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Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices

The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you. Many of the common foods found in grocery stores or organic markets contain cancer-fighting properties, from the antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn’t a single element in a particular food that does all the work: The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods. 

The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size.

Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists also believe that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.

Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially sprouts, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin – believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in laboratory animals.  However, be aware that the Agriculture Department studied 71 types of broccoli plants and found a 30-fold difference in the amounts of glucoraphanin. It appears that the more bitter the broccoli is, the more glucoraphanin it has. Broccoli sprouts have been developed under the trade name BroccoSprouts that have a consistent level of sulforaphane – as much as 20 times higher than the levels found in mature heads of broccoli. 

Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast. Some research indicated beta carotene may actually cause cancer, but this has not proven that eating carrots, unless in very large quantities – 2 to 3 kilos a day, can cause cancer.  In fact, a substance called falcarinol that is found in carrots has been found to reduce the risk of cancer, according to researchers at Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS). Kirsten Brandt, head of the research department, explained that isolated cancer cells grow more slowly when exposed to falcarinol. This substance is a polyacethylen, however, so it is important not to cook the carrots.

Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer. 

Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin that may help decrease prostate and other cancers. 

Figs apparently have a derivative of benzaldehyde. It has been reported that investigators at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo say benzaldehyde is highly effective at shrinking tumors, though I haven’t seen this report. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says figs, which contain vitamins A and C, and calcium, magnesium and potassium, may curtail appetite and improve weight-loss efforts. Fig juice is also a potent bacteria killer in test-tube studies.

Flax contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against colon cancer and heart disease. See Budwig diet for a specialized diet using flax seed oil and cottage cheese. For studies about flax seed and flax oil, go to our Important News or Archives Page.

Garlic has immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development. Diallyl sulfide, a component of garlic oil, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Studies have linked garlic — as well as onions, leeks, and chives — to lower risk of stomach and colon cancer. Dr. Lenore Arab, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the UNC-CH (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) schools of public health and medicine and colleagues analyzed a number of studies and reported their findings in the October 2000 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. According to the report, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer as people who eat little or none. Their studies didn’t show garlic supplements had the same effect. It is believed garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.

Grapefruits, like oranges and other citrus fruits, contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.

Grapes, red contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells – this appears to help slow the growth of tumors.

Studies show that consumption of green and yellow leafy vegetables has been associated with lower levels of stomach cancer.

Kale has indoles, nitrogen compounds which may help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells in estrogen-sensitive tissues. In addition, isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in kale, are thought to suppress tumor growth and block cancer-causing substances from reaching their targets.

Licorice root has a chemical, glycyrrhizin, that blocks a component of testosterone and therefore may help prevent the growth of prostate cancer. However, excessive amounts can lead to elevated blood pressure.

Mushrooms – There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system – Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor.  These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially  Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also contain Thioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.

Extracts from mushrooms have been successfully tested in recent years in Japan as an adjunct to chemotherapy. PSK is made from the Coriolus Versicolor. Maitake mushroom extract is PCM4.
Nuts contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. Brazil nut contains 80 micrograms of selenium, which is important for those with prostate cancer. (Note: Many people are allergic to the proteins in nuts, so if you have any symptoms such as itchy mouth, tight throat, wheezing, etc. after eating nuts, stop. Consider taking a selenium supplement instead or work with someone on how to eliminate this allergy.)

Oranges and lemons contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (lymphocytes, e.g.) that may also break down cancer-causing substances.

Papayas have vitamin C that works as an antioxidant and may also reduce absorption of cancer-causing nitrosamines from the soil or processed foods. Papaya contains folacin (also known as folic acid), which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia and certain cancers.

Raspberries contain many vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer. According to a recent research study reported by Cancer Research 2001;61:6112-6119, rats fed diets of 5% to 10% black raspberries saw the number of esophageal tumors decrease by 43% to 62%. A diet containing 5% black raspberries was more effective than a diet containing 10% black raspberries. Research reported in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in May 2002 shows black raspberries may also thwart colon cancerBlack raspberries are rich in antioxidants, thought to have even more cancer-preventing properties than blueberries and strawberries.

