–PCBs

It is amusing and somewhat scary that the FDA did not initiate this action and force the manufacturers to take their contaminated products off the shelves. Instead an environmental consumers group had to sue them for not including PCBs on the label! They sued them under California proposition 65 which requires a warning label whenever a product contains toxic ingredients.

 The defendants in this lawsuit were Omega Protein, a Houston-based company that is the world’s largest producer of omega-3 fish oil, and the many companies that they produced fish oil for – companies like Rite Aid, CVS, GNC, Now Health Group, Pharmavite, Solgar and Twinlab.

And those aren’t the only ones. The Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation only tested 10 omega-3 supplements manufactured by Omega Protein to date and have found PCBs in all of them. They plan to continue testing and to add other companies to the lawsuit if their products are also contaminated.

Even scarier is that many of labels on these products said that the omega-3 supplement was treated to reduce or remove PCBs. As a consumer you were lead to believe that they were safe! The bottom line is that the manufacturer probably didn’t test for PCBs and neither did the companies selling their omega-3 supplements to the consumer. The alternative – that they tested the products, knew that they were contaminated with PCBs and sold them to the public anyway – is even worse.

Salmonella Poisoning

As if that weren’t scary enough the FDA announced a massive recall of products containing textured vegetable protein manufactured by a company called Basic Food Flavors because of salmonella contamination.

The problem is that there are at least 56 different kinds of consumer products containing this company’s textured vegetable protein – including salad dressings, dips, packaged snacks, potato chips and soup mixes (Who knew that salad dressings contained textured vegetable protein?). That means that this recall will be huge. It will affect many foods that most people buy and use every day. Once again, the problem is that neither the manufacturer nor the companies using the textured vegetable protein had run the basic quality control assays that would have detected salmonella contamination.

So what can you do as a consumer? Here are some recommendations:

1) Get your supplements from an established company with a reputation for quality and integrity. It is recommended choosing a company that has been around for a number of years so that you know that their reputation is based on their track record over the years rather than just on hype.

2) Make sure that they run rigorous quality controls on their products. It  is recommended choosing a company that requires pharmaceutical grade quality controls on their products.

3) Make sure that they have published clinical studies on their products that prove both safety and effectiveness. Again it would recommend choosing a company that has many published clinical studies on their products rather than just one or two.

 

Not all supplements are created equal!

Knowing what is in your dietary supplements is just as important as the supplement you take. In the news today there are scares about the safety of many dietary supplements on the store shelves especially with omega-3 fish oils; how do you avoid being caught up in the mayhem?

As the case of fish oil supplements above and other “natural” products have caused many people to stop and wonder what they are buying. The grocery and food store supplements boast low prices but what are you really getting for that lower cost? Mostly nothing at all! The active ingredients in most are of low quality and strength or the pill’s delivery system does not allow it to dissolve in the body properly.

Calcium supplements bought in the store come out looking like they did going in; not one thing was done for your body. Supplements on those shelves do not necessarily do either what they claim or what you think they may do by virtue of their name. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant and you expect that all vitamin E tablets and nutrition would be the same; this could be said with any specific vitamin or mineral. This is just not the case.

The truth is not all supplements are created equal. Quality control and testing are different from company to company. While there are federal and moral standards in place it seems that bad products still get through to store shelves. It seems quality control is not a major priority for most of the companies who sell these products; if they would have tested their products then they would have known of the high levels of PCBs.

It seems that in the fish-oil supplement cases, the manufacturer did NOT test their own products before putting them in their bottles and allowing them to be sold. This begs another question; why has the FDA, who has all the laws in place giving them the power to prevent this from happening, allowed these products to be put on the shelves to begin with?

Shaklee supplement label–you can trust everything write there!

Finding a company who prides themselves upon quality control and testing for their products is the only way to ensure that you are getting and can trust everything printed on the bottle. Companies and products with patents means that no other company can use the exact same ingredients in the exact same concentration or mixture; which means that one product could have better reliability than others that claim either the same thing or something similar.

We see this all the time with generic brands. Using some generic brands of pain relievers and other medications are just fine and as good as the name brand. When dealing with other products however, a lesser company cannot possibly put in all the effective ingredients as the original, especially if that original company has a patent.

