Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Attack on All Things Natural: Undermining Health

It has been a rough few weeks for all things natural with back to back scientific studies and lay articles undermining the value of eating organic foods, taking omega 3 supplements, and questioning the benefits of the Paleo-diet.

NYTimes: Sanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce
Huffington Post: Organic Food is Not Healthier Than Conventional Produce: Study

"After an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional food...they concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli. The researcher also found no obvious health advantages to organic meats."

NYTimes: Weighing the Evidence on Fish Oils for Heart Health

"People who put their faith in fish oils supplements may want to reconsider. A new analysis of the evidence casts doubt on the widely touted notion that the pills can prevent heart attacks in people at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Huffington Post: Paleo Diet: Healthy or a Hoax

"Does the Paleo Diet really lower cholesterol and help with many of the conditions that lead to metabolic syndrome? On insofar as they cut out sugary, fatty, and processed foods. But you can do that without eliminating whole food groups or imitating the eating patterns--most likely dictated by food scarcity--of pre-agrarian ancestors.''



As for eating organic verses non-organic conventional foods: 

The argument for eating organic foods has NOT centered so much around what nutrients are in the foods, but rather on:
     1. What is NOT in the food: as much pesticide residue and antibiotics which are harmful to all of us,        especially pregnant women and developing fetuses.
     2. Growing food organically is better for the environment. It is sustainable agriculture that enhances the soil rather than poisons it with toxic pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics; all of which ultimately enter into, and contaminate, the ground and drinking water becoming a secondary source of chronic toxic exposure.


In addition, organic farming does not use genetically modified seeds which:

     1. are creating crop mono-cultures more prone to plague
     2. make it illegal for farmers to harvest seed, making them dependent on Monsanto to buy seeds every year.                 (NOTE: make sure to click on and read the Monsanto link--an eye opener!)
     3. along with the pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, are creating adaptation strains of super antibiotic-resistant bacteria and crop super pests.


As for taking Omega3 (DHA) supplements for health:

The biggest flaw with this article is that it addresses the Omega3 fish oils from the allopathic perspective; like a medication--a specific treatment for a specific problem. 

"They found insufficient evidence of a protective effect against future cardiovascular events in the large number of heart patients who were studied."

...a typical blanket conclusion for research from a paradigm of care centered on fighting disease, rather than adding and nurturing health.

This completely misses the point of Omega3 supplementation.


DHA plays many important roles in the human body, that we know of. Its presence in the brain, nerves, synapses, and eyes are vital to their very structure and healthy functioning. In the mitochondria it serves as a source of fuel. The body also uses fatty acids as the starting material for special chemicals called prostaglandins, which are important in a whole array of body functions...among other things.

Omega3's are essential fatty acids; meaning that the body does not synthesize them, and that they have to come from dietary sources. As recently as 50 years ago, we would eat land and sea-based animals that grew in their natural habitats and green things (grasses and algae), from which they would get their Omega3's and, in turn, would pass them onto us when we ate them. It turns out that all animals are what they eat. Today, almost all livestock and fish are fed corn. So, they are deficient in Omega3's, and we are no longer getting what we need from them in our diets. Therefore, supplementation is essential to support good health.


As for the Paleo diet:

This unfortunate article also takes the allopathic approach, insanely obsesses with lowering cholesterol, as if that was a cure-all. And, it implies that the primary purpose of the Paleo diet is weight loss. 

As the  article correctly states: "the Paleo diet (also known as the (Paleolithic) "caveman diet") prescribes a pattern of eating that mirrors the way your ancestors ate way-back in the day...a hunter-gatherer diet of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables (and nuts, seeds and water)."

The reason to follow this hunterer-gatherer diet is that our genes have not changed (evolved) in 43,000 and are still consistent with those of our Paleolithic ancestors. As such, our genetic requirements for a healthy life match theirs, both in terms of what we eat (diet) and how much exercise we need.

The reason to minimize, or eliminate, dairy and grains--wheat, corn, and rice--are because these were not added to our diets until about 10,000 years ago, with the beginning of agriculture. Our genes have not yet caught up to eating and digesting these foods, making them the most highly allergic foods that we eat. These food allergies cause all kinds of misdiagnosed and un-diagnosed problems, often leading to cascades of unnecessary, invasive, and dangerous medical tests, procedures and medications. 

The reasons to eliminate processed chemical foods (masquerading as food) and sugars, are obvious.

Articles such as these are dangerous to our health. Their dismissive and patronizing tone belies their bias against all things natural and their reverence for medical/corporate science. They contribute to the confusion about health that only serves to undermine our belief in our true innate capacity for health, and our ability and will to nurture it with all things natural.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

NOTE:  The image above and the following following text have been lifted directly from: 

..and posted at the request of someone connected to them.