Red wine, even without alcohol, has polyphenols that may protect against various types of cancer. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, compounds that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals.  Also, researchers at the University of North Carolina’s medical school in Chapel Hill found the compound resveratrol, which is found in grape skins. It appears that resveratrol inhibits cell proliferation and can help prevent cancer. However, the findings didn’t extend to heavy imbibers, so it should be used in moderation. In addition, alcohol can be  toxic to the liver and to the nervous system, and many wines have sulfites, which may be harmful to your health. Note:  some research indicates that alcohol is considered a class “A” carcinogen which can actually cause cancer – seehttp://www.jrussellshealth.com/alccanc.html. You should probably switch to non-alcoholic wines.
Rosemary may help increase the activity of detoxification enzymes. An extract of rosemary, termed carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals. We haven’t found any studies done on humans. Rosemary can be used as a seasoning. It can also be consumed as a tea: Use 1 tsp. dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for 15 minutes.

Seaweed and other sea vegetables contain beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones – important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer. Many sea vegetables also have high concentrations of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.

Soy products like tofu contain several types of phytoestrogens — weak, nonsteroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancerous cells. It appears to lower breast-cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of epithelial cells and new blood vessels that tumors require to flourish and is being scrutinized as a potential anti-cancer drug.  However, there are some precautions to consider when adding soy to your diet. Eating up to 4 or 5 ounces of tofu or other soy a day is probably ok, but research is being done to see if loading up on soy could cause hormone imbalances that stimulate cancer growth. As a precaution, women who have breast cancer or are at high risk should talk to their doctors before taking pure isoflavone powder and pills, extracted from soy.

Sweet potatoes contain many anticancer properties, including beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.

Teas: Green Tea and Black tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Green tea is best, followed by our more common black tea (herbal teas do not show this benefit). According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols that are abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves, which are about 40% polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested.

Tapioca is derived from the cassava plant. It is one of the many plants that manufactures cyanide by producing a chemical called linamarine which releases hydrogen cyanide when it is broken down by the linamarase enzyme. Spanish researches have been studying the cassava and attempting to clone the genes from the plant which are responsible for producing the hydrogen cyanide and then transfer it to a retrovirus.  However, funding for the project has run out.http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_317000/317467.stm for more information on this. For a list of other foods that contain B17, go to our laetrile page.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, and red peppers also contain these substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes.  Scientists in Israel have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer. (Note: Recent studies indicate that for proper absorption, the body also needs some oil along with lycopene.)

Tumeric (curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, is believed to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation-related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), levels of which are abnormally high in certain inflammatory diseases and cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer. In fact, a pharmaceutical company Phytopharm in the UK hopes to introduce a natural product, P54, that contains certain volatile oils, which greatly increase the potency of the turmeric spice. 

Turnips are said to contain glucose molaes which is a cancer fighting compound. I haven’t confirmed this.

Consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with decreased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

There are many good books on this topic, including Vern Verona’s book on “Cancer Fighting Foods.”

source: cancure.org 

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13 Reasons Tea Is Good for You

Tea or coffee? Consider these health benefits of tea and the next time you have to choose, you may skip the joe 

By LAURA NEWCOMER | GREATIST.COM | September 4, 2012  

Put down those saucer cups and get chugging — tea is officially awesome for your health. But before loading up on Red Zinger, make sure that your “tea” is actually tea. Real tea is derived from a particular plant (Camellia sinensis) and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.
But what real tea lacks in variety, it makes up for with some serious health benefits. Researchers attribute tea’s health properties to polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and phytochemicals. Though most studies have focused on the better-known green and black teas, white and oolong also bring benefits to the table. Read on to find out why coffee’s little cousin rocks your health.