What does this mean for Shaklee users? You can be assured that what you see and read on the label is what you get. Shaklee goes to the extreme for quality control and testing, going so far as to bring in third party testing laboratories and getting patents on their products.

“Harmony with nature” for over 50 years

 

There is no other company goes through so much to be so effective. This is second nature to Shaklee; inspired by the founder of the company, Dr. Shaklee, to be in harmony with nature in everything they do. What is even better yet is that they do not stop at one milestone; they keep going and have been doing so for over 50 years.

Dietary supplement safety and environmental protection are the core beliefs behind every Shaklee product. That is why unlike so many other companies, Shaklee offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Bottom line is that you can be comfortable with every Shaklee product you bring into your home to be as effective and powerful as the bottle says. Shaklee has published in many peer reviewed journals and other publications and have been confident enough to send their products to third party testers to be sure of their results. Plus, they do not hesitate to announce it.

Good news should be spread. And Shaklee is the best news of all for those looking for a safe reputable dietary supplement among their other many outstanding products.

Reap the Anti-Aging Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can help you lose weight, keep it off, and look great. Exercise also plays a role in slowing the aging process. As we are all living longer, it has never been more important to exercise into our later years in order to maintain strength and independence.

In order to reap the anti-aging benefits of exercise, one does not have to be a fanatic, or do it exhaustively and vigorously. For an older person who has not exercised much in his or her life, taking 30 minute walks or gardening can provide great health benefits, and prolong the quality of life.

For the most optimal benefits, though, aerobic activity alone is not enough. As we age, it does not help to support our muscles or weight. Strength training is crucial because it increases balance, strength, and improves the posture. Strength training decreases the likelihood of developing osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis.

The most important factor in exercising as we age is the maintaining of independence. For older people, independence is priceless. Through moderate exercise that includes strength training, the motor functions will keep working properly, the chance of falling decreases, and the confidence to perform tasks remains and increases. Strength training of some type can also help increase the metabolism and aid in controlling body weight gains in later life.

The benefits of exercise are numerous. Moderate exercise not only can slow down the ageing process, it can also help to relieve some of the problems that are commonly associated with getting older, including:

  • Relieving insomnia
  • Relieving back and joint pain
  • Reliving stress and tension
  • Increasing sociability
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Increasing muscle tone
  • Maintaining a healthy weight or helping in healthy weight loss

Exercise does not have to be scary or painful. It can be fun, and can provide many benefits beyond physical health. In addition to helping you age gracefully, it helps you keep your independence, helps you to maintain a high quality of life, gives you more self-confidence to do anything, and it can be a great social outlet. While growing older is scary, the fears can be diminished a bit by taking control of your life and body, and naturally slowing down the aging process through moderate exercise and strength training. It is never too late to start!

Aging and Exercise

Our thinking on the impact of exercise on aging has begun to change. It looks like exercise may do more for your body than simply keep it fit and keep the weight off. In fact, most of the places (called blue zones) where people live longer and healthier lives than average have some component of exercise in their daily lives. Studies have shown that the telomere length (a measure of a cell’s age) is longer in twins who exercise compared to twins who do not. Further, we know that exercise is linked to longer life expectancies. In other words, exercise may have its own anti-aging effect. In addition to keeping everybody fit, exercise can slow the aging process in your body.

There are some easy exercise tips you can do every day to help yourself get where you want to be. I’m sure most of us have heard that we should park at the end of the parking lot and walk, or to take the stairs instead of an elevator. These are great tips. They force us to exert ourselves where we might have otherwise taken the easy way. By putting ourselves in a position to choose the more physical route we are giving ourselves an edge over our health. You don’t need a gym membership, a set of weights, or the latest Brazilian super workout DVD series to get into better shape. Just get out and walk. Of exercises known, walking is among the healthiest.

Make sure you get all the good nutrition your body needs. That means vegetables and fruit high in antioxidants, polyphenols and of course fiber. Juicing is a great way to get nutrients. Remember the maxim, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” It’s pretty accurate. It turns out that apples are massively high in beneficial antioxidants which protect the cells of your body from premature destruction.

Drink plenty of water, limit your alcohol and forget the soda pop and packaged juices. Six to eight glasses of water per day will hydrate you, improve your skin, enhance digestion, aid elimination, and help your body to rid itself of accumulated toxins. So when you’re thirsty, drink water.

