Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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An ‘Epidemic’ of Fragranced Products is Affecting Our Health, New Research Suggests

The recent trend for “cleaner,” more natural, unprocessed foods for improved health and well-being has also led to a shift towards household and beauty products that are also more natural and without preservatives, and possibly for good reason.

According to recent research, consumers’ extra attention to what they are putting on their bodies and in their homes could be beneficial for health, with a new study finding that one in three Australians report health problems related to fragranced products.

Professor Anne Steinemann from the University of Melbourne School of Engineering led a survey of a random sample of 1,098 people taken from a large, web-based panel held by Survey Sampling International (SSI).

She found that when exposed to fragranced products, 33 per cent of Australians suffer a variety of adverse health effects, including breathing difficulties, headaches, dizziness, rashes, congestion, seizures, nausea, and a range of other physical problems.

In addition, the results also showed that 7.7 per cent of Australians have lost workdays or a job in the past year due to illnesses caused by exposure to fragranced products in their workplace, and 16.7 per cent want to leave a shop or business as quickly as possible if they smell air fresheners or other fragranced products.

A survey in Australia found that as many as
one in three consumers experience health problems from fragrance.

“This is an epidemic,” said Professor Steinemann commenting on the findings, “Fragranced products are creating health problems across Australia. The effects can be immediate, severe and potentially disabling. But they can also be subtle, and people may not realize they’re being affected.”

Professor Steinemann’s previous research in the U.S. found similar results, revealing that 34.7 per cent of people experience health problems when exposed to fragranced products.

Fragranced products – which can include air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products – give off a range of chemicals including hazardous air pollutants, with Professor Steinemann adding that, “All types of fragranced products tested – even those with claims of ‘green,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘all-natural’-emitted hazardous air pollutants.”

According to Greenbiz, half of all consumer products contain fragrance, and more than 3,000 chemicals can add fragrance to consumer goods worldwide.

Although what product information is required to be disclosed to consumers varies in each country, fragrance ingredients are exempt from full disclosure in any product, not only in the U.S. but also internationally. Often, labeling is vague, with many ingredients just coming under the umbrella of fragrance.

Professor Steinemann’s research will now continue to investigate why fragrance chemicals are causing health problems, and what their effect may be in indoor environments.

The findings can be found published online in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports with more information also available on Professor Steinemann’s own website.

Information for consumers about products can also be found on www.ewg.org

Relaxnews   Tuesday, March 7, 2017
 


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Too Much of This Food Additive Can Impede Nutrient Absorption

The battle against food additives has been a long one, fraught with frustration and upset stomaches. In today’s agricultural world—and with today’s booming population size—it has become difficult to find foods without these unfamiliar ingredients. Convenience food has become commonplace, and so has consumer’s lack of investigation into what all these hard-to-pronounce additives are and how they affect our health.

Carrageenan has been under the microscope for a long time and research has led to some head-scratching, sometimes contradictory, conclusions. A lesser known food additive made it to the headlines last week for its connection to impeding regular functions of the small intestine, namely the organ’s ability to absorb certain nutrients.

Titanium oxide is an additive commonly found in all sorts of foods from chewing gum to bread. Not only that, but this FDA-safe compound can also appear in paints, plastics and sunscreen. Ingestion of it is considered “nearly unavoidable,” according to Science Daily. Because of this fact, researchers from Bingham University and State University of New York set out to see what kinds of effects occur with continued exposure.

Luckily, the researchers stress the point that extended exposure to titanium oxide won’t kill us (phew!). And, in fact, most of us would find ourselves having ingested this additive over a long period of time without knowing it. However, there do seem to be some interesting things happening in the body when we are exposed to it chronically, or over an extended period of time. This type of exposure showed the small intestines’ microvilli having a diminished ability to absorb nutrients such as iron, zinc and fatty acids. Inflammation increased and the functions of enzymes were interrupted, as well.

labels

“There has been previous work on how titanium oxide nanoparticles affects microvilli, but we are looking at much lower concentrations,” Gretchen Mahler, on of the study’s authors and Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor, told Science Daily. She believes the public has a right to know what kind of health effects are happening with everyday consumption of products containing titanium oxide.

