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Monthly Archives: September 2010
When choosing between 150 calories and 0 calories, for many the choice is apparent. Zero calories, sounds a whole lot better. Yet that 0-calorie item may be causing more harm than good. Aspartame, also known as Equal and NutraSweet, has a long and questionable history. Here are just a few of the dangers of Aspartame.
Aspartame is suspected of causing brain damage in sensitive individuals and unborn children may be at risk for these effects. Some researchers have suggested that high doses of aspartame may be associated with problems ranging from dizziness and subtle brain changes to mental retardation.
Numerous studies on rats have shown a strong link between brain cancer and aspartame. And while the FDA has approved aspartame, the data is too suspicious. In fact, in 1981, an FDA statistician commented, that the brain tumor/aspartame data was too “worrisome” to recommend approval of NutraSweet.
Research has shown aspartame to be leading agent in developing clinical diabetes. It has also shown that aspartame causes diabetics to have less control over their condition when they’re on insulin or oral drugs. It’s been linked to diabetic complications and has been shown to cause diabetic convulsions.
According to a double blind study of the effects of aspartame on people suffering from mood disorders, aspartame caused a large increase in symptoms. Additionally, there are numerous reported cases of low brain serotonin levels, depression and other emotional disorders which all link the cause to aspartame.
In addition to the above listed conditions caused by or worsened by aspartame, the dangerous of aspartame reach far and wide.
Here’s just a few of the many symptoms caused by aspartame
* Migraines and severe headaches
* Memory loss
* Slurring of speech
* Numbness or tingling of extremities
* Chronic fatigue
* Panic attacks
* Rapid heart beat
* Chest pains
* High blood pressure
* Abdominal pain
* Menstrual problems
* Food cravings
* Weight gain
* Hair loss
* Urination problems
* Joint pain
Where is Aspartame Found?
According to the aspartame information society, aspartame is consumed by over 200 million people around the world and is found in more than 6,000 products. Aspartame is commonly found in most diet drinks from soda to lemonade and bottled teas. It’s also found in many food products including yogurt, cereal, ice cream, jams and jellies, maple syrup, pudding and many low sugar candy, gum and mints. Read the label if you’re avoiding the dangers of aspartame.
Aspartame, Equal and NutraSweet are toxins. Your body cannot process them effectively. This inability to process them causes your body to try to compensate for their presence. There’s only so much a body can take before it gives out. When that happens, symptoms appear. They may begin as whispers like fatigue, headaches and bloating however as more aspartame is ingested, the symptoms worsen. The effects, as studies have shown, can be deadly. ,
You lovingly pack your child’s lunch for school. Filling that adorable Hello Kitty or Snoopy lunchbox with healthy items, tasty treats and enough nutrition to get them through the day. Unfortunately, that adorable lunch box may be poisoning them and actually hindering their learning experience – the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. Here are a few safe lunchbox alternatives, lead free and still completely adorable.
What makes some lunchboxes dangerous?
In short, a large percentage of lunchboxes leach lead. This means your child may be eating their sandwich you lovingly made that morning and consuming dangerous levels of lead with their PB&J. The culprits are vinyl lunchboxes made by major lunchbox manufacturers and sold at standard retail outlets. Lead causes behavioral and learning problems and prolonged exposure can lead to cancer and death. However, this article isn’t designed to scare you, rather to empower you to protect your beautiful children and keep them safe.
5 Safe Alternatives to Dangerous Lunchboxes
Reusable bags. Many manufacturers are making gorgeous reusable bags designed specifically to carry lunches and smaller items. Children can find them in their favorite colors and designs and spills are easily cleaned up by tossing them in the washing machine.
Recycled plastic. Several businesses have popped up which produce lunch totes and containers made from recycled plastic bottles. Not only are you providing your child a safe alternative, you’re being environmentally conscious – something many children are aware of and will be proud to be using an environmentally friendly lunch box.
Stainless steel. Many children are image conscious or prefer to have notable characters on their lunchboxes. Be it Spiderman, Dora the Explorer or Hello Kitty, they want the image on their lunchbox. Stainless steel lunchboxes, think the old-fashioned flip top boxes you carried when you were young, are lead and PVC free.