  1. Tea can boost exercise endurance. Scientists have found that the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.
  2. Drinking tea could help reduce the risk of heart attack. Tea might also help protect against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases.
  3. The antioxidants in tea might help protect against a boatload of cancers, including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liverovarianprostate and oral cancers. But don’t rely solely on tea to keep a healthy body — tea is not a miracle cure, after all. While more studies than not suggest that tea has cancer-fighting benefits, the current research is mixed.
  4. Tea helps fight free radicals. Tea is high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (“ORAC” to its friends), which is a fancy way of saying that it helps destroy free radicals (which can damage DNA) in the body. While our bodies are designed to fight free radicals on their own, they’re not 100 percent effective — and since damage from these radical oxygen ninjas has been linked to cancer, heart disease and neurological degeneration, we’ll take all the help we can get.
  5. Tea is hydrating to the body (even despite the caffeine!).
  6. Drinking tea is linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. When considered with other factors like smoking, physical activity, age and body mass index, regular tea drinking was associated with a lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.
  7. Tea might provide protection from ultraviolet rays. We know it’s important to limit exposure to UV rays, and we all know what it’s like to feel the burn. The good news is that green tea may act as a back-up sunscreen.
  8. Tea could keep waist circumference in check. In one study, participants who regularly consumed hot tea had lower waist circumference and lower BMI than non-consuming participants. Scientists speculate that regular tea drinking lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome (which increases the risk of diabetes, artery disease and stroke), although it’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation.
  9. Regular tea drinking might also counteract some of the negative effects of smoking and might even lessen the risk of lung cancer (good news, obviously, but not a justification for cigs).
  10. Tea could be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that compounds in green tea could help diabetics better process sugars.
  11. Tea can help the body recover from radiation. One study found that tea helped protect against cellular degeneration upon exposure to radiation, while another found that tea can help skin bounce back postexposure.
  12. Green tea has been found to improve bone mineral density and strength.
  13. Tea might be an effective agent in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases (think Alzheimer’s). While many factors influence brain health, polyphenols in green tea may help maintain the parts of the brain that regulate learning and memory.
Though most research on tea is highly positive, it’s not all definitive — so keep these caveats in mind before stocking up on gallons of the stuff:
  1. Keep it cool. Repeatedly drinking hot beverages may boost the risk of esophageal cancer. Give tea several minutes to cool off before sipping.
  2. The studies seem convincing, but a rat does not a human make. Chemicals in tea may react differently in the lab than they do in the human body. Tannins (and the other good stuff in green tea) may not be bioavailable for humans, meaning tea might not always benefit human health to the same degree as in lab studies suggest.
  3. All tea drinks are not created equal. The body’s access to the good stuff in tea might be determined by the tea variety, canning and processing, and the way it was brewed.
The takeaway: at the very least, tea should be safe to consume — just not in excessive amounts. So brew up a batch of the good stuff — hot or cold — and enjoy.

source: Time

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10 worst household products for greenwashing

