The health community cannot quite decide whether coffee is beneficial or detrimental to our health. The reason for such controversy may lie in our genes. Researchers have zeroed in on a gene called CYPIA2 which determines how quickly we metabolize caffeine. Depending on how many variants of this fast gene we inherit from our parents can make the difference between being mildly euphoric and jittery.
The Jersey tomato was once looked upon as the sweetest tomato of the summer season. However due to its thin skin it became impossible to transport. This brought about cross breeding of the tomato which produced a thicker skin and the loss of flavor. Rutgers University was able to reinvent the actual 1934 version of the Jersey tomato. At its peak it represented 60% of all tomatoes sold. Rutgers agricultural programs once worked closely with Campbell Soup Company. It was discovered that Campbell still had the genetic material from the original parent plants which made the resurrection of the tomato possible. This is great news for consumers who are tired of large tasteless tomatoes. It is now possible to purchase either seedlings or seeds from these original tomatoes to grow in your own garden or purchase from your local small farmers.
Most people I have spoken with have found the heat waves of this summer to have completely drained them. As a result, many have found themselves leaning on takeout, consuming too many calories and having absolutely no desire to take the time to prepare something healthy to eat. If you find yourself slowing down in the heat maybe it is better to consider eating lighter and preparing easier simpler meals. Cooled foods can have a beneficial effect on body temperature. Having a bowl of cold gazpacho, potato or borsch soup with a bean salad and a piece of whole grain bread can make a great lunch. Canned wild salmon or sardines with slices of avocado, a little mustard and a stem of grapes can work well as a light dinner. Shakes made from scratch should contain a healthy amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates and will taste more like a malted then a replacement meal. Consider left over chicken or baked salmon cold over a bed of lettuce and spinach with some cherry tomatoes, berries, pecans in an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Steamed veggies, beans, pignoli nuts and grain with lemon, olive oil and basil left in the fridge are great as a quick snack. Stock up on organic canned beans, frozen vegetables, and quinoa (15 minutes to prepare) for last minute hunger attacks. Granted summer is for sitting in a café, relaxing and having a great meal outdoors and it should be. But if you find yourself just wanting to stay home and lounge on a comfortable chair these are simple ways to throw together a truly healthy and extremely tasteful meal. Most important stay hydrated. Dehydration will make you crave sugar. Incorporate melons, cucumbers, strawberries and tomatoes in your diet. They are a few of the foods that contain over 90% water. Most of all don’t stress out about maintaining a healthy diet. Preparing balanced, healthy meals and snacks does not have to be time consuming.
Researches at Tufts University and Beth Israel Medical Center have designed what has been named the Silk Screw. These screws are being made from the cocoons that silkworms have spun and are strong enough to hold bones together. They would eventually get absorbed into the body and could eliminate many complications. The silk screws would be the replacement for steel screws which often place stress on bone and tissue. Steel screws interfere with x-rays and sometimes require a second surgery for removal. Further research will be able to make it possible to set a short or long time frame for the screw to last inside the body.
Source: National Geographic
The tissues that comprise the human body (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fasciae) can get pretty beat up if you are a sports enthusiast or just an extremely active individual. Keeping these tissues in top shape will prevent future injury and long term pain. Foam rolling, stretching, sports massage, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, contrast bath therapy (hot and cold alternation) are just some of the modalities that should be considered as part of a regular exercise program. In keeping the blood flowing through these tissues they will remain healthy and most important flexible.
Source: Muscle & Performance July 2016
There is so much heated, political controversy over the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Is there need for concern? Do we really understand both sides of the issue? At present there are 109 million acres devoted to growing GMOs. Here in America we have been given the green light to grow 40 different GMO fruits and vegetables. We have been eating hybrid plants for thousands of years so is there a difference in a plant that is genetically modified? Hybrids come about by careful selective breeding of two related plants. GMO’s are produced in a lab and are created by combining two different biological kingdoms, in many cases a plant with the DNA of a bacteria. Both aim to produce crops that will survive environmental hazards such as temperature variations, droughts etc. Hybrids cross breed to make a plant stronger. GMO’s enable a plant to produce its own pesticides as well as resist herbicides while controlling the weeds that surround them. Blindness is prevalent in children in Asia and especially Africa due to the lack of Vitamin A. Scientists have developed a type of yellow (Golden) rice by combining the gene of a yellow daffodil and a strain of bacterial DNA with rice and have developed a grain that is rich in beta carotene, the source of vitamin A. Will the body be able to handle this foreign combination? Is preventing blindness in children more important? Wheat has been genetically modified since the 1940’s. The purpose was to make it capable of resisting drought, able to be harvested at 1 foot as opposed to 4 and therefore feed populations that did not have sufficient food. Have our bodies adjusted to this new protein after all these years? Are people more sensitive to wheat and as a result gluten intolerant? Has it saved the lives of many who would have starved to death. Supporters of GMOs claim that plants can become insect resistant, become heartier, use less pesticides, and therefore have less of an impact on the environment. If that is the goal, why incorporate vaccines and antibiotics in the makeup of these foods? Do we need fruits and vegetables that can be transported for longer distances because they ripen slowly or should we buy local? If GMOs are created by introducing strains of bacterial DNA, then how many of these organisms are we capable of integrating into our bodies. Those that oppose them claim that recent studies have shown an increase in allergies and sensitivities as well as weight gain when consuming a number of these foods. Some are even attributing most of our digestive issues to their consumption. But is this just a result of poor eating habits from too much processed foods? All of our soy, corn, wheat and sugar beets have been already genetically modified to resist the herbicide Roundup, surprisingly farmers are still spraying their fields with an additional dose of Roundup to make sure weeds do not survive, thus these plants are basically getting a double dose of this herbicide! What kind of restrictions should be placed on GMOs if any? Is it worth investing more time and money into GMOs so that whatever good they can possibly provide to our less fortunate populations is carefully monitored? Whatever your feelings are about GMOs, you should have the choice of what you wish to consume. Since it is not mandatory to label as such, buy organic or support your local small farmer for now.
