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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Strawberries Remain at Top of Pesticide List, Report Says

An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. That’s down 6.6 percentage points from last year.

The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released Wednesday, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides, while sweet corn and avocados were ranked as having the lowest concentration.

What are pesticides?

Pesticides are widely used in producing food to control pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, bacteria, mold and fungus. In addition to their uses in agriculture, pesticides are used to protect public health by controlling organisms that carry tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes.

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans, according to the World Health Organization. They may have negative effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems, cause cancer and lead to other problems.

Pesticide residue can remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and, in some cases, peeled, according to the report.

However, a report by the USDA in 2014 found that “overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency” and were not a safety concern to consumers.

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that tested positive for various pesticides and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce is featured on the list, known as the “Dirty Dozen.”

Starting with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, the list features strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
Strawberries remained at the top of the list with at least 20 pesticides, while spinach jumped into the second spot with twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year, and even when they are rinsed in the field and washed before eating, they are still most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.

In 2016, spinach was ranked eighth, but the latest numbers from the USDA showed a sharp increase in pesticide residues on non-organic spinach since the crop was last tested eight years ago.

The pesticides responsible for the residues included three fungicides and one insecticide called permethrin, which has been linked to tremors and seizures in the nervous systems of animals and insects.

The newest additions to the list were pears and potatoes, which replaced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year.

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group’s “Clean Fifteen” list.

This list included, in order, sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides in avocados and sweet corn, which were deemed the cleanest produce.

More than 80% of pineapples, papaya, asparagus, onions and cabbage that were sampled showed no pesticide residue.

Methodology

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, analyzed more than 36,000 samples taken by personnel at the USDA and the FDA who mimicked consumer practices by first washing or peeling the produce.

To compare the fruits and vegetables, the group came up with a composite score for each type of produce based on six measures of contamination. Some of the measures include the percent of the sample tested with detectable pesticides and the average number of pesticides found on a single sample.

Shopping smart

Nutrition experts support the findings and even use the list to make recommendations to their own patients.

“I believe that this is an important source of information,” said Corinne Bush, a clinical nutritionist who was not part of the research.

Bush warns that some pesticides that do not exceed thresholds established by the EPA can still be very harmful, since low-level exposure over time can have extremely damaging effects.

The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides.

“If you don’t want to feed your family food contaminated with pesticides, the EWG Shopper’s Guide helps you make smart choices, whether you’re buying conventional or organic produce,” Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the group, said in a news release.

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.”

By Johanzynn Gatewood  (CNN)      Wed March 8, 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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Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?

Let’s cover the original misinformation first: The earliest missives warned that microwaved plastic releases cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins into food. The problem with that warning is that plastics don’t contain dioxins. They are created when garbage, plastics, metals, wood, and other materials are burned. As long as you don’t burn your food in a microwave, you aren’t exposing yourself to dioxins.

Migrating chemicals

There’s no single substance called “plastic.” That term covers many materials made from an array of organic and inorganic compounds. Substances are often added to plastic to help shape or stabilize it. Two of these plasticizers are

  • bisphenol-A (BPA), added to make clear, hard plastic
  • phthalates, added to make plastic soft and flexible

BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.

When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. Any migration is likely to be greater with fatty foods such as meats and cheeses than with other foods.

The FDA long ago recognized the potential for small amounts of plasticizers to migrate into food. So it closely regulates plastic containers and materials that come into contact with food. The FDA requires manufacturers to test these containers using tests that meet FDA standards and specifications. It then reviews test data before approving a container for microwave use.

Some of these tests measure the migration of chemicals at temperatures that the container or wrap is likely to encounter during ordinary use. For microwave approval, the agency estimates the ratio of plastic surface area to food, how long the container is likely to be in the microwave, how often a person is likely to eat from the container, and how hot the food can be expected to get during microwaving. The scientists also measure the chemicals that leach into food and the extent to which they migrate in different kinds of foods. The maximum allowable amount is 100–1,000 times less per pound of body weight than the amount shown to harm laboratory animals over a lifetime of use. Only containers that pass this test can display a microwave-safe icon, the words “microwave safe,” or words to the effect that they’re approved for use in microwave ovens.

When Good Housekeeping microwaved food in 31 plastic containers, lids, and wraps, it found that almost none of the food contained plastic additives.

What about containers without a microwave-safe label? They aren’t necessarily unsafe; the FDA simply hasn’t determined whether it is or not.

man-microwave-dinner-into-mic

Is Styrofoam microwave safe?