Brown Bag it. Paper bags are a great way to send your child to school with a personal message written or decorated on the outside. And for the environmentally conscious, paper bags can be reused many times and you can purchase recycled paper bags or recycle them yourself. Additionally, those plastic bags collecting in your cupboard from the local market can be reused as lunch bags several times over – they’re not pretty but it’s good to use them and give them a purpose.
Make your own. A trip to the fabric store with your child where you can pick up the supplies can be a fun adventure with your child. They can help you choose the items and even help make their lunchbox carrying with them something they’re proud of each and every day.
There are many safe lunchbox alternatives. Talk with your child to find a solution that keeps them safe and makes them happy.
Most of us want to recycle. However, understanding what’s recyclable and what isn’t can be overwhelming. Some communities offer support including bins to sort your items in and clear definitions about what is acceptable. Yet other communities leave their residents alone to figure it out for themselves. Regardless, here’s the low down on how to understand recycling and what to do with those extras like cell phones, paint cans and computers.
What is Recyclable?
Essentially just about everything is recyclable however, most recycling programs divide items into four main categories:
Paper items include newspapers, magazines, paper bags, books, cardboard and cardstock. Just about any type of paper can be recycled and most programs do not limit types of paper however, some do not take cardboard or glossy magazines.
Plastic is typically where it gets confusing. Here’s a basic rundown of plastic types and how they’re labeled for recycling.
1. PET (polyethylene terephthalate): Soda and water bottles are made from this type of plastic.
2. HDPE (high-density polyethylene): Milk, juice and detergent bottles are made from this type of plastic.
3. PVC (polyvinyl chloride): Plumbing pipe, shower curtains, and some plastic toys and infant materials.
4. LDPE (low-density polyethylene): Grocery bags and food wrap are made from this plastic
5. PP (polypropylene): Many food storage containers are made from this type of plastic.
6. PS (polystyrene): Also called Styrofoam, this plastic is used to make take out containers, cups and packing materials.
7. Other: Anything labeled 7 cannot be recycled. This includes many squeezable bottles, older reusable water bottles and dishes. This type of plastic leaches Bisphenol A, which is toxic and best not to be used.
Metal items include cans, which commonly hold tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables, as well as soda cans and coffee cans.
Glass items include any glass bottles or jars
For those extra items like cell phones and computers or items like paint cans or car batteries, check with your local recycling center to find out if they offer special drop off days. If they do not, often you can find recycling businesses in your community. They may charge a small fee but it’s better than tossing them into a landfill. Online you’ll also find many companies that will pay you for your used cell phones and computers.
Preparing Items For Recycling
The steps to recycle and to prepare your items are easy. You need to simply wash them. Don’t worry, you don’t have to scrub them clean, a simple rinsing will get the job done.
Remove caps from plastic and glass items. They’re not recyclable.
Recycling is a relatively easy way to be environmentally conscious. If your community doesn’t offer curbside service then a sorting bin and a monthly trip to the recycling center while you’re running other errands will get the job done. Don’t let recycling intimidate you, it’s easy and well worth the effort.
Organic gardening is the healthiest way to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables. When you consume your homegrown fruits and vegetables, you ingest whole foods clear of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Additionally, organic gardening is environmentally sound and keeps those toxins out of the soil and water supply. Here are a few organic gardening tips to get started.
#1 Rotate your garden. Different vegetables and fruits absorb different nutrients from the soil. If you plant tomatoes for example, in the same spot every year, eventually they’ll deplete the soil of the nutrients they need. However, if you rotate your garden, planting flowers where you plant veggies and veggies where you plant flowers or simply rotating where you plant your veggies then you’ll have healthier and tastier produce. Additionally rotation also helps prevent attack by disease and pests.
#2 Use friendly insects as natural pesticides. Ladybugs are a great tool to eliminate aphids from your garden. You can buy wiggly bags of them at your local nursery or even order them online. Place them in your garden and prevent infestation.