Students young and old frequently complain about the quality of the desks and chairs provided on campus, yet it remains one of the more overlooked issues. A pity, because poor ergonomics and comfort can actually lead to poor health, and poor health leads to missed classes and heightened medical expenditures once career time rolls around. Maybe it’s about time educators, schools, and districts reconsidered their approach towards how they set up classrooms. The positive outcomes might very well prove surprising.
  1. Sitting increases the risk of a heart attack:

    Small children probably don’t suffer from the same risk of heart attacks as their parents, but healthy habits stick better when introduced early. A 13-year study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center discovered that, of the 17,000 adults researched, 54% spent the majority of the day sitting. And wound up with an increased chance of suffering a heart attack as a result. Standing desks currently experience a surge of popularity these days as a means of keeping employees healthy. Nothing says this health trend must remain bound to the office.
  2. Standing burns more calories:

    Another major reason standing desks accrue so much love is the fact that it requires more calories than the more passive sitting. This means not only a reduced risk of heart disease, but diabetes, certain cancers, and other lifestyle-related medical conditions as well. Converting schools into bastions of standing desk action might not prove the most effective idea (especially since it does promote varicose veins), but encouraging something other than sitting for at least part of the day could easily promote overall health and wellness in the classroom and beyond.
  3. Sitting slows metabolism:

    Even regular exercise might not prove an adequate counterbalance to 23 or more hours of sedentary activity a week, as long periods of sitting lower the body’s metabolic rate. It also leads to muscular atrophy, a roadblock to proper workouts. If standing desks in schools isn’t a feasible option, consider incorporating more time for stretching, exercising, and walking around to offset some of the negative effects. This small habit could very well resonate in some big ways later on in life.
  4. Sitting increases the risk of obesity:

    From an aesthetic perspective, there is absolutely no shame with being overweight or obese. But one’s health stands as another matter entirely. With sitting lowering metabolism and heightening the chances of suffering from diabetes and heart disease, it makes sense that weight gain might play a role. A sedentary lifestyle combined with America’s less-than-ideal diet only adds to the issue and might mean a public health crisis down the road if left unaddressed.
  5. Standing encourages better posture:

    The desks so often utilized in classrooms and offices likely won’t garner much praise over how kindly they treat the spinal column. In fact, sitting adds between 40% to 90% stress to the back. Add another tick in the “pros” list for standing desks: they definitely guard against slouching and fidgeting. Alternately, more ergonomic sitting desks providing enough comfort and support to the lumbar system could work to help students stay focused and healthy.
  6. Decreasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome:

    Teach students some simple hand and wrist exercises to keep them from falling victim to the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome. With computers factoring more and more into classroom settings, keyboards placed at improper angles raise the risk of the condition. This can be rectified by purchasing more ergonomic devices and setting them up in a manner reducing the chances of physical strain and sprain. And, of course, making sure the kids (and adults) know the proper workouts that go along with prolonged typing.
  7. Yoga balls in lieu of chairs build muscle:

    Fully replacing desk chairs with yoga balls might prove kinda sorta disastrous, especially for clumsier students, but bringing a few into the classroom and encouraging their usage might hold a few benefits. Allowing them to switch out for brief periods of time means offsetting some of the negative effects bundled with sitting for extended stretches. For one thing, it promotes healthier posture, builds muscle, and heightens balance, unlike the usual sitting habits.
  8. Greater adjustability to account for height differences:

    Investing a little more in adjustable desks and chairs could be all it takes to foster greater health in the student body. The current “one-size-fits-all” (ha!) option compromises the comfort and lumbar support of the particularly short and the particularly tall, meaning slouching and other pains prove the norm on campuses everywhere. In fact, evidence exists regarding an increase in overall academic performance correlating with heightened comfort. So that little switch may even mean raising grades in the long term!
  9. The traditional setup isn’t conducive to a tech-enabled classroom:

    An easy fix! Traditional classroom arrangements obviously don’t account for the rampant influx of technology, increasing the risk of eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Different setups mean greater connectivity and better communication between students, which should hopefully bolster overall academic performance. Try exploring the various strategies other teachers have utilized to see which one works best for your particular environment.
  10. Standing increases energy:

    Nope, the standing desk contingency doesn’t plan on stopping with the benefits of not sitting all day, every day. Even though such an arrangement burns more calories, users claim to feel far more energetic once their work sessions conclude. It makes sense, though. Sitting for extended stretches of time might prove restful, but in excess (like during the typical school or work day) actually nurses sluggishness and poor health.
  11. Allow for desk exercises:

    Understandably, budgets might not allow for the most health-and-safety-friendly desks and chairs around. Should they find themselves in an environment not terribly conducive to student comfort, a few exercises throughout the day can provide some modicum of assistance. Teaching these and offering up a few minutes to adjust (maybe even re-adjust) is the least the education system can do if inadequate desks must stand as the reality for a while longer.
  12. Sitting too much means you die sooner:

    Up to 40% faster within the span of 15 years, in fact. On average, Americans sit 9.3 hours daily, with the risk jumping up around the six hour point. The healthiest lifestyles involve less than three hours of sitting a day, combined with regular exercise — which, sadly, ceases to prove effective after the aforementioned six hours.