The solution to protecting against these factors is actually quite simple. “To avoid foods rich in titanium oxide nanoparticles you should avoid processed foods, and especially candy,” Mahler explains. The additive can show up in surprising places in everyday foods, such as chocolate bars (to make them smooth), donuts (for color), skim milks (for a more opaque appearance) and even toothpaste (for abrasive properties). Cutting back on processed products and boosting up your intake of whole, non processed foods can provide a bunch of benefits for our health, including saving us from insidious food additives.

By: Katie Medlock         February 25, 2017
Follow Katie at @offbeatherbivor
 
source: www.care2.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • More than one-third of married couples in Canada sleep in separate bedrooms. 
  • Having a low opinion of yourself is not modesty. It’s self-destruction. 
  • People who eat fish at least once a week have thicker, stronger and more resilient brains.
  • 71% of breakups happen because of mood swings.
  • Every year, about 86,000 people are injured by tripping over their pets. 

 

ingredient_label
Ranch dressing (and many other foods) contain titanium dioxide to keep it white
– Titanium dioxide is also used in most sunscreens and might be a carcinogen.
  • When soft music is playing in the background, people are able to focus better.
  • Kissing can increase your lifespan.
  • Studies have proven that driving in city traffic is just as stressful as participating in extreme sports like skydiving.
  • Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide to keep it white – Titanium dioxide is also used in most sunscreens and might be a carcinogen.
Happy Friday!

 source: https://twitter.com/faccccct


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What is Lecithin? And is it Good or Bad for Me?

What in the world is lecithin?

In 1845, French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Gobley isolated a fatty, yellowish substance from an egg yoke. He named it phosphatidylcholine lecithine and it’s been injected into our foods ever since.

Today, “lecithin” is a generic term applied to any yellowish, fatty substance that naturally occurs in plant and animal tissues – “a mixture of phospholipids and oil.” In the body, it supports cell membrane health after breaking down into choline; in food manufacturing settings, it’s used as a smoothing agent, as an emulsifier, to repel stickiness, and as a generally homogenizing liquid.

Most of the time, lecithin is chemically extracted from largely available, inexpensive sources like canola, eggs, milk, or sunflowers, and most commonly soy.

Lecithin is often added to animal feed as a fat and protein source. It also has applications in the pharmaceutical industry (it makes your pills swallowable) and in the paint industry (it makes a great protective coat). But most of the time, lecithin crosses our paths as an additive in commercially produced foods.

Check your grocery labels and you’ll find it doing all the hard work in your nonstick cooking spray, or as a dispersing agent in the mass produced breads you pick up in the baked goods aisle. Lecithin is responsible for making a lot of the commercially produced foods that we eat soft, tasty and long-lasting. It keeps our chocolate from separating and makes our salad dressings smooth.

Is it bad for me?

As a standalone, lecithin is essentially harmless. It’s very easy for the body to digest and metabolize and is often sold as an herbal supplement on its own. A number of clinical trials have found additional benefits of lecithin, ranging from being an effective aid in treating liver disease, managing high cholesterol or even preventing dementia by supporting neurotransmission in the brain.

However, many experts suggest that we need to further analyze the variables that surround it.

lecithin

Phytoestrogens

Soy is pretty commonly known to carry a number of phytoestrogens, a substance that can confuse natural hormonal processes and even lower sperm count. For this reason, it’s often recommended that we avoid soy products and keep those phytoestrogens very minimal. However, soy lecithin isn’t where the problem lies – at least as far as we know today; for generally healthy people the trace amounts of phytoestrogens shouldn’t be an issue.

