Tuesday, December 14, 2010

15 Fun Ways to Re-use your Tea Bags

During the cold winter, nothing beats a warm cup of tea. But don't throw away those tea bags so fast- they have many wonderful uses! All you need is your old tea bag, and to either dry the leaves or steep them again.


1. Feed your roses! Roses love tannic acid, which is abundant in tea. Give your used tea leaves to your parched roses.

2. Reduce under eye bags.

3. Reduce razor burn.

4. Relieving pain from an injection- yours or baby's. Just place a wet tea bag over the injection site, and let the tannic acid soothe away the pain.

5. Dry poison ivy rash.

6. Clean wood furniture and floors.

7. Clean other areas. Tea can remove grease and grime on floors and linoleum.

8. Shine your mirrors.

9. Keep dust from rising from the ashes when you clean out your fireplace. Before cleaning, sprinkle wet tea leaves over the ashes, and voila! The ashes won't spread all over when taking them out.

10. Get rid of warts, thanks to tannic acid.

11. Make carpets smell nice again. Sprinkle some dried tea on your carpets (dried only- you don't want to dye your carpet). After 15 minutes, vacuum the leaves and you will be left with fresh-smelling carpets.

12. Relieve diarrhea, the army way. Open the tea bag, and put the used leaves in your mouth. Wash down with water.

13. Potpourri.

14. Dish detergent. Put the teabag in your messy pan or dish, add water, and let sit overnight. Again, that tannic acid breaks down the grease.

15. Feed house plants. Ferns and other houseplants love an occasional drink of brewed tea.

Cheers!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Go Coo Coo for Coconut Oil


EFAGold Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin, Organic, 16 oz.
Coconut Oil has developed a somewhat tarnished reputation due to its saturated fat content.  However, not all saturated fats are created equally, and coconut oil is unique in its makeup in that it is "the highest source of saturated medium chain triglycerides (62%) of any naturally occurring vegan food source. Furthermore around 50% of these MCT’s are made up of lauric acid, the most important essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body’s immune system."  (Coconut Connections

Much of the negative hoopla came when research on coconut oil in the past was conducted not on virgin coconut oil, but on hydrogenated coconut oil. Hydrogenated coconut oil has been processed and altered from its original form.

Plainly said, coconut oil contains GOOD, heart-healthy fats.  Just like olive oil or canola oil.

Modern research shows that the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) help to increase metabolism, and are more easily digested than fats found in other oils. This is because they are processed directly in the liver and immediately converted into energy. There is therefore less strain on the liver, pancreas and digestive system and these MCFA provide the body with a wonderful, quick source of energy. 

It is also true that coconut oil can withstand very high temperatures, making it an ideal oil to cook with.  This cannot be said of olive oil, which does not retain its chemical make up when subjected to even lower-heat cooking, which negates its main nutritional purpose in the dish.

Ok, ok.  So virgin coconut oil is great to cook with, and is a healthy fat.  But what else does it do?  Actually, quite a bit.  Here is a list of ailments which can be helped with coconut oil (explainations thanks to  (Coconut Connections)) :
  • Thyroid disease  (For the hypothyroid sufferer the MCFA's speed up the body's sluggish metabolism and promote weight loss as well.)
  • Weight problems (See above.  Also, replacing long chain fatty acids with medium chain fatty acids results in a decrease in body weight gain and a reduction in fat deposition.)
  • Bowel disease (MCFA's in coconut oil are digested and absorbed)
  • Candida  (Lauric acid in virgin coconut oil kills lipid-coated bacteria, but does not appear to harm the friendly intestinal bacteria. The MCFA's also have antifungal properties so not only will they kill disease-causing bacteria and leave good bacteria alone, they will also kill candida and other fungi in the intestinal tract, further supporting a healthy intestinal environment.)
  • Chronic Fatigue (The MCFA's are absorbed quickly by the tissues and converted into energy.)
  • Diabetes  (Not only does it not contribute to diabetes, but it helps regulate blood sugar, thus lessening the effects of the disease.  coconut oil puts less of a demand on the enzyme production of the pancreas.  This lessens the stress on the pancreas during mealtime when insulin is produced most heavily, thus allowing the organ to function more efficiently.  Coconut Oil also helps supply energy to cells because it is easily absorbed without the need of enzymes or insulin.  It has been shown to improve insulin secretion and utilisation of blood glucose.  Coconut oil in the diet enhances insulin action and improves binding affinity compared to other oils.)
  • HIV and AIDS  (It has an anti-viral effect and can beneficially reduce the viral load of HIV patients.)
  • Parasites  (MCFA is helpful in destroying giardia and possibly other protozoa.  It is also used to remove tapeworms.)
  • Skin conditions (It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.  It also moisturizes and provides vital anti-oxidents to the skin.)
 So spread some virgin coconut oil on  on your toast instead of butter, sautee your veggies in it, and slather it on your skin and in your hair.  Your body will thank you for it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Candy Donations

