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So What Does “Organic” Mean? And What About “All Natural”?

August 12, 2010 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, Uncategorized

Organic 101

A recent study into organic food found that it appears to:

• Strengthen your immune system

• Improve sleeping habits

• Cut the risk of cancers

• Reduce the risks of heart disease

• Reduce a child’s exposure to hidden allergens

• Promote weight loss

As you can imagine, the junk food industry’s un-organic response to this groundswell of healthy food choices is to highlight industry-funded research that suggests that eating organic food is no more than a lifestyle choice. Thankfully, an insightful four-year, $25 million European study found that:

• Animals fed an organic diet were slimmer (yes, skinnier!) than their un-organic fed counterparts because fat cells appear to trap and store the heavy pesticide residues found in un-organic produce

• Organics appear to promote weight loss by reducing your exposure to chemical pesticides which bind to fat and once absorbed may stay in the body for a lifetime (over 350 chemicals can accumulate in our body fat!).

• Organic fruit and vegetables contain up to 40 percent more antioxidants.

• Milk from organic herds contained up to 90 percent more antioxidants

• Organic food also had higher levels of beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc, critical minerals in the development of a child’s brain.

Additionally, according to the Institute for Responsible Technology, un-organic crops like corn and soy that have been genetically engineered to be more profitable now contain chemical toxins in their seeds, which may be why these crops are banned in Europe, Australia, Japan, Russia and almost 40 developed countries around the world! They may also contain hidden allergens that might be contributing to the allergy epidemic.

So What Does “Organic” Mean? And What About “All Natural”?

Because the U.S. lags behind other developed countries when it comes to food safety, understanding label claims can often be a challenge for even the savviest shopper!

The term “organic” refers to foods grown and processed without chemical toxins, artificial ingredients, chemical preservatives or ionizing radiation. The guidelines for organic foods were established on October 21, 2002 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To use these terms, producers must pay additional fees and follow strict guidelines and regulations:

• 100% Organic- All ingredients are organic.

• Organic- 95% or more of the total ingredients are organic.

• Made with Organic Ingredients- At least 70% of the ingredients are organic.

For the savviest of label readers, the following are the legal guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for organics:

Organic Fruits and Vegetables:

Must be grown without the use of:

• synthetically created chemical pesticides

• synthetically created chemical fertilizers

• sewage sludge

• genetic engineering which appears to introduce novel proteins, allergens, viruses and toxins into crops.

• irradiation.

Organic Beef and Chicken:

• Fed only 100% organic feed, are not the offspring of cloned animals and have never been administered growth hormones or antibiotics. In addition, their meat must never be irradiated.

• Natural (or All Natural) meat or poultry products contain no artificial ingredients and are minimally processed. They are not necessarily organic.

• “No hormones administered” or “no antibiotics added” is sometimes seen on labels, but it can only appear if the producer can document the absence of hormone or antibiotic administration.

• Free-range or free-roaming poultry have access to the outdoors without a minimum time. They are not necessarily organic.

• Cage-free poultry means nothing as most chickens are kept indoors (but cage-free) if they are grown for meat.

Organic Milk:

Comes from animals that were fed 100 percent organic feed and were not given antibiotics, prophylactic drugs or genetically engineered and synthetically created growth hormones (such as rBGH) for at least the last year.

rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is a genetically engineered, synthetic chemical protein hormone vaccinated into cows to artificially boost their milk production. Like aspartame, rBGH has been banned in Europe because of the breast cancer risk that it may present.

Organic Eggs:

• Produced by hens that are fed 100 percent organic feed and have never been given growth hormones or antibiotics.

• Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are not confined in cages. The hens might not have access to the outdoors, though, and are not necessarily organic.

Organic Seafood:

The USDA currently has no guidelines set for seafood; however, un-organic fish is often caged underwater and treated with pesticides to prevent the spread of disease.

Organic Bread:

Cereal and grain crops are regularly sprayed with pesticides that collect in the grain’s outer layers, raising concerns about chemical residues in un-organic bread, cakes and cookies.

Other Terms:

The following terms are often found on packaged products and can be confusing to consumers:

* Natural is often a misnomer. There are no true guidelines for this term when used on a packaged product, although it is used frequently and often assumed to mean organic or healthier.

* Gourmet is another misleading term that leads consumers to believe that they are purchasing a product that is made finer ingredients, when in reality it has no established guidelines or regulations.

And when it comes to protecting the health of your family, “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman

As seen in The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and more.

The Dairy Acne Connection?