Marketplace investigation reveals the truth behind environmental claims CBC News 
Posted: Sep 14, 2012 
Biodegradable, natural and non-toxic are environmentally friendly promises plastered across many household products, but a CBCMarketplace investigation found that a number of them amount to little more than greenwashing.
“There’s so much greenwash on shelves today, it’s just overwhelming,” said Adria Vasil, a columnist and author of the Ecoholic book series. “It’s like a tsunami of greenwash really.”
Figuring out whether products are actually environmentally friendly can be challenging since companies don’t have to post the ingredients on cleaning products.
“For companies, they think, ‘Consumers aren’t looking too deeply. We can bamboozle them.'” said Marc Stoiber, who worked in advertising for 20 years but now helps companies go green.
Ecoholic author Vasil worked with Marketplace to examine environmental claims on household products and created the following Top 10 list of lousy labels.
1. Dawn Antibacterial dish soap
The labels on Dawn’s antibacterial dish soap feature baby seals and ducklings with the promise that “Dawn helps save wildlife.” Dawn donates soap to clean up animals after oil spills and gives money to rescue groups, but the product itself contains an ingredient harmful to animals.
Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, was recently declared officially toxic to aquatic life and it is an ingredient environmental groups have called for to be banned. “We don’t need more of this in our rivers and streams,” said Vasil. “And it’s certainly not saving wildlife.”
Proctor & Gamble, maker of Dawn products, refused an interview request by Marketplace. In a statement, the company said, “All of our Dawn dishwashing products and ingredients are in compliance with current legal and regulatory requirements in Canada.”
2. Biodegradable J Cloth
The decades-old J Cloth recently came out with a new product it suggests is an environmentally friendly alternative to paper towels: Biodegradable J Cloth. That and an official-looking biodegradable seal may lead some to believe it can be composted.
When CBC Marketplace called the manufacturer, they said the cloth can be thrown into compost bins. “J Cloth is composed of cellulose fibres, which are 100 per cent derived from wood pulp. These fibres are organic in nature, and biodegradable,” they stated.
However, a Marketplace expert notes it can’t go in the green bin because municipalities regulate what is certified compostable. Anything not approved is sent to a landfill. “Nothing biodegrades in landfills,” notes Vasil. “You’ll find 40-year-old hot dogs in landfills.”
3. T-fal Natura frying pan
While the T-fal Natura frying pan uses 100 per cent recycled aluminum, an environmental benefit, there are other concerns with how misleading the label is.
The label advertises the pan as free of PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, a manmade chemical used in the manufacture of non-stick cookware and a likely human carcinogen. The fact is there’s never been PFOA used in T-fal frying pans, but the company has come under criticism for using it in the manufacturing process.
Marketplace called the company to ask whether the new “PFOA free” label means they’ve stopped using it in factories, and they said it’s still in use. “Independent analysis … has confirmed that no PFOA is present in any of T-fal’s non-stick cookware products,” they added.
4. Organic Melt ice remover
One of the key concerns around using road salt to melt ice is the damage salt does to aquatic life when it reaches rivers, streams and groundwater. Organic Melt ice remover advertises itself as being “environmentally safe” and an “agricultural-based product” with sugar beets.
When Marketplace checked with the company, it revealed that only three per cent of its product is sugar beets by weight and the rest is rock salt — that despite the fact that the ingredient list puts beets first.
There’s no requirement for companies to put the main ingredient first on the list. The company, Eco-solutions, told Marketplacethat using sugar beets makes the product work better so less is needed and overall there’s less salt going into the environment.
5. Vim PowerPro Naturals
The label on Vim PowerPro Naturals bathroom cleaner says 98 per cent natural ingredients. But as Vasil notes, “The word natural is totally unregulated.”
Since companies aren’t required to list ingredients for cleaning products on the back, Unilever has decided not to post them — or reveal them even when asked. “Unilever does not disclose specified ingredients information. However, if it’s a medical necessity for this information, Unilever would be more than happy to work with your physician,” a customer service agent said when Marketplace called them.
Marketplace commissioned a test on the product. Like many cleaning products, it largely contained water. When water was eliminated, one-quarter of the product was found to be petroleum-based chemicals. Unilever stated, “Our ‘naturally derived’ claim is based on all the ingredients in the product, including … water.”
6. Eco Collection bath mitt
The Upper Canada Eco Collection bath mitt is made from bamboo, a plant that can be sustainably grown, but the tough grass is not as green as it might seem. Harsh chemical processing is required to turn the plant into a soft fabric.
The product also comes packaged in unrecyclable vinyl. When contacted by Marketplace, the company said, “Our packaging includes necessary product information for our customers to make an informed decision.”
7. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner
On the label, this cleaning product states it’s non-toxic. But a Marketplace expert determined that one ingredient in the cleaner, 2-butoxyethanol, is listed by Environment Canada as a toxic health hazard that can damage red blood cells.
Vasil notes that no one is policing use of terms such as non-toxic on household products. The toxin is also not listed on the back of the product because there’s currently no requirement for ingredient lists on cleaning products. “No one is forcing them to list their ingredients and to come clean about what’s actually in the product,” said Vasil.
Simple Green responded to questions from Marketplace about its non-toxic claim in a statement. “We have had independent laboratories … conduct a host of testing on our product as a whole to confirm that the complete formula is non-toxic.”
8. ObusForme EcoLogic contoured pillow
While most memory foam is made out of polyurethane, a synthetic material that emits chemicals that can irritate the lungs, the label on the Obusforme EcoLogic pillow states that it contains “natural ingredients” and includes castor oil – a potential environmental improvement, if the amount was significant.
However, when Marketplace contacted the maker, HoMedics, the company said castor oil replaced only eight per cent of the petroleum-based polyurethane. “The ecologic contoured pillow is produced using processes that reduce the use of chemicals that are harmful to the environment,” said HoMedics.
9. Sunlight Green Clean laundry soap
Featuring a dew-covered leaf on a crisp white bottle, Sunlight Green Clean laundry detergent looks the epitome of environmentally friendly and the label promises “plant-based cleaning ingredients.”
But CBC commissioned a test of the product and found that, once water is eliminated, 38 per cent of the product is made of petro-chemicals. Those chemicals leave a major environmental footprint in terms of extraction, refinement and processing.
Sunlight responded to Marketplace in a statement that said, “With more than 60 per cent [plant-derived content], we have made significant positive strides to reduce the environmental impact of our product.”
10. Raid EarthBlends Multi-bug Killer
With an insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower, Raid EarthBlends Multi-bug Killer touts itself as an alternative insect control solution. Despite its naturally derived component, the label warns users to avoid contact with skin and clothes, and not to inhale the mist when spraying it.
“A lot of things in nature are actually dangerous and toxic,” said Vasil. “Not all natural things are good for you. And this is a perfect example.”
The product states it can be used for bed bugs, despite that in many parts of Canada, homeowners are banned from using such pesticides on their lawns. “Banned from your backyard, but OK for your bed?” questioned Vasil.
In a statement, the maker, SC Johnson, said it is “committed to using sustainable ingredients in our products” and the products are “safe and effective when used as directed.”
source: CBC

