Search Term: " Benzene "
Broccoli is one of the best detoxifying foods you'll ever find
February 20, 2019 01:17 PM
Broccoli can really help your body’s ability to expel harmful toxins that you ingest or breathe in According to recent research, post-menopausal women who ate lots of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli showed a substantially lower risk of breast cancer, perhaps because broccoli improved their livers’ ability to detoxify their bodies. Likewise, a 12-week Johns Hopkins University study of almost 300 people in a heavily polluted part of rural China found that broccoli made their bodies much more efficient at excreting dangerous compounds like benzene and acrolein.
"These detoxifying benefits of broccoli can be attributed to the presence of phytonutrients called glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-02-12-broccoli-is-one-of-the-best-detoxifying-foods.html
Holy Basil Extract
November 28, 2008 10:04 AM
It has been proposed that holy basil extract can help you cope with stress, and an investigation into the active components of the plant does indicate that there could be a scientific basis behind this use of it. This is in line with most traditional Ayurvedic medicines, whose benefits have been supported by modern scientific evidence.
Holy basil, otherwise known as Tulsi or Tulasi in Sanskrit and Hindi, is correctly Ocimum tenuiflorum, an aromatic member of the Lamiaceae family just as the more common form of basil is (Ocimum basilicum). Holy basil is cultivated for several reasons, the major ones being for its essential oils, for culinary use, religious use and for its medicinal properties. It is grown right across South Asia. Thai holy basil is used in Thai cookery while other forms play an important role within some of the traditions of Hinduism and is found profusively around Hindu temples.
Holy basil extract has been used for thousands of years for its healing and medicinal properties, and is mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita. It is written that it is used to balance a number of bodily processes and believed to be involved in promoting longevity. It is considered to be able to allow the body to adapt to stress and is also used to treat a large number of different medical conditions, from headaches to malaria and heart disease.
Most modern medical studies, however, have been carried out on animals rather than human subjects, so definitive evidence is lacking, and while there is evidence that tulsi extract might be an effective antioxidant and help in the control of blood sugar, there is also compelling evidence that it might be able to counteract the effects of stress. First, let's have a look at the active ingredients of holy basil extract, and how they fit in with the beneficial medical properties claimed.
One of the more important components of tulsi is eugenol, or 1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylBenzene. Eugenol is a phenylpropanoid, also found in clove oil, and is a COX-2 inhibitor that is used in medicine as a local anesthetic. Two others are the triterpenes oleanolic and ursolic acids, which possess anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. The pentacyclic ursolic acid can inhibit the development of various forms of cancers through the inhibition of the STAT3 pathway that is responsible for several types of human cancer that have poor prognosis.
Also present in holy basil extract is the polyphenol Rosmarinic acid which is a powerful antioxidant that is also present in herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme. Rosmarinic acid will also contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of holy basil, and many of the antibacterial properties it is said to possess could be due to carvacrol, a terpene that damages bacterial cell membranes and inhibits the growth of a number of bacterial strains.
Another component of Tulsi is the sesquiterpene B-caryophyllene, also contained in clove oil, and also possessing anti-inflammatory properties in mice. It is unknown whether or not these properties are transferred to humans, but the evidence of the use of the plant is that they are. Beta-caryophyllene is an FDA approved food additive, and as such, a dietary cannabinoid. Apegenin, also present in tulsi, is a flavanoid and another strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
With all of these ingredients that have proven health benefits, it is little wonder that holy basil is claimed to have the health benefits that it has. But what about its effects on blood sugar that it is said to control? It's probably not a coincidence that many other herbs that contain eugenol, such as cloves, are also claimed to have the same moderating effect on blood sugar levels. Not only that, but since diabetes is an inflammatory condition, it is not surprising that holy basil extract, that is rich in ant-inflammatories, should possess this property.
The main theory is that many of the components of holy basil can help support the beta cell function of the pancreas, and so enhance the secretion of insulin. In one of the few controlled human tests, a group of 40 people with Type 2 diabetes stopped taking their normal medication seven days before the test. They were then given holy basil leaves for an initial period of 5 days. Half were then given 2.5g powder holy basil leaf and the other half a placebo for 4 weeks. The two groups then switched over for 4 weeks - the first being on the placebo, and the second taking the holy basil.
