Are Probiotics Right For You?

Are Probiotics Right For You? | probiotics | General Health Special Interests

Maybe you’ve heard how probiotics can help your digestion, perhaps you’ve even tried them. But do you know exactly what they are, and just how they work? Don’t worry, because you’re not alone. There’s a lot of confusion about probiotics, and I want to try to clear that up as best as I can.

Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics are really just live bacteria that are constantly replenishing and growing inside of your intestines. Don’t freak out. A large number of these bacterial critters is actually a good thing, as they have been shown to be beneficial for healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, and even mood balance. After entering the body and feeding on prebiotics (food for probiotics, usually fiber), these microorganisms populate the microbiome, taking up residence in your gut. So while the main benefit is to the digestive system, studies suggest they could boost the immune system and even strengthen respiratory health. [1][2]

And probiotic supplementation could even aid in mental health! For years, scientists have noted the importance of maintaining healthy bacteria levels in the gut for physical health, but one recent study suggests decreased levels of gut bacteria could be connected to behavioral conditions like autism and depression. [3] Another report suggests probiotic treatments could even help autistic children by helping to counteract the “bad” bacteria. [4]

Sources of Probiotics

So now you’ve read about these microorganisms and what they can do, but where exactly are they found? Well, here are three foods that contain a plentitude of probiotics, and they’re very easy to access.

Yogurt

For the full benefit, make sure you’re buying or, even better, making your own live-cultured yogurt. Much of the yogurt you buy nowadays even has added probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Of course, you want to stray away from yogurt with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

Kefir

Sort of a cousin to yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy product made from dairy milk and fermented kefir grains. Goat’s milk is commonly used, especially since it’s high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus, and acidophilus. Kefir is also a great source of lactobacillus and bifudus. If you don’t consume dairy (which is probably a good thing), then you can also make kefir using coconut milk.

Tempeh

Not only is tempeh a fermented soybean product rich in probiotics; it’s also high in vitamin B12, making it a healthier substitute for meat or tofu.

Probiotics: Why You Need Them

Probiotic supplements are an excellent way to ensure a steady supply of probiotic strains in your intestines, especially when your diet is less than ideal. Remember, the goal with probiotics is to maintain or restore the balance of your gut’s “good” bacteria, and taking antibiotics could actually work against that. You should never stop taking a prescribed medication without consulting your doctor, but a recent study suggests that common antibiotics could change “the microbial and metabolic patterns of the gut,” decreasing the diversity of bacteria. [5][6]

Do you take probiotics? Please let us know in the comments!

References:

  1. Behnsen, J, et al. Probiotics: Properties, Examples, and Specific Applications. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine.
  2. West, N. P. et al. Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Clinical Nutrition. 33 (4).
  3. Kang, D. et al. Reduced Incidence of Prevotella and Other Fermenters in Intestinal Microflora of Autistic Children. PLoS ONE.
  4. Patterson, P. et al. Microbiota Modulate Behavioral and Physiological Abnormalities Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Cell. 155 (7).
  5. Perez-Cobas, A. E. et al. Gut microbiota disturbance during antibiotic therapy: a multi-omic approach. Gut. 62.
  6. Hassan, T. Pharmacologic considerations for patients taking oral contraceptives. CONNECTICUT DENTAL STUDENT JOURNAL.

 


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The Vicious Truth About Antidepressants And Violent Behavior

The Vicious Truth About Antidepressants And Violent Behavior | Antidepressants | General Health Sleuth Journal Special Interests

The brain is a complex organ, controlling our actions, cells, and emotions. When we mess with the brain, either inadvertently or with pharmaceutical medications, we can only expect a negative consequence in the process. If our body is exposed to toxins on a consistent basis, then there’s no doubt that our brain is too, and these environmental toxins–like aluminum and PCBs–are contributing to everything from Alzheimer’s disease to ADHD. [1][2] Interfering with brain chemistry through the use of psychiatric medications is equally as harmful, more so than many people realize.

Antidepressants and Violent Behavior: What Nobody is Talking About

The mind is prone to neuroses, particularly during stressful or traumatic times. Using psychiatric drugs to “treat” depression is more often than not a bandaid approach, and only addresses the biological symptoms of depression rather than the root cause. Instead of addressing nutritional concerns and psychological barriers to personal happiness, many people are doped up on SSRIs, tranquilizers, and similar drugs. Research over the past few years has steadily shown a strong correlation between antidepressants and homicide. World Psychiatry published a recent study confirming past research, making it startlingly clear: psychiatric drugs may ease depressive symptoms, but they possibly increase a person’s chances of exhibiting violent behavior. [3]

You’re probably aware of the mass shootings across the nation in recent years, and many people are left wondering what could be causing the uprising of these violent crimes. Gun control is seen as a solution to this problem, but what if the issue is much more covert? Taking antidepressants is considered normal in this day and age, and no one questions their use. But could it be that this overly-prescribed pharmaceutical is altering minds to a greater degree than we’ve ever imagined? The antidepressant trazodone, for example, was given to a man who shot and killed 12 people at a Navy facility in Washington, D.C. Trazodone carries with it a list of side effects, including suicide behavior, panic attacks, worsening depression, aggressive behavior, impulsive behavior, and abnormal excitement. [4]

The Real Causes of Depression

While many wish to brush off one example of antidepressants and violent behavior as a mere coincidence, we can’t ignore the many other cases of suicides, murders, and violence in the country at the hands of those drugged with these psychiatric pharmaceuticals. [5] Depression isn’t a Zoloft deficiency; it’s a real illness that, at its root, contains one or more causative factors. Improper nutrition is virtually ignored by today’s psychiatrists, but it just so happens that all neurotransmitters responsible for mood stabilization require nutrients for proper functioning. Tryptophan, for instance, requires zinc, copper, B vitamins, iron, and magnesium in order to perform efficiently.