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4 Food Strategies to Boost Brain Function

Molly, selected from Experience Life August 27, 2012  
By Michael J. Gelb, Experience Life
While there are many positive aspects to aging, we’re more familiar with the things that can go wrong. For all the wisdom we gain from experience, we’re more apt to worry about memory loss. We fret over rusty neurotransmitters and cloudy thinking.
So we diligently do crossword puzzles, wrestle with brainteasers and learn to play musical instruments — for the intrinsic joy, of course, but also to help inoculate our brains against negative age-related changes. These are helpful pursuits, but they’re not the only ones that matter. In fact, if we want to build a better brain, what we choose to eat and drink might make the biggest difference of all.
The following food-based strategies can help any brain function better — whether that brain is 9 years old or 90.


Proper hydration is a critical factor in maintaining and improving your mind as you age. “Your brain is 80 percent water,” says Daniel Amen, MD, a clinical neuroscientist and author of Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day (Crown, 2012). “Even slight dehydration increases the body’s stress hormones, which can decrease your ability to think clearly. Over time, increased levels of stress hormones are associated with memory problems.”
While the amount of hydration you need day-to-day depends on several factors, including activity level, relative humidity and eating habits (to name only a few), the oft-repeated advice to drink 64 ounces — or eight 8-ounce glasses — of water a day isn’t a bad general rule to follow. Keep in mind, however, that you can account for those ounces in several different ways. If you’re eating a lot of vegetables and fruits, for example, you may need to drink less water. Most fresh plant foods have a high water content and will help keep you hydrated.
While the feeling of thirst is a good indicator you need to hydrate, if the only time you grab a glass of water is when you’re noticeably thirsty, you may not be drinking enough for optimal health. That’s because that “thirsty feeling” kicks in only when your body is already a bit dehydrated. The best approach to hydration is a conscious, proactive one. So, drink up! (For more on proper hydration, see Drink to Your Health.)

Fight Free Radicals

If you leave a bottle of wine open too long, it will oxidize and become stale. If your car is exposed to the elements for too long, its exterior may rust. Just as wine degrades and metal rusts, the cells in our brains and bodies degrade over time when they are exposed to free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that are generated in the body as a byproduct of other natural internal processes, such as the metabolizing of food or the triggering of an immune response by a bacteria or virus.
Free-radical molecules are unstable because they have an uneven number of electrons, which prefer to be in pairs. So in an effort to restabilize themselves, free radicals roam the body stealing electrons from healthy cells. When that happens, the formerly healthy cells, now short an electron, head out on their own searching for a replacement electron, thus inciting an unhealthy chain reaction of stolen electrons throughout the body. It is that cascade of “electron theft” that causes the cellular damage or “rust” in our brains and bodies.
Antioxidants are free-radical scavengers. They fight the corrosive effects of free radicals by quieting their search for additional electrons. You can build up your antioxidant power by eating more vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale and chard all pack a powerful punch in the fight against free-radical damage.
Garlic, too, is a powerful antioxidant, and it also has antibacterial and antifungal qualities. Fruit is another ally. Blueberries brim with antioxidants, as do raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Red grapes contain high levels of the potent antioxidants resveratrol and quercetin. (So, too, by extension, does red wine; in moderation, it may offer some antioxidant protection.)
Spices and herbs are also powerful weapons in the fight against free radicals. Cumin, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, mustard, ginger, oregano, basil, sage, thyme and tarragon are rife with antioxidants. Look for recipes that call for these, or add a dash of cinnamon, turmeric or ginger to a cup of tea. Green, white and black teas contain antioxidants, too, so by pairing tea with spices, you’ll get a double dose of antioxidant power.