With the first group, the average fasting glucose level dropped by 25.9%, from 234.5 mg/dl to 99.7. After switching to the placebo for 4 weeks it increased to 115.6 mg/dl (15.9% increase). The fasting blood glucose of the second group dropped from an average of 132.4 to 123.2 (6.9%), and then when on the holy basil leaf, dropped further to 97.2 mg/dl (21.1%).
This demonstrates clearly that holy basil leaf reduces blood sugar significantly faster than fasting, and so is beneficial to Type 2 diabetics. Perhaps more such studies should be carried out to confirm these important results, which appear to conform to the theory that the components of the plant should have this type of effect on blood sugar levels.
How about stress? Tulsi is said to particularly useful to people suffering from stress. The human stress response is an inflammatory cascade in which the immune system reacts by attempting to repair the stressed areas. If this response gets out of hand the stress can be exacerbated, and it is important that the stress response is carried put at an appropriate level.
A COX-2 modulator can prevent the inflammatory cascade by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme that causes it. Since eugenol is a COX-2 inhibitor, it can help to keep the body healthy and prevent the stress reaction. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of many of the components of holy basil extract can help to prevent the body being stressed by antioxidants and by today's environmental pollution and it also possesses antiviral and antibacterial properties to help reduce illness.
It is also an adaptogen, which enhances your natural response to emotional stress and helps your body functional normally when stressed. Studies have indicated that holy basil extracts can reduce the levels of corticosterone, a hormone responsible for stress, and improve your mood and mental clarity. Longer term effects can include memory improvement and a reduction in the risk of age-related mental conditions.
The active factors involved in the reduction of mental stress, and an increase in mental clarity, are the essential oils that tulsi contains, and their chemical components: particularly eugenol and caryophyllene. Studies have shown these to elevate the spirit and the mood, while the terpene acids, such as ursolic acid and oleanolic acid, can help to improve your body's response to stress.
There are very few doubts of the effect of holy basil extract (or tulsi extract and leaf) in improving mood, mental clarity and reducing the effects of stress, or of its other extensive beneficial medical effects. More studies might be needed to prove them to the medical community, but even now people suffering from diabetes mellitus are benefiting from its moderating effect on blood sugar levels, and once again the application of Ayurvedic medicine is being proved as effective in the modern era as it was in the ancient world.
Immune Boost Herbs
September 17, 2008 11:16 AM
There have been numerous improvements to our quality of life over the last century with advancements in science and medicine. Most families in America have access to healthcare and tools which promise improved health and well being. Even with the benefits and comforts that living in the modern world provides, chronic and preventable illnesses continue to occur. The fast-paced and high-stress lifestyle that many Americans live impacts their health in a variety of ways.
We face more health challenges today than ever before, which makes it more crucial than ever to have a balanced immune system, something that many Americans lack. Although the US leads the world in quality of healthcare, an increasing number of people are suffering or dying from preventable health problems. The environment, lifestyle, genetics, age, and antibiotic resistance are just some of the factors that are to blame for this. Thankfully, boosting immune power can counteract the negative effects of these factors on health.
Most Americans do not sleep enough, do not eat right, and do not exercise like they should. Many of the most common health problems people suffer from today are a result of lifestyle. These problems include hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and unbalanced immune function. Despite this fact, Americans continue to take part in poor health habits and then give up billions of dollars in prescriptions, doctor’s visits, and surgeries each year when they encounter an illness.
A sedentary lifestyle is a major cause for disease, as inactivity and obesity are both potential risks. Exercising as little as three times a week has been proven to enhance well-being and improve health. A lack of exercise can also contribute to stress, which we all experience. However, a healthy immune system can make our bodies more capable of withstanding the effects of stress. If immune systems can be balanced, Americans may be better able to withstand the potential health problems that living in the modern world brings.
We must take into account the fact that more health problems can arise as we age. Older individuals are much more susceptible to disordered immune systems, as the progressive immune system dysfunction that coincides with aging has been shown to influence an increasing number of age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and late-life lymphoma. With this knowledge, we should want to supplement and strengthen our immune systems, especially as they get older. We can work to avoid the occurrence of autoimmune disorders and cancers that so commonly occur as we age by keeping our immune systems strong and functioning at optimum levels. A lot of the potential health problems that we are facing today can be traced back to the environment. One environmental problem is the result of toxic chemicals, as the widespread use of pesticides and increase of Benzene and other pollutants in the atmosphere are leading to cancer and other reproductive health problems such as endometriosis and fertility issues.
