Health Questions

 

I am happy to provide answers to some frequently asked health questions!

Topic: Organic Foods

What are the organic farming standards?

Certified Organic Production Prohibits:

- Persistent, toxic herbicides and pesticides
- Genetically modified organisms
- Ionizing radiation
- Sewage sludge (a source of asbestos, bacteria, fungi, heavy metals and industrial solvents often used in conventional farming)
- Antibiotics
- Growth hormones

The soil which organic foods are grown in naturally contains more nutrients, especially more minerals, which the plant takes up into itself, passing along the health benefits to you.

Organic foods contain more antioxidants than conventionally grown foods. A four-year study led by Professor Carlo Leifert of Newcastle University found that organic fruits and vegetables contained as much as 40 percent higher levels of antioxidants. This is huge news since antioxidants are so vital for preventing disease.

One acre of organic crop soil pulls up to 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year!

Why does organic cost more?

Due to increasing demand organic foods are starting to come down in price. Oftentimes, very little difference will be noticed. In general, the organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing food. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations than conventional foods. The intensive management and labor used in organic production are frequently (though not always) more expensive than the chemicals routinely used on conventional farms. There is mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same, or, more likely, be cheaper than conventional food. Cost, however, is very dependent upon market venue and consumer product choice. It is possible to consume a moderately priced diet of organic foods by purchasing directly from farmers at venues such as farmers markets, as well as health stores, co-ops, and by choosing unprocessed organically grown foods at the grocery store. In addition, organic farmers do not receive federal subsidies like conventional farmers do.

A lot of organic farms are small-scale and most such as Organic Valley practice humane treatment of animals, which unfortunately costs more.

How do organic farmers fertilize crops and control pests, diseases, and weeds?

Organic farmers build healthy soils using compost from grass clippings and food scraps such as banana peels and eggshells. The nutrients from these scraps go into the soil and the plant then takes it up into itself and you reap the benefits! Organic farmers' primary strategy in controlling pests and diseases is prevention through good plant nutrition and management. Organic farmers use cover crops and sophisticated crop rotations to manage the field ecology, effectively disrupting habitat for weeds, insects, and disease organisms. Weeds are controlled through crop rotation, mechanical tillage, and hand weeding, as well as through cover crops, mulches, flame weeding, and other management methods. Organic farmers rely on a diverse population of soil organisms, beneficial insects, and birds to keep pests in check. When pest populations get out of balance, growers implement a variety of strategies such as the use of insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers. Under the National Organic Program Rule, growers are required to use sanitation and cultural practices first before they can resort to applying a material to control a weed, pest or disease problem. Use of these materials in organic production is regulated, strictly monitored, and documented. As a last resort, certain botanical or other non-synthetic pesticides may be applied.

How are organic livestock and poultry raised?

Organic meat, dairy products, and eggs are produced from animals that are fed organic feed and allowed access to the outdoors. They must be kept in living conditions that accommodate the natural behavior of the animals. Ruminants must have access to pasture. Organic livestock and poultry may not be give antibiotics, hormones, or medications in the absence of illness; however, they may be vaccinated against disease. Parasiticide use is strictly regulated. Livestock diseases and parasites are controlled primarily through preventative measures such as rotational grazing, balanced diet, sanitary housing, and stress reduction.

Source: https://ofrf.org/resources/organicfaqs.html

Topic: Factory Farming

What is factory farming and why is it harmful to animals, humans and the environment?

Our food system has become so industrialized that most people have no idea where their food comes from and the conditions their money supports. Marketing allows companies to portray themselves as if the animals they tend are happy and healthy with images of cows grazing in pastures and chickens happily roaming. This couldn’t be farther from the truth unless of course speaking about true free-range, traditional, organic, certified humane farms.

As difficult as it is to discuss, most animals in factory farms suffer immensely. Crammed into spaces meant to accommodate only a few, with hardly any room to move or lay down, their legs atrophy. Mothers are not allowed to tend to their young, and oftentimes the animals are fed unnatural diets such as sawdust, corn and/or animal flesh. Animals such as cows are herbivores and created to graze on grass! The stomachs of these animals ulcerate, they end up in immense pain, they don’t grow properly due to being malnourished and so they are fed antibiotics and growth hormones. Not only is this unbelievably deplorable treatment, how can we expect to be nourished by such food? No wonder animals fed their natural diet in unconfined spaces, with access to the outdoors and clean, fresh water provide so much more nutrition! For those of us who choose to eat meat and poultry, or who need more concentrated sources of protein due to health reasons, free-range, organic, certified humane, and preferably local, is the wisest choice. I do encourage you to eat less red meat for both health and environmental reasons, not to mention the cost savings. When you do choose to purchase beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, etc. I hope you will vote with your dollar and choose compassionately!

For more information and to watch videos – as heart wrenching as it may be – visit:

http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/

Remember, education is key in making the most informed decisions!

Topic: Fiber

What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?

Fiber in general is the indigestible portion of plant foods. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as oats, brown rice, seeds, vegetables and fruits and has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering benefits. Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, whole wheat, as well as some vegetables and fruit and has shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, diverticulitis and constipation due to the fact that it increases stool size, softens the stool and shortens the transit time through the intestines.

