April 28, 2009

Do NOT Trust Food Labels!

I see tons of food labels declaring their product to be "hormone free," "all natural," and "organic." Sounds great, right? Well, the short answer is....WRONG!!!
Did you know that the FDA has NO regulations regarding the use of the words "all natural" and "natural?" Because there are no rules in place for using these words & phrases, this means that anyone can put them on their food products, no matter what. So, when you see the "natural" label adorning your meat, vegetables, cereals, or anything else, be cautioned! It is NOT necessarily true! The producers of that product slapped that wonderful-sounding label on that food product, knowing that you would be more inclined to buy it! So be cautious and educate yourself!
Another thing: did you know that meat & produce producers can put the "organic" label on their products, as long as they have not used antibiotics, hormones, or steroids only within the past YEAR? This means that they could have been pumping pretty much whatever they wanted into your food up until a year ago, and they can still put the "organic" label on it.
Interesting, huh? Do you feel deceived? Are you angry yet?
For your information, I have gotten most of these thoughts out of various books, including "Skinny Bitches," by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin
and "Eat This, Not That" by David Zinczenko.
Author's personal note: be prepared for tons of crude & hateful language in the Skinny Bitches book. I appreciated their thoughts and insights, but the language was awful. Be forewarned!

Shin Splint Relief!

I took 2 months off from running (shortly after buying new, very rigid & supportive running shoes) for fear that the intense lower leg pain I was feeling were stress fractures from overuse. But after the very first time running again after all that time off, the pain was still there!
Thankfully, a friend from church is in exercise science & therapy. I explained my pain to her, and she told me that I have severe shin splints, caused by my too-rigid shoes, my tight foot arches, and my too-weak front calf muscles.
My first response was...."There are muscles in the front of your calves?" I know that's a "duh!" question, but I had been focusing so much on strengthening my back calf muscles, that I had never even thought to think about the muscles on the front of my calf! So she told me to walk around on my heels all day, and tap my toes, to get those front calf muscles activated. So I have!
My friend prescribed freezing a water bottle and standing on it, rolling it back & forth on my foot arches. The purpose of this is to massage the tight arch and the cold eases inflammation that causes tenderness.
She also recommended icing my lower shins, right where it hurts, until it is numb, then massaging the muscles around it.
A third thing she suggested was putting 2 in-sole inserts into my shoes to provide slightly more cushioning when I run. This works!
These exercises and massaging hurts a lot, but they have enabled me to run again. I have consistently been running about 4 miles every other day or so.
I'd say that my friend's advice has helped me get about 70% better!
God bless her, and I hope this advice helps anyone else with chronic shin splints!
If you have any questions regarding sports injury, let me know, and I'll ask my friend.

April 23, 2009

MSG: Toxic or Simply Sneaky Food Additive? Part 2

MSG is found virtually everywhere, and almost no kind of food seems to be immune to its presence. For example, Erb says that MSG is found in some Starbucks coffee, soups, salad dressings, ready-make meals like Ramen and Hamburger Helper, frozen t.v. dinners, and potato chips like Lay's and Doritos brands.
And it doesn't stop there. Both fast-food and sit-down places (Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, and even fancier places like TGI Friday's, Chili's, AppleBee's, Denny's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken) contain unabashed amounts of MSG in many of their foods. And apparently KFC is the worst offender of them all, serving foods loaded with MSG; everything from their chicken, salad dressings, and gravy.
Eeeek! It's everywhere!
So, why is it added to virtually everything we eat? Is it a preservative? Does it give our bodies a necessary nutrient? The answer is....Um, NO!
John Erb states that MSG is added to food because of the addictive effect it has on the body. Yes, even the propaganda website he visited, sponsored by the food manufacturers' lobbyist group supporting MSG, says that the reason they add it to so many foods is to make people eat more. Food manufacturers admit that MSG makes people addicted to their foods. And because of how it affects your taste buds, their food tastes better, which increases the likelihood that you will choose to eat their brand of food, as opposed to choosing another brand.
Wow, they've got us; hook, line, and sinker!
Here's an article my brother-in-law found, detailing the negative effects of MSG on humans: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/health/nutrition/26nutr.html
I think the vote is still out when it comes to the negativity of MSG. But I sure don't like how it's in most everything we eat, and that we are feeding our children this stuff that is proven to cause obesity and attention disorders! Whether it really is toxic to our bodies, or a sneaky food additive that addicts us to a certain product, the bottom line for me is that MSG is a man-made, chemical food additive that has no business being in our bodies or our food.
So the final decision is up to you. If you want more info about MSG, read John Erb's book, read the above article, and become informed! Do if for the health of you and your children!

MSG: Toxic or Simply Sneaky Food Additive? Part 1

MSG stands for Mono-sodium Glutamate, an additive to food that temporarily deteriorates the taste buds in your tongue, causing your food to taste more flavorful and enticing. This man-made chemical concoction also goes by the names Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Natural Meat Tenderizer, Accent, and Aginomoto, to name just a few.
The FDA has set no limits on the amount of MSG that is allowed to be added to our foods.
Did you know that studies show that MSG is linked to obesity, diabetes, migraines, headaches, autism, ADHD, and even Alzheimer's Disease?
John Erb wrote a book called "The Slow Poison of America", where he details numerous scientific studies, many involving rats that had been neo-natally injected with MSG and grew to be obese, unhealthy rats.
Erb says that MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, causing the test rats (and perhaps humans as well) to become obese. They even have a name for the test rats they use in these experiments: "MSG-Treated Rats."

April 21, 2009

Featured Member of the Day!

