Organic Gardening – Is it Really Worth It?

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I have noticed in the past few years a huge interest in organic gardening. I wondered the other day what motivates me spending at least an hour each day loving my garden. Well, here’s my answer.

Working with soil and seeing seeds sprout and then watching red bell peppers grow is simply fun. I also love connecting with the earth. Getting my hands dirty with soil and compost makes me realize that I am part of a bigger picture, and I love the feeling of giving back.

With the dire state of Big Agriculture these days, I feel that organic gardening is my response to a system that cares only about money. And they care NOTHING about my health, your health, or your baby’s health. We have only about 10 -15 years before our soil is completely deleted of any life-giving microbes.

Until that happens, our processed food will keep getting more expensive each year, as farm production goes down. You can only add just so much chemical fertilizer, insecticides, Roundup, and GMO seeds before Mother Earth revolts and says “NO MORE.”

One question many people have is “What really does Organic Gardening mean?” I searched for what I consider a clear and precise definition. It starts with the health of the soil.

Principles of organic gardening and farming

  • Principles of Organic Agriculture
    • The Principle of Health – “Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal and human as one and indivisible.”
    • The Principle of Ecology – “Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.”
    • The Principle of Fairness – “Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.”
    • The Principle of Care – “Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well being of current and future generations and the environment”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_organic_gardening_and_farming

 

 

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USDA Protects Corporate Interests – NOT Our Health

I received this alarming email today from The Center For Food Safety. I urge you to sign up to be able to receive their updates. You can always unsubscribe, if you want. You will be joining over 700,000 other CFFS members who are making a difference. There is no cost at all.  Sign up here: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org

I also have a Center For Food Safety app for my phone that shows me any updates. It has other neat features like alerting you to what isn’t really “healthy” in you local food market.  You can download their app at the Google App Store (android.)

Here is the email I received:

Think scientific research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is unbiased? Think again.

Last week, Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, a decorated Senior Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the federal agency of suppressing research findings that challenge the safety and efficacy of a heavily used class of pesticides – neonicotinoids.1
Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world and are extremely toxic to bees and other pollinators.

In March 2014, Lundgren served as an External Reviewer for Center for Food Safety’s report Heavy Costs, which revealed that neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments offer little benefit, do not increase crop yields, and cause widespread environmental and economic damage,2 and the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article featuring his research on neonicotinoids.

After that, Lundgren claims, “USDA managers blocked publication of his research, barred him from talking to the media, and disrupted operations at the laboratory he oversaw,” according to Harvest Public Media.3

“Within one week of these late-March press interviews and the release of the CFS study, improper reprisal, interference and hindrance of my research and career began in earnest,” said Lundgren, according to the complaint.4

Tell USDA this type of intimidation must be stopped – ARS Director Dr. Catherine Woteki should resign.

Dr. Lundgren filed a scientific integrity complaint in September 2014, describing these interferences with his research and the day-to-day operations of his laboratory and travel. In August 2015, less than a year after his scientific integrity complaint against the Agency, Lundgren was disciplined with a 14-day suspension over minor issues with travel paperwork and with an article submission to a journal.

While Lundgren is the first to file a formal complaint about the scientific integrity of research by USDA scientists, he is unfortunately not the first USDA scientist to be targeted for his “sensitive” research.

“Your words are changed, your papers are censored or edited or you are not allowed to submit them at all,” a scientist, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.5

Dr. Jeffrey Pettis — formerly the lead scientist at the USDA’s bee research lab and one of the world’s most respected honey bee researchers— was demoted from his position in 2014. In a letter6 to USDA Secretary Vilsack after Pettis’s demotion, America’s largest beekeeper organizations objected strongly, but say they were told by an ARS administrator that Pettis was demoted because he “had been falling behind on his administrative duties.”

And this spring, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a petition7 charging the agency with ordering many USDA researchers to “retract studies, water down findings, remove their name from authorship and endure long indefinite delays in approving publication of papers that may be controversial.”

Intimidation and harassment of USDA ARS scientists doing critical research on pesticides, genetically engineered crops, and our food and farming system cannot be tolerated.

USDA has serious influence over the President’s recent Pollinator Health Task Force. With pollinator populations plummeting, we can’t let scientists get silenced. Bees, beekeepers and ecosystem sustainability can’t continue to play second-fiddle to industry sales.