With Halloween just around the corner, so is the season for sugar! Many parents (or non-parents) choose not to have sugar part of their family's diet, and yet go trick-or-treating each year, letting their kids (and themselves) gorge on sugar-filled treats. Don't you wish there was a way to trick-or-treat, and not have to eat all that candy? There is!

Consider donating your Halloween candy to soldiers overseas. It's relatively simple to do, and you can teach your kids (and yourself!) about the importance of saying "thanks" to those who do so much for us.

Contact one of these organizations to see how you can donate your Halloween candy. Talk to your friends about it, and make it a group donation!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Plant-Based Food Guide for Toddlers 1-3 years

Raising vegetarian/vegan children is much easier than you may think.  We are bombarded with ads and money-bought places in the food pyramid that say we "should" or "need" to eat meat or dairy.  The reality is that, with a healthy diet, a child can thrive on vegan foods only.  If you are raising your child as a vegetarian or vegan, or if you just want to add some meat alternatives to his/her diet, or if you want to know what a serving size is, as well as various vitamin RDA's for toddlers, then this guide is for you. 

Plant-Based Food Guide for Toddlers 1-3 years
(based on info from Raising Vegetarian Children)

*description item amount is the daily TOTAL needed (i.e., toddler serving size multiplied by servings needed). In parentheses is the toddler serving size (TS).

Milk

    • 16 oz breast or full-fat soy, nut (brazil, almond), hemp, or coconut milk.

         o If doing this, or no milk at all, make sure toddler receives extra fats and protein (and calcium if no milk at all) from other sources.  ("Cow's milk (or soy milk) is really just a convenient source of calcium, protein, fats, vitamin D, etc. - it's not required. There are many people in many parts of the world who do not drink milk and still manage to get all the calcium, protein, fats, vitamin D, etc. that they need. Too much cow’s milk can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, because milk interferes with the absorption of iron" Kellymom.com.)

Bread/Cereal (4-6 toddler servings/TS)

    • 2-3 slices of bread* (1/2=TS) or

    • 1-1 ½ cups of cooked grains or pasta (1/4 cup=TS) or

    • 2-3 cups of ready-to-eat cereal* (1/2 cup=TS) or

    • 1-1 ½ of cups cooked cereal* (1/4 cup=TS)

Vegetables (2-3 toddler servings)

    • 2-3 cups of salad or other raw veggie pieces (1/2 cup=TS) or

    • 1-1 ½ cups of cooked veggies (1/4 cup=TS) or

    • 1 1/3 -2 cups vegetable juice (1/3 cup=TS)

Fruits (2-3 toddler servings)

    • 1-2 fresh fruits (1/2-1 fruit=TS) or

    • ½- 2/3 cup cooked fruit (1/2 cup=TS) or

    • ½-3/4 cup fruit juice (1/4 cup=TS)

Beans and Alternatives (2 toddler servings)

    • ½ cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils (1/4 cup=TS) or

    • 4 ounces of tofu (2 oz cup=TS) or

    • 1-2 ounces veggie “meat”* (1/2-1 oz=TS) or

    • 3 tbsp nut or seed butter (1 ½ tbsp=TS) or

    • 4 ounces soy yogurt* (2 oz=TS) or

*Limit intake of processed foods.  Try to feed foods in their original, or close to original, state.
MISC.