GMOs

Most of the soy that is grown in the United States is genetically modified – a process that produces immunogenic proteins and can cause DNA disruptions. Lucky for us, soy lecithin contains very little soy protein (some sources include none at all), so this isn’t too desperate a concern.

Toxins

Because lecithin is extracted from raw material through a chemical solvent (usually hexane) there is some concern that chemicals may transfer to the final product. The FDA doesn’t regulate the amount of hexane residue left in commercial foods after-the-fact, so it’s possible concentrations are indeed leftover.

The Final Verdict

Most experts seem to agree that lecithin, consumed by a healthy person within reasonable amounts is perfectly harmless. Possible negatives are neutralized by the very fact that they show up in such small amounts that pale in comparison to the other toxins and chemicals we encounter every day.

However, in the end it just depends. If you have a soy allergy, are pregnant or are a breast cancer survivor you may want to steer clear, just to be on the safe side; or consider switching to clean eating principles and avoid processed foods all together!

By: Lauren Bowen    October 20, 2016

source: www.care2.com


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How Fast Food Messes With Your Hormones

Alexandra Sifferlin @acsifferlin  April 13, 2016     

A new study shows people who eat fast food have higher levels of chemicals in their system

If you want to eat healthy, you’ll need to forgo fast food, which is high in sodium, sugar and grease. A new study supplies even more incentive to do so by finding that fast food is a source of chemicals called phthalates, which have been linked to a list of possible health burdens like hormone disruption and lower sperm count.

The new report, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate more fast food also had higher levels of two substances that occur when phthalates—which make plastic more flexible—break down in the body. “The same range of concentrations measured in this [group] overlaps with the range of concentrations that have been measured in some of epidemiological studies that find adverse health effects,” says study author Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Prior studies have shown that diet is a source of exposure for plastics chemicals like phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), and that processed food may be of particular concern. The new study is the largest to look at exposure from fast food fare specifically.

mcdonalds

To reach these findings, Zota and her co-authors looked at data from more than 8,800 people who were part of a survey where they detailed all the food they ate in the last 24 hours and then provided a urine sample. Two specific phthalate byproducts were identified: DEHP and DiNP. People who ate 35% or more of their total calories from fast food in the last 24 hours had around 24% higher levels of DEHP compared to people who didn’t eat fast food, and close to 40% higher levels of DiNP. The team also looked for traces of BPA, but did not observe a pattern.

In general, about a third of all the people in the study had eaten fast food in the prior day. “That’s a lot,” says Zota. “That alone tells you the public health impact of this type of food preparation.” It’s believed that phthalates could leach into food during preparation or packaging. Plastic gloves and conveyer belts could be sources, Zota says, and heat from cooking may also make it easier for chemicals to get into food.

The researchers say they hope the findings provide insight into how chemicals can enter our bodies. More research is needed to fully understand what effects these chemicals may have over time. “Our study helps shed light on one potential way that people can reduce their exposure to these chemicals through their diet, but it also points to a broader problem of widespread chemicals in our food systems that will require many different types of stakeholders to get involved in order to fix it,” Zota says.

source: time.com


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Food Additives Can Make Children Behave Badly

Irritability, temper outbursts, oppositional defiance, restlessness and difficulty falling asleep are the main behavioral effects of food additives. But parents rarely realize that food chemicals can be associated with many other effects including arguing with siblings, making silly noises, speech delay, anxiety, depression or difficulty concentrating. Additive-free children are generally calmer, happier and more cooperative.

Additives used in hundreds of children’s foods and drinks can cause temper tantrums and disruptive behaviour, researchers have found.Researchers found that children as young as three were more likely to lack concentration, lose their temper, interrupt others and struggle to get to sleep when they drank fruit juice dosed with colorings and preservatives. Food additives like these need to be removed from all foods, but especially the everyday foods and drinks which appeal to, and are marketed to, children. Even youngsters with no history of hyperactivity can be affected.
Contrary to what many parents think, additives – more importantly than just sugar – are to blame for behavior problems. Reactions are related to dose, so the more additives children eat, the more likely they are to be affected. Related links: Do You Need to Eat More Fat? Here’s Your Sign!