Topic: Fats

What is the difference between saturated, monounsaturated, poly-unsaturated and trans fats?

Saturated fat – Found mainly in animal foods and tropical oils, such as coconut* and palm. The fatty acid chain is highly stable and straight-shaped so these fats are solid or semi-solid at room temp. A healthy amount of saturated fat plays a crucial role in body chemistry, however most people consume more saturated fat than they need which can cause many health problems.

*Coconut oil – This healthful oil has a four year shelf life at room temperature, is one of the few heat stable plant oils for cooking. It’s a healthier saturated fat that although raises LDL levels slightly, it at the same time raises good HDL levels. It reduces symptoms of digestive disorders and helps support overall immune functions due to its content of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid also found in breast milk. Coconut oil also helps prevent bacterial, viral and fungal infections. It contains fewer calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy, and studies have found that it increases metabolism. This of course doesn’t mean that you should overdo it!

Monounsaturated – These fats have a double bond making them more flexible so they tend to be liquid at room temp and solid when refrigerated. Olive, canola and avocado oils fall into this category. When eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated fats or trans fats, monounsaturated fats can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Monounsaturated fats are also high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin.

Polyunsaturated – This fat has several double carbon bonds and is liquid at room temperature and when cold. Two examples found most frequently in food are Omega 6 & 3. These fats have 2 or more double bonds, which make them more reactive and unstable, especially at high temps. This type of fat can form free radicals when heated during extraction and processing or used for cooking and is best used cold. Polyunsaturated fat is predominant in safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil (choose organic to avoid GMOs), fatty fish and some nuts and seeds. This fat has also been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Trans fat – The fats in this category are artificially manufactured and highly damaging to the body. They slow down the body’s ability to burn fat, cause inflammation, elevate LDL cholesterol levels, and increase heart disease risk and more. Manufacturers and restaurants use them to enhance flavor, extend shelf life, give solid textures to baked goods and to fry foods. Look out for hydrogenated oils on ingredient lists and avoid anything with fully or partially hydrogenated anything. Don't be fooled by labels that tout 0g of trans fats! Food manufacturers can list trans fat content as 0g if the content is 500 mg or less. This amount can quickly add up by the end of the day considering most conventional food items from peanut butter to bread crumbs contain them. Thankfully healthy alternatives abound!

What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids that are not manufactured by the body, and therefore must be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development, lowering cholesterol levels, preventing heart disease and gallstones, protecting against neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzhemer's, restricting unwanted inflammation, and more. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut as well as flaxmeal, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and nuts such as walnuts and brazil nuts. Even though omega-3 fatty acids are found in non-animal sources, they only contain the essential alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body will convert into the essential components, DHA and EPA. However it is wise to note that research indicates that healthy people are only able to convert 20% of ALA into DHA and EPA, which is why cold-water, oily fish or fish oil supplements remain one of the best sources of omega-3s.

Topic Antioxidants:

What are Antioxidants and are They Important to my Health?

Antioxidants are substances that protect the cells of the body from damage due to free radicals. Every day our bodies face about 10,000 attacks from cell-damaging forces known as free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have lost an electron through exposure to stress, pollution, illness, poor nutrition, cigarette smoke, pesticides, fried and burnt foods, alcohol, radiation, as well as the body’s own natural biological processes. These volatile molecules travel the body trying to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from other molecules. When this happens, more free radicals are created, damaging healthy cells, including our DNA, in the process. Antioxidants come to the rescue by offering up their own electrons, which neutralizes free radicals and protects the cells.

Antioxidants include vitamins C, B, and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, quercetin, selenium and many, many others. The best place to get your antioxidants is in the form of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, organic when possible to lessen chemical exposure, as well as from other nutritious foods such as barley, millet, oats, legumes, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and egg yolks. Antioxidants remain active for only a few hours and need to be continually replenished from the foods we eat. Red wine in moderation and 100% Concord grape juice, also in moderation are additional sources of antioxidants.

Epidemiological research, which studies the prevalence of disease in populations, have shown that low antioxidant levels is linked to an increased risk for many diseases including, but not limited to, heart disease, cancer and metabolic disorders. How many fresh, raw fruits and veggies have you eaten today?

Topic: Safe Weight Loss

How much weight is safe to lose each week?

Weight loss can be healthy or dangerous. Diets promising to help you lose 5 to 10 pounds per week are not healthy and are best avoided. A healthy target is losing one pound per week through diet, exercise and individualized health counseling.

Topic: Exercise

Is lifting weights as important to my physical fitness as aerobic exercise?


Definitely! Although aerobic exercise is excellent for the heart and cardiovascular system and burns far more calories than strength training, strength training increases your lean body mass. Therefore both types of exercise are very important to overall health. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and uses about 45 calories per pound per day to sustain itself. The more muscle tissue you have, the higher your resting metabolism and the more benefit you receive even during moments of inactivity. In addition, muscles enable you to perform daily activities more easily resulting in more energy and less fatigue at the end of the day. Another added benefit to strength training is muscles reduce your risk to injury.