The chemical pollutants in our air, food, and water have been linked to asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders and weakened immunity. Additionally, we are being exposed to increasing amounts of UV radiation, with occurrences of skin cancer continually rising. Researchers believe that one of the main reasons for the increasing number of melanomas may be due to people spending more time in the sun as well as artificial sources of UV radiation. There are many herbs available to help boost the immune system and detox the body to help one keep a strong immune system.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
May 06, 2008 05:14 PM
Grapefruit seed extract is regarded as being natural antibiotic that is effective against a broad range of bacterial infections. It has also been used to treat parasitic infections and a range of viral infections as well as having found uses for a wide variety of medical conditions.
So what is it about grapefruit seed that is so special? Most people are acquainted with grapefruit, which as a member of the citrus family of fruits, and not to be confused with grapes which are a totally different type of plant. Grape seed extract is also a useful natural medication, but used for totally different conditions.
Because of its efficacy against parasitic and viral infections, grapefruit seed extract is very useful in treating various forms of food poisoning. But, how was this remarkable property of the simple grapefruit seed noticed? The answer to that depends very much upon what version of the story of Einstein Laureate physicist and immunologist Dr. Jacob Harich you believe.
Dr. Harich was not only a scientist but a hobby gardener in Florida, and the two versions of his story tell either that he decided to investigate why grapefruit seeds tasted so bitter, or why the grapefruit seeds in his compost heap failed to compost, or rot. Whichever story is correct, and perhaps both are, the result was the discovery that grapefruit seeds appeared to be a very effective antibiotic.
In fact it has been shown to be effective against over 800 strains of bacteria and viruses and also effective against many fungi that lead to illness in humans. Because of this it is used in cased of food poisoning that involve bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract. In fact during the latter part of the 1980s, grapefruit seed extract was tested against a number of known antibiotics and found to be as effective as any of them. Similar results obtained in a number of tests in the USA and elsewhere in the world, and it appears that it is an excellent treatment for the symptoms of food poisoning.
Not only that, but it has been found effective in the treatment of some immunodeficiency diseases, presumably because its antimicrobial properties does much of the work that the immune system would normally do, and so relieves it of much of its hard work. This allows the immune system to concentrate on conditions which are exacerbated by deficiencies in its operation.
Bifidobacteria and Loactobacilli are bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive system. The measure of a good broad spectrum antibiotic is that it does not affect the beneficial bacteria, and grapefruit seed extract has no effect on the former and only a mildly inhibiting effect on the latter. It is also non toxic to humans, which is another measure of a good antibiotic. You would have to drink about two pints of the extract, around 4000 time the normal dose, for the treatment to be potentially fatal.
Among the many uses of the extract are not only in controlling gastrointestinal infections, but also general fungal conditions of the skin, vaginal infections and yeast infections, and also colds and sore throats. It is also believed to support the immune system, not only by its antimicrobial properties but through its effect on intestinal health upon which much of our immune system is dependent. It can also protect patients with symptoms of AIDs and other immunodeficiency conditions from infection.
Its effect on yeast infections around the nether regions of small children has been documented, and it has also been found to be very safe to young children. In fact many mothers have it as a permanent addition to their medicine cabinet.
It is not that long ago when doctors believed all diseases to be due to bacteria or viruses. It is now becoming clear that a large proportion is actually due to fungal infections and parasites. Many conditions such as allergies, circulatory disease and some forms of arthritis have been shown to be due to fungal infections that weaken the immune system. Grapefruit seed extract has been found to be effective in treating many types of fungal disease.
In using the extract in this way, and to treat bacterial infections, it is best to start with a low dose and gradually increase it. This is because when fungi and bacteria are destroyed they release toxins, and too high a dose could result in too much toxin being produced for your body to handle. If you take it gradually you will get the same result, but without the risk of the nausea and diarrhea which the toxins can cause.
Despite all of these benefits, grapefruit extract has not been given the credit it deserves, and much research has still to be done to establish the constituents of the seed that confer these properties. Among these are known to be proanthocyanadins, a class of flavanols with strong antioxidant properties, and a diphenol hydroxyBenzene complex that destroys bacteria through the cytoplasmic membrane to prevent the uptake of amino acids and cause leakage of the cell contents. Other active components are Vitamins C and E, tocopherols, limonoids and sterols, in addition to a number of important minerals.