Another hidden and rarely discussed factor related to depression is mold exposure. Mold can remain hidden in a home for years, but the effect it has on your health is insurmountable. Studies have shown that mold exposure, whether you know you’re being exposed to it or not, contributes to neurobehavioral issues. These health issues include worsening memory, mood impairments, and even Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms. [6][7][8]

One Final Thought

When it comes to psychiatric illness, it is up to you and your doctor to find the best way you can to improve your wellbeing. Always keep in mind that there are a number of components playing into disease, including mental illness, so speak to your doctor and do your research to determine the plenitude of factors associated with your particular case. If you are taking pharmaceutical drugs for any kind of mental distress, it is important to not stop taking them, because this action could lead to adverse symptoms, including worsening depression. Supplementing with probiotics can also be a helpful measure, as could physical exercise, meditation, and socialization.

References:

  1. Tomljenoivc L. Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease: after a century of controversy, is there a plausible link? J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;23(4):567-98. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-101494.
  2. Paul A. Eubig, Andrea Aguiar, and Susan L. Schantz. Lead and PCBs as Risk Factors for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Dec; 118(12): 1654-1667. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0901852.
  3. Health Day. Do Certain Medicines Raise Murder Risk? Medline Plus.
  4. Medline Plus. Trazodone. NIH. National Library of Medicine.
  5. David Healy, Andrew Herxheimer, and David B Menkes. Antidepressants and Violence: Probles at the Interface of Medicine and Law. PLoS Med. 2006 Sep; 3(9): e372. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030372.
  6. Kilburn KH. Indoor mold exposure associated with neurobehavioral and pulmonary impairment: a preliminary report. Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jul;58(7):390-8.
  7. Crago BR, Gray MR, Nelson LA, et al. Psychological, neuropsychological, and elctrocortical effects of mixed mold exposure. Arch Environ Health. 2003 Aug;58(8):452-63.
  8. Rutgers University. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Fungus. Rutgers Today.

 


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Three Artificial Sweeteners You Should Look Out For

Three Artificial Sweeteners You Should Look Out For | sugar-free | General Health Special Interests Toxins

Artificial sweeteners are everywhere, and if you’re like me, you avoid them at all costs. Things like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin can be found in a variety of processed diet foods; however, even some foods you wouldn’t expect contain these chemicals. Whether you’re knowingly poisoning yourself with these toxins or not, you must know that their presence in your diet, regardless of the amount, have no purpose for your body. Not eliminating them is sometimes the only obstacle many people have toward achieving an ideal state of health.

The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

Avoiding artificial sweeteners should already be a no-brainer for you, especially if you are a consistent reader of this blog. Here are the top three sweeteners you should look out for:

1. Why Saccharin Is Not Your Friend

Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener and is still a popular sugar substitute used by many people across the world. Fortunately, it’s not as popular in diet foods as it used to be. You will typically find saccharin in pink packets of artificial sweetener, like Sweet‘N Low. Saccharin can encourage potential allergic reactions in some people, including headaches, breathing difficulties, skin eruptions, and diarrhea. [1] There are also studies indicating saccharin in cancer development; although, these studies are dated and do not appear in any relevant, modern literature.

2. The Ever-Popular Sucralose

Sucralose, or commonly known by its trade name “Splenda,” is another commonly-used artificial sweetener. This sweetener, along with aspartame, is often used in diet sodas and other weight loss and diabetic-friendly foods. While it is true that Sucralose starts off with natural sugar as the starting material, it is chlorinated and goes through a very unnatural process during production. Supposedly, Sucralose is not digested and travels through the GI tract unchanged; however, a recent analysis shows the exact opposite. [2] There is some research also showing that Sucralose affects glucose control in diabetics and prediabetics, something that nonnutritive sweeteners are designed to avoid. [3] Considering that Sucralose was discovered while testing for a new insecticide (at least that’s what’s been widely reported), why would we want to ingest this at any amount?

3. How Aspartame Destroys Brain Cells

Aspartate and glutamate are found in aspartame and behave as neurotransmitters in the brain. Having an excess of these neurotransmitters kills certain neurons by allowing the inundation of calcium. This influx provokes excessive amounts of free radicals which kill the cells. [4] The sweetener also contains methanol, which is subsequently metabolized into formaldehyde. There’s a host of other issues with aspartame, and I firmly believe this to be one of the worst artificial sweeteners on the market.

Alternative Natural Sweeteners

I always suggest that everyone, including healthy individuals, remove added sugars from their diet, including added sweeteners. While you can use stevia and other caloric natural sweeteners in moderation, to eliminate our addiction to sweet tastes and promote balance in our diet we must reduce them on all levels. Here are some of the natural sweeteners you should use, but only in moderation:

  • Coconut Nectar
  • Lo Han Extract
  • Stevia
  • Organic Raw Honey
  • Organic Blackstrap Molasses
  • Sugar Alcohols (xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, and erythritol)

What sweeteners do you use? Have you had any personal health experiences with artificial sweeteners? Please share with us in the comments!