Rigorous, independent science is the basis for sound regulatory decisions. Giving special “sensitivity” to research that might harm priorities of pesticide companies, such as Dr. Lundgren’s, undermines scientific integrity at the USDA

Sign the petition to Secretary Vilsack demanding that Catherine Woteki resign as the USDA Chief Scientist and head of ARS!

Thanks for everything you do,
the Center for Food Safety team

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Intermittent Fasting – The Easy Way To Lose Weight

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Image by thomasklaiber via Flickr

Is intermittent fasting for you? Are you the type of person who wants to lose weight,  have more energy, and be able to have a your brain work sharper? So what’s the magic potion? The only magic is that Intermittent Fasting really works. Will it do all these things for every person? Maybe not. But what if intermittent fasting could help you just lose some weight?

I discovered intermittent fasting about a year ago, and recently looked a lot closer at the benefits as well as the different ways you can use it. Keep reading to find out how intermittent fasting can work wonders for you. Even help you lose those pounds.

Instead of eating three square meals a day, an eating schedule that involves “intermittent fasting” could help fight not just obesity but many related diseases of modern life, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, researchers say….via Science suggests intermittent fasting may have health benefits – Fox News

More Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Benefits of intermittent fasting are numerous. It is considered to be good way to preserve your health for a long time and to stimulate your brain and cellular healing. In contrast to the popular belief that we need three meals a day and snacks between them, fasting means that you spend some time without food.
You can always decide for yourself which intermittent fasting schedule works the best for you. Some people like to extend their non-eating period that includes time they sleep to omitting breakfast in the morning. Other people choose to eat only one large meal a day with fruit and non-caloric beverages during the non-eating time.
 If you want to know how intermittent fasting affects your overall health and in what ways you can benefit from skipping a meal or setting eating schedules,  look here. ……via 6 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting that Will Completely Blow Your 
Some studies suggest that fasting can reduce inflammation and help the body get rid of damaged molecules. Because digestion requires a lot of work from the body, fasting gives it a significant break.

…via Healthy Habits Forever: Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Who Else Wants Relief From Chronic Constipation?

Constipated

Constipation is never fun. In fact, it is very annoying, and it can cause a lot of pain. Besides this, chronic constipation can lead to more pressing health problems. Studies have shown that about 15% of American adults – roughly 42 million people at a time – suffer from constipation. If you are over 65, constipation may be even more of a problem.

In the following articles, you will learn about what causes constipation and what you can do to get relief from constipation – the more natural relief, the better. It is also interesting to discover if there is a “cure” for constipation and also do “natural” constipation “cures” really work?

Constipation In Adults

http://www.patient.co.uk

Constipation is a common problem. It means either going to the toilet less often than usual to empty the bowels, or passing hard or painful poo (also called feces, stools or motions). Constipation may be caused by not eating enough fibre, or not drinking enough fluids. It can also be a side-effect of certain medicines, or related to an underlying medical condition. In many cases, the cause is not clear. Laxatives are a group of medicines that can treat constipation. Ideally, laxatives should only be used for short periods of time until symptoms ease.

Note: there is a separate leaflet called Constipation in Children.

Constipation is common. If you are constipated it causes one or more of the following:

  • Poo (feces, stools or motions) becomes hard, and difficult or painful to pass.
  • The time between toilet trips increases compared with your usual pattern. (Note: there is a large range of normal bowel habit. Some people normally go to the toilet to pass stools 2-3 times per day. For others, 2-3 times per week is normal. It is a change from your usual pattern that may mean that you are constipated.)
  • Sometimes, crampy pains occur in the lower part of your tummy (abdomen) You may also feel bloated and feel sick if you have severe constipation.

Known causes include the following:

  • Not eating enough fiber (roughage) is a common cause. The average person in the UK eats about 12 grams of fibre each day. But, 18 grams per day is recommended by the British Nutrition Foundation. Fiber is the part of plant food that is not digested. It remains in your gut. It adds bulk to the poo (feces, stools or motions), and helps your bowels to work well. Foods high in fiber include: fruit, vegetables, cereals and wholemeal bread.
  • Not drinking much may make constipation worse. Stools are usually soft and easily passed if you eat enough fibre, and drink enough fluid. However, some people need more fiber and/or fluid than others in order to avoid constipation.
  • Some special slimming diets are low in fiber, and may cause constipation.
  • Some medicines can cause constipation as a side-effect. Examples are painkillers (particularly those with codeine, such as co-codamol, or very strong painkillers, such as morphine), some antacids, some antidepressants (including amitriptyline) and iron tablets, but there are many others. See the list of possible side-effects on the leaflet that comes with any medicine that you may be taking. Tell a doctor if you suspect a medicine is making you constipated. A change of medication may be possible.
  • Various medical conditions can cause constipation. For example, an underactive thyroid, irritable bowel syndrome, some gut disorders, and conditions that cause poor mobility, particularly in the elderly.
  • Pregnancy. About 1 in 5 pregnant women will become constipated. It is due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy that slow down the gut movements. In later pregnancy, it can simply be due to the baby taking up a lot of room in the tummy and the bowels being pushed to one side.