However, there is still much work to be done, although the extract will continue to be used by many devotees for the treatment, not only of food poisoning symptoms, but also of conditions such as acne, athlete’s foot, gingivitis, cold sores, sinusitis and parasitic infections. It appears to be practically a cure-all.
There appear to be no drug interactions, although some medications do react with grapefruit juice, such as some treatments for high blood pressure. If your treatment advises you not to take grapefruit juice, then do not take grapefruit seed extract. Another factor to be aware of is that since the extract is an effective bactericide, then it could deplete the digestive tract of friendly bacteria essential for digestion. You are advised, therefore, to take a supplement of acidophilus, which is easily taken in the form of yoghurt type drinks specifically formulated or dietary supplement for the purpose.
FDA proposes to allow irradiated foods to go label-free
July 30, 2007 10:05 AM
Since 1986, any food sold in the United States that has been irradiated must, by law, disclose that fact to the consumer, by bearing the international radura symbol as well as the words “treated by irradiation” or “Treated with radiation.” However, if the FDA has its way, all that could change. The agency put forth a proposal in April which would require that packaging only reveal a food has been irradiated if the process created a “material change” in the food, such as a change in color, texture, or taste outside of the normal variances for the food. Additionally, the FDA is proposing allowing food manufacturers to substitute the word “pasteurization” for irradiation,” which has a decidedly negative association in the American consumer’s mind.
Does irradiation = pasteurization?
The bit about swapping the term “pasteurization” for “irradiation” is not actually new. Food manufacturers have been allowed to do that since the passage of the 2002 farm bill, which broadened the legal definition of pasteurization to include “any safe process that is at least as protective as pasteurization and is reasonably certain to kill the most resistant pathogens likely to occur in food.” The California Almond Board, apparently inspired by that legislation, recently announced its decision to irradiate raw almonds and label them “pasteurized.” However, most people still understand the old definitions, whereby pasteurization means using heat to destroy pathogens and irradiation means using ionizing radiation to do so.
Consumers want to know
What is new about the current proposal is the suggestion to lift the requirement that irradiated foods be labeled as such. And that won’t go over so well among consumers. According to a 1997 poll commissioned by the American Association of Retired Persons and Center for Science in the Public Interest, 88.6 percent of Americans want irradiated foods to be labeled. Indeed, the last time the FDA made a move to allow irradiated foods to go label free, the agency received more than 5,000 comments on the issue.
What’s at stake?
According to the consumer group Center for Food Safety, irradiation can create potentially dangerous chemical byproducts, such as Benzene and toluene; cause stunted growth in lab animals fed irradiated foods; and reduces foods’ nutrition value.
Noting irradiation’s unpopularity, the FDA stated that if foods treated with irradiation were not required to be labeled, more manufacturers would probably opt to use it. The agency is particularly concerned given the E.coli outbreak last November in fresh spinach.
Fortunately, even if the proposal becomes law, there will still be one surefire way to avoid irradiated foods: buying Organic.
References used in this article.
Civic leaders and public citizen tell wal-mart “Nebraskans won’t buy meat treated with irradiation” ! public citizen. May 27, 2007. //www.tradewatch.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=201
FDA may loosen labeling rules for irradiated foods. Center for infectious disease research & policy (CIDRAP). //www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/irradiation/news/apr1007irradiation.html
FDA proposes softening irradiated food labels. April 4, 2004. USA today. //www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-04-05-food-irradiation_N.htm
Food irradiation. The center for food safety. //www.centerforfoodsafety.org/food_irrad.cfm
Dr. Nugent’s Genetic Key Diet Notes Why is America Losing the Fat Battle?
September 19, 2006 05:48 PM
MSG Factor: increases appetite, triggers something in your body that makes you want more. There are no genetically fat rats but they make them fat by giving them MSG. they have taken an animal that has no natural obese traits or genetics and “enhanced” them. MSG is a flavoring that makes you want to eat more. The phrase “Betch ya cant eat just one!” has true meaning! It is in highly processed foods under different labeling names so that we purposely don’t see the words MSG (Monosodium Glutamate.)
Most tenderizers are high in MSG, “accent” and “adolph’s” are among the list. your fast food restaurants’ are guilty as well. It’s what keeps you coming back and eating far more than you should need.