References:

  1. Medicine Net. Saccharin: What are the cons? Medicine Net.
  2. Schiffman SS, Rother KI. Sucralose, a synthetic organochlorine sweetener: overview of biological issues. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2013;16(7):399-451. doi: 10.1080/10937404.2013.842523.
  3. Pepino MY, Tiemann CD, Patterson BW, Wice BM, Klein S. Sucralose affects glycemic and hormonal responses to an oral glucose load. Diabetes Care. 2013 Sep;36(9):2530-5. doi: 10.2337/dc12-2221.
  4. Iyyaswamy A, Rathinasamy S. Effect of chronic exposure to aspartame on oxidative stress in the brain of albino rats. J Biosci. 2012 Sep;37(4):679-88.


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Heme Iron Vs. Nonheme Iron: What’s the Difference?

Heme Iron Vs. Nonheme Iron: What’s the Difference? | spinach | General Health Special Interests

Not all iron is created equally, and if you have an iron imbalance, you should carefully consider which iron is best for your health. Your body recognizes the difference between heme and nonheme iron sources and will absorb each type differently. These types are easy to identify in your daily diet. Heme iron comes from animals, and nonheme iron comes from plants. Here is everything else you need to know about the differences between heme and nonheme iron and how each can affect your health.

What Is Heme Iron?

Heme iron is the type of iron found in blood and muscle. Present in animal foods like red meats, fish, and poultry, heme iron is a significant source of the absorbed iron in a typical western diet, though it only makes up about one-third of dietary iron.[1] Heme iron gets its name from the heme protein attached to a lone iron atom. The “heme” in the blood protein hemoglobin refers to this protein-bound form of iron.

Health Benefits of Heme Iron

On average, the human body absorbs about 15% to 35% of heme iron consumed.[2] While the exact mechanism of absorption is unclear, it is clear that the body absorbs heme iron more readily than nonheme iron.[1] However, it’s important to note that heme iron introduces the problems associated with consuming animal products.

Health Risks of Heme Iron

While iron is an essential mineral, the rapid absorption of heme iron is not always a good thing. Keeping the right iron balance is critical. Too little iron puts you at risk for developing iron deficiency anemia; too much can increase oxidative stress. While these concerns can exist with nonheme iron, there are additional health concerns linked directly to heme iron, including the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, several types of cancer, and gastrointestinal side effects.[34, 5]

Sources of Heme Iron

Heme iron only exists in animal products or animal-based iron supplements. These heme iron supplements are available as powders, tablets, capsules, and even drinks. Heme iron-rich foods include oysters, beef liver, and sardines.[6]

What Is Nonheme Iron?

Nonheme iron is iron found in plant foods like green leafy vegetables, beans, and nuts. Nonheme iron is not combined with a heme protein, and this difference is the reason for the body’s reduced ability to absorb nonheme iron. Slower absorption allows you to eat more iron-rich plants without worrying about iron toxicity.[7]

Health Benefits of Nonheme Iron

Nonheme iron is the iron found in plants, and plant foods are inherently healthier than animal foods. Additionally, because nonheme iron is absorbed at a rate of 2% to 20%, toxic iron overload is less likely. Maintaining adequate levels of iron is a delicate balance. Your body is significantly better at moderating the absorption of nonheme iron. Heme iron, on the other hand, can bypass the body’s attempts to control iron absorption. Since you have no way of eliminating excess iron from the body, this gives nonheme iron a significant advantage over heme iron.[18]

Likewise, consuming plant-based foods provides an array of powerful nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals to support your overall health, not just your iron status. Nonheme iron is also less likely to cause health concerns for your heart, unlike meat.

Disadvantages of Nonheme Iron

Bioavailability is the main difference between heme and nonheme iron.[2] Nonheme iron is absorbed at a lower rate than heme iron. However, in this case, its weakness is a strength in disguise. Nonheme iron poses a lower risk of causing iron toxicity, even when consumed in large amounts. Your body allows the iron to pass through the digestive system for elimination.[8]

Best Sources of Nonheme Iron

Plant-based food is the best source of nonheme iron. You can boost your iron intake by eating more iron-rich vegan foods like spinach, lentils, and pumpkin seeds. Also, taking with vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron.[6] Some supplements contain only nonheme iron, but they are far less common than their heme supplement counterparts.

Global Healing Center offers the highest quality nonheme iron supplement available. Iron Fuzion™ provides 100% nonheme iron from curry tree leaves along with a proprietary blend of thyme and echinacea extracts to help your body absorb and use iron. Try it today for yourself and experience the benefits of plant-sourced iron.

References (8)
  1. West, Adrian R., and Phillip S. Oates. “Mechanisms of Heme Iron Absorption: Current Questions and Controversies.” World Journal of Gastroenterology. (2008): 4101–4110.
  2. Morsen, E.R. “Iron nutrition and absorption: dietary factors which impact iron bioavailability.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association (1988): 786-790.
  3. Kaluza J., Wolk A., Larsson S.C. “Heme iron intake and risk of stroke: a prospective study of men. Stroke.” (2013):334-339.
  4. Yang, W., Li, B., Dong, X., et al. “Is heme iron intake associated with risk of coronary heart disease? A meta-analysis of prospective studies.” Eur J Nutr. (2014): 395.
  5. Nadia M. Bastide, Fabrice H.F. Pierre and Denis E. Corpet. “Heme Iron from Meat and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: A Meta-analysis and a Review of the Mechanisms Involved.” Cancer Prev Res February. (2011): 177-184.
  6. Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
  7. Gulec, Sukru, Gregory J. Anderson, and James F. Collins. “Mechanistic and Regulatory Aspects of Intestinal Iron Absorption.” American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 307.4 (2014): G397–G409.
  8. Cook, J.D. “Adaptation In Iron Metabolism.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 51.2 (2017): 301-308. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.


