If you haven't heard of bisphenol A (BPA) yet, it's time to wake up and throw out that polycarbonate plastic water bottle you bring back and forth to the gym.
BPA--a hormone disruptor--has been blamed for insulin resistance, birth defects, miscarriages, obesity and other health problems.
A new study out today reports that exposing polycarbonate plastic to boiling water will cause BPA to leach out 55 times faster than normal.
It just so happens that baby bottles are usually made of the same polycarbonate plastic, which parents are told to sterilize in boiling water before their first use. Additionally, studies have found that repeated scrubbing and washing can also cause the release of BPA from the plastic.
While the FDA and the plastic industry recognize BPA as safe, the majority of studies have linked it to reproductive and developmental problems.
Switching to glass or stainless steel bottles can minimize your exposure to BPA. They can be found at health food stores and Amazon.com.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
If you haven't heard of bisphenol A (BPA) yet, it's time to wake up and throw out that polycarbonate plastic water bottle you bring back and forth to the gym.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Ladies, get your best red outfits ready to wear this Friday, February 1 in support of National Wear Red Day. The American Heart Association's annual call to wear red is a simple way for women to draw attention to the nation's number one killer--heart disease.
Most people are unaware that one out of three women will die from this condition, resulting in 460,000 deaths a year. Unfortunately, it can also affect woman of all ages. The good news is that heart disease is preventable with a heart-healthy diet and exercise.
Organizations and businesses can make the event a group effort as well. To find out more about National Wear Red Day or to get an assessment of your heart condition, go to: GoRedForWomen.org.
Related Article: Red Wine Polyphenols Counter Effects of Oxidized Fats
Thursday, January 24, 2008
While red wine polyphenols are known to help prevent cardiovascular disease, new research has discovered that consuming polyphenols with a high-fat food greatly reduces its ill effects.
The study published earlier this month specifically looked at the influence of red wine polyphenols on levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a bi-product of fat metabolism known to increase the risk of heart disease. Researchers found that MDA levels increased five-fold after participants ate a high-fat meal and drank water. However, participants who ate a high-fat meal served up with red wine had minimal increases in their MDA levels.
Polyphenols can also be taken in dietary supplement form. The food industry is expected to consider using them as a "meal additive" in unhealthy, fatty foods to reduce health risks.
Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2008, January 6).
Photo Credit: André Karwath
Related Article: 10 Superfoods to Fight Inflammation
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made the wise decision to toss out my chemical cleaners and go natural. I wasn't thinking so much about the environment at large, but the air space in my home where I live and breath. Those harsh smelling products did a great job cleaning and disinfecting, but I didn't want my unborn daughter to pay the price.
I've since scrubbed with homemade concoctions and every store-bought, earth-friendly cleaner available, but to be honest, I wish they gave me the same results as those darn chemical ones. For example, my mirrors and glass tables always have a few streaks on them now. However, I chalk it up to the price you pay for a healthier home.
So today I was thrilled when I read that consumer demand for environment-friendly cleaning products is sparking a change in the industry. The big companies are now going green and creating natural, chemical-free products with the same effectiveness that consumers expect from conventional ones, according to Chemical & Engineering News. Clorox is paving the way, launching a natural-based line this month called Green Works.
It looks like the day is coming when non-toxic cleaning supplies will be commonplace--a trend that will be both good for the earth and healthy for people. I just hope this also means my dining room table will be streak-free again.
"Earth Friendly" Dry Cleaning isn't Necessarily "Healthy Friendly"
Lose the Shoes for a Healthier Home
Monday, January 21, 2008
If hot flashes have you up at night and you'd prefer to steer clear of hormone replacement therapy, you may want to try eating a few scoops of flaxseed a day.
A recent small study published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology found that when 21 woman ate four tablespoons of ground flaxseed every day for six days their hot-flash frequency was cut in half. Additionally, the participants reported improved mood, reduced muscle pain, fewer chills and less sweating.
Flaxseed is a source of plant-based estrogen, also known as phytoestrogen. It also contains lignans-- antioxidants known to have anti-cancer properties--as well as hearty-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
“Not only does flaxseed seem to alleviate hot flashes, but it appears to have overall health and psychological benefits as well,” said the lead researcher.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Related Article: Top 5 Natural Remedies to Balance Hormone
Thursday, January 17, 2008
If toxic chemicals in dry cleaning have convinced you to switch to a "greener" cleaner, you my be disappointed to learn that it may not be a healthier choice.