Ditch Processed Foods
The vast majority of unhealthy, age-amplifying foods are processed foods. One of the main dangers of processed foods? Added sugar.
Each year, Americans consume an average of 150 pounds of sugar per person — much of it in processed foods, says Nancy Appleton, PhD, coauthor of Suicide by Sugar (Square One, 2009). And that is not good news for brain health.
Overconsumption of sugar has been linked to depression and dementia disorders such as Alzheimer’s. It also increases inflammation and raises insulin levels in a way that can suppress the immune system, increasing your vulnerability to a host of additional diseases of brain and body.
Remember, too, that high-glycemic carbohydrates (also called “simple carbs”), which proliferate in processed foods, act like sugar in the bloodstream.
Processed foods also contain more than their fair share of unhealthy fats. While the human brain needs healthy fats to function — such as those found in nuts, avocados, and coconut and olive oil — bad fats like trans fats and highly processed commercial vegetable oils have been linked to depression and other mood disorders. These fats interfere with the metabolism of essential fatty acids in brain-cell membranes, which can harm some of the neurotransmitters responsible for mood, focus and memory.

Boost Key Nutrients

Dietary supplements can play a key role in healthy brain functioning. Here are some of the top brain-boosting supplements:
Vitamin D. Studies have shown that vitamin D can protect against dementia, a range of autoimmune disorders, cancer, high blood pressure and many other illnesses. Our bodies produce vitamin D in response to sunshine, but most people don’t get adequate daily sun exposure — especially if you live in a northern climate.
Omega-3s. Daily supplementation with fish oil, one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, can give your brain a big boost. High-quality fish oil, free from mercury and other toxins, provides the omega-3 fatty acids that sheath brain cells and facilitate healthy brain functioning. Omega-3s also help fight inflammation, which tends to occur in our brains as we age. Studies have shown that some of the other nutrients in fish oil, such as DHA and EPA, help provide protection against depression, stabilize mood and promote alertness.
CoQ10. Short for coenzyme Q10, CoQ10 is a molecule that works in concert with other nutrients to improve the functioning of all the cells of the body. Many recent studies have linked CoQ10 with boosting overall energy and sharpening cognition. (For more on CoQ10, see CoQ10: The Miracle Molecule.)
One of the most common myths about aging is that memory inevitably declines. But I know from the growing body of scientific evidence that age-related decline in brain function isn’t a foregone conclusion. If you nurture your brain with the right nutrients, you will help it remain flexible, resilient and strong. So, next time you sit down for a meal or reach for a snack, think of your future brain, and choose wisely!

source: care2.com

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31% of Canadian kids are overweight or obese

Prevalence unchanged in decade but remains ‘a public health concern’ 

CBC News   Sep 20, 2012 

Almost a third of Canadians aged five to 17 are overweight or obese, Statistics Canada finds.
The prevalence of overweight and obese Canadian children hasn’t increased over the past decade, but the agency said Thursday that it remains a public health concern.
Using World Health Organization standards of measurement, 31.5 per cent of five- to 17-year-olds — an estimated 1.6 million Canadians — were classified as overweight (19.8 per cent) or obese (11.7 per cent) from 2009 to 2011.
Among children aged five to 11, the percentage of obese boys (19.5 per cent) was more than three times that of obese girls (6.3 per cent), the agency said.
“Although these estimates have not changed significantly in recent years, more data points are needed to determine if the pace of increase in prevalence is slowing, as has been observed in some countries,” the report concludes.
“Regardless, the estimates remain high and are a public health concern, given the tendency for excess weight in childhood to persist through to adulthood.”

‘Easy to get calories’

CBC medical contributor Dr. Karl Kabasele said many factors are fuelling child obesity.
“The food industry and the processed foods have kind of created this environment where it’s so easy to get calories,” said Kabasele. “Kids are playing video games, watching TV, not getting out and exercising. So all of these factors are kind of conspiring against kids despite our best efforts.
“The medical community has to work hand in hand with parents, with the food industry, with government regulators to figure out the best way to kind of reduce this obesogenic environment that kids are growing up in.”
Canada seems to be a country of “chronic pilot studies,” so changes are rarely made for long enough to see if they make a difference, said Dr. Marc Tremblay, director of active living and obesity research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
“It’s a wake-up call that we need to make some fundamental shifts,” Tremblay said. “We need to stop saying ‘we can’t’ because the health of the population is at stake here.”
The heights and weights of 2,123 children and teens were taken from the Canadian Health Measures Survey done by Statistics Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada between August 2009 and December 2011.

