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Posts Tagged ‘health’

There’s an age old question – margarine or butter?

Let’s look at what they’re made out of first.

Butter is made of fresh, churned cream or milk.

Margarine is a butter substitute that was created by French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès at the request of Emperor Napoleon III. It’s a mixture of vegetable oils and sometimes animal fats.

But which one is better for you?

To be honest, neither is perfect, and there are alternatives (but that’s later).

Fat is the key here. You have to have *some* fat in your normal food intake to help your body digest and utilize vitamins. You don’t want too much fat for obvious reasons, though. You also need fatty acids (like omega 3, 6 and 9 that are found in fish oils) which are valuable to your health. (Not sure about the difference between those 3? HERE is an explanation.)

Saturated Fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. They are found in animal products like beef, pork and milk along with tropical oils like palm kernel and coconut oil. Now, most of what we’ve been hearing over the years is that these fats are all bad and should be avoided completely. This is not true. The most recent research has shown that you DO need some saturated fats.

According to Dr. Mary Enig PhD, saturated fats & cholesterol are necessary for the following reasons: saturated fatty acids and cholesterol constitute at least 50% of the cell membranes; they give our cells necessary stiffness and integrity… they play a vital role in the health of our bones; for calcium to be effectively incorporated into the bone at least 50% of the dietary fats should be saturated… cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D & major hormones that regulate stress, energy & sex hormone (estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, etc) function… they lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease; they protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins such as Tylenol… they enhance the immune system and act as an anti-depressant by enhancing serotonin receptor function; low cholesterol is highly associated with violent and aggressive behavior, depression, and suicidal tendencies… they are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids; elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats… saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated; the heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress… short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties; they protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.; cholesterol plays a vital role in the repair and maintenance of the intestinal wall, preventing leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and a host of other intestinal disorders… cholesterol is now understood to be a vital anti-oxidant that protects us from free radical damage and helps to heal any arterial damage that may have occurred… cholesterol is extraordinarily important for babies & children as they develop their brain and nervous system; over half of the brain is composed of saturated fats and cholesterol; one of the richest sources of cholesterol is mother’s milk which also contains a special enzyme that helps the baby metabolize and use this nutrient.

Whew. Did you get all that?

Monounsaturated Fats lower LDL cholesterol while increasing the HDL cholesterol. They are found in avocados, olive oil, nuts and some tropical oils (palm olein).

Polyunsaturated Fats lower LDL cholesterol with smaller HDL improvements. They are found in vegetable oils and are abundant in corn (which you already know from previous blogs to avoid) and sunflower oil.

Trans Fats are the TRUE bad guys that raise LDL and lower HDL cholesterol. Despite the mandatory labeling and food industry push to reformulate without them, small amounts still exist in processed and fried foods. Basically, if the company lowers the serving size until the trans fat level drops to .5 grams per serving, the FDA says they can ’round down’ to zero, thus legally able to market “trans fat free” on the packaging WHEN IT ISN’T. (Kind of like the juice companies advertising ‘contains Vitamin C’ because the juice has ascorbic acid in it, when ascorbic acid contains no Vitamin C at all.)

M.D. David Brownstein in The Guide to Healthy Eating says – “The downside for consumers is the dangerous trans fats that are formed with hydrogenation. The ingestion of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and the trans fats that are formed with this process has been linked to increases in cancer, heart disease, and many other chronic degenerative disorders. What is wrong with trans fats? Trans fats, formed during hydrogenation, are actually toxic substances for our cell membranes. When our cells contain an overabundance of trans fats, the cells become leaky and distorted. This can promote vitamin and mineral deficiencies.”

It seems anything that has oil in it would be the preferred choice, right? It is true that many oils are very healthy, but in margarine, they are NOT.

Why, you ask? It’s because of the PROCESS used to make the margarine (that Brownstein mentioned above), not the actual oils themselves. Most margarines start with chemically-extracted, poor quality vegetable oil. When extracted at high temperatures, the ‘good’ in the oils (vitamin E, for example) is destroyed. Because of hydrogenation, often trace metals are left behind such as nickel, aluminum and/or cadmium since they are used as catalysts in the process. Many people are allergic to nickel, and it’s not been proven that humans truly need it. Aluminum we already know is evil. Cadmium is harmful and is to be avoided.

Hmm. Ok, so then butter is better?

Yes and no. (Don’t you hate that?) Butter, in theory, is better for the simple fact it has less ingredients and is less processed than margarine, BUT since it comes from milk, whether it’s completely ‘good’ depends on what the cow (or goat or whatever animal) was fed daily. If they were given hormones (as most are), then it’s bad. If you can find butter made from grass fed cows, then it’s better, but in small doses. Remember, it’s higher in saturated fat, but since you DO need a little, then a little is ok. Of course, most of us don’t use ‘a little’ butter. I think we’ve all learned from Paula Deen and her ridiculous ways of cooking just what too much butter can do. (Yes, I know her health issues are not just from butter, but her exorbitant use of it has exacerbated them.)

So, are there alternatives?

It depends on what you plan to use the butter for, to be honest. For toast, instead of using butter, you can use jelly (watch the calories and sugar), apple butter or nut butters (which are a good source of the oils found in margarines where the nutrients have not been cooked out). You can even make your own jellies and butters for added nutrition if you’re really motivated. For stove top cooking, EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil is great for LOW heat – do not use on high heat. Also, EXTRA VIRGIN coconut oil can be used for everything because high heat does not damage it. For baking, try using nut butters, applesauce, prune puree (better in dark desserts like chocolate cake or brownies), honey and rice syrup. (For a quick glance guide of the most popular oils, go HERE.)