The Food and Drug Administration has just made the announcement that it will be adding a line Added Sugar to the nutrition content label of all products. Up to now only sugars that occurred naturally in food (ex. sugar found in milk products) were listed. This would mean two distinct categories, one for total sugar and one for added sugar. Under the new guideline many sugars that were hidden under names such as evaporated cane juice, rice syrup, treacle, mizuame etc. slipped by the consumer. This made it impossible to determine the exact amount of sugar you were actually consuming in an effort to maintain a healthy diet.
These are also known as water-based solar panels. They are usually placed in reservoirs, water treatment ponds or any body of water that is not used for recreation. The benefits of these water based panels are that they can prevent water from evaporating and deter algae from growing. The water also acts as a cooling agent for the solar panel. They are proving to generate up to 57% more energy than roof top panels. The panels are made of a non-corrosive material and are on a tracking system which allows them to move toward the direction of the most sunlight. Japan has been in the forefront of their use due to the unavailability of large areas of land for traditional solar panels. They are now becoming extremely popular in Australia and in the United States.
Does juggling 3 oranges require as much brain power as multitasking? How many times have you attempted to eat breakfast while opening mail, answering a text, watching the morning news all while talking to your significant other? Although so many of us are convinced that we are skilled at multitasking, studies are showing that it is actually bad for us. I myself am guilty of falling into the same misguided way of thinking and then turning around to find something is burning on the stove. Our brains are better equipped at managing one task at a time. That is, performing a particular task with total mindfulness. Jumping from one task to another is actually where the term “scatter brain” originated. When we jump from one task to another it requires another part of the brain to take over that particular action. Which means that we are not multitasking but instead the brain is actually shutting down one task as it moves on to the next. In so doing we may take longer to perform a particular task which can increase our level of stress thereby increasing the levels of glucocorticoids (adrenaline, cortisol etc.) in our bodies. Research has shown that only 2% of people are capable of multitasking successfully. The other 98% are only lessening their productivity. Devoting ourselves to executing one particular task actually means you will do it efficiently and completely and in turn make it much more enjoyable. A possible solution is called informal practice. That is, taking a simple task that we perform daily such as doing the dishes, brushing your teeth or even walking the dog, and giving your complete concentration to performing it. This can help you slow down and get into the zone which can prepare you to begin monotasking (paying attention).
How did we become so obsessed with cleanliness? We have exfoliating agents for every part of our body. Antibacterial soaps are now the replacement for a bar of ivory soap. It has become common practice to carry Purell in our bags. How can we possibly think of taking a shower unless the water is near boiling point and there is a loofah to aid us in removing the outer top layer of skin. Some of us have even resorted to extreme methods of cleansing our insides. We go on week long juice fasts and have colonics to remove anything that may be sitting in our lower intestines and colon. Is Bacteria such a threat that we will go to extreme measures to remove it from our body? Perhaps because we take antibiotics when we have a bacterial infection we have somehow come to the conclusion that all bacteria is harmful. Some bacteria live in total harmony with us. We have a mutual relationship and have come to depend on each other for survival. We all know of the benefits of probiotics which is just a term for good bacteria. Human beings have from 3 to 5 lbs. of these healthy microbes circulating within our bodies. Not only do they keep our digestive system in tact but they can also recognize and help destroy bacteria which may later become harmful to us. It is now believed that what we eat, our genes and environment all contribute to the makeup of the microbes within us. In this way it is not hard to understand that we all have a different makeup. This may explain why gut bacteria may affect the weight of a person, diseases such as Autism and even skin conditions such as eczema. That is to say people with similar characteristics share similar bacteria makeup. Since the average person plays host to nearly 10,000 microbes in their system, they are now being looked upon as a source of health as opposed to disease. The connection is also being made on how they may affect hormone and cholesterol levels as well as our absorption of vitamins. Researchers are studying how a healthy amount of bacteria in the system may be the answer to obesity as well as cancer prevention by strengthening the immune system. Maybe it is time to go back into the garden and start making mud pies just as we did when we were children. However, we should stop at the point when we are about to taste them.