August 10, 2010 •  3 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Submitted to the AllergyKids Foundation by Fiona Childs of Food Intolerance Info August 10, 2010

There is a difference between anecdotal and empirical evidence in science. Medical science relies on the empirical for developing treatment regimens, but in many cases it is the anecdotal that prompts the research to acquire the empirical evidence in the first place. This is what is going on with the dairy and acne connection. There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence but not enough empirical evidence for the medical community to make a declarative statement that there is a connection between dairy consumption and acne. There are many doctors that have, however, and bottom line is that the theory makes sense and seems to be real.

It is proven that food sensitivities and allergies can cause skin eczema. Really now, how much of a stretch can it be that there may be a causative association between dairy sensitivity and acne? Our mainstream medical community says it is not good to rely on what is commonly referred to as “old wives tales” to establish a treatment regimen for any malady or disease. However, the preponderance of the anecdotal evidence is strong enough for the wise to take heed on this occasion with the dairy – acne connection. Take heed enough to at least investigate the claim and for some of us out there, enough to follow the claim and see results!

Maybe you are familiar with what Canadian dermatologist Dr. F.W. Danby began to discover when he investigated the possible association of hormones in milk products and acne. Most of us know about the added hormones that cows are supplemented with, but many of us have not taken a sec to stop and think that cow’s milk is from a lactating bovine that is hormonal to begin with because she is lactating! Though the word “cow” is used in general speech to define just about any bovine, it is a specific term. Milk comes from cows that are female bovines which are lactating due to the birth of a calf, and in many cases because they are given additional hormones to help them lactate more or longer. That is why they are lactating and what they lactate is what we call “milk” and is what we drink and make many other products from.

Some take anecdotal evidence and do something such as to completely stop ingesting cow’s milk in any form. Then empirical proof (at least for them) is discovered that the dairy was indeed the cause of the acne. Big medicine and all of the studies doesn’t matter them. (Good for them to take charge of their own health!) Unfortunately, the truth is that most medical doctors still do not receive adequate training in nutrition to even notice a causative factor of just how much diet influences health on a more immediate level. Sure, they know about how saturated fats consumed for years will most likely cause things like atherosclerosis, but other cause/effect relationships noticed by the public at large are generally ignored by big medicine. Food intolerance is something that is commonly overlooked by mainstream medical doctors.

It is not because big medicine doesn’t want to get people healthy, but for them, there needs to be proof. Even just for the sake of liability, there needs to be proof. Medicine also progresses because of income. Pharmaceutical companies that do the big research studies will not do a study without a valid financial reason. There needs to be a strong indication that a disease process is actually occurring, and the hope of developing a pharmaceutical to treat it. And, truth be told, there isn’t any money in just telling people who are sensitive to avoid the offending food.

If dairy products are proven to be a cause of acne for many who suffer from it, there is no profit for any company in big medicine to just tell people that there is a connection and to just avoid dairy. So if you have any thought whatsoever that dairy may be the cause of you or someone you know having to suffer acne, then follow your gut (pun intended) and cut out the dairy for awhile.

While there is not yet enough empirical evidence to support the fact that there is a connection between dairy intake and acne, there is some scientific evidence and enough, in my opinion, for those who suffer with acne, to at least try it out. Here are ten facts I found in researching the dairy – acne connection:

(1) Milk contains hormones. Specifically, milk contains androgen hormones. Testosterone is an androgen hormone and there are plenty of studies that show a correlation between testosterone levels and acne.

(2) Androgen hormones can cause increased production of “sebum.” Sebum is an oily substance that comes from the glands underneath the skin. Excess sebum is produced when testosterone is high, which can then cause, ugh…pimples.

(3) High Glycemic Index foods have been shown to increase insulin, which in turn, increases androgen hormones, specifically testosterone. Some dairy products are high in sugar and thus have a high glycemic index which increases insulin levels and could cause or worsen acne.

(4) Some argue that milk does not cause acne, but rather affects acne severity. Either way, if you are prone to acne, eliminating milk may help.

(5) Science relies on placebo to test whether findings are significant enough to show a correlation or causation. Studies on the dairy – acne connection are difficult to perform because there is nothing that can be used as a placebo for milk.

(6) Many dermatologists who have their acne patients cut out dairy from their diets, report a reduction in acne.

(7) There is also a correlation between iodine and acne. Some cow feed is fortified with iodine which comes through in the milk and may contribute to the dairy – acne connection. Further, medications given to some cows contain iodine which comes through to their milk. Also, equipment used to process the milk is often treated with iodine, contaminating the milk as well.

(8) All milk contains hormones. Hormone-Free milk does not exist.

(9) One study showed that people who drank 2-3 glasses of milk had a 44% higher chance of developing severe acne (NaturalNews).