Which Additives Do We Need To Look Out For?

Food AdditivesLearn more about Food Dyes in the report published by CSPI: Rainbow of Risks which discusses risks of cancer, genetic damage, and allergic reactions due to dyes.

Use IATP’s Brain Food Selector to find the dyes in your child’s (and your) favorite foods.

See IATP’s Smart Guide to Food Dyes for more information on health concerns for children from food dyes.

Here are some of the food additives that you should be concerned with:

Artificial Colors

(in sweets, drinks, takeaways, cereals and many processed foods)

102 tartrazine, 104 quinoline yellow, 107 yellow 2G, 110 sunset yellow, 122 azorubine, 123 amaranth, 124 ponceau red, 127 erythrosine, 128 red 2G, 129 allura red, 132 indigotine, 133 brilliant blue, 142 green S, 151 brilliant black, 155 chocolate brown Natural colour, 160b annatto (in yogurts, icecreams, popcorn etc, 160a is a safe alternative)
Learn more:

kidcandy

Living in Color: The Potential Dangers of Artificial Dyes

Preservatives

200-203 sorbates (in margarine, dips, cakes, fruit products)
210-213 benzoates (in juices, soft drinks, cordials, syrups, medications)
220-228 sulphites (in dried fruit, fruit drinks, sausages, and many others)
280-283 propionates (in bread, crumpets, bakery products)
249-252 nitrates, nitrites (in processed meats like ham)
Synthetic antioxidants – in margarines, vegetable oils, fried foods, snacks, biscuits etc
310-312 Gallates
319-320 TBHQ, BHA, BHT (306-309 are safe alternatives)
Flavor enhancers – in flavored crackers, snacks, takeaways, instant noodles, soups 621 MSG 627, 631, 635 disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, ribonucleotides

Some food additives are worse than others. Here’s a list of the top food additives to avoid:

Top 10 Food Additives To Avoid

But What Can I Eat Now?

Looking For Additive-Free Foods, Check Out These Resources:

Eat Wild

Eatwild is an extensive directory of more than 1,400 pasture-based farms & ranches in the U.S. and Canada, and it has some International resources too. It is one of the most comprehensive sources for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada. Products include: Beef,Pork, Lamb, Veal, Goat, Elk, Venison, Yak, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys, Eggs, Milk, Cheeses, Wild-Caught Salmon and more!

Eat Local Grown

The eatlocalgrown project was created to help you Find, Rate and Share Locally Grown Food! There are categories for Farms, Farmers Markets, Grocery Stores/Co-ops, Restaurants, Artisans and more.

Local Harvest

There are almost two million farms in the USA. About 80% of those are small farms, and a large percentage are family owned. More and more of these farmers are now selling their products directly to the public. They do this via CSA programs, Farmers’ Markets, Food Coops, u-picks, farm stands, and other direct marketing channels. Locate and support your local farmer by using the map at Local Harvest.


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Experts Link Chemicals to Diabetes, Obesity

Sept. 28, 2015 – People who are trying to lose weight or manage diabetes should try to change their lifestyle not only to exercise or cut calories, but also to avoid chemicals that may be contributing to their condition, experts say.

“You may have a healthy meal, but if it’s in a plastic container, it’s leaching chemicals,” said Andrea Gore, PhD, a pharmacologist at the University of Texas at Austin in a webinar for reporters on Monday.

Gore is the chair of a task force that issued on Monday a new statement on the harm from hormone-disrupting chemicals. The statement, which is based on a review of more than 1,300 studies, says there’s convincing evidence to support a link between hundreds of hormone disruptors and several chronic health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Hormone-sensitive cancers in women (breast, endometrial, ovarian)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor brain development and brain function in young children

Researchers say the statement is significant because it comes from a group of doctors that treat people for hormone problems instead of scientists who study the effects of chemicals in animals or on cells.