Contrary to popular belief, some Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers can safely be used in the microwave. Just follow the same rule you follow for other plastic containers: Check the label.

The bottom line

Here are some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:

  • If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for use in microwave ovens.
  • Don’t let plastic wrap touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, white paper towels, or a domed container that fits over a plate or bowl are better alternatives.
  • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
  • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
  • Old, scratched, or cracked containers, or those that have been microwaved many times, may leach out more plasticizers.
  • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
  • Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.

 Read more about the BPA controversy and get tips to decrease your exposure.

 Updated: October 27, 2015   Originally published: February 2006


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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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9 Reasons To Stop Eating Processed Foods

“There’s a lot of processed food in North America,
and I know that can make some tourists
who are used to fresh food feel sick.”
– Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck is a famous chef and restaurateur that was born in Austria. As a foreign-born food expert, Puck is knowledgeable in regards to the prolific presence of processed food that is unique to the United States and other countries. He is one among many experts that testify to the harmful nature of food that undergoes processing.

As a reference, processed food is defined as “any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat.” This rather ambiguous definition doesn’t identify what makes some (not all) processed foods harmful. Mechanical processing – the physical actions required to grow, harvest and produce foods – doesn’t alter the nature of food and isn’t harmful.

Chemical processing – altering the chemical makeup of foods through additives and other artificial substances – can indeed be harmful to one’s health. Artificial substances include sweeteners, preservatives and other elements. The inherent risk of such substances is a public safety concern in many countries, and for legitimate reasons.

HERE ARE NINE REASONS TO STOP EATING PROCESSED FOODS IMMEDIATELY:

1. PROCESSED FOODS CONTAIN DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNTS OF SUGAR OR CORN SYRUP
Foods that contain sugar essentially contain empty calories. In other words, these calories provide no nutritional value. Studies have shown that these empty calories can have a harmful effect on the metabolism and cardiovascular system. The diabetes epidemic also strongly correlates with sugar consumption. Corn syrup, particularly of the high fructose variety, has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia and liver failure.

2. PROCESSED FOODS CONTAIN TOO MANY ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS
Many ingredients listed on the labels of processed foods cannot be properly read. This is because these ingredients are chemicals, and most chemicals have unpronounceable names. Many additives and preservatives contribute to potentially harmful physical effects, from common fatigue to heart disease.

junk food

3. PROCESSED FOODS ARE HIGH IN REFINED CARBOHYDRATES
Refined carbohydrates are sugars and starches that have been modified (refined). The problem is that this refinement process empties the food of its nutritional value, including its fiber content.  Of course, many sugars and starches contribute to a number of adverse health conditions.

4. PROCESSED FOODS ARE USUALLY LACKING IN NUTRIENTS
The processing of food often empties the food of its nutritional value. Even though many of these foods are infused with synthetic (read: artificial) nutrients, the quality of nutrition derived from such is far superior compared to whole, unprocessed foods.

5. PROCESSED FOODS ARE LOW IN FIBER CONTENT
Fiber has many different roles to play in the development and maintenance of a healthy body. Primarily known to aid digestion, fiber also helps to: produce healthy bacteria, slow the absorption of carbohydrates, and create feelings of satiety.

6. PROCESSED FOODS HARM METABOLIC FUNCTION
Because of the chemical makeup of processed foods – absence of fiber, nutrition, satiety and sustenance – our digestive system and metabolism operate poorly. The cumulate effects result in more food consumed and less food energy expended. In other words, we eat more stuff and burn less fat and calories as a result of eating processed foods.

7. PROCESSED FOODS CONTAIN PESTICIDES
To grow and harvest GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), farmers must use pesticides and herbicides to preserve the area where they are grown. Often, these pesticides and herbicides will penetrate both the soil and the crop itself. Needless to say, chemicals designed to eradicate insects and vegetation are not well-received by the human body. These chemicals have been linked to an assortment of functional and developmental problems, including cancer.

8. PROCESSED FOODS CAUSE INFLAMMATION
Various studies have shown that artificial ingredients such as processed flours, vegetable oils and refined sugars can cause or worsen cases of inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to a variety of maladies including dementia, respiratory problems and neurological disorders.

9. PROCESSED FOOD IS OFTEN HIGH IN TRANS-FAT OR VEGETABLE OIL
Hydrogenated oils such as vegetable oil often contain an excessive amount of Omega-6 fatty acids, which has been linked to inflammation and oxidation issues. Studies have demonstrated that these substances carry and increased risk of heart disease.

source: www.powerofpositivity.com    JULY 26, 2016


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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