Laxative warning prompts advice on constipation relief – (USA Today)

Before most people reach for any laxative, they should look at their diet and lifestyle, says Eric Widera, a specialist in geriatrics at the University of California-San Francisco. “The ultimate goal is prevention,” he says. Eating more fiber, from fruits, vegetables and grains, is the first step, he says, because that adds bulk to stools and helps move digestion along.

Drinking plenty of water and exercising also are recommended, though the evidence they work is not as good, says Spencer Dorn, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“People who are active tend to be less constipated,” he says.

But the most important lifestyle change may involve taking a break — to use the toilet, Widera says. People who follow the natural rhythms of their colons will often find it’s easiest to have bowel movements at the same time of day, often in the morning, after breakfast, he says. Resisting the urge, because you are busy or away from home, for instance, can make constipation worse.

If those measures don’t work, the first choice from the drugstore should usually be a fiber supplement, Widera and Dorn agree. Those include products such as Metamucil and Citrucel.

People with more persistent constipation have additional choices. Those include laxatives that draw water into the colon, known as osmotic laxatives, and laxatives that work by stimulating the colon.

The sodium phosphate laxatives are osmotic laxatives, but there are others in that category that don’t cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, Dorn says. Those include products such as Miralax and milk of magnesia.

Stimulant laxatives, such as Dulcolax and Senokot, may be needed by people with tougher constipation caused by medications such as opioid painkillers, Widera says.

Doctors sometimes recommend stool softeners, though there is not as much evidence they help, Widera says. Some prescription medications also are available.

Widera says he never recommends sodium phosphate laxatives for his elderly patients. Dorn says they may have some use for low-risk patients in whom nothing else works.

The FDA has issued warningsabout higher-dose oral versions of sodium phosphate laxatives used for bowel cleansing before colonoscopy and said they should be used only by prescription. Because of those concerns, Fleet took its oral non-prescription version off the market, the company announced in 2008. But it said the enemas were safe.

In its update for consumers this week, the FDA said oral and rectal sodium phosphate products can be used safely for constipation by many older children and healthy adults. It said anyone over age 55 should check with a doctor. It said sodium phosphate enemas should never be given to children under age 2, and caregivers should check with doctors before giving the oral products to children under age 5.

In a statement Friday, Fleet said it “fully supports the efforts of the FDA to encourage the safe use of sodium phosphate products.” It encouraged consumers “to follow the recommended dosing instructions as recommended by the FDA.”

Constipation Remedies – Alternative Medicine – About.com
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/constipation/a/constipation.htm
Sept 17, 2013 

Natural Constipation Remedies:

1) Fiber

A diet low in fiber may play a role in constipation. Insoluble fiber, which passes through the body almost unchanged, gives stools bulk and a soft texture, making them easier to pass. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try wheat bran, brown rice, or whole grain bread.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines. Prunes and figs can be added to breakfast or eaten as a snack.

Another option is to sprinkle one teaspoon of ground flaxseeds over any meal. They can be found in packages at the health food store or some grocery stores. They have a mild, nutty taste. Learn about more eating to relieve constipation in Foods for Constipation.

Fiber supplements are also available, the most popular being psyllium supplements such as Metamucil. Guar gum and acacia fiber are also popular. Add fiber to your diet gradually to avoid bloating and gas. Also, be sure to drink enough water otherwise fiber can have the opposite effect and be constipating.

2) Fluids

Making sure you drink enough fluids such as water may help some people with constipation. Fluids make bowel movements softer and easier to pass.

Watch your consumption of alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages such as coffee and cola drinks, which can be dehydrating.