    • Vitamin B12: 1 mcg

    • Vitamin D: Sunlight or at least 5 mcg

    • Omega 3 fatty acids: ½-2 tsp flaxseed/hemp/canola/olive or other oils, chia or other seeds, coconut oil.

    • RDA Calcium: 500mg

    • RDA Iron: 7-10 mg

    • RDA Protein: 16 grams

    • RDA Zinc: 10 mg

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Salad Booster- A Superfood Delight

Living Intentions: Superfood Sygnergy Salad Booster, The Original, 3oz
Salad Booster, made by Living Intentions, is a superfood-packed "blend of sprouted seeds, sea veggies, algaes and savory spices," and is so delicious that even non-health minded people would love it.  Salad Booster contains Organic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sprouted Sunflower Seeds, Organic Sprouted Sesame Seeds, Wild White Chia Seeds, Spirulina, Himalayan Crystal Salt, Chlorella, Organic Dulse, Organic Kelp, Organic Dill Weed, Organic Spices, Organic Lemon Peel and Organic Cayenne.

Sprinkle it on popcorn, veggies, main courses, soups, trail mix, wraps/sandwiches, or any other recipe that needs a little "boost."  It comes in Original and Vegan Cheesy, both equally yummy. 

Green Tidings is not affiliated with Living Intentions or Salad Booster- just a big fan!
 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cha-Cha-Cha Chia!

Navitas Naturals Chia Seeds Aztec Superfood, 16 Ounce Pouch

Remember those little Chia Pets you used to buy as a kid (or adult, as the case may be)?  Well, those little Chia seeds are actually a superfood.  Why should you care?  Well, research has shown that more than 2/3 of ALL deaths in the United States are diet-related.  Says William Anderson, Chia researcher, "The American Medical Association, in the Advances in Cancer Research, concluded, “At present, we have overwhelming evidence… (that) none of the risk factors for cancer is… more significant than diet and nutrition.”"  (William Anderson, Chia Seed- The Ancient Food of the Future) Maybe it's time to add some of these superfood seeds in your diet, and try to avoid being part of that dismal statistic.

The tiny Chia seed was used as a food staple of the Native Americans of the South West and Mexico, and ancient Mayan and Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during their conquests (even the small amount of 1/4 cup is said to have kept them satisfied for an entire day).

DIABETES

A diabetes study showed that Patients who ate up to four teaspoons of white chia seeds every day for three months:

■reduced their blood clotting factors by 20 per cent;

■reduced markers for inflammation by 30 per cent;

■increased the levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids by 80 per cent; and

■dropped six units in systolic blood pressure.
 
According to an interview with the lead researcher, Dr. Vladimir Vuksan, "one hundred grams of Salba (white Chia seeds) contains as much omega-3 fatty acid as a 32-ounce Atlantic salmon steak, as much magnesium as 10 stalks of broccoli, as much calcium as 2½ cups of milk and as much iron as half a cup of kidney beans."
 
HYDROPHILIC PROPERTIES

The Chia seed has the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weight in water.  What does this mean for your body?  The ability to prolong hydration by keeping the concentration and composition of the fluids and electrolytes in your body well-regulated.

FIBER

One serving of Chia seeds (2 tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber.  "If you try missing a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believe this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar." (Living Foods)  The slowing of the conversion of carbs is especially useful for diabetics and athletes, as well as those who would like to lose weight.

PROTEIN

You'll get 4 grams of protein in just 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds, which are easily digested and absorbed by the body.  It is also a "complete" protein, providing all essential amino acids in one food.

FATTY ACIDS

The Chia seed is the richest vegetable source of the Omega 3 fatty acid (yes, even more so than Flaxseeds).  Containg alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and having an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of about 5:1.5, Chia seeds are also rich in the unsaturated fatty acid, linoleic, which the body cannot manufacture.  These fatty acids are important for cellular health, muscle repair, keeping weight in the normal range, lubricating the joints, and all muscle and organ functions.