“Packages that say no MSG is because they are now putting tow preservatives that combine together to make MSG. Ascorbic Acid (preservative), and Benzene salts combine to make MSG when heated. Soft drinks are stored in hot ware0houses, transported in hot trucks, and cans heat to over 100 degrees. Soft drinks do not have MSG added, but end up with it.”
Ascorbic acid and benzoate salt are preservatives that are combined in soft drinks and boxed fruit juices. When the drinks are exposed to heat and light the combination can stimulate the formation of Benzene. We all know from reading Dr. Nugent’s Toxic Planet book that Benzene is highly toxic in levels far below what the EPA states as safe. Considering that a lot of people live in warm, even hot states, the distribution centers and trucks are not kept cool, these drinks are heated in transport and storage. The soft drinks can end up with low levels of Benzene. Your body doesn’t have the need, desire or tolerance for Benzene at any level! If there ever was a good reason to get off soda and boxed drinks! Think about it.
Have you ever eaten to much at a nice restaurant, maybe a buffet and you must clean up your plate. The next day, you’re starving! Could be the MSG hangover.
Our brain needs 10 teaspoons of glucose each day for normal function. Because people have been warned about the problems with sugar we have added the pink, yellow & blue packets. Worse.
I stood in line behind a woman buying a small sack of prescriptions with a big price tag. She said its very expensive to be sick. (And she had a bottle of diet soda to go along with it.)
My husband said one time, “well, sooner or later we’re all going to get something and die.” I answered – “No-o-o, sooner or later we’re all going to die, but we don’t have to get sick.”
I used to subscribe to prevention magazine. After seeing so many advertisements for drugs, I dropped it. What is there in prevention that could cause me to take a drug?
Try Glyconutrients instead.
Soft Drinks Contaminated by Benzene
May 27, 2006 09:24 AM
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing program has found cancer-causing Benzene in soft drinks at levels averaging four times the standard for tap water. The brand names have not been released.
The test data were uncovered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which posted the test results on the group’s website, www.ewg.org
Highly elevated Benzene Levels
Between 1995-2001 the RDA tested 24 samples of diet soda for Benzene. The result: 79% tested at levels above the federal limit for Benzene in tap water, which is 5 parts per billion (ppb). The maximum Benzene level detected was 55 ppb. In addition to the diet sodas, the FDA tested a number of other non-diet soft drinks. One cola was contaminated at 27 times the tap water limit, and fruit drink had a 95 ppb level.
“These results confirm our suspicions there are highly elevated Benzene levels in some very popular drinks,” Richard Wiles, EWG’s senior vice president said in a press release.
Reaction Triggered by Preservatives
According to an article in beveragedaily.com, sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid in soft drinks can react together to form Benzene. Sodium benzoate is a common preservative in soft drinks, and ascorbic acid is often added as an antioxidant to extend shelf life.
Negotiations between the FDA and the beverage industry in 1990 resulted in an agreement that the industry would voluntarily reformulate its soft drinks to prevent this combination. The recurrence of Benzene contamination may be due to new soft drink manufacturers in the market who were not a part of, or aware of, the original negotiations.
Britain Pulls Soft Drinks from Shelves
In contrast to the U.S. situation, food safety campaigners in England were successful in having Benzene –containing soft drinks removed from the supermarket shelves. The British Food Standards Agency pulled four soft drink brands which contained more than 1 ppb of Benzene, and rushed out the results of tests on 149 drinks, including a range of fruit juice, iced tea, squash, fizzy and low-sugar drinks, according to The Times of London.
The Wellness Revolution and Contaminated Soft Drinks
The controversy over Benzene in soft drinks is an example of how toxic exposure exists in our food and immediate environment. The constant exposure to toxics were-and especially our children—experience is a major cause of chronic illness.
In this situation, the organic products available for purchase in health food stores are especially vital. And since some exposure to toxics is unavoidable we must take advantage of the herbs and nutrients that support detoxification and the liver, the main organ of detoxification, as well as immunity for example, silymarin, N-acetyl cysteine, calcium D-glucarate, folic acid, Reishi and shiitake mushrooms, and turmeric.
Sources: www.ewg.org www.beveragedaily.com 02/25/06. Associated Press 04/11/06. www.fda.org.