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Is Plastic Surgery Going Organic?

Is Plastic Surgery Going Organic? | neck | General Health Medical & Health Organics Sleuth Journal Special Interests

The following article was written by my good friend, Dr. Richard DeAndrea, MD, ND. He’s the Medical Information Director at LifeSci Center and Medical Director at The Good Life. His work places him at the forefront of the exciting advances described.

Is it possible to get a breast augmentation without an implant? Is it possible to get a face-lift without a filler or Botox? Is it possible to get full lips? Is it possible to get a head of hair without a spray or surgery?

Yes, this is already happening, this is not a dream. Plastic surgery has gone organic. Over 250 breast augmentations have been performed in Japan without an artificial implant using the same person’s stem cells taken from fat after a slimming thigh liposuction.

The first face-lift free of filler or botox was performed on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, by Dr. Richard Ellenbogen in 2010. In 2015, Lady Gaga revealed her secret way to natural lips, with full exposure in Cosmopolitan Magazine. CBS Channel 2 News Los Angeles reported about Dr. Ken Williams of the Orange County Hair Restoration Institute. He’s able to transform baldness to a full head of hair, as already has been done hundreds of times at The Hair Transplant Clinic of Rome, Italy.

What Is the Secret?

The secret is in you, your stem cells—not from embryos or another person. In a process known as Autologous Stem Cell Therapy, stem cells that come from your fat and are given back to you. Stem cells are a discovery that is turning the eye of doctors and surgeons to an organic approach, one that works with nature.

What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are unique cells found all over the body that regrow and replace the skin, hair, and fat content that changes in our bodies from day-to-day. In fact, millions of cells die on our skin in one day, these cells must be replaced or we would simply degenerate and disappear into the ethers.

How Are Stem Cells Affecting Plastic Surgery?

Stem cells are replacing silicon and saline implants and can be combined with fat from the abdomen, thighs and buttocks after liposuction to fill the breast like a balloon, up to two cup sizes. Women have gone from an A cup to a C cup and retained this size even after dieting. The same cells can be injected under the skin and into muscles to cause a face-lift and regenerate fine lines without a single drug or resection of skin.

Stem cells can be injected into a petri dish with hair samples to cause more hair to grow that may be transplanted into the scalp by micro-needle injection, causing your own hair to regrow.

Stem cells can stimulate growth of other stem cells in the lips. Even stem cells from plants have been shown to catalyze or stimulate the growth of stem cells in the lips, potentially giving lips a younger, fuller appearance.

The plastic enhanced days of Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson are losing traction. Plastic surgery is going organic because a new era has dawned in which the power of nature is replacing the false perception of better living through chemistry. It is time to get real and look good doing it, for beauty is and always has been deep within every cell of our being.

Time to go organic!


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Are Your Candles Emitting Toxins?

Are Your Candles Emitting Toxins? | candle-flame | Special Interests Toxins
Candles are great for encouraging relaxation and creating a calm, serene environment. A candle’s aroma and soft, warm glow sets a nice tone for romance, sophistication, and tranquility. Most candles today feature a variety of aromas. While refreshing they may be, the chemicals used to produce a candle’s fragrance can be toxic and can contribute to air pollution. Fortunately, there are safe options, and it’s just a matter of being conscious during your purchasing decisions.

The Health Dangers of Candles

Let’s take a quick look at the components of many candles, and how each component may be contributing to a toxic environment.

The Health Dangers of Candle Wicks

One of the main concerns over candles, besides the scents, is the wick. Different wicks are used for different purposes and they can be divided into two main categories: cored and non-cored wicks. Non-cored wicks are usually made of a braided or twisted cotton and considered the safest to burn.

Cored wicks are usually made of cotton around a paper or metal core. Zinc, tin, and lead are standard compounds used in its composition. Burning candles with lead-cored wicks is now known to cause lead poisoning, and there are similar concerns about zinc-cored wicks. In 1974, the National Candle Association of the U.S. voluntarily stopped using lead-cored wicks because of risks with airborne lead. [1] Unfortunately, many countries outside of North America still produce candles using dangerous wicks.

In 2000, the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that indicated candles with wicks containing lead were available at 12 different stores in the Washington-Baltimore area. [2] Testing showed that the candle containing the least lead would, during three hours of burning time, produce enough air lead concentration so that a normally active six-year old would exceed the recommended daily lead limit for children in 45 minutes. The authors concluded that there is no reliable method to distinguish lead-containing wicks from other metal-cored wicks.

The Health Dangers of Candle Wax

The type of wax the candle is made of and and how the candle is burned significantly affects air quality. A candle burned in a draft with a smokey, guttering flame will be emitting particulate matter in every direction. If you prefer a candle that has a metal-cored wick, ask the manufacturer what metal is in the wick. If they can’t or won’t tell you, for safety’s sake, choose another candle.