CALCIUM AND IRON

Just 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds provide 10% the RDA for Calcium, and contains the imineral boron, which acts as catalyst for the absorption and utilization of the calcium by the body.

The same serving of seeds will provide 8% the RDA for Iron.

B-VITAMINS

The Chia seed contains a full range of B-vitamins.


EARTH-FRIENDLY

According to azchia.com, chia is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly product.  He says, "The high oil content of its leaves acts as an extremely potent insect repellent and eliminates the need for pesticides being used to protect the crop. The use of chia as an omega-3 source prevents depletion of natural fish stocks, and also eliminates concerns about the accumulation of toxins such as dioxin and mercury that may accumulate in fish and fish products. Solvent extraction and artificial preservatives are not needed when chia seed is used in human or animal diets. This is another advantage compared to omega-3 sources such as algae."

HOW TO EAT

Chia seeds have a neutral flavor and can be eaten alone, or do well on top of salads, in smoothies and wraps, in oatmeal and cereal, in komboucha, in puddings and desserts, and in soup.  You can even be creative and add them to recipes for breads and muffins.

BUT CHIA HERE:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Organic Produce


Let's face it.  Americans are in a recession, and we are having a hard enough time paying our necessary living expenses. Paying more for organic produce just seems like an unnecessary extravagance. 

Well, what some see as an extravagence, others see as a preventative health investment. 

Conventionally-Grown

Let's look at conventionally-grown produce.

Conventionally-grown produce has few standards when it comes to chemicals used to keep pests at bay, genetic modification (yes, even veggies are being subjected to genetic modification, which makes them capable of being bathed in chemicals without sustaining outward harm), water run-off from nearby animal farms (i.e., animal poop), and fertilizers.  That non-organic fruit you are feeding your kids with all the right intentions?  It has at least 67 chemicals on and in it.  "A kid's brain goes through extraordinary development, and if pesticides get into the brain, it can cause damage," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.  These are pesticides- they are meant to KILL things.  Do we really want our kids (or ourselves) to be ingesting a chemical (let alone 67 of them) meant to kill living things?

The Environmental Working Group compiled a list of pesticides on popular produce:
(worst) Peaches – 100
Apples – 93
Sweet Bell Peppers – 83
Celery - 82
Nectarines – 81
Strawberries – 80
Cherries – 73
Kale – 69
Lettuce – 67
Grapes – Imported from outside U.S. – 66
Carrots – 63
Pears – 63
Collard Greens – 60
Spinach – 58
Potatoes – 56
Green Beans – 53
Summer Squash 53
Hot Peppers – 51
Cucumbers – 50
Raspberries – 46
Grapes – U.S. grown - 44
Plums – 44
Oranges – 44
Cauliflower – 39
Tangerines – 37
Mushrooms - 36
Bananas – 34
Winter Squash – 34
Cantaloupe – 33
Cranberries - 33
Honeydew Melon – 30
Grapefruit – 29
Sweet Potato – 29
Tomatoes – 29
Broccoli – 28
Watermelon – 26
Papaya – 20
Eggplant - 20
Cabbage – 17
Kiwi – 13
Sweet Peas (frozen) – 10
Asparagus – 10
Mango – 9
Pineapple – 7
Sweet Corn (frozen) – 2
Avocado – 1
Onions – 1

Exposure to pesticides is known to cause many health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, autoimmune diseases, cancer, reproductive problems, and other chronic health problems.

"Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides because their bodies are immature and rapidly growing, and they do not have a fully developed immune system, liver or kidneys to help protect them from the damaging effects of many pesticides." (http://envirohealthhouston.org/hazards/pesticides.html)

The pesticide tests mentioned above were "conducted after the food had been power-washed by the USDA. Also, although some pesticides are found on the surface of foods, other pesticides may be taken up through the roots and into the plant and cannot be removed.  "We've found that washing doesn't do much," Rosenthal said. "Peeling can help, although you have to take into account that the pesticides are in the water, so they can be inside the fruit because of the soil.""  (via cnn.com)


Organically-Grown

"Organic agriculture embodies an ecological approach to farming that does not rely on or permit toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Instead of using these harmful products and practices, organic agriculture utilizes techniques such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting to produce healthy soil, prevent pest and disease problems, and grow healthy food and fiber."  (http://www.beyondpesticides.org/organicfood/index.htm)

There are different standards an organic farmer must adhere to.

The USDA set forth the following standards:

  • Prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic production;

  • Reflect National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations concerning items on the national list of allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances;

  • Prohibit antibiotics in organic meat and poultry; and

  • Require 100% organic feed for organic livestock.
 Here is a good factsheet on labeling requirements.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that we need to think of eating well, exercising and the avoidance of chemicals (including pesticides) as an investment in our health.  The more we do now to stay healthy, the more we are preventing very costly diseases and problems in the future.  This is simple preventative medicine.

If money is really tight, and you can only afford to purchase some organic produce, here is a handy list of the "dirty dozen."


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Clean Green (and Save Some Green, Too)


Many people have the best intentions when cleaning their house.  But did you know that while you are making things sanitary, killing germs, and beautifying you are also introducing tons of harsh and toxic chemicals to your home?

There is an easy way to avoid the toxicity, while still getting your home clean.  And it's right in your pantry!

VINEGAR

Simple, white vinegar is a disinfectant, deodorizer, and cleaner that cleans wonderfully.  Vinegar is an acid that kills bacteria, mold and germs.  In fact, numerous studies show that regular old supermarket vinegar ( kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses).

Use pure vinegar in the toilet to get rid of rings.  Use it on kitchen and stove counter tops, bathtubs, sinks, appliances, and the floor.  It eats away soap scum and hard water stains as well.  It is also a good fabric softener- just put 1/2 cup vinegar in place of fabric softener in the wash.  Run vinegar through your coffee maker to deep clean it every few months.  Use it on windows or mirrors for streak-free cleaning and shine.

BAKING SODA

We all know that baking soda is a great deodorizer (who doesn't have an open box in their 'fridge?).  But did you know that it is also a great cleaning scrub?  Use it instead of abrasive (and very harsh) chemical cleaners. 

LEMON JUICE

Lemon juice shines brass, silver and copper.  It dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits.

OLIVE OIL

Yes, it's great for your skin and for cooking, but olive oil also makes a wonderful furniture polish.

SALT

Course salt scrubs pans and baking dishes without leaving chemical residues.

WHITE BREAD

Rub white bread on wallpaper marks to magically "erase" them.

WALNUTS

Rub the meat of a walnut on wood furniture scuffs to mask them.

ESSENTIAL OILS/HERBS

Grapefruit seed extract, tea tree oil, lavender, and clove are great antiseptics and fungicides, and also hide foul odors (put a few drops in cat boxes and baby diaper pails).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cell Phone Dangers

A study by neurosurgeon Dr. Vini Khurana, an award-winning cancer expert, says that cell phone use over a decade can double the risk of brain cancer. Dr. Khurana says that malignant brain tumors represent "a life-ending diagnosis… We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation." He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps,” the incidence and death rate from malignant brain tumors will be a global problem in a decade, at which time it may be too late to medically intervene.

A separate 2-year study conducted by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland has shown that cell phone use causes permanent changes in the brain, negatively affecting health. Researchers found that exposing human cells to one hour of cell phone radiation triggered a response that normally only occurs when cells are being damaged. The report warns that "the possible RF-EMF (radiation-induced breakage of the blood-brain barrier), if occurring repeatedly over a long period of time, might become a health hazard because of the possible extra-capillary accumulation of molecules that might cause brain tissue damage."

