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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Zapped

Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn't Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution is a good guide to the modern world of electropollution.

New York Times best-selling author Ann Louise Gittleman explains where electromagnetic fields (EMFs) come from and how they are affecting our health, from blood sugar imbalances and insomnia to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Gittleman discusses electrosensitivity (adverse effects from EMF exposure) and dirty electricity, which she describes as emerging health threats. She also explains why energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs are a bad idea (not only do they contain mercury but they also emit ultraviolet and radiofrequency radiation).

Fortunately, it's not all bad news. Zapped also offers solutions. Gittleman shares tips for minimizing EMF exposure and explains how foods, seasonings, and supplements can reduce the impact EMFs have on our bodies. She writes, "a healthy internal environment is your best shield against disease" and I completely agree.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012 Sunscreen Guide



Some sunshine is good for us. It helps regulate our circadian rhythm and stimulates production of vitamin D. But too much sun and too many sunburns increase our risk of premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

Spend time outside when the sun's rays are least intense: in the early morning or late afternoon. If you are out during the hottest part of the day, when the sun is most intense, use sunscreen.

To find the safest and most effective products, read the
2012 Sunscreen Guide from the Environmental Working Group.

The updated Guide will help you find the best beach and sport sunscreens as well as top SPF products like lip balm, moisturizers, and makeup.

Look up products you already use to see how they measure up, check out EWG's Sun Safety Tips, or download the EWG Sunscreen Buyer's Guide and do it all from your mobile device.  

Before you go to the beach.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Statins Don't Prevent Heart Attacks

Statin medications like Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), and Crestor (rosuvastatin) are prescribed to prevent heart attacks and stroke. But studies show that they aren't very effective.

The well-respected Cochrane Collaboration, an international, independent, not-for-profit research organization, recently reviewed 14 randomized, controlled trials (the gold standard in research studies) involving over 34,000 participants. The researchers found "little evidence" that statin medications prevent first-time heart attacks or improve quality of life. They concluded that for people at low risk of cardiovascular disease, potential adverse effects "are poorly reported and unclear."

Even worse, researchers uncovered unreliable and ethically questionable research methods including "selective reporting of outcomes, failure to report adverse events and inclusion of people with cardiovascular disease" in studies meant to exclude such people.

According to the Cochrane analysis, in people with a history of heart disease or type two diabetes, taking statin medications lowered their risk of cardiovascular complications by about 1 percent.

If you've already had a heart attack or stroke, you should weigh the benefits and risks of statins very carefully with your doctor.

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of people who take statin drugs experience adverse effects. These can include muscle aches, cramps, weakness, muscle damage, tissue degeneration, sexual problems, the inability to tolerate exercise, and damage to the liver, nerves, and mitochondria. Significant injury to cells, muscles, and nerves can even happen without any symptoms.

If you've never had a heart attack or stroke, the benefits of taking statin drugs - which is only 0.4 percent according to the Cochrane analysis - probably doesn't outweigh the risks. Instead, reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease by:

  • Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables like berries and leafy greens
  • Avoiding sweet and starchy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Sleeping soundly
  • Managing stress

If you have type two diabetes, consider making these lifestyle changes before you consider taking a statin medication. The same dietary changes and lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease also help improve blood sugar control. Following the recommendations above will likely benefit you much more than any statin medication.



References:

Mullington JM et al. Cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation. Progress in Cardiovascular Disease. 2009 Jan-Feb; 51(4):294-302.

Sirvent P et al. New insights into mechanisms of statin-associated myotoxicity. Current Opinions in Pharmacology. 2008 Jun; 8(3):333-8. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

Taylor F et al. Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011 Jan 19; (1):CD004816.

Tsivgoulis G et al. Presymptomatic neuromuscular disorders disclosed following statin treatment. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2006 Jul 24; 166(14):1519-24.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Top Ten Tips For Detox


Even if you don't do a formal cleanse, you can still take steps to reduce the impact of environmental toxins. These ten tips will help minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals and improve your body's ability to remove them from your body.

#1  Avoid sweets and starches.

