Category: Health

Did You Ever Eat a Pine Tree? Oh Yes You Have

Posted on Dec 17, 2014 by No Comments

In the 1970’s there was a commercial starring a guy named Euell Gibbons. He would look at the camera and ask, Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible…

Apparently fast food companies took him at his word. You know that hamburger you had at lunch? Well it’s likely that it had cellulose in it as a filler. That bun that your burger was wrapped in? Cellulose. Your shake, fries, onion rings, nacho sauce,  chicken strips, gravy, and soft serve ice cream?

Cellulose.

If you weren’t aware of it, cellulose it is simply wood pulp. It goes by many names:

  • Celluslose gum
  • Methylcellulose
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Cellulosee powder

Fast food companies and restaurant chains are using it more and more because it saves them money. More cheap filler and less actual food means more profit and helps them keep their prices low.

It also takes a food, almost void of nutritional value and sucks out what little it has left. But, by golly, you can get a burger for a dollar on the dollar menu!

It isn’t going to make you fat and it isn’t going to give you cancer. It is even all natural. The point is that you need and have a right to know what you are paying for. If a hamburger is 3.99 and cellulose is in the bun, cheese, meat, and sauce you could be paying a much as 1.99 for cellulose alone.

That’s one expensive tree.

Be sure to know what you are buying and know what you are eating. It’s kind of important.

photo credit: avlxyz via photopin cc

Radiation Levels in Tuna Are Not Dangerous

Posted on Dec 8, 2014 by No Comments

If you’ve heard reports that tuna is high in radiation because of Fukushima and given up your tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, a new report from Oregon State University may have you breathing a sigh of relief and heading out for sushi.

Word has been traveling around the Internet that Oregon tuna samples were showing signs of a higher radioactive content than they were before the nuclear disaster in 2011. Many people, concerned for their health, have decided to leave the popular fish out of their diets.

While it is true that the radioactivity is higher, it is also true that the increase is so tiny and insignificant that it does not pose a threat to anyone. If you have a real tuna habit and eat 700,000 or more cans of tuna a day you’ll still only be exposed to about the same amount of radiation that all humans are exposed to just because we live on the planet Earth. One or two sushi rolls?

No problem. You won’t be glowing in the dark anytime soon.

To give you an idea of the amount of radiation involved experts say that it’s the equivalent of spending 23 seconds in a stuffy basement. The level is still only 0.1 percent of what the Environmental Protection agency says is the level to be concerned about. The four year old fish had higher levels and scientists say that many of the three year old fish didn’t have any radioactive isotopes at all.

I guess fishermen will need to start checking the age of the fish they catch!

When you read information that concerns you make sure you dig a little deeper before making a decision. Many people will feel that the slightest increase in radiation takes tuna off the table but others will decide it’s not such a big deal. As long as you make informed decisions you’ll make good decisions for your family.

Tuna consumption is decreasing because of reports of high levels of mercury and now higher levels of radiation. Are there those that should be concerned? The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that tuna is safe for most people

Those that might want to limit tuna consumption (because of mercury not radiation) are:

  • Women Who Might Become Pregnant
  • Women Who are Pregnant
  • Nursing Mothers
  • Young Children

Tuna is a healthy, lean protein that is generally affordable. It’s low in saturated fat and contains those omega—3 fatty acids that are so essential to a healthy body. The current recommendation for people in the categories above is two meals a week of fish following these guidelines:

  1. Don’t eat shark, swordfish, mackerel, or tilefish. These varieties contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Up to 12 ounces per week  low mercury fish such as canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, catfish, and shrimp.
  3. Albacore is higher in mercury than canned light tuna so limit your intake to six ounces of albacore per week.
  4. Up to six ounces of local fish, depending on local advisories.

Have you taken tuna off of your menu or not? Are you concerned?

photo credit: avlxyz via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Recipes, Wreaths, Congestion Relief, and More

Posted on Dec 4, 2014 by 3 Comments

Today’s link round-up has recipes for appetizers and chicken and dumplings, holiday décor how-tos, and more.

Homemade Interest shared restaurant-inspired Asian appetizers.

A Mom’s Take shared tips for toddler relief from congestion.

A Cultivated Nest showed us how to put together an easy winter scarf wreath.

link_ru_chicken_and_dumplings

Kenarry shared a clean veggie-packed chicken and dumplings recipe.

Create Craft Love showed us how to make a fleece winter wreath.

This Mama Loves taught us how to make a cork angel ornament.

Miss Information showed us how to make cute ornaments using glass etching cream.

Photo credit: Homemade Interest and Kenarry

Would You Put Your Kid on a Juice Cleanse?

Posted on Dec 1, 2014 by No Comments

I have a juicer and every once in awhile, especially if I have been feeling kind of groggy and slow, I throw some carrots, ginger, apple, kale, and whatever else in there and juice it. I may spend a day or two just drinking this juice.