Think you are safe using your hands-free earpiece? Think again. “Research conducted by British consumer research magazine Which? indicates that hands-free cell phone kits may significantly INCREASE your brain's exposure to radiation. The findings confirmed claims that that using hands-free earpieces in certain positions could more than TRIPLE your brain's exposure to radiation compared to a conventional cell phone call.” (Dr. Mercola)

 
The method by which exposure to radiation occurs is explained by Dr. Mercola:

"In essence, your cell phone is a radio. When you talk on your cell phone, your voice is transmitted from the antenna as radio frequency radiation (RFR) between 800 MHz and 1,990 MHz. This frequency falls in the range of microwave radiation and, when you are exposed to it, there may be a chance of health consequences.

Depending on how close the cell phone antenna is to your head, between 20% and 60% of the radiation emitted by your cell phone is transferred into your head. The radiation actually penetrates the area around your head and is absorbed, with some radiation reaching an inch, to an inch and a half, into your brain.

Cell phones are designed to transmit radio waves in all directions because base stations can be located in any direction with respect to phone users. This means that portions of the radio waves they produce are directed towards your body." http://www.mercola.com/forms/ferrite_beads.htm

 
There are many sites out there that advertise beads and stickers, which they claim offset the radiation from your cell phone. But the only foolproof way to limit your exposure is to limit your use. If possible, use earbuds or a headset that plugs directly into your cell phone, and keep the phone off your body whenever you can. Keep cell phones away from kids as long as possible (some say until development is complete in the 20’s. But we know that it would be nearly impossible to keep a cell phone away from a teenager), and when they do have phones, try to limit their use and encourage them to use a plug-in headset. And don’t let your developing baby play with your cell phone when it is on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Your Pantry Cure-All: Apple Cider Vinegar

It’s great for salads, as a disinfectant, and as a window cleaner. But did you know that it is also great for your health?

Apple cider vinegar (“ACV”) - organic, raw, and with the mother. Its many health benefits and touted healing properties are astounding. Consider the following health problems reportedly helped or cured by ACV:

Aches and pains 
Acne
Allergies (environmental, food and pet)
Arthritis
Candida
Chronic fatigue
Colds/Flu
Dandruff
Diabetes
Gout
Hair care
Headache
High cholesterol
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Insect bites
Sinus infections
Sore throats
SunburnsWeight loss

Earth Clinic’s user reviews of ACV for high blood pressure are astounding (just normal people talking about their experiences with ACV). Read them here: http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/blood_pressure.html#ACV_37967</p>

History

In 400 BCE, the “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates, is said to have prescribed ACV as a health tonic, mixing it with honey and touting its healing properties. There are reports of American soldiers using ACV to aid indigestion, scurvy, and pneumonia.

The use of ACV really became popular in 1958, when D.C. Jarvis, M.D. wrote Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health. Jarvis spoke of it being a miraculous food, curing most health ailments, and that it could destroy harmful bacteria in the digestive track. He recommended making “honegar,” a mixture of ACV and honey, explaining that this enhanced the healing properties of the vinegar.