Remember, exercise is not something that you accomplish in a short period of time. Instead, exercise is a lifestyle. When you are physically fit, you have more strength, energy, endurance and overall vitality. Being fit enhances mood and reduces mental fog.

Following easy exercise tips like these will make your whole fitness routine go better because you are building a healthier foundation everyday by the choices you make. Being healthy is a lifestyle built on many small choices. It’s all up to us. The nice thing is, it can be easy as pie.

Why is beta-carotene so important?

Beta-carotene is a member of over 380 compounds called carotenoids. Carotenoids help give the distinctive deep-colour vegetables their colours. These dark coloured vegetables are the main focus of our antioxidant investigation.

Beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A (which is retinol) in the body as the body needs it; so beta-carotene is pre-vitamin A. Beta-carotene intake is measured in two ways, by International Units (IU) or milligrams (mg). One milligram is equal to 1,666 IU. While vitamin A can be toxic in large amounts, beta-carotene is not, even at high levels. Because of this, it is the ideal vitamin A supplement. Besides being a safe storage form of vitamin A, beta-carotene has other very powerful protective effects on the body.

As a free radical fighter beta-carotene goes after a couple of free radicals for which no enzyme system exists. It is also unique in that it is not destroyed or made inactive when it quenches a free radical. It is also very effective at interrupting oxidant chain reactions spreading from one molecule to another.

Vitamin A is important for immune systems because it keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and moist. Membranes that are healthy stay moist and resistant to cell damage. The moistness inhibits bacteria and viruses from replicating and starting infectious diseases. Healthy cells are also resistant to cancer. This makes it ideal in treating deficiency syndromes.

Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant by helping to protect our cells by supporting skin-cell turnover; the process that keeps cell growth and development running efficiently. Without enough A, skin becomes dry, tough, and scaly. It also helps the health of our eyes, improves night vision and prevents night blindness, promotes formation of strong bones, guards against bacterial, parasitic and viral infections, keeps skin healthy and smooth, guards against heart disease, stroke and lowers blood pressure.

Many researchers believe most people are so deficient in beta-carotene they recommend increasing the foods that contain a lot of beta-carotene as well as taking a supplement. To show that there is no danger of overdose here are some facts. People with a skin disease call porphyria, sensitivity to light, require up to 500,000 IU a day. Children with this disorder have taken up to 100,000 IU a day for years with no adverse effects. You will know if you are getting too much; your skin, especially the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, will turn orange-brown colour. Once the amount is cut back skin returns to normal.

Finding ways to incorporate beta-carotene into your normal everyday foods can be fun and tasty. Pumpkin is one delicious way to get vitamin A into your diet. Just ½ cup of canned pumpkin has more than 16 milligrams of beta carotene, 160%-260% of the daily amount recommended by experts. Other top sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, winter squash, broccoli, apricots, spinach, collard greens, red peppers and blueberries. Kale is another green that cannot be ignored, along with spinach, broccoli and collard greens, it is chock full of zeaxanthin and lutein two powerful antioxidants that help protect against cataracts, retinal disease and damage, and macular degeneration do to age.

 

Try an apricot, cantaloupe and blueberry salad. Add red peppers or roasted red peppers to broccoli for a nice kick. Use spinach and collard greens with onions and garlic and cook up with ground meat to use in any number of dishes from tacos to meatballs. Make healthy cooking fun by experimenting with different vegetables, herbs and spices. Make a “greens” salad with the kale, spinach and collard greens and season it lightly with healthy vinegrettes and a few spices instead of a regular iceberg lettuce salad. Above all take a great beta-carotene supplement along with the change in diet.

By changing the way we eat, what we take and how we prioritize nutrition we can give our bodies the fuel to fight all kinds of diseases and sicknesses. Talk with your doctor about where your health stands now and what your problems are. A little research should help you get a picture of what deficiencies certain vitamins and minerals help. Start eating creatively, get some exercise.  Do this now and make the change. Keep a journal of how you feel over the next year or two to see what improvements you experience. Plus, taking CarotoMax now will give you the carotenoids you need to fight whatever comes later.

 

 

 

 

 

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