Gore said the evidence for these effects is now strong enough that everyone should take steps to avoid chemicals that block or mimic the action of hormones in the body.

She also called on doctors who are treating patients for infertility to tell their patients to avoid hormone disruptors, which are known to decrease semen quality and interfere with how ovaries work. She said doctors who are counseling pregnant women and the parents of young children should also warn about chemical exposures.

“In particular, we’re worried about fetuses, infants, children, etc.,” she said, because exposure to the chemicals during development could set the stage for disease down the road.

Avoiding these kinds of chemicals is easier said than done, however, since no one knows how many of them exist or exactly how they’re being used. That’s because chemicals aren’t tested for safety before they used in products that are sold to consumers.

There are about 85,000 chemicals known to be used in the U.S. No one knows how many might disrupt hormones.

“Not all of them are EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals], but if even 1% of them were EDCs, that would be 850 chemicals,” Gore said.

Some of the best-known hormone-disrupting chemicals include:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, which are used in some plastics, metal food cans, and cash register receipts
  • Phthalates, a class of chemicals that are used to soften plastic and also used in some perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics
  • Some pesticides, like DDT
  • Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical

receipt

“They act at very low doses,” she said.

The statement calls for better safety testing to determine which chemicals could pose problems, tighter regulation, and more research on the health effects.

Environmental health experts cheered the new statement.

“I’m thrilled,” said Richard Stahlhut, MD, a visiting research scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“The endocrinologists had to be the first ones on board, and fortunately, they are,” he said. “If they’re not on board, then maybe people like me are crazy,” said Stahlhut, who studies the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals like BPA.

Chemical manufacturers said the statement went too far.

“The statement incorrectly characterizes as settled the still-unproven hypothesis regarding risks of low levels of exposure to particular chemicals. In doing so, the [Endocrine] Society discounts the extensive reviews by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority that were unable to substantiate the health significance of the so called low-dose effects,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement.

“Furthermore, the Endocrine Society’s report fails to differentiate between chemicals that are ‘endocrine-active,’ meaning they interact with the endocrine system, and those that are ‘endocrine disruptors,’ meaning that the levels of exposure associated with that interaction cause scientifically-proven adverse health effects,” the statement said.

Some retailers and manufacturers aren’t waiting for the dust to settle on the chemical debate.

On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Target is expanding the list of chemicals it would ask suppliers to take out of their products. The expanded list will included nearly 600 chemicals on Health Canada’s roster of prohibited cosmetic ingredients. It will include triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps and some toothpastes.

Walmart also has a list of substances it asks retailers to avoid, though it doesn’t post the list publicly, Bloomberg reported.

Until more is known, Gore said consumers could reduce their exposure to known endocrine disruptors by avoiding bottled water in plastic bottles and being careful not to heat or microwave food in plastic containers.

Stahlhut said people who are concerned about chemical exposure should try to do the best they can, but because it’s impossible to avoid all potential exposures, to “Try to be Zen about it. Don’t drive yourself crazy.”

He said he tries to eat and drink out of stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic. He especially tries to avoid heating food in plastic. He said he tries to avoid chemicals in the nonstick coatings by cooking in cast-iron pans. And he steers clear of soaps and toothpaste with triclosan.

“Make the easy choices when you can. Make the harder choices when you can afford it,” he said.

By Brenda Goodman, MA        WebMD Health News      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES:
Andrea C. Gore, PhD, professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology, University of Texas at Austin; chair, Endocrine Society Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Austin, TX.
Richard Stahlhut, MD, visiting research scientist, University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Endocrine Society, Scientific Statement, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Sept. 28, 2015.
The American Chemistry Council.
Bloomberg News.

source:  WebMD