How It All Works

The apple cider vinegar we are talking about is not regular table vinegar. It is vinegar made from the fermentation of raw apples. It is important that the “mother” is in the ACV, which is a darker, cloudy sediment that hangs out on the bottom of the bottle. I like Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, which is found at most health food stores; but any other similar ACV would suffice.
There have been several studies that suggest that ACV helps lower glucose levels. The mechanics are not known for sure, but it is thought that the acetic acid may slow starch digestion and reduce the glycemic index of starchy foods (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet). A similar mechanism may help in weight loss, by lowering the glycemix index of carbohydrates eaten at a meal.
AVC is thought to help with dandruff by restoring “ the pH balance of the scalp and discourage the overgrowth of malassezia furfur, the yeast-like fungus thought to trigger dandruff.” (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet)
Acetic acid, one of the main ingredients in ACV, was found to significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a 2006 study.
ACV for high blood pressure is widely-used. It is suggested that ACV “may increase levels of nitric oxide, a compound in the body that relaxes blood vessels, or it might inhibit an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme from producing angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict or narrow.” (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet)
Many sources claim that ACV restores alkaline acid balance in the body, which can relieve problems seen in diets high in acid-producing foods. It is also said that it can help the body break down fats, as well as remove toxins from the body.
The ingredients (courtesy of www.globalhealingcenter.com) do indeed shed light on its healing properties:
Potassium – helps to prevent brittle teeth, hair loss and runny noses.
Pectin – helps to regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.
Malic Acid – gives ACV the properties of being anti-viral, anti-bacterial & anti-fungal.
Calcium – helps create strong bones and teeth.
Ash – gives ACV its alkaline property which aids your body in maintaining proper pH levels for a healthy alkaline state.
Acetic Acid – It appears that this acid slows the digestion of starch which can help to lower the rise in glucose that commonly occurs after meals.
How to Use
Depending on the ailment, different “doses” of AVC is used. For hypertension, for example, one would mix 2 tablespoons ACV in water (the water is only to dilute for taste reasons, so add as much as you need, or none at all) and drink. Do this 3 times a day until blood pressure has been stabilized for a few weeks, and then drink a maintenance dose of 1-2 tablespoons ACV 1-2 times per day. Although Earth Clinic says that “We now think that less vinegar, more water is an optimal way of taking apple cider vinegar daily unless you are treating an acute condition like acid reflux, cough, bronchitis, or sore throat (in which case the stronger concoction of 2 TBS ACV to 8 OZ of water 3x a day recipe is suggested)."
Word of Caution

Because AVC is highly acidic, it can erode the enamel on your teeth. To help prevent this, swill a little water around your mouth after your dose, and avoid brushing your teeth up to 30 minutes after drinking ACV.
I am not a doctor, and am not giving any medical advice. Make sure to ask your health practitioner before taking any supplements, as there may be drug/herb/supplement interactions you are unaware of, as well as unwanted side effects.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fish for Thought

I am often asked if, as a vegetarian, I eat fish. The definition of “vegetarian” is “a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, or fowl” (dictionary.com). By definition, one who eats fish is not a vegetarian. A pescetarian is “a vegetarian who will eat fish.” I am a vegetarian, and no, I don’t eat fish.

Don’t I need fish for the Omega fatty acid and DHA/EFA content? No. Fish don't actually produce omega-3 fatty acids, they capture it from algae. I take a DHA/EFA supplement straight from the source- algae. I also eat plenty of flaxseed and olive oil, which provides my body with healthy percentages of fatty acids.

Another popular question regarding my not eating fish is “why?” Dietary? Environmental? Ethical? For me, it’s a little of all three. But the most interesting is the environmental reason. Let me explain my reasoning.

How can a little fishie affect the environment?

Fish do not consume all of the resources that a cow or a pig does, so how can killing them affect the environment? The answer to this is threefold: Overfishing, energy-consumption, and pollution.

Overfishing

An ecosystem is an ecological community comprised of biological, physical, and chemical components, considered as a unit (thanks, Wiki). Have you ever built a card house? It is a house built from a deck (or few) of playing cards. The entire structure of the house depends on each card. If you remove one card, the entire house is structurally compromised and falls down. This is what removing fish from the marine ecosystem does.

In 1997, “the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 11 of the world’s major oceanic fishing grounds had gone into a serious decline as a result of overfishing. 34% of all species were vulnerable to, or in immediate danger of, extinction” (The Food Revolution, John Robbins, p. 295). As the years go on, science journals report that the “destruction of life in the oceans had progressed farther than anyone had suspected” (Robbins, 295). In fact, 90 percent of large fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years and a recent report published in the academic journal Science, estimates that by the year 2048 our oceans will have been completely over-fished. Fisherman have difficulty obtaining their quotas, and as a result, drop their nets deeper into the ocean, catching many more “unusable” fish and mammals, as well as coral (absolutely vital to the preservation of the delicate ecosystem of the ocean), which they discard after their demises. Fishermen are willing to take smaller fish now, which usually feed the larger fish. Without the smaller ones to feed the larger ones, the larger ones die off. One fish likely bears the heads of many other fish, mammals, coral, and marine animals killed in the fishing process.

