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Diet and Healthy Living

Going Organic.  Does it Really Make a Difference?

Conventional agriculture uses 400 chemical pesticides to control pests and chemical fertilizers that swell produce to hold more water. The United Kingdom recently found high levels of pesticide residues in baby food, dried fruit, spinach, bread, apples, celery, and chips. Some pesticides have been linked to disruptions in the human endocrine system (hormone regulation), breast cancer, uterine cancer and asthma. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture revealed that since the 1940s, the mineral levels in conventional fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy have declined substantially by pre-ripened picking, long storage times and the over-processing of crops.

Instead of harmful chemicals or bio-engineering, organic farms use natural methods, such as diversifying and rotating crops, combined with natural composts and fertilizers to maximize soil fertility. Healthy, organic soil produces nutrient-rich crops year after year while keeping the natural eco-system in balance without any pesticide or chemical run-off that leaches into the groundwater. The rich organic soil produces foods that have higher levels of antioxidants such as lycopene in tomatoes, flavonols in apples, and resveratrol in organic red wine. Organic produce can contain up to 50% higher phyto-nutrients than conventional produce, and these antioxidants are critical for health.

Newcastle University (UK) led a four-year project and their findings confirmed that organic foods contain more antioxidants and less unhealthy fats than conventional. Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce had 20-40% more nutrients than non-organic foods.

The high pesticide content in conventional produce is because they are heavily doused with chemicals to ensure the fruits and vegetables are blemish-free. If you are on a tight budget and concerned about the cost of going organic, try to go organic with the fruits and vegetables that have the highest level of pesticide residue. These are Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Cherries, Grapes, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Red Raspberries, Spinach, and Strawberries (containing the highest pesticide content of any fruit).

The fruit and vegetables lowest in pesticides are Broccoli, Papaya, Bananas, Kiwi, Sweet Peas, Asparagus, Mango, Pineapple, Sweet Corn, Onions and Avocado.

Pregnant women are susceptible because the pesticides add stress to their already taxed organs. Pesticides can be passed from mother to child in the womb and through breastfeeding. Children are extremely vulnerable to pesticide exposure due to their less-developed immune system and developing brains.

The average family spends five times more on junk food, carryout, alcohol and tobacco than on fruits and vegetables. However, this trend is beginning to change. According to a recent report from the Hartman Group in the U.S.,"Consumers believe that a fresh, real and clean diet is the first step to treating and preventing disease, supporting vitality and mental energy."

The Animals on organic farms are raised without antibiotics, hormones, or other drugs. They graze on organic grass and are allowed to roam with unrestricted access to water, food sunshine and fresh air. And while organic meats may cost slightly more, the health benefits far outweigh the expense. Organic beef is naturally lean, lower in total fat (up to 2/3 less fat) than conventional meat, and therefore lower in calories. A 6-ounce steak from a grass-fed steer. There are two to four times more Omega fatty acids in organic grass-fed meats. Studies show that organic milk has 50% more vitamin E, 75% more beta-carotene, and 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.

Conventional cattle are routinely treated with hormones to rapidly increase the development of lean muscle growth. These synthetic hormones contain variations of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that mimic the function of natural hormones. The genetically engineered bovine growth hormone labeled rbGH is used to increase milk production. A small amount of these hormones can create a massive change in our body, so what happens when we continually consume animal products that contain them?

Large-scale cattle operations use six different steroid hormones that have been approved by the FDA for use in food production (estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate, melengestrol acetate); antibiotics and often the remains of dead animals in the feed. Estradiol and progesterone are female sex hormones; testosterone is the male sex hormone; zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengesterol acetate are synthetic hormones that promote growth. As a result, this has left many concerned about the high rate of early puberty for girls living in industrialized nations.

Experts have suggested that the overuse of antibiotics in animals may be the cause of human drug resistance and the subsequent development of more potent strains of bacteria that withstand antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics causes the spread of toxic visitors (such as Candida) in humans. So it stands to reason that the same problem is occurring in animals that are treated with antibiotics regularly.

Chickens that are housed indoors and deprived of grass produce eggs that are artificially low in Omega-3s. Whereas eggs from hens that are pastured can contain as much as ten times more Omega-3s than eggs from factory hens. Additionally, eggs from hens raised outdoors on pasture have 3-6 times more Vitamin D than eggs from hens in confinement. Pastured hens have direct sunlight, which their bodies convert to Vitamin D and pass on to the eggs.

A study from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that the more full-fat dairy products people consume, the lower their risk of heart attack---provided the cows were grass-fed. Grass-fed milk has up to 5 times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a healthy fat found in meat and milk of grazing animals. In this new study, people with the highest levels of CLA in their tissues had a 50% lower risk of heart attack than those with the lowest levels.

Single-crop fields mass-planted to feed humans and livestock genetically engineered corn and soy wipe out the biodiversity that helps keep our ecosystems in balance. This leaves plants and animals vulnerable to pest infestations and disease.