According to Body + Soul, many of the so-called eco-friendly cleaners are still using perchloroethylene, also known as perc, which can cause dizziness and fatigue in addition to being an environmental pollutant.
If you find a perc-free cleaner, you should know that many of the substitutes are still unhealthy. EcoSolv and DF-2000 are petroleum-derived hydrocarbon solvents, which are highly flammable and potentially toxic. Green Earth, aka siloxane, isn't much better. It's been linked to uterine cancers.
The better dry cleaning choice, according to Body + Soul, is to have your clothes dry cleaned using carbon dioxide, which has no known risks and doesn't produce additional greenhouse gases. Check out findco2.com to see if there's a dry cleaner in your area using this method.
The best option, however, is to have your clothes professionally laundered using biodegradable detergents. Some of those "dry-clean-only" labeled clothes can also be cleaned in water. To find out more about this, check out Body + Soul at bodyandsoulmag.com/wetwashing.
Related Article: Lose the Shoes for a Healthier Home
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The news about stevia keeps getting sweeter. This zero-calorie, healthy sweetener may be destined to become the next superfood now that a new study has found that the leaf extract it's made from contains an abundance of antioxidant polyphenols.
The research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, says that these antioxidants may protect against DNA damage and cancer.
Currently, stevia is mostly found in health food stores because the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) considers it a supplement. However, the FDA is expected to be petitioned in the near future to approve its use in food and beverages.
Stevia, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, is also known for it's licorice-like aftertaste. Fortunately, recent developments in processing have helped eliminate the unpleasant flavor.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Related Articles: Coca-Cola Turns to Natural Sweetener Stevia to Sweeten Up
Monday, January 14, 2008
If you're a health conscious consumer, who shuns foods made from unnatural ingredients, you may be shocked to learn that just because a food label claims a product is "all natural" doesn't mean it really is. Currently, no government regulations or industry standards are in place to define the term.
Last year, Cadbury Schweppes and Kraft labeled beverages "natural" that contained high fructose corn syrup, but later removed the misleading claim after being threatened with lawsuits. They're not alone in their attempt to put a healthy spin on products as a result of the rising demand by consumers for healthier, natural fare.
Unfortunately, setting a standard for "natural" isn't about to happen any time soon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently stated that it has no intention on defining "natural" in the near future, and will only do so if there is overwhelming evidence proving that people are being misled.
Therefore, if you're concerned about what goes into your mouth, don't trust the claims made on food labels. Take the time to read the ingredient labels on packaging.
Of course, buying products labeled "100% organic" are a safe bet. However, a healthier option over processed foods is choosing organic, whole foods--such as fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs and dairy. They may take a little extra time to prepare into a meal, but are always the real deal.
Photo credit: USDA
Related Article: Organic Produce Has More Cancer-Fighting Power
Thursday, January 10, 2008
If you're having a bad hair day, blame it on your diet. Your tresses are a reflection of what you eat, claims health expert Keri Glassman.
In case you missed the author and nutritionist on yesterday's "The Early Show", here is Glassman's advice on what to feed your hair:
- For strong/fast growing hair, eat foods rich in protein, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, biotin and silica. You should include in your diet: lean beef, eggs, chicken, yogurt, asparagus, Swiss chard, almonds, brown rice, cumin and turmeric.
- For shiny hair, choose foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C and selenium. These foods are particularly helpful: wild salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, Brazil nuts, beets, broccoli, carrots, berries, melons and flaxseeds.
- For dry hair, make sure your getting enough iodine, vitamin A, vitamin E and zinc. Drink plenty of water and make sure to consume: seaweed, green vegetables, olive oil, avocado, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, kelp, iodized salt and garlic.
- To prevent graying and give hair more color, consume foods containing vitamins B5 and B6. Good selections include: coconut, brewer's yeast, milk, eggs, shellfish and liver.
- Healthy hair tips: drink lots of water; eat whole, natural, fresh foods; eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day; eat a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals; take a multivitamin and omega-3 supplement; get your sleep; and minimize stress.
- Avoid: caffeine; low-protein diet; vitamin/mineral deficiencies; refined sugars; processed foods with preservative; high salt content; transfats and saturated fats; excess amount of vitamins and minerals; and lack of sleep.
Related Article: Salon Quality Healthy Alternative Hair Products
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
To get the most health benefits out of a cup of green tea, make sure to squeeze a slice of lemon into your brew to help retain more if its antioxidant power.