I know that many in the medical profession think that it is ineffective but I find that a juice fast ramps up my energy level and gives me greater clarity in my mind.

With my schedule, greater clarity is definitely a “thing” so I don’t care if it happens because my body is suddenly awash with healthy nutrients in large quantities or if it is simply the result of suggestion. It works for me and I don’t care how it works.

As an adult I am careful to drink plenty of water when I am juicing, watch myself for signs of blood sugar issues, and I try to stay aware of how I am feeling. Juice cleanses work for me and have for years — long before Ms. Paltrow made it super cool.

No matter how great I think they are, though, I would never put my child on a juice cleanse. It seems like a crazy idea but people really are doing it. Parents are giving their kids, some as young as six years old, juice cleanses and companies are now targeting those families with juice cleanse concoctions that are aimed directly at families.

For example, a California based company called Dherbs.com, markets a set of four cleanse extracts for children. These extracts are meant to be combined with a raw diet and promise health benefits to the entire body including the liver and adrenals.

The program, which can be customized for up to two weeks, is aimed at kids between the ages of two and twelve. Oh, and by the way, the extracts sell for right around $100.00 for the whole kit.

I can’t believe it is healthy. For one thing, a juice cleanse hits the body as a diuretic — you lose lots of water. Of course, adults know to replenish their water but kids don’t. All of those trips to the bathroom are washing electrolytes and nutrients right out of their little bodies.

Kids are also very active and have a tendency to ignore their bodies until it’s too late. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and blood sugar drops and spikes could spell real trouble.

For another thing, active kids need far more calories than a juice cleanse can provide. The last thing I want is my rapidly growing son passed out on a baseball diamond because his body ran out of fuel.  I don’t think I could put my younger kids on it but my older kids make their own decisions about this kind of thing.

What do you think? Are parents that put their kids on juice fasts endangering the health of their children or are they protecting their child’s immune system and helping them maintain an average weight?

photo credit: TriggerHappyDave via photopin cc

Snooki Down to 99 Pounds 7 Weeks After Giving Birth

Posted on Nov 25, 2014 by 1 Comment

Jersey Shore star, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made news last year when she dropped 50 pounds. Then we learned she was expecting her second child.

For many of us, pregnancy means weight gain and unwanted pounds we have to battle after the baby is born. But Snooki is down to 99 pounds just 7 weeks after giving birth to her second child, and a week from walking down the aisle.

Before you get upset at her low weight, let me remind you that she is only 4’8″ and for her, 99 pounds is a perfectly healthy weight according to the 26-year-old star’s trainer, Anthony Michael.

Her initial weight loss was due, in part, to coming to the realization that alcohol is full of empty calories and that she could end up consuming up to 2,000 calories in a single night with tasty drinks.

But along with cutting those calories, Snooki’s trainer says her diet includes decreasing her carbs and “reducing calorie intake” overall. Plus she’s exercising. No matter who we are, that’s the secret to weight loss.

According to her trainer, they are “…hitting the gym hardcore, doing high intensity interval training.”

Since her daughter was born, right now her fitness routine is geared toward weight loss. And it has paid off. She fit into her jeans just 12 days after giving birth, which tells me she watched her weight during her pregnancy. I’m glad to hear she has a trainer helping her to do it right, though.

According to that trainer, once she gets married she’ll be focusing on building lean muscle mass. Right now, she just wanted to make sure she looks great in her dress. Looking at her recent pics, I’d say she’s on target to meet that goal. The wedding will take place Nov. 29, with a Great-Gatsby theme to Johnny LaValle.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi has come a long way since her Jersey Shores days. She’s taken some healthy turns and it shows. She’s got two beautiful children with her fiancé Jionni LaValle, is about to get married, and is a successful entrepreneur.

Photo credits: Instagram

Autism May Begin During the Second Trimester

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by No Comments

Autism is on the rise. One in eight children has been diagnosed with some degree of it.

No one has been able to say exactly what causes autism spectrum disorders and that inability to figure out the source of the problem has caused all kinds of battles to rage. Do vaccines cause it? Is it genetics? Is it all of the toxins and pollutants we absorb every day?

New research suggests that autism starts with genes that don’t form properly in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, and therefore the biggest factor may indeed be genes.

Researchers have been studying the brain structure of children with autism who died. They’ve found that the differences between a child without autism and a child with autism were obvious on the genetic, as well as the physical, level.

The changes look like patches of cells that didn’t develop correctly deep in the brain. The depth of these abnormalities help researchers figure out when the problems started to occur.

They’ve learned a lot but there is still a lot they don’t know. Does something happen during pregnancy to trigger it? There is a need for more research.

Of course, researchers say that this proves that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. You’ll find lots of information on the other side of that argument as well.