(10) Some people are predisposed to react to milk because they are sensitive or allergic to it. It is believed that drinking milk causes inflammation in some people when the body sees milk as an “invader” and attacks it. They believe this reaction can result in acne.

If you believe you have acne caused in whole or in part by dairy consumption, the solution could be easy. Cut out the dairy and see what happens! This is by far the least expensive way to clear up acne if dairy is the cause. No money spent on infomercial products promising to clear up those blemishes. Not even any money spent on dairy products since they will be avoided.

If you decide to do this be sure to cut out all of the dairy in order to truly see if your acne clears. Look for words such as “whey,” “lactose,” “casein,” “caseinates,” “butter” and “cream” on the labels of the foods you eat. Sensitivities to dairy can be caused by any or all components of milk. And be sure to ask your healthcare professional if you should take a calcium supplement to replace the amount of calcium you will lose from not consuming dairy. In most instances, eating enough of other foods that are rich in calcium will suffice.

Lastly, if you eliminate dairy, you may experience dairy cravings for a short period of time following the initial elimination. If you see that your acne is being caused or worsened by dairy consumption, there is likely an array of dysfunction occurring inside your system as well. If your acne clears from eliminating dairy, you may notice you feel better overall and that would be another great side-effect. At that point, in the face of dairy craving, I believe it is truly important to keep my personal philosophy in mind; Nothing tastes as good as HEALTHY feels!

Obesogens: 6 Steps to Kicking These Metabolism-Disrupting Chemicals Out of Your Diet

August 6, 2010 •  3 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Everyone knows that our food supply is a bit messed up. You can’t take two steps without coming face to face with a food fight. Whether it’s the cereal makers claiming that their chocolate laden puffs are a healthy choice or it’s the corn industry telling us not to worry our little heads about high fructose corn syrup, everyone appears to have something to say.

As the CDC reports that the rates of obesity have tripled since 2007, new studies “indicate how the consumption of sugar, animal fat, and calorie-dense foods in industrialized countries” are contributing to “new diseases such as allergic, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease both in adults and in children” and “Western allergies.”

And in the midst of these American epidemics that have taken the health of our country and our economy hostage, along comes a term that stopped me in my tracks: OBESOGENS. Obese-ogens.

According to The New American Diet: How Secret Obesogens Are Making Us Fat by Stephen Perrine and Heather Hurlock, obesogens are metabolism altering chemicals that are natural and synthetic compounds that work by mimicking estrogen (“which you may remember is the hormone that doctors DON’T want women taking anymore (as a large clinical trial linked hormone therapy to increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, blood clots and abnormal mammograms”). And obesogens can have a big impact on your body’s endocrine system which is responsible for regulating glands, cells and the hormones in our body that all play a part in managing our metabolism.

“Obesogens are thought to act by hijacking the regulatory systems that control body weight,” says Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., curators’ professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. That’s why endocrine disruptors are so good at making us fat — and that’s why diet advice doesn’t always work — because even strictly following the smartest traditional advice won’t lower your obesogen exposure. See, an apple a day may have kept the doctor away 250 years ago when Benjamin Franklin included the phrase in his almanac. But if that apple comes loaded with obesity-promoting chemicals then Ben’s advice is way out of date”, according to Perrine and Hurlock.

So what is a family to do? Especially since the CDC just reported that the number of states with obesity rates over 30% has tripled since 2007, and it appears that we’re getting exponentially fatter at lightning speed?

Thankfully, you can do a lot. And you don’t have to be rich and famous to do it either. What it basically comes down to is thinking about a calorie not only as a fat, protein or carb, but also as a chemical. Not all calories are created equal. Some calories are produced with lots of chemicals (pesticides, growth hormones, preservatives and antibiotics) and others aren’t.

So here are six tips to help you avoid those industrial pollutants now found in our food supply:

  1. Eat Less Pesticide: Sounds kind of obvious, but the fact of the matter is that “the average American is exposed to 10 to 13 different pesticides through food, beverages and drinking water every day”. And a recent study shows that eating an organic diet for just five days can reduce the pesticides circulating in each of us to non-detectable or near non-detectable levels. The problem is that most of us can’t afford to go organic, since the organic industry doesn’t receive the same financial support from our government that the conventional growers using heavy pesticides do, so we have to get smart. And an easy way to do that is simply to eat fewer foods that are loaded with pesticides (some of the biggest offenders being strawberries, apples, and peppers). You don’t have to opt out of your favorites all of the time, but just be aware that they may come with hidden, fat inducing obesogens in them!
  2. Eat Less Plastic: Who eats plastic, you ask? Unfortunately, most of us do. Plastic finds its way into our food by leaching out of the packaging that it’s contained in while sitting on grocery store shelves. Those packages are made out of a petroleum derived plastic called Bisphenol A (BPA) that is used to preserve food’s shelf life here in the US (though our savvy counterparts in Europe don’t allow for it!). What are petrochemicals doing in our food, you wonder? Well, you may want to ask Kellogg who just issued a recall due to a petroleum product that was found in their cereal packaging. So in an effort to reduce your family’s exposure, you may want to try to opt out of buying meats in prepackaged plastic wrap and head over to the meat counter to buy it fresh. You can also reduce your family’s exposure by not using plastics in the microwave, as the process leaches additional obesogens into your meal.
  3. Eat Less Canned Food: The petrochemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is used as a liner in cans to help preserve their contents on store shelves. So whether you’re consuming beans or diet sodas, if what you are eating or drinking comes out of a can, you are also probably ingesting a few obesogens, too (which apparently make no discrimination between preserving contents on grocery store shelves or on your “shelves”). So when you can, opt-out of the can.
  4. Eat Less Added Growth Hormones: In 1994, the US was one of the only developed countries to introduce a synthetic growth hormone into its dairy supply. The hormone was designed in a lab to mimic naturally occuring hormones in cows, in an effort to help them make more milk. The problem (as the rest of the world saw it) is that when injecting the cows with these additional hormones, the cows got sick and an increase in antibiotics was required. “No matter!” said the US, despite all 27 countries in Europe, the UK, Australia, Japan and others not allowing this growth hormone into their food supplies. And we introduced this artificial growth hormone into our food supply. Fortunately, you don’t have to consume it, and you can look for dairy and meat that is labeled as “rBGH-free” when shopping for your family at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway, Costco and Sams.
  5. Filter Your Water: We are all painfully aware of the toxins that are pouring into the Gulf, but we may not be quite as aware that our drinking water is becoming equally polluted by the medications that we flush down the toilets and the chemicals being used on our crops. All of these industrial pollutants find their way into our drinking supply, so a quick trip to Home Depot or your local drug store to purchase a water filtering device just might be the best diet tip around, as we work to avoid slurping up obesogens (and who knows what else) in every glass of tap water.
  6. Kick the Artificial Can: As evidence mounts over the controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners (do they cause leukemia? what about weight gain?), governments around the world have removed artificial sweeteners like aspartame from children’s food. That’s right, Kraft, Coca Cola, even Wal-Mart, just took this fake sugar out of their products in response to growing consumer awareness and demand. So why not do the same thing here? Mother Nature’s sweeteners like sugar and agave have been around for thousands of years. Aspartame (also known as Sweet and Low and Equal) was introduced in 1980. With the jury still out on this one (and the fact that it’s not used in other countries), you may want to exercise precaution the same way eaters in other countries are doing and kick the artificial sweeteners out!

And remember, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be aware. And by taking a few simple steps, you can do so much to protect the health of your family from these industrial pollutants like obesogens that just might be taking a big toll on your waistline (not to mention on your growth and development, sexual function, reproductive processes, mood, sleep, hunger, stress…you know, your life, in general!).

Homemade Healthy Fries for Your Little Fries

August 4, 2010 •  no comments.

 •  Getting Started, Recipe, Recipes

So we’re having family over tonight. Texas family. And in an effort to not totally freak them out by the healthy fare that we’ll be serving, we decided we’d offer up some homemade fries as a familiar, comfort food (just don’t tell them how healthy these pups are!).


  • Pick any number of large potatoes (one potato makes about two servings) or try sweet potatoes as a vitamin packed, colorful option
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil for every potato (you got it, 6 potatoes, 6 teaspoons) and for those looking for adventure, try grapeseed oil as a healthy option
  • Sea salt to taste
  • And for those wanting to spice things up: cayenne, black pepper, rosemary, thyme or turmeric (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Turn on your favorite song.
  3. Assign kids (big kids or little ones) to peel (sweet) potatoes
  4. Cut off tapered ends .
  5. Cut (sweet) potatoes in half lengthwise. And keep cutting each half in half until you get fry slices that are about 1/8- to 1/4-inch slabs (don’t make them too skinny or they’ll burn to crisps).
  6. Put fries in a large bowl. Toss thoroughly with oil. Sprinkle with salt (and whatever other spices you want to throw in!) just make sure to coat them evenly.
  7. Put your fries on a large baking sheet in a single layer, if possible (they can be snuggled in, because they will shrink when cooking).
  8. Bake your fries until they start to brown on the bottom (usally about 20 minutes) and are tender. Then pull them out, flip them, and stick them back in oven, increasing the temperature to 450 and bake for another 10 minutes, flipping them to help them cook evenly.
  9. Devour with pride.