If you drink your green tea unadulterated, you'll only reap 20 percent of its antioxidant catechins because the other 80 percent are lost when the drink passes through the digestive process. However, researchers at Purdue University discovered that by adding lemon juice to the tea you can retain 80 percent of those antioxidants.
While researchers found that other citrus fruits can boost antioxidant levels, lemon juice proved to retain the most.
Source: Purdue University
Photo Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell
Related Article: New Reason to Drink Green Tea: Fights Colds and Flu
Monday, January 7, 2008
For those trying to get in shape this new year, I have some good news to make getting healthier a bit easier. It all starts in the mind--not the gym.
If your mind perceives a certain activity as a workout, such a cleaning the house, then you'll reap healthy results. However, if you don't see it as exercise, you won't be any healthier for it.
This finding is based on a 2007 study that found when hotel housekeepers were informed that their work routine offered enough exercise to meet the requirements for a healthy, active lifestyle, they actually lost two pounds in four weeks and lowered their blood pressure by almost 10 percent. Additionally, they were healthier in terms of their body mass index, waist-to-hip ration and body-fat percentage.
On the other hand, the housekeepers not informed that they were getting a workout through their daily routine did not reap the same health benefits.
Study researchers concluded that the mind plays a significant role in enhancing health.
Source: Association for Psychological Science
Related Article: Burn More Fat with Less Intensity
Thursday, January 3, 2008
While inflammation is the body's healthy response to fight off foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, many people today are walking around with an unhealthy dose of chronic, low-level inflammation. If you are overweight, eat poorly, rarely exercise, smoke or live a stressful life, you are fueling the flames of inflammation.
Studies have shown that chronic inflammation is harmful to the body and is believed to be one of the leading causes of premature aging and illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. It's even linked to poor mental health, causing depression and mood disorders.
To reduce your body's inflammation level, make sure you get enough exercise, reduce or eliminate sugar intake and minimize stress. Additionally, eat a diet rich in anti-inflammation foods such as healthy fats (think omega-3 fatty acids), antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and pungent foods and spices.
To help put your body on a path to better health, add these excellent inflammation-fighting foods and spices to your diet:
- Blueberries are loaded with a polyphenol antioxidant that bolsters the immune system and protects against free radicals, which trigger inflammation. Polyphenols can also be found in blackberries, raspberries and cranberries.
- Garlic is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It contains sulfur compounds that stimulates your body's immunity to fight off disease.
- Fresh Ginger Root acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes.
- Onions contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant that helps your body fight inflammation. It can also be found in apples, broccoli, red wine, red grapes and tea.
- Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which decreases inflammation and helps boost the immune system. Pineapple is also a great source of vitamin C.
- Spinach is a great source of inflammation-squashing carotenoids and immunity-enhancing vitamin E.
- Sweet Potatoes are also an excellent source of carotenoids, which boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Carotenoids can also be found in deep orange, red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables.
- Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance that actively reduces inflammation. It works like ginger as a COX-2 inhibitor.
- Wild-Caught Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Herring, mackerel and sardines are also good sources of omega-3s.
- Walnuts is also an excellent source of omega-3s as well as vitamin E.
Exercise Speeds Wound Healing, Reduces Skin Inflammation
Super Immunity Booster Fights Effects of Physical Stress
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Now that the holidays are past and you've resolved to be healthier in the New Year, don't just jump head first into a hard-to-follow detox plan. Instead follow your body's natural rhythm to rest and keep things simple, says Elson Hass, MD, in his book The New Detox Diet.
Hass, an integrative-medicine practitioner, promotes a more gentle cleanse this time of the year. One that reduces toxin intake and supports the body's natural detoxification system.
Haas, offers a one-week detox plan of eating only brown rice, cooked vegetables, miso broth, seaweed, while also working out toxins through massages, saunas and steams.
You can also try his three-week plan which omits alcohol, caffeine, dairy, sweets and wheat, while eating primarily steamed vegetables and warm broths.
Additionally, The New Detox Diet offers some simple guidelines to help minimize your exposure to toxins throughout the year:
- Drink filtered water.
- Eat organic and seasonal foods.
- Cook in iron, stainless steal, glass or porcelain cookware.
- Eat a variety of foods and don't overload on potential food allergens, such as dairy, eggs, wheat and yeast foods.
- Reduce consumption of red meats, cured meats, refined foods, canned foods, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, salt and sugar.