It’s important to remember that this research is in beginning stages and there’s no telling how it’s going to change as time goes on. As always, do your research and come to your own conclusions about what’s best for your child.

photo credit: bengrey via photopin cc

November Is Prematurity Awareness Month

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by No Comments

I just learned November is Prematurity Awareness Month with November 17 being World Prematurity Awareness Day.

I’m not big on the idea of having months set aside for causes because there are so many worthy causes that usually what happens is that the message ends up being lost with so many vying for attention.

For instance, November is also “Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” “National Adoption Month,” “National Family Caregivers Month,” and that just a few from a long list of worthy causes that claim November as their month.

They are all important, but really prematurity is worth talking about whether it is November or not because it remains the number one cause of newborn mortality in the United States.

Since this month is suppose to be about awareness, it’s important to note that 1 in 8 babies in the U.S. are born too early. In some cases it’s not preventable, but moms can reduce their risk of preterm birth by making some changes to their behavior.

For instance, moms-to-be should stop smoking and avoid the use of alcohol or drugs.

While that might seem like a no-brainer, taking care of yourself in general can help make a difference. This includes getting regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy, eating healthy, taking prenatal vitamins, and controlling diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

While these things all smack of common sense, in general staying healthy while pregnant can reduce the risk of a preterm birth. So that should be a mom-to-be’s goal

Prematurity Awareness Month is the brainchild of the March of Dimes. Their goal is to focus the nation’s attention on premature birth and to educate the public.

Be sure to visit their website to see how your state rates when it comes to premature births. They along with their partner organizations around the world are asking everyone to help spread the word on the serious problem of premature birth and what can be done to help prevent it.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Measles Making a Comeback in the U.S.

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 by 1 Comment

When I was growing up, I remember missing my cousin’s wedding because I had the measles. I grew up thinking of it as a childhood disease everyone eventually caught, and in this day of vaccinations, most of us don’t know how serious it can really be. I remember having the rash and not feeling well, but for me the overpowering memory is that I had to miss the wedding.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Back when I was a kid I didn’t realize it was a respiratory disease which spreads through coughing and sneezing. That’s because the thing that stood out to me was the rash.

The good news is that it is completely preventable with today’s vaccines. The bad news is that it’s making a comeback here in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from January 1 to October 31 this year there have been 603 documented cases of measles which were spread out over 22 states. This is the highest number since 1994.

So what do you think is the cause behind this? Some want to point to the people who have decided not to vaccinate their children, but they’ve been around since 1994 so that is not likely the cause.

The real problem is that measles are still a real problem in many other countries. According to a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 20 million people still get measles each year, and of those 145,700 died in 2013. So Americans traveling should be sure to update their vaccinations.

Too bad we can’t do the same with the influx of undocumented people coming into the country. With them come measles and other painful and fatal diseases we’ve had under control for decades. With high vaccination rates and infection control procedures in place, this disease can be kept in check here in the U.S.

Symptoms of measles itself are inconvenient and uncomfortable and include fever, runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, and of course the rash. The real problem is that about three out of 10 people who get measles develop complications which can include pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea.

The worst side effect of measles can be encephalitis which can lead to deafness, cognitive delays, and lasting neurological problems. These complications are more common in adults than young kids, but why risk it if you can vaccinate against it?

Photo credits: wikipedia.org

New Safe Sex Recommendations for Teens

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by No Comments

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has new recommendations for the way teens practice safe sex.

It’s just kind of sad to me that pediatric experts have to have recommendations for safe sex, and leads to the question of what that term really means. I use to think it meant ways to prevent STDs, but in this case what they are talking about is birth control to more effectively prevent teen pregnancy.

The AAP previously recommended birth control pills and condoms, but now suggests the use of IUDs and other long-term contraceptive devices instead.

These recommendations line up with the current recommendations made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the reason behind them is that oral contraceptives have shown to be the least effective option for adolescents because they tend to not be consistent in taking them.

The problem is the cost. Birth control pills can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 a month while an IUD, which can provide birth control for up to 12 years, can range in cost from $500 to $1,000.

The IUD is the least expensive, long-term birth control option that is reversible and could cut pregnancy rates by almost 80 percent for sexually active teens.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that educating teen girls about all forms of contraception and then providing them for free is the way to really curtail unwanted pregnancies.

I agree that would probably work, but it leads to the question of who will pay for free medical treatment. We already see how well that doesn’t work in our attempt to provide Affordable Care.

Statistics show that teen pregnancy has declined almost continuously for the last two decades with a 51 percent decline between 1990 and 2010. These numbers include live births as well as pregnancies terminated through abortion or miscarriage.

This improvement is attributed to an increased number of adolescents waiting to have sex as well as the increased use of contraceptives. That sounds like a sensible approach that’s working, doesn’t it?

Photo credits: wikimedia