During exercise should I breathe through my nose or mouth?

Whether you breathe through your nose or mouth only matters when you are engaging in high intensity exercise. In high intensity workouts, breathing through your mouth provides oxygen faster.

Is Yoga Good Exercise?

Absolutely! Many yoga poses require great physical flexibility and isometrically challenge your muscles. All poses are excellent for stretching muscles, thereby increasing your overall range of motion; increased flexibility makes you much less vulnerable to injury. Yoga is also excellent for building core strength, relieving back pain, and is considered by some, depending on the style you practice, to be a weight bearing exercise. There are various types of yoga styles ranging from more relaxing to strenuous and aerobic.

Topic: Spirituality and Health

Is Spirituality Important to my Health?

As a Biblical Christian I firmly believe that a strong spiritual life is essential to good overall health. Spiritual nutrition can feed us on a very deep level and dramatically diminish cravings for the superficial rewards of life. When God’s will is your will everything, according to His plan, will fall into place, which includes your emotional and possibly even, physical health. Research has shown that attending religious services increases longevity. According to one study, attending religious services more than once a week was associated with an additional seven years of life. Source: R.A. Hummer, R.G. Rogers, C.B. Nam, C.G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality,” Demography 36, no. 2 (1999): 273-85As

“He helps the brokenhearted and binds their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Topic: Optimism and Health

Is Optimism, Hope, Love and Laughter Good for my Health?

Studies show that people who experience an episode of deep appreciation or love for 5 minutes saw their IGA levels rise to 40% above normal and stay elevated for 6 hours. IGA is an antibody secreted in saliva and other body fluids as the first line of defense against infection.

In The Anatomy of Hope, hematologist/oncologist Dr. Jerome Groopman shares what he learned, primarily from his patients in thirty years of practice. “Hope is the elevating feeling we experience when we see – in the mind’s eye – a path to a better future. Hope acknowledges the significant obstacles and deep pitfalls along the path. True hope has no room for delusion. Clear-eyed, hope gives us the courage to confront our circumstances and the capacity to surmount them. For all my patients, hope, true hope, has proved as important as any medication I might prescribe or any procedures I might perform.” Source: Jerome Groopman, MD, The Anatomy of Hope (New York: Random House, 2004), xiv

“Hope is a vital component of health and well-being. The result of hope is inner character, joy, steadfastness, perseverance, peace, serenity, and confidence. Hope is one of the strongest words of the Bible, occurring over one hundred times. It is planted in our hearts by God, in whose Word real hope trusts, for He will certainly bring to pass what He has promised, and He will never let go of us, even when, in our despair, we may be tempted to let go of Him.” Source: 70 Ways to Beat 70 by David B. Beibel, Dmin, James E. Dill, MD, Bobbie Dill, RN.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Topic: Dental Health

How Important is Dental Health to my Overall Health?

One of the most draining effects on the immune system is infection that persists, especially with unrecognized infection, which is common in the mouth. The gums and teeth are most likely to harbor infections that don’t produce symptoms until late stages. Diet, optimum vitamin and mineral levels and controlling systemic inflammation all contribute to healthy gums and teeth.

Following more than 9,000 healthy American adults, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey finds periodontal disease to be a predictor of Type 2 diabetes, and other research links severe gum inflammation with heart and lung disease, ulcers, and, if pregnant, delivery of a preterm baby. Investigators at Harvard School of Public Health note that it may also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Periodontal disease is also linked to cognitive decline according to a study published in the October 2008 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

Topic: Cleansing and Detoxifying

Are Cleanses Safe and Necessary?

This is a difficult question for many people! There are lots of cleanse and detox products on the market, some of which include very good ingredients and some which do not. It is wisest to consult a holistic health professional that is knowledgeable about the body and toxins so that they may evaluate your diet and lifestyle to make sure a cleanse or detox product is appropriate for you, your health and your intended health goals.

Personally, I prefer assisting individuals in naturally detoxifying through changes in their diet, lifestyle, and bowel habits by utilizing nutritious foods, safe and gentle herbs, breathwork, movement, perhaps lymph drainage massage, reflexology, among other natural and safe adjustments.

Topic: Sugar and Health

Why is Sugar Unhealthy?

The reasons are many as to why we should avoid refined sugars. Sugar is a huge part of most people’s diets. Nearly 200 years ago Americans consumed 10 pounds of sugar per person, per year; that figure has steadily risen to almost 170 pounds. This is equivalent to a bowl full of sugar every 4th meal!!

Some of the reasons to avoid sugar include:

It causes vitamins and minerals to be leached out of the body
It can suppress our immune systems for up to six hours after consumption
It decreases good HDL cholesterol and raises triglycerides
It is linked to an increase in many different forms of cancer
It causes the skin to age much more quickly causing wrinkles

And much more! To learn more about sugar and read about my Sugar Addiction Elimination Program!

There are many healthy, natural ways to enjoy something sweet. In my opinion, based on the research I’ve read, artificial sweeteners are not the answer. Remember, it is possible to retrain your taste buds to enjoy natural sweetness and healthy sugar alternatives!

I look forward to helping you on the road to good health!


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