#3 Organic insecticides can be used to prevent things like beetles and worms.
#4 Use specific plants to attract or repel insects. For example, Sage repels cabbage moths and black flea beetles and marigolds repel a variety of insects.
#5 If you’re sowing your own seeds, then you’ll want to sow them from organic fruits and vegetables. If you’re buying plants to start with, you’ll want to make sure they’re organic.
#6 Plant vegetables in a rich soil. Compost is a wonderfully sustainable and nutrient rich way of providing everything your plants need to grow and survive.
#7 If you’re sowing seeds, sow several times more than you think you’ll need. For example if you’re only going to plant one tomato plant in your garden, sow 3 or 4 seeds. Seeds don’t always grow well and you can then choose the strongest looking to plant in your garden.
# 8 Read the information on the back of the seed packet or the tag. This information will tell you how much sun and water the plant needs. This is all good information.
#9 Label your plants. Use the tag attached to the plant when you bought it or make your own. Mid season, it can be easy to forget what plant is what.
#10 Prevent fungus and disease. The biggest killer of most vegetable gardens is fungus and mold. Keep your plants pruned and keep the soil damp but not soaked. Additionally, make sure there isn’t too much of an accumulation of mulch around the plants which can retain water and foster mold growth.
Organic gardening is a fun and easy way to bring fresh produce into your home. You can grow flowers, herbs, vegetables and even fruits organically.
While standard paint no longer contains toxic lead, it is still undesirable by many. That being said, non-toxic paint has a few drawbacks too. Let’s take a look at the two side by side so you can make an educated decision for yourself.
Paint, once it’s on your walls, furniture and floors releases gasses for years. These low-level emissions contain toxins called VOCs or volatile organic compounds. Non-Toxic paint does not emit these toxins and is thus preferred by many, particularly those who are chemically sensitive or suffer from illness.
The benefits of non-toxic paint include:
* Health benefits including a reduction in toxins released into your home.
* Environmental benefits because these toxins are not contaminating our soil, water supply or depleting the ozone. And you don’t have to call the hazardous waste folks to come pick up your leftover paint.
* Generally considered to be durable and effective. In comparison to standard paint, non-toxic paint generally covers well, is easy to clean and is durable.
The drawbacks of non-toxic paint include:
Non-toxic paint can be difficult to find. While it’s becoming more and more popular, it’s not carried by all paint stores.
Non-toxic paint can be difficult to match. Non-toxic paint just doesn’t come in the same variety that standard paint offers.
Non-toxic paint is also more expensive than standard paint. In fact, if you’re employing someone to paint your home with non-toxic paint you can expect to pay up to 25% more.
Non-toxic paint isn’t regulated and some manufacturers are misleading about the ingredients in their paint. Buy from trusted retailers who carry familiar and trusted paint brands.
Buying Non-Toxic Paint
Understand the difference between paint options. In addition to standard paint you can buy:
Natural Paint made from water, plant oils, clay, and chalk. This type of paint offers the safest and healthiest option but can be extremely difficult to find.
Zero VOC Paint isn’t really zero VOC but contains 5 grams or less of VOC per liter.
Low VOC Paint offers anywhere from 250 grams per liter to 6 grams per liter. If choosing this option look for 50 grams per liter or less.
When buying non-toxic paint be sure to read the ingredients carefully. The ingredient list should contain only natural, non-hazardous items like plant dyes, essential oils, milk protein, clay and resin.
Look for natural pigments. Standard color tints are what increase the paint’s emissions or VOC content. Purchase premixed colors or add natural pigments even though they’ll limit your color choice.
Non-toxic paint is better than standard paint for reducing chemical emissions and if you have any type of chemical sensitivities then it’s a good idea. It’s better for your health and for the environment.
When you’re looking for something to do with your children, consider taking a nature walk with them. Studies have shown nature walks improve your child’s emotional well being. Let’s take a look at how nature walks benefit your child and how to take a nature walk with your children.