With files from CBC’s Kelly Crowe

source: CBC

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The Economics of Organic Food

Published on Thursday, August 27, 2009 by Portland Press Herald (Maine)
Conference Takes on Economics of Organic Food
by Avery Yale Kamila

Only rich people can afford to eat locally grown, organic food. Have you heard that one before? I have, and it’s sure to come up during the “Can Maine Feed Itself?” keynote discussion taking place at next month’s Maine Fare festival in the midcoast.

The panel brings together a number of movers and shakers from Maine’s food scene for a conversation centered on how the state can become more self-reliant when stocking our grocery stores and filling our dinner plates.

According to well-known organic Maine farmer and author Eliot Coleman, who farms year-round in unheated greenhouses and will participate in the panel, the No. 1 barrier preventing more Mainers from eating food grown and raised locally is the competition from cheap eats trucked in from California.

A whole book could be written (and has been) about the reasons factory farms and agribusinesses can produce food that costs so little. However, the simple answer, as Coleman pointed out, includes physical scale, illegal immigrant laborers, polluting farm practices and government subsidies.

At the same time, the idea that only the well-off can eat fresh, locally grown eats ignores the obvious and inexpensive solution of growing your own garden. You can’t get any more local than food grown steps from your kitchen. And with seeds that sell for pennies apiece and with compost an essentially free fertilizer that anyone can make from table scraps and dried leaves, it becomes clear that price alone is not the true issue.

I’d argue that the real barrier is psychological. Part of this can be traced to the American obsession with animal protein.

Meat, dairy and eggs are all expensive ways to include protein in our diets, and these ubiquitous staples of our national cuisine can be produced cheaply (think a dozen eggs for $1.69 at the grocery stores versus $4.50 at the farmers’ markets) only when the farms cut costs. That can lead to mistreating the animals, the workers or the environment. The price at the checkout may be low, but we pay the full cost eventually in food poisoning outbreaks, slaughterhouse workers with post-traumatic stress disorder and polluted rivers.

The other piece of this mental obstacle comes from our national cult of convenience. Our 24/7 consumer culture means we expect markets to be open whenever the shopping whim strikes us. We expect their shelves to be stocked with items that haven’t been in season for the past six months.

So I wasn’t surprised when John Harker, a development agent for the Maine Department of Agriculture, said research shows that the current market for direct-to-consumer sales from small farms in Maine is confined to the pool of consumers with higher incomes and higher levels of education.

These are the folks who have read books such as “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Fast Food Nation” and know shelling out a little more for high quality food saves a lot of headaches and heartaches (literally) down the road.

But what about the moms who are too busy changing diapers to tackle such troubling tomes? Unfortunately, many still view food as a commodity similar to back-to-school clothes rather than the ultimate in preventative health care.

“In the consumer focus group we just finished up in Bangor, young mothers with children said, ‘Price, price, price,'” Harker recalled.

Since Americans on average spend less than 10 percent of our disposable income on food, a case can be made that a frugal home cook can find a way to pay more for better quality food.

At the same time, Harker sees opportunities for lowering the price of locally grown food and getting it into supermarkets and convenience stores (where he said 97 percent of food in Maine is purchased).

His message to farmers: “You’ve got to either get bigger or get together as a collective.”

He points to the Locally Known organic salad farm in Bowdoin as an example of a farm that got bigger to become more competitive on price. He cites the group of 10 organic dairy farmers who lost their contract with Hood and are now forming a limited liability corporation in hopes of getting their milk into supermarkets as an example of collective marketing.

On the consumer side, Harker said the department is encouraging neighbors to form buying clubs, such as the Portland Food Co-Op, where they can purchase food at or near wholesale prices.

“One of the projects I’m working on is online ordering for consumer buying clubs,” Harker said.

Aside from price, Maine farmers and eaters do face other obstacles to achieving food independence.

Cheryl Wixson, the resident chef and marketing consultant for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, is working on a report that will look at 20 categories of Maine food to determine whether or not farms are producing enough to meet local demand.

If they’re not, the report will also help figure out what factors stand in the way. These obstacles are varied and include lack of food processing plants, limited distribution opportunities and inadequate storage facilities.

But when it comes to price, Wixson is blunt: “You’re either going to pay for it now, or you’ll pay for it later.”