Public Pressure Forces Corporations to Curtail Most Soda Pop sales to schools
The Nation’s largest beverage distributors have agreed to halt nearly all soda sales to public schools, according to a deal announced may 3rd by the William J. Clinton Foundation.
The companies have agreed to sell only water, unsweetened juice and low fat milks to elementary and middle schools, according to a spokesman for former President Bill Clinton. Diet sodas would be sold only to high schools.
The deal follows a wave of criticism by school districts and state legislatures amid reports of rising childhood obesity. Soda has been a particular target because of its caloric content and popularity among children.
Are Standardized Herbs Better?
June 17, 2005 12:34 PM
Are Standardized Herbs Better?
Standardized is a term to mean that there is a guaranteed amount of a certain botanical constituent. For example St. John's Wort can be standardized to contain hypercin, Gingko can be standardized to contain flavones, Mahuang for ephedrine, and Milk Thistle for its silymarin content. Standardized does not necessarily mean stronger or better. Chemical solvents such as hexane Benzene, acetone, and methyl chloride are typically used in standardized extracts. Residues of the chemicals are found in the finished product. Furthermore they may be hazardous to the environment.
The problem with obtaining an amount of a standard constituent is, a plant can contain hundreds of active constituents. By concentrating on one component, we may lose synergistic compounds, which may improve effectiveness and lessen adverse reactions. Often scientists do not fully understand which constituents are beneficial for the clinical results of an herb. For example scientists are unclear whether or not hypercerin, hyperiform, or the interaction of several constituents, that have antidepressant properties in St. John's Wort. Once it was thought that the immune effects of Echinacea were due to echinosides; now it is thought that polysaccharides and proteins may also be immune supporting. In the case of ginseng, ginsenosides are found in ginseng leaves and roots, however ginseng leaves do not have same properties as the roots. In the South Pacific, locals all use Kava Kava roots, however German pharmaceutical companies use the stems to make standardized Kava Kava. Another drawback of standardized herbs is the chemicals used to manufacture them.
Advocates of standardized herbs are usually academics with little clinical experience with herbs, or researchers whose work is funded by companies that manufacture standardized products. Traditional herbalists seldom used standardized products for a variety of reasons. One, standardized extracts tend to be more expensive. Two, there is little evidence that they are more effective than the whole herb. For example, I have never seen studies comparing Gingko tea to standardized Gingko extracts; Ginseng standardized extracts have not been shown superior to whole ginseng root. Finally, many herbalists reject the pharmaceutical model of healthcare, which involves costly production techniques and capital investment to make a standardized extract.
Standardized herbs play a role in the drug model of herbal medicine, however traditional herbalists will continue to recommend herbs in more natural state which may include water and alcohol extracts, teas and pills that have not been standardized. (Factors that influence products quality include weather, soil, the time of year the plant is harvested, the age of the plant, the part of the plant being used, and the DNA of the plant, storage and processing.) You can also blend various batches of herbs to achieve a consistent potency; this is commonly done in the wine making industry. Finally you can add an active compound (synthesized) to an herbal product and the DNA of the plant, storage and processing.) The purpose of this article is not to condemn standardized herbs. It may be a good idea to remember that this form of herbal preparation is just one of many forms.
Your Healthy Harvest
June 14, 2005 11:05 AM
Your Healthy Harvest by Marjorie Flakowitz Energy Times, August 15, 2004
Once frowned on by conventional farmers, organic food has won respect from everyone concerned about the health of both the earth and the people who inhabit it.
Today, organic farming is considered one of the most rapidly growing areas of American agriculture. Organic foods sales topped $9 billion in 2002 and grew about 20%, up to almost $11 billion in 2003 (Organic Trade Association).
So when you buy organic, you join an expanding market that takes advantage of great-tasting, good-for-you food. Long ago, when the practice of farming was first devised, all farming was organic farming. So today's organic movement is bringing farming back to its roots.
But, safe to say, that is not what's motivating most consumers. A main reason for the popularity of organic food derives from the reassurance that organic foods, raised without artificial chemicals and pesticides, cut your exposure to toxic residues. A growing body of research shows organic food is richer in beneficial natural substances, too.
" Organic food and organic farming represent a philosophy that goes beyond just the quality of the food," says Steve Meyerowitz in The Organic Food Guide (Globe Pequot). "It strives to maintain the integrity of the entire food chain-plants, soil, air, water, animals and people. We are all part of the same ecosystem."