Nature Walks Help Children Concentrate
Take a walk outside and you’ll notice a few things. You’ll notice you almost immediately feel calmer and more relaxed. You’ll notice your mind may stop jumping from thought to thought. Instead, of thinking about that project that’s due or that bill you have to pay, you’ll notice the rabbit sitting in the grass or the strange bird chirping in the tree. You’ll notice the colors of the leaves on the trees and feel the sunshine on your shoulders. In short, your mind clears and you begin to focus on the present moment.
The same thing happens for children. If your children are older then chances are they’re living extraordinarily busy lives. Nature walks will help them concentrate and focus on the present. In fact studies have shown that nature walks for children with attention deficit issues were just as effective if not more so than medication to improve their concentration.
Nature Walks Build Confidence
Nature walks tend to generate curiosity and a sense of exploration in children. They wonder what that funny orange moss was or why the snake was lying on that rock in the sun. This sense of wonder and curiosity helps them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s almost magical to watch children come out of their shells on a nature walk. Their shoulders straighten, their eyes light up and confidence and curiosity beam from them.
Nature Walks Boost Emotions
Many forms of therapy use Nature to treat depression, trauma, and to boost mood. This is because nature is a proven method to boost mood and reduce aggression in children. Scientists haven’t pinpointed the exact reasons why this occurs. Some theorize that sunlight has a chemical effect on mood. We do know that people suffer from SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which occurs during the long months of winter when people don’t receive enough sunlight.
Other’s have studied the effects of greenery on children and have found that children with more nature in their schools, more greenery, get better grades, have fewer behavior problems, and generally perform better in school.
If you’re new to nature walks, start small and local. Choose trails or parks nearby and let your family gradually build up to longer walks. Get your children interested by pointing out interesting features and encourage them to show you what interests them.
Many physicians and counselors actually prescribe “nature walk therapy” for their patients who are suffering from stress and anxiety issues, who have high blood pressure, depression or other mood related concerns or who need to improve their attention span.
In addition to helping children focus, giving them more self-confidence and boosting their mood, taking a nature walk with your children helps foster the bond between you and your children. It creates fond memories, lets your child know that you enjoy quiet time with them in nature and gives them an overall appreciation for life.
Scrapes and bruises are a part of everyday life. Some of us, it seems, whether we’re accident prone or adventurous or maybe a little bit of both get scraped up daily. While there are many handy over the counter remedies to clean cuts, reduce swelling, prevent infection and promote healing there are twice as many natural remedies which accomplish the same thing. Nature really does take good care of us.
Let’s look at 20 natural remedies for scrapes and bruises:
1. Witch hazel. This plant is actually a deciduous shrub and the bark and leaves are an astringent which can be used to disinfectant to clean skin. It’s also commonly used to treat sore muscles and swollen tissue.
2. Aloe vera is a common treatment for sunburns and rashes. A succulent plant grown in warm, tropical climates, it protects and moisturizes the skin.
3. Arnical Gel, which comes from a perennial in the sunflower family, is excellent for treating muscle aches and bruising.
4. Raw garlic. Despite the very unique and potentially unpleasant aroma, garlic cloves can be used to disinfect cuts and scrapes. It’s an antiseptic.
5. Comfrey, a perennial flower, is used to treat sprains, strains, bruises and broken bones. The roots of the flower are ground into a poultice and placed on the injured area.
6. Yarrow leaves, when dried and ground into a powder, can be uses to disinfect cuts and scrapes and to stop the bleeding.
7. Lavender essential oil, when combined and diluted by jojoba oil or olive oil, relieves pain, burns and bee stings.
8. Tea tree essential oil, when diluted with jojoba or olive oil, is an antiseptic and antibiotic. It is great for cleaning minor cuts.
9. Thyme essential oil, when diluted with a base oil like olive or jojoba has both antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Use it to clean minor cuts and scrapes and to soothe bruised and sore muscles.