But properly managed organic pastures for grazing animals, instead of factory farms, provide a net benefit to the environment. Grazing animals fertilize naturally and do an excellent job of harvesting solar energy and preserving topsoil and moisture.

Commercial agriculture is also a thirsty industry, consuming a staggering 72% of all the global freshwater. The United Nations states that 80% of our water supplies are being over exploited. However, this wasn't always the case. Crops were once restricted to areas best suited to their requirements (water-demanding crops in the tropics and -tolerant species in temperate climates). But worldwide production of grain is now dominated by high-yielding cereal crops, notably wheat, rice and maize. These thirsty cereals now account for half the world's plant-based calories, and an enormous amount of the water. The topsoil is constantly eroded, and the United States alone is losing three billion tons of nutrient-rich topsoil each year. About 50 years ago farmers began using chemical fertilizers and pesticides to boost crop yields. Over time the insects, weeds and plant diseases developed a resistance to the chemicals, and stronger pesticides were developed with multiple applications required during the growing cycle. Even this dramatic increase of pesticides has not diminished the amount of crop volume lost to pests.

The International Food Policy Research Institute conducted a study that showed 40% of the world's agricultural soil is seriously depleted due to erosion from planting the same crop continually. There was also significant nutrient depletion due to the use of chemical fertilizers, while containing a substantial build up of salt (salinization) from the excessive irrigation. Organic farming methods include rotating crops, using compost or manure, instead of chemical fertilizers, to rebuild healthy soil. Wildlife is an essential part of a total farm, and pastures for grazing actually reduce topsoil erosion by 93%.

Cows that are fed grains and diseased animals and not a natural diet of grass develop dangerous strains of E.coli in their intestinal tracts. It's no wonder that mad cow is becoming more prevalent in industrial agriculture. Additionally, meat that hasn't been properly aged (most meat sold to consumers) has up to 40% water in it.

Grass fed is the way nature intended animals to graze. Cows take what we can't digest in cellulose and turn it into something we can – dairy, meat, and fats high in omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for good health. Organic agriculture respects the balance within nature for a healthy ecosystem. So, does "going organic" really make a difference? You betcha.

The Importance of Drinking Water

The human body is 55%-75% water and needs! adequate hydration to survive. Every function of the body requires sufficient water to perform properly, and that includes the brain.

Did you know that?-

-The Brain is over 76% water

-Muscles contain 75% water

- Blood that transports nutrients is 82% water

- Lungs are over 90% water

- Bones are 25% water

- Depression and Insomnia can both be caused by dehydration as lack of water interferes with the transport of Tryptophan (a precursor to Serotonin and Melatonin) across the blood-brain barrier. In states of dehydration the liver uses more Tryptophan as an antioxidant, thus causing a shortage for the production of Serotonin.

Elevated Cholesterol is often related to chronic dehydration. When the inner environment of cells starts to dry out, the cell membranes be- gin to seal off to prevent further loss of water. This defense mechanism causes the liver to produce more cholesterol, a waxy substance to 'waterproof' the membranes.

Inadequate hydration allows wastes and toxins to build and can cause the following:

- Insomnia
- Lower back pain
- Diabetes - Chronic fatigue
- Headaches/migraines
- Asthma
- Colitis
- Allergies
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High blood pressure
- Depression
- High cholesterol
- Neck pain

Water not only assists the body in removing toxins, but also:

- Cushions the joints
- Protects tissues & spinal cord
- Regulating body temperature
- Assists in normal sleep patterns
- Lowers Cholesterol
- Eases Pain
- Increases Metabolism

It is estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, but this trend is in- creasing worldwide. Dehydration contributes to weight gain as the thirst mechanism is often mistaken for hunger. Additionally, the body compensates for this lack of water by producing water-conserving chemicals, including histamine. This reduces water loss but can also trigger allergies and respiratory problems such as asthma.

The brain is particularly susceptible to dehydration, and inadequate water will lower mental ability tremendously. As dehydration continues, memory problems ensue as does confusion, lethargy, and irritability, fatigue, insomnia, and headaches including migraines. The brain works 24 hours a day and requires more water than any other area of the body. Under normal conditions, the brain contains 20% of the total blood circulating through the body, and without adequate water, brain function diminishes.

Lean people have more water in their bodies because muscle holds more water than fat. The lungs expel 2-4 cups of water daily through normal breathing, but this amount increases during cold temperatures so its essential to consume more water in the winter months. Normal perspiration (not including exercise-induced sweating), urination and bowel movements account for another 4-6 cups lost daily.

We lose water throughout the day through our bodily functions, therefore it is critical to replenish by drinking 1⁄2 your body weight in ounces of water. For example, a 200 lb. individual requires a minimum of 100 ounces of water per day. Our health is dependent on adequate supplies of water. So Drink Up!

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