The Health Dangers of Artificial Fragrances

Beeswax and bayberry wax both contain natural scents, beeswax offering the sweet smell of honey and bayberry a spicy, fresh aroma. Scents added to wax vary in their source and composition. Originally, perfumes came from animal and vegetable sources. In the late 1800s, the first synthetic fragrances were produced and were quickly adopted as a cheaper source of aromas. Many people today are sensitive to artificial scents from perfume, candles, and even air fresheners.

Fragrance oils are specially made for particular uses, such as scenting candles, soaps, cosmetics, and potpourris. They are usually synthetic. Exact formulas for fragrances fall under the trade secrets act in the U.S., but manufacturers of the oils will normally be able to produce a Materials Safety Data Sheet which will cover the physical characteristics of the oil, physical or health hazards, and first aid treatment in case of an accident. Candle scents contain stabilizers and fixatives which allow the oils to mix with wax and give off an aroma when heated.

Essential oils are naturally-occurring oils that are extracted mainly from botanical sources. They are usually more expensive than synthetic fragrances, and may not blend well with candle wax. Natural essential oils are more volatile than synthetics and most of them are difficult to use in candles unless they have added stabilizers or fixatives.

Other Additives

Stearic acid was once the only additive available for paraffin candles and is derived from either animal fat or palm oil. It is now often replaced with Vybar, a polymer which raises the melting point of paraffin, allows scents and colors to blend evenly in the wax, and gives the paraffin some of the qualities of more expensive waxes, allowing candle makers to charge more for a cheap candle.

Microcrystallines are a group of substances derived from petroleum that are added to candles to change the texture of the wax, add gloss, increase opacity, etc. Polyethylenes are produced from natural gas. They add gloss, luster, or clear crystals to wax.

The Bottom Line on Candle Safety

When candles are lit, they emit these chemicals into the air, the air we breathe. Our bodies take the burden of this indoor air pollution with unknown toxic effects. The American Lung Association even warns people from burning scented or slow-burning candles that contain artificial ingredients. In addition, they suggest burning beeswax candles instead with metal in the wick, or candles that are greasy to the touch.

Choosing Safe Candles

Buy candles from trusted countries. Imported candles often come from countries where they employ chemicals no longer used in North America because of health concerns. Find out what the wick is made of. If your vendor can’t tell you, don’t buy it. Cotton or hemp wicks are considered to be the safest. Choose candles made from beeswax or soy wax. Avoid paraffin.

Be aware that many candle manufacturers make claims for their candles or waxes that can’t be substantiated or are untrue. No candle is “soot-free” because combustion causes soot; however, beeswax and soy wax don’t produce sticky, black, petroleum-based soot.

Do you have a safe candle recommendation? Leave a comment below and share it with us.

References:

  1. National Candle Association. FAQs. National Candle Association.
  2. Public Citizen. Millions of Dangerous Candles Sold Throughout U.S. Public Citizen.

 


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The Hidden Toxins In Your Clothing

The Hidden Toxins In Your Clothing | clothing-on-rack | Special Interests Toxins

Popular clothing stores, like H&M, Levi’s, and Gap, are beginning to turn their attention toward producing healthier and more environmentally-friendly clothing. [1] Increased consumer awareness around the dangers of synthetic dyes, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and phthalates in conventional clothing is fueling a drastic revolution in the fashion industry. Keeping in line with current trends, clothing retailers are finally attempting to appeal to health-conscious buyers as well as appease international health organizations.

How Toxins Invade Your Closet

During the production of clothes, toxic chemicals are used in almost every step. Synthetic fabrics are dyed with man-made chemical dying agents, fabrics are applied with toxins that make them immune to biodegradation, and many clothes contain buttons and accessories that contain known endocrine disruptors. Phthalates, for example, are sometimes found in buttons, and just a few of these worn on a person could, over time, contribute to hormonal imbalance. Common synthetic fabrics like nylon and acrylic are extremely toxic to the body and the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that inhalation of acrylonitrile, the main chemical compound used to produce acrylic fibers, shows carcinogenic potential via inhalation. [2]

Formaldehyde is essentially “baked” into fabric to make it resistant to wrinkling, which is bad news because research shows that this chemical is a human carcinogen. While it’s nice to save time and not have to iron your slacks, at what cost is this convenience factor to our future health? Nonylphenols are another class of endocrine disruptors used in some dying applications, and we’re now detecting levels of this chemical in our water. It is painstakingly clear that, for the future of our health and our planet, we must advocate for a change in the way our clothing is produced. Otherwise, we will be faced with a silent environmental and health crisis, one that may take decades to overcome.

Ways You Can Produce Change

Just as with any health movement, one of the most substantial ways to assist change is to “vote with your pocketbook.” In other words, support companies that produce organic, natural clothing as much as possible. Look for clothes made from bamboo, organic cotton, or flax, and always choose clothes produced using natural dyes. Write to your favorite clothing manufacturers to inquire what they are doing to reduce their reliance on chemicals in their clothing production. Fortunately, choosing clothes made with natural fibers is becoming easier, and the more we support these companies, the faster we will see a change in the clothing industry.

References:

  1. Elizabeth Grossman. Cotton, Cashmere, Chemicals…What Really Goes Into Making Our Clothes? Ensia.
  2. EPA. Acrylonitrile. Environmental Protection Agency.

 


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The Health Benefits of Water Fasting

The Health Benefits of Water Fasting | water | General Health Sleuth Journal Special Interests

While fasting has been part of human culture for thousands of years, only recently have we begun to investigate the therapeutic benefits of the practice. Interestingly, modern science has found a variety of verifiable positive effects fasting has on human health.