By eating organic, you eliminate pollution both from your body and the earth. Because our bodies are made of the animal and plant products we consume, our internal, physiological ecosystem and the earth's environment are inexorably entwined.
Chilling Arctic Evidence
As evidence of this connection, consider what's happened in the Arctic. Researchers who have analyzed Arctic water, ice, snow, soil and plants have found that chemicals used in farming and industry in other parts of the world have traveled north and accumulated in alarming quantity. How and if these chemicals break down depends on sunlight and the amount of organic matter contained in Arctic waters (American Chemical Society, 9/11/03).
" Once pollutants enter the water column, their behavior is poorly understood-particularly the processes that govern their lifetime and concentrations," says Amanda Grannas, PhD, a researcher at Ohio State University. "Such pollutants are now being found in wildlife, from fish to seals to whales, and even in people living in the Arctic."
Dr. Grannas and others looked at the pesticides lindane and hexachloroBenzene (HCB), two chemicals that have migrated to Arctic waters. Lindane is used by American farmers to treat seeds before they are planted. HCB, banned in the US in 1984, is still used in other countries to protect wheat from fungus.
The scientists found that sunlight at the top of Arctic waterways can help break down some pesticides. At lower depths, however, cut off from the sun's rays, pesticides can remain largely intact. In this research, lindane proved to persist much more readily than HCB.
" Lindane is one of the most persistent of pollutants," warns Dr. Grannas. "This could be because it's photochemically inert, whereas pollutants like HCB degrade relatively quickly. The main message is that pollutants can behave quite differently. These pollutants already affect local ecosystems, and could have repercussions for human health."
Organics Means More Benefits
Researchers are also finding that organic produce contains larger quantities of beneficial natural chemicals. For instance, one study (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2/26/03) showed that berries and corn grown organically can have almost 60% more polyphenolics. Polyphenolics are antioxidants plants use for protection against disease and which are good for humans. Researchers believe that when crops are grown conventionally, protected by pesticides and herbicides, they produce fewer of these substances. " This really opens the door to more research in this area," says Alyson Mitchell, PhD, assistant professor of food science at University of California at Davis, who led the research.
These scientists compared levels of total polyphenolics and vitamin C content in marionberries (a type of blackberry) and corn grown organically, sustainably or conventionally, and also looked at chemicals in strawberries grown either sustainably or conventionally. (Sustainable farming falls between the organic and conventional methods, and concentrates on farming that's self-sufficient-for example, feeding cows hay you've grown yourself, and then using the cows' manure to fertilize another crop.) They found that organic marionberries and corn had 50% to 58% more polyphenolics. The sustainably grown strawberries had 19% more polyphenolics. And all the organic produce contained more vitamin C.
Self-Defense for Plants
According to Dr. Mitchell, the organic crops contained the high levels of polyphenolics you'd expect to find in wild plants, suggesting that, on conventional farms, pesticides reduce the necessity for plants to make these protective, natural chemicals. " If an aphid is nibbling on a leaf, the plant produces phenolics to defend itself," she says. "[P]henolics guard the plant against these pests."
Pesticides kill insects like aphids and thereby reduce the antioxidants produced by the plant. " This helps explain why the level of antioxidants is so much higher in organically grown food," Mitchell says. "By synthetically protecting the produce from these pests, we decrease their need to produce antioxidants. It suggests that maybe we are doing something to our food inadvertently.
" We know [polyphenolics] are beneficial [to human health], but we don't know what types of polyphenolics are beneficial, or in what quantities," Dr. Mitchell notes. " Originally, the question was just really intriguing to me. I found that the higher level of antioxidants is enough to have a significant impact on health and nutrition, and it's definitely changed the way I think about my food."
Vitamin C in Oranges
Meanwhile, nutritional research on the vitamin C in oranges turns up similar results: organic oranges are richer in this antioxidant nutrient than conventionally grown oranges (Great Lakes Regional Meeting, American Chemical Society, 6/2/02).
The more common supermarket oranges are significantly larger than organically grown oranges, and they have a deeper orange color. Because of their larger size, "we were expecting twice as much vitamin C in the conventional oranges," says Theo Clark, PhD, chemistry professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
But when he isolated the chemicals in the oranges and further refined his search with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), spectroscopy demonstrated that organically grown oranges possess 30% more vitamin C than the conventionally grown fruits-even though they are only about half as large.