3) Stimulant Laxatives

Many herbal laxatives and “dieter’s teas” are stimulant laxatives, or anthranoid laxatives. They include herbs such as:

Some of these herbs, such as senna, are approved as over-the-counter treatments for constipation. Although they are meant to be short-term treatments, in reality, people may become dependent on them and use them for weeks, months, or even years at a time in order to have a daily bowel movement.

They should not be used for longer than a week unless under medical supervision. Prolonged use may cause the bowels to lose the ability to move on their own, and has been linked to chronic diarrhea, potassium depletion leading to muscle weakness and potentially dangerous irregular heart rhythms, and kidney or liver impairment.

4) Biofeedback

Biofeedback therapy may help people with constipation resulting from pelvic floor dysfunction, a condition in which the pelvic floor muscles do not function properly. It occur as a result of conditions such as obesity, an enlarged prostate, or after childbirth.

Biofeedback therapists teach how to better coordinate muscles used to defecate. Approximately 70% of people have improved symptoms after biofeedback training.

Although biofeedback has only been explored as a treatment for this type of constipation relatively recently, results are promising.

For example, one study compared biofeedback (one session a week for five weeks) to laxatives (polyethylene glycol 14.6 to 29.2 grams per day) plus education in people with chronic, severe pelvic floor dysfunction. All participants had previously tried fiber supplements plus enemas.or suppositories but hadn’t responded.

After six months, biofeedback sessions were more effective than tha laxative, with 43 of 54 (80%) of the biofeedback patients versus 12 of 55 (22%) laxative-treated patients reporting major improvements. Benefits appeared to last at least two years.

See my article on Biofeedback.

5) Probiotics

Probiotics, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, are live microbial organisms that are naturally present in the digestive tract. Some of the ways they are thought to promote health include suppressing the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, improving immune function, enhancing the protective barrier of the digestive tract, and helping to produce vitamin K.

There is some preliminary evidence that probiotic supplements may improve constipation. For example, one study looked at the effect of a probiotic beverage containing a strain of beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus casei Shirota (65 milliliters a day) or a placebo in people with chronic constipation. The probiotic drink resulted in significant improvement in severity of constipation and stool consistency.

Another study examined the effectiveness of another strain of probiotics on constipation in children and found no effect. Eighty four children between two and 16 years of age with constipation took lactulose (a laxative) plus a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus GG or lactulose alone. After 12 and 24 weeks, lactobacillus was not more effective than lactulose alone at treating constipation.

Find out more about using acidophilus and other probiotics.

6) Acupressure

Acupressure is a traditional healing practice that involves the application of finger pressure to specific acupuncture points on the body.

A point that is often recommended by acupuncturists for constipation is Large Intestine 4. Although it hasn’t been studied for constipation, it is a simple home remedy that may work for some people. The point is at the highest spot of the muscle between the thumb and index finger when they are brought close together. Caution: this point is typically avoided during pregnancy.

With your thumb or middle finger at a 90 degree angle to the skin, apply gradually increasing pressure. Hold for three minutes. The pressure should not be painful or uncomfortable.

Learn more about Acupressure.

7) Magnesium

A deficiency of the mineral magnesium may contribute to constipation. Magnesium is found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains and in supplements.

Magnesium is needed for normal muscle function, including intestinal muscles. One recent study examined the intake of magnesium with constipation in 3835 women. Low magnesium intake was associated with constipation.

Other Natural Constipation Remedies

The herb triphala is used in Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) to promote digestive health and to ease constipation.

Other Tips

  • Engage in regular physical activity. Not getting enough physical activity can lead to constipation.
  • Don’t put off the urge. The longer you delay when the urge to have a bowel movement strikes, the more water gets absorbed from stool and the harder it becomes to have a bowel movement.

wah... constipationI am big fan of using natural herbs. They have been used for centuries and it’s only in recent times that pharmaceutical companies have copied many of the herbal qualities – so they can charge an “arm & a leg” for “chemicals” –what used to be almost free.

One of my favorite herbs for helping with constipation is Cayenne (pepper). I make my own O-O capsules, but you can buy cayenne caps in many places. I generally take 2 – 3 capsules of Cayenne each day- spread out about 3 hours apart. The interesting result? Ever since I started doing this – which has been about 8 weeks now – my constipation has disappeared. And going to the bathroom is on a regular basis, with no straining. Try some of the herbs listed above, if cayenne is too “strong” for you, or you just want other options.

 


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