10. Castor oil can be used to treat bruising and reduce swelling.
11. Calendula oil is used to soothe rashes and minor scrapes.
In addition to these 11 natural remedies, homeopathic remedies can be designed to treat swelling and bruising and flower essences can be used to reduce stress and alleviate shock symptoms. Mother Nature has provides you with a number of first aid remedies. Create your natural first aid kit today and take advantage of all nature has to offer.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that plagues many. In fact, it’s been estimated that 1 in 5 people suffers from IBS. Symptoms range from abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. It’s uncomfortable to say the least. If you suffer from IBS here are a few powerful and natural IBS remedies to consider:
Peppermint oil is a great treatment for nausea and other digestive ailments. It is also commonly used to treat IBS. It not only relieves abdominal pain and bloating, it helps to eliminate gas and improve muscle function in the stomach and intestines.
Peppermint oil is often taken by placing a few drops in a glass of water however, it’s recommended that IBS suffers take it as an enteric coated capsule. This coating prevents it from being absorbed to early, which can cause heartburn. You can take too much peppermint oil and it’s recommended to speak with a physician or medical practitioner before beginning a peppermint oil regimen. It does have a few side effects and may interact with certain pharmaceuticals.
Probiotics are commonly referred to as good bacteria. We often eat yogurt to increase the number of good bacteria in our digestive tract. They help suppress the growth of harmful bacteria and have a positive influence on our immune system and overall health.
It is theorized that people who suffer from IBS may have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in their intestinal tract. And studies have shown certain Probiotic bacteria to improve IBS symptoms. There are a number of different Probiotic strains and not all have shown to improve IBS however, one in particular, B. infantis, has shown great success in reducing symptoms.
Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum
One particularly distressing symptom of IBS is constipation, which is often followed by diarrhea. Partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) is a water soluble, non-gelling fiber, which has been shown to reduce constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It’s also been shown to increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. PHGG can be found in health food stores and markets and is generally sold as a fiber product.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
For many, IBS is caused by simple food intolerances. For example, diary and gluten are prime candidates. These sensitivities and food allergies may cause an immune response in your intestines. Your body is unable to process them effectively and becomes inflamed. This inflammation and inability to process the items may cause an imbalance in the bacteria we mentioned earlier when talking about probiotics.
Thus eliminating these foods from your diet will have a profound effect on your IBS symptoms. While dairy and grains are the most common culprits, other foods can also irritate your intestines. An elimination diet is often necessary to be able to determine which foods you’re sensitive to and are causing your IBS.
Natural IBS remedies often require strict attention to your diet, a careful supplementation regimen and a commitment to live symptom free. Many IBS suffers and practitioners recommend keeping a journal and tracking your diet, supplements and symptoms to find the optimal natural IBS remedy solution for you.
Every year the flu season comes and goes. Many hold their breath and hope they don’t get it while others choose to inoculation. Unfortunately, inoculation and hope don’t always protect us from getting the flu. If you get the flu, it can knock you down for up to two weeks. The good news is that there are several tried and true natural flu remedies. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Some studies have shown that the flu enters the body through ear canals. If you’re able to catch your symptoms within the first few hours, try placing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear every few hours. The peroxide kills the virus before it has the opportunity to multiply and really take hold. You may still have flu symptoms for a few days however, that’s much better than the standard two-week recovery period.
Colloidal silver, a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver, is used as a natural antibiotic and antiviral. Practitioners believe it has the ability to essentially eliminate an enzyme that bacteria and viruses need to survive in your body. Like hydrogen peroxide, the best time to use colloidal silver is right when you first notice flu-like symptoms.
Elderberry, an antioxidant, is commonly used to boost immunity however, studies also show it may work as an antiviral. This means during flu season elderberry supplements, such as elderberry juice, syrup or capsules, may be able to help you avoid the flu and if you do catch the flu, elderberry may help shorten your recovery time.
Oscillococcinum, is a homeopathic product that’s manufactured in France and sold in health food stores around the world – particularly during flu season. Homeopathic comes from the principle that “like cures like.” Oscillococcinum is made from extremely diluted parts of the hearts and livers of ducks, which are believed to be particularly vulnerable to influenza viruses.
Oscillococcinum is used to shorten the duration of the flu once you’ve caught it, it does not prevent the flu.