Or as Coleman said: “Local food is more expensive because it’s better.”

MaineToday Media, Inc.

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Arsenic Found in Rice at High Levels

By Brenda Goodman, MA
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Sept. 19, 2012 – Arsenic is found in a wide variety of rice and rice products, sometimes at levels that are higher than safe limits set for drinking water, new tests confirm.
Separate test results were released on Wednesday by Consumer Reports, the FDA, and by Lisa Madigan, the attorney general for the state of Illinois. Madigan has been testing rice products as part of a state investigation into arsenic in food.
Based on its tests of 60 products, Consumer Reports says kids and adults should watch how much rice they eat from various sources (like rice milk and rice cereal) to lower their exposure to arsenic, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and poor brain function in young children.
“First and foremost, I want to warn parents that every rice cereal product we tested contained arsenic. These results are shocking because rice cereal is often a baby’s first solid food,” Madigan says. “Parents and caregivers should moderate the amount of rice products they feed their children.”
The FDA’s tests of 200 different rice products show levels of harmful inorganic arsenic that are in line with tests performed by Consumer Reports. The magazine analyzed rice products including infant cereals, regular boxed cereals, rice cakes, rice milk, and brown and white rice. Both organic and nonorganic rice products were found to have arsenic.
Eating one serving of rice at the highest levels found in the studies could expose a person to more arsenic than the EPA allows in drinking water.
Based on their findings, Consumer Reports and Madigan have called on the FDA to set limits on arsenic in rice and rice products.
The agency says the issue needs more study. They are continuing to check rice products, with a goal of testing 1,200 by the end of this year. For the time being, regulators say there’s not enough evidence to tell people to limit rice in their diets.
“Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains — not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD.

Rice Growers Respond

Rice producers fired back at Consumer Reports. In a lengthy rebuttal posted on the USA Rice Federation web site, they called the magazine’s investigation “incomplete and inaccurate.”
“We believe rice is safe and it’s premature for CR to call on consumers to limit their intake of rice. FDA agrees,” says Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd, a spokeswoman for USA Rice.
The statement points out that there are no established studies directly connecting eating rice with bad health effects.
That’s true, but only because those studies “simply haven’t been conducted,” says Andrew Meharg, PhD, chair of plant and soil science at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Heath Effects at Lower Levels Uncertain

At high levels, arsenic causes discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness, paralysis, and blindness.
But at the low levels most people are exposed to through food and drinking water, the dangers are less clear. People who drink water with moderate levels of arsenic — higher than levels typically seen in the U.S. supply — over a long period of time have higher rates of bladder, lung, and skin cancers. Long-term exposure has also been linked to heart disease, and in children, to problems with learning and IQ.
Because arsenic is naturally found in the soil, water, and air, it’s also found in many fruits and vegetables. Rice is uniquely vulnerable to contamination with arsenic, however, because it’s grown in flooded fields. Rice plants soak it up through their roots and store it in the grains.
“The arsenic levels measured in rice are relatively high. They are higher than levels measured in other grains such as flour products or than those measured in fruit juice,” says Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md.
Her analysis of government nutrition data found that people who eat one rice food item have arsenic levels that were about 44% higher than those who didn’t. People who reported eating two or more items had 70% higher arsenic levels than those who had none.
“I believe it is time to set standards in food, as well as to monitor arsenic levels in food, and to find methods to minimize arsenic exposure through dietary intake, especially rice,” she tells WebMD.

Advice for Consumers

To lower your exposure to arsenic, Consumer Reports offers these tips:
  • Test your water. If your home is not on a public water system, have your water tested for arsenic and lead.
  • Change the way you cook rice. Boiling rice with more water than you need and draining it afterward removes about 30% of the inorganic arsenic. Try using a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 6 cups of water.
  • Eat a varied diet. Some vegetables accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil. To help, clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins.
  • Eat other grains. Wheat and oats have lower levels of arsenic than rice. For those who need to eat gluten-free, quinoa, millet, and amaranth may be better options.
SOURCES: Consumer Reports: “Arsenic in Your Food.” News release, Consumer Reports. FDA: “Arsenic Data Analysis.” News release, FDA. News release, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd, spokeswoman, USA Rice Federation, Arlington, Va. Andrew Meharg, PhD, chair of plant and soil science, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland. Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD, associate professor of environmental health sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.
source:  WebMD  emedicinehealth.com