What Is Water Fasting?

Water fasting, also known as a water cleanse, is a type of fasting in which you consume only water for a set period of time. Many types of cleansing diets are referred to as fasts, but in water fasting, you take in zero calories. It’s distinct from caloric restriction in which a person’s daily caloric intake is reduced by 20–40%.

Of course, in the long-term, it’s impossible to live on water alone. Your body can’t function without calories and nutrients; they’re the batteries and building blocks of life. However, a carefully planned, short-term water fast can help reset certain biological processes and reinvigorate your health.

The most common question people ask about water fasting is “why?” Why would you voluntarily subject yourself to hunger and nutritional deprivation? There are many reasons to fast. Some people do it for religious or spiritual reasons; others to raise awareness for a cause. However, there are also well-established health benefits to fasting. Intermittent fasting encourages weight loss, reduces body fat, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and may even reduce the risk of serious conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.[12]

In the early days of humanity, fasting was the norm. Before the invention of agriculture, we were all hunter-gatherers. We ate what we could, when we could. Grabbing a snack from the fridge whenever our stomachs rumbled was not an option. Survival required that we adapt to occasional food shortages.[3]

Our ancestors incorporated fasting into cultural traditions long after the invention of agriculture ended our hunter-gatherer days. Many religions participate in ritual fasting to this day. Those of Islamic faith fast from dawn until dusk during the month of Ramadan. Many Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and peoples of many other faiths all take part in traditional fasting. Many great healers and thinkers, like Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle have praised the benefits of fasting.

The Health Benefits of Water Fasting

Fasting isn’t just for times of need or a way to demonstrate faith and devotion. There are some legitimate health benefits to fasting as well.

Weight Loss

The fasting benefit that interests most people is weight loss. While it may seem obvious that not eating will lead to less body fat, let’s take a closer look at exactly how water fasting can help. Ketosis is the state in which your body begins taking energy from your internal fat stores instead of food. Water fasting helps your body reach ketosis more quickly than dieting. When you refrain from eating calories, your body is forced to burn fat cells for energy.[4]

Slows Aging

While we know of no force on earth that can halt or reverse the aging process, it is certainly true that some people age more gracefully than others. Animal studies have found that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan by up to 80% over control groups. In humans, fasting has been found to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation.[4]

Improved Cell Recycling

Autophagy is your body’s normal, natural process for recycling unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Water fasting forces your system into an autophagic state. With the severely reduced caloric intake, your body is forced to be more selective in which cells it protects.[5]

This means that fasting can encourage your body’s natural healing mechanisms to actively destroy and recycle damaged tissues, which may have a positive effect on several serious conditions.

There is bountiful anecdotal evidence from people who claim that water fasting helped them overcome debilitating disorders. Current research backs up many of these claims. Animal studies have found that alternate day fasting caused a major reduction in the incidence of cancer and metabolic syndrome. Rodents placed on an intermittent fast had fewer incidences of neurological disorders including Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.[4]

Water, Cells, and Human Health: New Breakthroughs

Of course, your body needs water for hydration, but is there more to it than that? Yes there is, according to Dr. Gerald H. Pollack, a professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Pollack and his team have made some new discoveries that challenge our current understanding of water. They found that water behaves oddly within living cells. Close to the cell membrane, water organizes itself in a series of gel-like layers, rather than as a completely fluid solution.

Dr. Pollack calls this “exclusion zone” (EZ) water, and it’s not the H2O we’re familiar with. EZ water is actually H3O2—three hydrogen atoms bonded to two oxygen atoms. So what does this mean for water fasting? Well, the reason this is called the exclusion zone is because it excludes things—things like contaminants and impurities. EZ water holds a negative charge and pushes contaminants away from itself. This discovery may have serious implications for cell signaling and detoxification, but more research needs to be done before we fully understand the connection.[6]

How to Perform a Water Fast

When fasting, planning is crucial; don’t skimp on it. If you’ve never done a fast before, you shouldn’t just start a 30-day water cleanse this afternoon. There is a right way to do any cleansing diet. Fasting is not usually dangerous, but it can do more harm than good if done incorrectly. I recommend consulting with a trusted health care provider before performing any fast.

Drink High-Quality Water

When performing a water fast, it’s more important than ever to only consume fresh, clean, high-quality water. The effect of any contaminants in your water will only be magnified with no food in your gut to help dilute the effect. I recommend you drink only distilled water during your fast. You can also drink filtered water if you have a very good filtration system, but distillation goes further than filtration and removes all harmful organisms and chemicals.

The most crucial step in any fast is to arrange your schedule. If possible, take time off work for the duration of the cleanse. Choose a length of time for your water fasting diet. Fasts can be done for any length of time up to about a month, but 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10-day water fasts are the most common. Start small. If this is your first fast, try a 24-hour or a 3-day fast.

If you perform any fast longer than five days, or you’re fasting to alleviate serious conditions, consider a supervised water fast. Many people choose a supervised fast because it offers a controlled environment, a team of professionals to make sure all goes well, and fellow fasters for emotional support. A fasting clinic can do tests to find the best fast for you, monitor your health during the fast, and help ease your transition back to solid foods after the fast.

Before we get started, let’s go over a few precautions. You should not perform a fast if you are pregnant or lactating. A developing child is just too sensitive to nutritional deficiencies. Likewise, anyone with type 1 diabetes should choose a different type of detox diet. Fasting works best for people who are 20 lbs or more overweight. If you’re less than this, you can still try fasting, but plan a shorter duration for your first fast.