Echinacea, an herbal remedy most often used to prevent and treat colds and flu, has been shown to shorten the duration for flu sufferers. There are many types of Echinacea the leaves, flowers and stems of Echinacea purpurea seem to have the most effect. It’s typically recommended to take Echinacea, usually in capsule form, every two to three hours immediately after recognizing symptoms.
North American Ginseng
“North American ginseng” is a popular natural flu remedy used to shorten the duration of the flu. However, Ginseng also comes with some serious side effects including negative interactions with many pharmaceuticals, estrogen properties, which can complicate hormone related conditions and other symptoms and side effects that may cause heart complications among other things.
With any herbs, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure there aren’t any adverse reactions. Having the flu is one of the most miserable experiences, it’s nice to know there are so many natural flu remedies available to lessen the symptoms and help you recover as quickly as possible
Anxiety and stress are part of our life. They’re our body’s way of coping. And some anxiety is good. It can even save your life. However, the majority of the anxiety you feel causes a whole host of side effects, which over time can have a detrimental effect on your health. Rather than take a pharmaceutical to manage anxiety, take advantage of nature and consider on of these 5 natural anxiety cures.
# 1 Passionflower
Passionflower has a long history as an anxiety reliever and was commonly used as a folk remedy. More recently, passionflower has been studied as an effective means of reducing anxiety. However, passionflower is not without side effects, as is the case with many herbs. Passionflower side effects may include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and rapid heartbeat.
# 2 Massage and acupuncture
For many there’s nothing more relaxing than a massage. Massage helps to alleviate tension stored in your muscles as well as to improve body function therefore making it easier for you to manage anxiety. Sometimes just knowing you have a massage on your schedule can help to alleviate anxiety. Acupuncture, on the other hand works to balance your body’s systems and to create a mind body balance so you can better manage anxiety, stress and other challenges you may face.
# 3 Meditation
Meditation has long been held as a popular relaxation technique. There are a variety of meditation approaches from walking meditation to focused breathing. Meditation not only helps to relieve anxiety it can help you achieve clarity, mental focus, and an overall sense of well being.
Exercise releases endorphins – feel good hormones. These hormones have a tremendous effect on your mental wellbeing. They not only soothe our weary nerves, they virtually banish anxiety. After a hard workout, there’s no room for anything else. You’re too tired. Even better, these endorphins last for quite a while so the effects of anxiety busting exercise can last well through that nerve-wracking presentation you have to give. Mind/body breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, tai chi, self-hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback are just some of the stress reduction techniques used for anxiety. Try different techniques and determine which routine you can stick to with a hectic schedule.
# 5 Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a means of essentially training your mind to control your body. It measures your physical responses to anxiety, like an increase in blood pressure, and helps you to recognize them. Once you recognize the physical symptoms of anxiety, you can then begin to control them.
Valerian, an herb commonly used to treat insomnia, is also used to treat people with mild anxiety. Side effects of valerian may include mild indigestion, headache, palpitations, and dizziness. It has a strong scent many find unpleasant however, you can take it in capsule form, rather than tea, and alleviate much of the scent.
# 7 Kava
Kava, an herb that is Native to Polynesia, is also an anti-anxiety remedy. However, there is a potential risk of severe liver injury resulting from the use of dietary supplements containing kava.
# 8 Gamma-aminobutyric Acid aka GABA
GABA is an amino acid. Scientists know that prescription anxiety drugs work by affecting the GABA receptors in the brain and have deduced that GABA supplementation may have a positive effect on anxiety however more research is needed to validate the theory.
# 9 Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a tried and true natural anxiety reliever and typically works best for moderate anxiety. Essential oils of bergamot, cypress, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang can be added to baths, placed in a diffuser, or inhaled.
#10 Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium, Magnesium, and B vitamins all help your body to deal with stress and anxiety. In fact, you can often find ‘stress vitamins’ that contain B vitamins and minerals. They work by influencing your body’s physical reaction to stress and anxiety. Of course, to receive the anxiety busting benefit, you must take these vitamins and minerals on a daily basis.
Anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life and destroy your health. Embrace these natural anxiety cures and start feeling calm and relaxed today – no matter what life may throw at you.