Dr. Clark isn't sure why organic oranges are richer in vitamin C, but he says, "...[W]e speculate that with conventional oranges, [farmers] use nitrogen fertilizers that cause an uptake of more water, so it sort of dilutes the orange. You get a great big orange but it is full of water and does not have as much nutritional value.
" However, we can only speculate. Other factors such as maturity, climate, processing factors, packaging and storage conditions require consideration." Along with analyzing oranges, Dr. Clark and his research team questioned about 70 people to measure their concept of the nutritional value of organic oranges. In this survey, 85% of the respondents thought that organic oranges have a higher nutritional content than conventionally grown fruit.
Dr. Clark's laboratory work shows that "they were right on." In Dr. Clark's view, these issues are important because consumers have a right to know the real nutritional content of organic produce, and the fact that analyses show that organic fruit has much more vitamin C validates the benefits of eating organic.
Both plants and animals protect themselves from disease with many of the same chemicals. The natural substances that, in a farmer's field, defend vegetables from insects and microbes before they are harvested for your dinner go to work defending your body after you eat and digest them.
When you eat organic you bolster your health with more of these natural wonders. No wonder organic is becoming so popular!
June 11, 2005 05:24 PM
Better Bones by Deborah Daniels Energy Times, March 13, 2004
As America ages, osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, grows into an ever-expanding problem. Currently, it affects more than 44 million Americans.
Women are in special danger; of those who suffer weak bones, about 35 million are women. This problem causes a huge amount of damage-physical, emotional and financial. The national bill for hospital and nursing care for osteoporosis victims tops $17 billion a year, about $47 million a day.
Odds are, your bones need help. According to the National Institutes of Health, the bones of more than half of all Americans over age 50 are weak enough to put them at risk of osteoporosis. Weak bones linked to osteoporosis continue to present a serious risk to health. A study published in the British Medical Journal shows that fractures in older people are just as life-threatening today as they were two decades ago (2003; 327:771-5).
When researchers looked at broken legs among more than 30,000 people over the age of 65, they found that just as many people die today after these kinds of bone breaks as they did during the 1980s.
Their findings emphasize how important strong bones are to survival. This study showed that breaking your leg at age 65 or older increases your risk of death more than 12 times. And these high death rates, according to the researchers, reinforce the fact that preventing osteoporosis saves lives.
Blowing Smoke Through Bones
While many bone experts blame the high rate of osteoporosis on sedentary lifestyles and foods low in calcium, Australian research has turned up another bone-weakening villain: smoking. According to these scientists, smoking may be the most destructive lifestyle habit that destroys bone in older women. While other studies have pointed to smoking as a factor in bone loss, this most recent study purports to show that smoking may be one of the most important influences on weak bones (J Bone Min Res 9/03). " This will be an important step forward in the management of osteoporosis, since the results of this study can be used to improve current approaches to preventing bone loss," says researcher John Wark, PhD.
Dr. Wark's study found that older smokers are particularly prone to weak bones. While smoking is always bad for bone strength, after menopause tobacco smoke seems to exert an even deadlier affect on your skeletal support.
" [T]he damaging effects of cigarette smoking may well have been underestimated in the past," says Dr. Wark. When you inhale cigarette smoke, your lungs are exposed to about 500 harmful gases, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, Benzene, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. The infusion of these gases cuts back on the available oxygen used for building bone and other tissues.
Along with these gases, small particles containing chemicals like anatabine, anabase, nicotine, monicotine and other carcinogens also filter into the lungs. Studies (Acad Ortho Surg 2001; 9:9) indicate that bathing the body in these chemicals results in:
While it's never too late to build more bone, the best time for laying down a dependable musculoskeletal foundation is before age 30. That way, as you get older, your strong bones can better resist the weakening effects of aging. Ipriflavone is a natural chemical that has been found to help protect bone. Researchers believe that this supplement can help bones strengthen by absorbing more calcium (Calc Tissue Int 2000; 67:225)
Other ways to make bones stronger include:
Weak bones can put a severe crimp in your lifestyle and put your life at risk. How can you tell what shape your bones are in? Health practitioners can help you get the appropriate bone density test. But the tone of your muscles are also a good indicator: Exercise to tone those muscles and chances are you're building your bones, too. All you have to do is get moving!