What to Expect During a Water Fast

Fasting is a time for rest, not exertion. Don’t plan on running any marathons during your fast. You shouldn’t even go to the gym. Your body will want to sleep more than usual—let it. Listen to your body; you may need 12 hours or more of sleep each night, and naps during the day. Do not be alarmed; this is part of the process. Relax and embrace it.

Drink 2-3 quarts (or liters) of water every day. Don’t drink it all at once. Space it out over the course of the day to keep yourself properly hydrated and increase satiety.

I won’t lie; the first couple days are going to be tough. You will likely experience some unpleasant symptoms like hunger, irritability, headaches, or disorientation. Fortunately, your body is resilient and should quickly adapt. You should start feeling better around the third or fourth day. Many people even report a feeling of euphoria at this point.

Water Fasting Tips and Tricks

Here are a couple fasting tips that can make your experience go a little more smoothly.

Read

Books are a faster’s best friend. When fasting, it’s important to both rest your body and keep your mind occupied. Now would be a good time to catch up on your reading. Reading is a fantastic low-energy way to keep your mind engaged.

Set Realistic Goals

Be realistic about your goals. Why are you doing this cleanse? To help a particular health issue? To lose weight? Set simple, clear, achievable goals.

Meditation

Meditation reinforces willpower and promotes a healthy connection between body and mind. Many people find that meditating can be a great way to help control cravings and strengthen resolve. Others report that feelings of hunger distract them from mediation. Find what works best for you.

Lemon Juice

Remember, in a water cleanse, you drink only water. No food, no smoothies, no juices. There is one exception, sort of. Some people find the taste of plain water underwhelming. If you’re of a similar mind, you can add a small squirt of lemon juice into your water. Let me be clear; this isn’t an excuse to drink sugary lemonade. A small squeeze of a lemon slice can add some flavor without adding much in the way of calories. Likewise, you can add a spoonful of raw organic apple cider vinegar to add a little flavor and some probiotics.

After the Fast

After the fast, you must resist the urge to overindulge, especially in the first few days. While you may dream of gorging yourself at the taco truck, your rebooted digestive system simply cannot handle it yet. At this point, rich food would cause you severe discomfort, or possibly serious complications.

Instead, break your fast slowly. Start by drinking only juices and detox waters, then broths, and gradually add in solid foods. You can do this over the course of a day if you performed a very short fast, but for fasts of 3-7 days, wait at least 24 hours before reintroducing your system to solid foods. Breaking the fast can be a multi-day process for fasts longer than that.

Fasting is a great way to reset your system and experience some fantastic health benefits, but it’s not a way to cheat basic biology. Don’t expect to live a life of overindulgence and let the occasional water detox cancel out the damage.

Rather, fasting is just one part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Other lifestyle choices you must make include eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, effectively managing stress, and avoiding environmental toxins. Use your fast as an opportunity to abandon bad habits and add new healthy habits to your routine.

Finally, if you decide that fasting isn’t for you, that’s fine. There are many different ways to detox. Find a method of deep cleansing that suits you and make it part of your healthy lifestyle.

References (6)
  1. Bair, Stephanie. “Intermittent Fasting: Try This at Home for Brain Health.” SLS Blogs/ Law and Sciences Blog. Stanford Law School, 9 Jan. 2015. Web. 12 May 2017.
  2. Wu, Suzanne. “The Benefits of Fasting.” USC Dornsife College News RSS. University of Southern California, 10 June 2014. Web. 12 May 2017.
  3. Secor, Stephen M., and Hannah V. Carey. “Integrative Physiology of Fasting.” Comprehensive Physiology (2016): 773-825. Web. 12 May 2017.
  4. Longo, Valter D., and Mark P. Mattson. “Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms And Clinical Applications.” Cell Metabolism 19.2 (2014): 181-192. Web. 4 May 2017.
  5. Rubinsztein DC, Mariño G., Kroemer G. “Autophagy and aging.” Cell. 2011 Sep 2;146(5):682-95. Web. 4 May 2017.
  6. Pollack, Gerald H. “Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life a New, Unifying Approach to Cell Function.” Seattle, WA: Ebner & Sons, 2001. Print.


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New Innovation In Telomere Extension

New Innovation In Telomere Extension | New-Innovation-In-Telomere-Extension | General Health Medical & Health Science & Technology Special Interests

Telomeres are the caps at the end of human DNA strands known as chromosomes that protect the DNA code of the genome. As humans age, telomeres begin to decrease in size, causing cellular aging. After telomeres reach a certain length, the cell is no longer able to divide and will die. This process has been associated with disease, aging, and death. Antioxidants are often credited as providing nutritional support that can help protect normal telomere size and function.

Telomere Extension: Is It Possible?

Studies have shown that a healthy lifestyle and stress reduction can have a huge impact on telomeres, causing them to grow longer, potentially even lengthening lifespan. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have recently uncovered a new procedure for quickly increasing the length of telomeres in the laboratory. [1]

Scientists discovered that cells treated with this type of procedure acted as though they were much younger than untreated cells. Cells that had their telomeres lengthened by the treatment multiplied up to 40 times more quickly than untreated cells. By increasing the number of times cells are able to divide, the procedure essentially turns back the aging clock in cultured cells.