So apparently I was an eHow.com "Featured Member of the Day"! I had no clue! A fellow eHow writer was kind enough to email me and tell me, but by the time I checked, I had missed it! Bummer!
But yay for me! I've been having issues with eHow lately, so it feels GREAT to be featured! Hopefully it will drive more traffic to my site!
Thanks, eHow!
Here's my profile with access to all my how-to & advice articles! Check them out!

Fat Math

Do you know the difference between fats, saturated fats, poly & mono-unsaturated fats? And do you know how they are all connected?
The general term of "fats" is broken into 2 smaller categories: saturated and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are those fats that are very bad for you. They clog arteries, cause heart attacks, and raise cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure levels. These are usually found in "heavy" foods, like cookies, cake, chocolate, fried foods, and fast foods (like cheeseburgers and french fries).
Unsaturated fats are those fats that are very good for you. They are broken into 2 smaller categories called Poly-unsaturated fats and Mono-unsaturated fats. These good fats raise your "good" cholesterol levels (HDL), lower your blood pressure, clean out your arteries, and keep your heart in good condition. These are found primarily in nuts (almonds & walnuts), sunflower seeds, peanut butter, vegetable & olive oils, and lean meats.
How to read food labels:
Most food labels simply have a "Fat" label, with an amount (say 10 grams), then a sub-heading with the "Saturated fat" heading. (say 5 grams). So the label is telling you that that product has 5 grams of saturated fat (the bad kind). But what about the other 5 grams?
Well, those are your "good" fats.
Take Total Fat, and subtract Saturated Fat amount. The resulting number is the amount of Un-saturated fats in that food.
Now you can do "fat math!" It pays to be educated about what you're eating and we all sure need help to decipher those food labels!
Happy wellness eating!

April 13, 2009

Starbucks Savvy

Did you know that a large mocha at Starbucks contains about 400 calories?
Did you know that a fat-free, sugar-free vanilla or caramel latte contains less than 200?
I always got large mochas made with fat-free milk, until I went online to Starbucks' nutritional information website and realized that, even with the fat-free milk, I was still drinking almost 400 calories! Yikes! That's almost a meal!
So I switched to a "skinny vanilla latte". I still get a large, but now it's with both fat-free milk and sugar-free flavored syrup. I get the same size and same fulfillment with half the calories! Yippee!
Take a walk on the "skinny" side of the Starbucks menu. You won't ever go back!
Check out Starbucks' nutritional information for all their products here: http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_info.asp
Be informed about what you're eating!

Calf Heel Raises

Every day (sometimes every other day), I do heel raise exercises. I stand on one leg and use my calf muscle to go up onto my toes. I repeat this exercise as many times as I can, which is about 40 repetitions per foot right now. I bend that knee a bit (so as not to lock and strain my knee), and repeat for each leg.
This exercise helps strengthen the calf muscle (which is the muscle on the back of your lower leg). When I first started, I was only able to do about 30 repetitions, but now I can do about 40.
This exercise is important for runners and walkers (and people who are on their feet a lot), because a strong calf muscle helps prevent over-use injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and broken bones. Strong calf muscles also help stabilize the back and pelvis, helping them move correctly and protect your gait and form.

Favorite Snack

One of my favorite snacks is a handful of almonds and a few pieces of dark chocolate. The almonds have plenty of the "good" fat in them (poly & mono-unsaturated fats), and the dark chocolate has loads of antioxidants.
Of course, both should be eaten in moderation, especially the chocolate!
But oh, it's SO good!

April 2, 2009

Afraid That You May Have Pet Allergies?

Many people suffer from pet allergies and seasonal allergies. Many pet owners obtain a pet, only to find out they are allergic to them. You may be able to take OTC medicine for your allergy, and hopefully that will let you keep your pet.
However, experts are discovering that sometimes it is not your pet that you are actually allergic to, but the dust, mites, and pollen that Fido carries into the house from the outdoors or the basement! These microscopic, lung-clogging particles easily stick to your dog or cat's fur, causing all those yucky spores to be carried into your house.
The remedy? Bathe your pet at least once a week, dust your house often, vacuum, and wash bedsheets often. And remember, it's always easiest for mold & particles to prosper in dark and moist environments.
So if you think you're allergic to pets, (and you very well may be), first try bathing your pet & keeping your house well-dusted for awhile to see if your symptoms disappear. If so, then you'll know that you are simply allergic to what your pet carries in from outside.

Strep Throat

The Question:
How long after being on antibiotics for strep throat are you still contagious?
The answer: 24 hours
*So, after 24 of being on antibiotics, you are no longer contagious! Yay!

Websites Beneficial to Your Health

The website AAD.org will help you find free skin cancer tests in your area. The website CDC.gov is where you can find free (or low-cost) Pap smears and Mammograms. "CDC" stands for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
If you need access to free or cheap medical tests like these, then these websites may help.

An Apple a Day.....

The "Northern Sky" variety of apples contain the most "free radicals" of any kind of apple. Free radicals are the cell-damaging molecules that can cause cancer in our bodies. So check out the "Northern Sky" apples for the prevention of cancer!
So that old saying about "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" might be true after all!

April 1, 2009

The Joy of Pets

Experts and researchers agree that owning a pet, or simply having regular access to a friendly pet has many positive health benefits for humans. It seems animals were meant to help fulfill humans' lives and heal their hearts.
It is widely known that petting a dog lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and ultimately makes them feel better. It is slightly less known that owning a pet helps everyone (not only the elderly) to feel better by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Owning a pet is hard work because pets require lots of love, attention, and can sometimes be expensive.
If you're ready to own a pet, they will require responsibility, but you will reap the benefits of your hearts and overall health.
So, either get yourself a pet (if you're ready for it) or spend time with someone else's pet! You'll be better for it physically, emotionally, and mentally, and you'll enjoy it!