Keep blood sugar and insulin levels low by eliminating sweet and starchy foods and sweet drinks from your diet. Also make sure that every meal includes protein, fiber, and healthy forms of fat to slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

#2  Eat more green and cruciferous vegetables.

Green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and collard greens) contain compounds that help our livers change dangerous toxins into excretable compounds. Make them at least 50% of every meal.

When you can't eat organic, avoid the vegetables on the Dirty Dozen most contaminated list: collard greens, kale, spinach, lettuce, celery, and bell peppers.

Choose from the Clean Fifteen instead: cabbage, asparagus, avocado, and fresh peas

#3  Avoid toxic fish and seafood.

As our oceans and waterways become more polluted, so do our fish and seafood. Environmental toxins like pesticides, dioxins (including polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs), and heavy metals accumulate naturally in large predatory fish at the top of the food chain.

Choose instead small fish that live at the bottom of the food chain. Species low in contaminants and high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats include wild Alaskan salmon, herring, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and rainbow trout.

The Environmental Defense Fund and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch offer free printable pocket guides, mobile applications, and online databases that rate fish and seafood on their environmental impact, give details on health advisories regarding unsafe levels of toxins, and note which species are especially good sources of omega-3s.

#4  Consume only pasture-raised, grass-fed, or wild, meats, eggs, and dairy products.

Avoid all meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that were fed grain or exposed to pesticide, hormones, or antibiotics.

#5   Avoid foods and beverages packaged in cans, plastic containers, and foam materials.

This includes Styrofoam cups, take-out containers, and egg cartons. Replace plastic food storage containers with ceramic, stainless steel, or glass (Pyrex) containers. Do not drink water stored inside plastic bottles; instead use stainless steel or glass water bottles and travel mugs. Replace plastic wrap with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Eliminate your need for plastic bags by taking a reusable organic cotton bag with you to the farmer’s market and grocery store.

#6  Filter your water. 

Activated carbon filters remove chlorine, lead, mercury, copper, pesticides, solvents, radon, parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, some volatile organic compounds, and bad tastes and odors.

Reverse osmosis filters remove 99.97% of contaminants 0.3 microns or larger. In addition to the above contaminants, they filter fluoride, cadmium, asbestos, bacteria, arsenic, barium, nitrates, nitrites, and perchlorate.

Ulta-HEPA (ULPA) filters reportedly remove 99.99% of contaminants 0.3 microns or larger.

NSF International is a respected nonprofit organization that independently certifies water filtration systems and validates manufacturer claims. For more information, read the Environmental Working Group’s Water Filter Buying Guide.

#7  Drink green tea.

Green tea contains powerful antioxidants and one in particular, a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate-3 or EGCG, has been shown to stimulate detoxification pathways in the liver and increase the elimination of environmental chemicals linked to high levels of blood sugar and insulin. EGCG has also been shown to protect the brain from heavy metals and reduce the risk of cancer.

#8  Exercise regularly.

Exercise helps to improve blood sugar control, reverse insulin resistance, and increase circulation to the liver (and to the rest of the body). It also boosts energy and improves mood, flexibility, balance, sleep, and mental performance. Get your doctor’s permission and aim for a combination of aerobic, strengthening, and stretching activities, enough to equal about two and a half hours each week.

#9  Take a weekly sauna.

A study of rescue workers from the 9/11 World Trade Center attack demonstrated that sauna therapy can effectively reduce levels of environmental toxins in the blood (including dioxins and PCBs) and reverse health problems associated with exposure to these chemicals.

#10  Manage stress effectively.

Stress increases the body’s production of stress hormones like cortisol, which increases levels of insulin. It’s a survival instinct that served our ancestors well when most stress was short-term (they either escaped physical threats or died trying). But in our modern world we suffer more long-term stress, which causes levels of insulin to remain elevated for prolonged periods of time.

Learn to manage stress effectively in any way that works well for you, whether it’s breathing exercises or more active exercise, meditation or laughter, saunas or massage, dancing or yoga, tai chi or qi gong.