While the procedure causes telomeres to lengthen initially, the effect is only temporary. After 48 hours, telomeres resume shortening regularly as cells divide. The temporary nature of this new technique is key to the procedure’s potential for success, since infinitely dividing cells could create a risk of cancer if used in humans.

The discovery offers numerous potential benefits for humans, paving the path to treating and preventing aging diseases and other conditions associated with shortening telomeres. By developing telomere extension therapies, scientists can improve existing cell therapies and possibly treat aging conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, or target types of muscle cells in cases of muscular dystrophy. The procedure may also increase the amount of cells available for research and studies like disease modeling and drug testing.

Ways You Can Protect Telomeres

Currently, researchers are testing the procedure on different cell types. By working to understand and overcome the differences among cell types, scientists hope they can make the procedure more universally useful. Things that you can do to protect telomeres from shortening prematurely include eating a diet rich in antioxidants, reducing stress, exercising, increasing vitamin D production, and improving the quality of your sleep. Some research has also shown that tea drinkers have longer telomeres than non-tea drinkers. [2]

What are your anti-aging protocols? We’d love to hear about your suggestions and opinions in the comments!

References:

  1. Ramunas J, Yakubov E, Brady JJ, et al. Transient delivery of modified mRNA encoding TERT rapidly extends telomeres in human cells. FASEB J. 2015 Jan 22. pii: fj.14-259531.
  2. Sheng R, Gu ZL, Xie ML. Epigallocatechin gallate, the major component of polyphenols in green tea, inhibits telomere attrition mediated cariomyocyte apoptosis in cardiac hypertrophy. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jan 20;162(3):199-209. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.07.083.


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Why Is Diet Soda Addictive?

Why Is Diet Soda Addictive? | drinking-soda | General Health Special Interests Toxins

An addiction to diet soda may seem silly to most people, many of whom have been tricked into thinking that calorie-free soda is the healthier choice compared to traditional carbonated beverages. Since it’s calorie free and sugar free, most people who are dieting will choose diet soda as a beverage of choice at meals and snacks. Due to its highly-addictive nature, diet soda is often consumed in excess, often replacing pure water.

The most common brands of diet soda include these ingredients:

  • Carbonated water
  • Caramel color
  • Aspartame
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Potassium citrate
  • Natural flavors
  • Citric acid
  • Caffeine

This is a toxic cocktail of chemicals that are known to cause changes in brain chemistry, cellular communication, and basic metabolism. Aspartame is one of the biggest health culprits in diet soda, not to mention a host of other processed foods. It is probably the key ingredient associated with addiction.

Why is Diet Soda Addictive?

Aspartame, the chemical sweetener used to replace high fructose corn syrup in diet soda, activates the reward centers in your brain. [1] The trouble is, because aspartame doesn’t provide any calories (energy), the body misses out and makes it crave more. It’s your body’s way of basically “reaching out” for fuel when it’s missed the calories from the first hit of diet soda consumption. Diet soda is trying to trick the body, but the body rebels and makes you want more and more to satisfy those reward centers in the brain and provide energy for cells.

Brain chemistry is also tampered with when aspartame is ingested. Aspartame is comprised of two amino acids and a methyl ester, and these compounds can affect the dopamine system in the brain linked to positive reinforcement. [2] Alcohol and drugs can cause similar effects, but at different levels of severity. The caffeine in diet soda–not to mention in regular soda, coffee, and energy drinks–is considered a drug, and an addictive one at that. Caffeine is a psychostimulant, and, when combined with aspartame’s dopamine effects, increases addictive behavior. [3]

Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the classic ways to prove whether or not you’re addicted to diet soda is to abstain from the product for one to seven days and see if you experience withdrawal symptoms. First and foremost, caffeine deprivation after a prolonged period of consumption will bring about headaches, irritability, and mood disturbances. Psychological issues may also result as a side effect of eliminating aspartame, as the sweetener can impair the transport of tryptophan which helps produce serotonin. [4]

How to Fight Diet Soda Addiction

The only way to be free from diet soda is to make a deliberate choice not to buy it the next time you go to the grocery store. Don’t order it at restaurants, and pass if a friend offers it to you at your next social engagement. Going cold turkey is the only way for most people; however, extreme cases may need appropriate psychological counseling and behavioral therapy to fight addiction. If you can’t go cold turkey, just start reducing one can or glass of diet soda per day, replacing it with pure water.

You can try replacing diet soda with coffee or tea, but you will still have the caffeine issue. While these beverages are certainly healthy (without sweetener), you may wish to try herbal tea initially. Rooibos tea is a fantastic antioxidant-rich herbal tea that is also free from caffeine. I also advise looking at your food labels and abstain from purchasing anything that has aspartame anywhere in the ingredients list.

Have you experienced a diet soda addiction? We’d love to hear how you combated it! Please contribute your thoughts, opinions, or questions in the comments!

References:

  1. Oyama Y, Sakai H, Arata T, et al. Cytotoxic effects of methanol, formaldehyde, and formate on dissociated rat thymocytes: a possibility of aspartame toxicity. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2002;18(1):43:50.
  2. Marc-Antoine Crocq, MD. Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and mental disorders. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2003 Jun;5(2): 175-185.
  3. Marcello Solinas, Sergi Ferre, Zhi-Bing You, et al. Caffeine Induces Dopamine and Glutamate Release in the Shell of the Nucleus Accumbens. The Journal of Neuroscience, August 1, 2002, 22(15):6321-6324.
  4. P Humphries, E Pretorius and H Naude. Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2008) 62, 451-462; doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602866.


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