Perhaps the most compelling environmental consequence of fishing is what happens when we remove millions of species of ocean creatures from their ecosystem. Take salmon. Salmon play a “crucial and irreplaceable role in the functioning of a vast array of ecosystems, including rivers, lakes, and forests” (Robbins, 297). Adult salmon spend their lives at sea. They contain marine carbon and nitrogen isotopes, and after they come back to the forested streams they grew up in, they spawn and die. Their carcasses feed fish, mammals, and birds throughout the forest. In the water, the carcasses are digested by fungus that feeds bacteria necessary for the life of insects and invertebrates. They also feed their own offspring. When the babies emerge from the bottom, “25-40 percent of the carbon and nitrogen in juvenile salmon comes from the remains of their parents. Isotope studies show that 30% of the vital nitrogen and carbon in aquatic algae and insects, and 18% along the river, comes directly from salmon” (Robbins, quoting David Suzuki, p.297). Forests need salmon to survive. After eating the carcasses of salmon, bears, eagles, wolves, ravens, and other animals, will defecate, making a nitrogen-rich fertilizer necessary for the trees to live and grow. Take away the adult salmon from the ocean and rivers, and we disrupt the delicate ecosystem of the forest. According to the U.S. National Fisheries Institute, American per capita consumption of salmon has risen from 0.87 pounds (0.39 kg) per year in 1992 to 2.026 pounds (0.92 kg) in 2006. The species also went from being America's sixth most popular fish to eat to its third over the same period of time.

What about factory farmed fish? “Aquafarms squander resources—it can take 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce just 1 pound of farmed fish—and pollute the environment with tons of fish feces, antibiotic-laden fish feed, and diseased fish carcasses. Fish on aquafarms spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. In short, fish farms bring suffering and ecological devastation everywhere they go. Fish farms are no better for the environment. The fish on ocean-based farms are plagued by parasites and diseases, which they pass to fish living near the farms. When foreign fish escape from their cages, they threaten the well-being of native fish species. Fish farms pollute coastal waters with massive amounts of fish feces and require huge numbers of wild-caught fish to feed their captives. Click here to learn more about aquaculture (fish farms).” (http://www.fishinghurts.com/fishFarms.asp). .

Energy-Consumption

It takes a lot of fossil fuel energy (oil, coal and natural gas) to deliver you your sushi. After all the media attention to oil, coal and natural gas, do I really need to go into their ill effects on the environment (Really interested? See this article: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/energy/)? “Commercial fishing is very energy intensive; it may require as much as 20 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy from fish. This is a ratio which makes fish 50 to 100 times as energy-intensive as production of plant foods, even when those plant foods are produced under standard Western agricultural methods. At best, then, fish is merely less damaging than other forms of meat production. The truth is that fishing on any large scale just won't work. Fishing must either remain a very small and statistically insignificant form of food, or become environmentally damaging and draining in important ways when it is expanded to include any significant portion of the population” (http://keithakers.com/fish.htm).

Pollution

Wild fish may be higher in mercury, and not all fisheries catch fish in environmentally-sound manners. With farmed fish, sewage, pesticides, and antibiotics used can spill into surrounding waters, posing a risk to not only wild fish, but to any animal, bird, insect, or human who consumes it. Escaped farmed fish breed with wild ones, diluting the genetics.

Fish for Thought
A great site about farmed and wild fish is this: http://www.fishinghurts.com/index.asp.

Here are some interesting facts about fish consumption, from John Robbins (see book for fact citations).

* Amount of fish caught per person, worldwide, sold for human consumption in 1996: 16 kilograms.

* Amount of marine life that was hauled up with the fish and discarded, per person, in 1996: 200 kilograms.

* Amount of the world’s fish catch to feed livestock: Half.

* Likely result if current overfishing trends continue: Wholesale collapse of marine ecosystems.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Post Ideas


There are so many topics to write about.  Do you have anything you would like to know more about, or would like attention brought to?  Please leave a comment to this entry and give me your thoughts.