Check what you use at home, and then take a few minutes in the butter/margarine aisle to READ the ingredients and nutritional information on all that is there. Check out the nut butters, as well, for healthier alternatives. If you have a margarine that you SWEAR by, do a little investigating – maybe even contact the company – to make sure that the ingredients are from a proper source and that their processing is not damaging to the ingredient and, ultimately, YOU.

In the end, based on all the butters and margarines that I’ve read ingredient labels for in the grocery store, AND based on what I’ve read about the processes to make both, I’ll keep my real, unsalted butter, but I will use it sparingly, and I’m going to try some of the alternatives, as well. I encourage you to do the same. If you find something that I haven’t mentioned here, send me an email and let me know!

A few links for further reading:

The Untold Story of Butter

10 Reasons Why I Love Butter

Why Butter Is Better

How To Make Your Own Butter

20 Health Benefits of Real Butter


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That’s right. I’ve gone through the coupons that arrive safely tucked away in the folds of your Sunday paper, and some of the claims that I see over and over are driving me crazy. I feel I have a responsibility to counter their claims  with a little TRUTH. Ready? (I will avoid actual names for legal sake, but you’ll get the idea.)

1. Paper towel-type hand towels for the bathroom

The advertisement shows a dirty towel (sorry, but to start with, NO ONE’S bathroom towel gets THAT dirty before being washed) with the words toothpaste, mustard, shaving cream, make up, grime, mascara and hand lotion under it. Folks, please tell me HOW any of these things would even get on your regular towel? You RINSE OFF toothpaste, you RINSE OFF mustard, you RINSE OFF shaving cream and you RINSE OFF make up. Come on. Do you realize how many trees go into processing the cardboard for the box and the pulp for the towels?! I can guarantee you it’s a WHOLE lot more than washing regular  towels each week at home. Want fresher towels? Go to the dollar store and buy some hand towels. Change every couple days. Wash once a week. Easy. Please don’t reward this company for using up our natural resources for nothing.

2. Granola Thins/Crispy Squares

100% Natural. Well, while this claim is true, I discovered a new ingredient that I haven’t seen before. Seems the corn industry is scrambling now that the ugly truth is out about high fructose corn syrup (please don’t believe those awful commercials that tell you sugars are processed the same in your body – go talk to a diabetic). Now, they’ve come out with HIGH MALTOSE CORN SYRUP. It is all glucose, so your body can process it, but it’s still a CHEAP, PROCESSED CORN SWEETENER. And for those who have gluten issues – which is over 50% of the population in the States – this is BAD for you. Will the corn industry ever give up? AVOID!

3. Popular yogurt company that makes yogurt items for kids

You try to be a good parent. You read labels and think that you’re feeding your children the best they can have. But have you really read the ingredient label? This  gurt on the go (and other products) features HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP and ARTIFICIAL COLORS. If you’d like to give them yogurt (which IS good for them), give them Stonyfield’s plain, no fat yogurt and add some fresh fruit and maybe a little sprinkle of Stevia. Please stop feeding them colorful crap.

4. A certain vegetable-in-eight juice

If you drink this juice for the taste, then that’s one thing, but if you drink the juice for the nutrients, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Whatever nutrients were in the veggies in the beginning have been cooked out during processing. If you enjoy that kind of juice, take the money wasted on this juice, invest in a quality juicing machine and brew your own. Not only will you get the nutrients, but there’s no funny processing or tons of salt as a preservative. It claims that it has the same vitamin C as orange juice. Funny that. It has ascorbic acid in it – ASCORBIC ACID IS NOT VITAMIN C. The majority of ascorbic acid in the food industry is SYNTHETIC and has NO nutrition whatsoever. (I have mentioned this in other blogs.) Don’t be duped!

5. A chef who thinks he is secretly nutritious

This one makes me giggle. Shame that this mess is being fed to our growing children by the GALLONS. First of all, guess what it has in it that is EVIL? If you guessed HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, you’re right! After that comes caramel coloring (mentioned in a previous blog), citric acid and maltodextrin (oh goodie – a double dose of cheap, processed corn sugar). There are a few other icky preservatives in there, as well. If you really want to feed your kids pasta, meat and sauce, make some up at home. It’s a SIMPLE meal to make, and if homemade, will be MUCH healthier. “Secretly nutritious”, my backside.

6. ‘Pure’ type pet food

I can’t believe pet owners actually feed their beloved pets this CRAP. I looked at one supposedly benefit-ful, and the first  3 ingredients are disgusting AND the main causes of allergens and other medical issues with dogs. They are ground yellow corn (they use it because it’s cheap), chicken BY-PRODUCT meal and corn gluten meal. There’s NO benefit in this food, period (see my previous blog). You are hurting your pet by giving them this, I promise you. And they have ‘slices’ to snack on. It’s made with the same CRAP, plus they toss in artificial colors, as well. Poor pets. Invest a couple more dollars and buy your pet something that won’t kill them prematurely.

7. No degree for pets here

This dog food advertisement has this quote: “It’s the nutrition I deserve with a taste I love”. No, my little furry friend – you do NOT deserve THAT kind of “nutrition”. It’s more CRAP. More ground corn. More by-product meal. More corn gluten. More artificial colors. STOP THE MADNESS! Ever heard of Innova?

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR HEALTH, YOUR CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND YOUR PETS HEALTH, STOP BUYING THIS MESS, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THESE COMPANIES’ MISLEADING MARKETING DEPARTMENTS COME UP WITH. Learn the facts, and then make informed decisions.

Remember, every single time you buy something, it’s a vote to that company that you want them to make more of that item, and these votes COUNT. If the product is not of quality, DON’T BUY IT. In this day and age, there are WAY too many alternatives out there for you to compromise both yours and your family’s health. Many companies are making big changes because their bottom line is being affected, not because they care about your health. So keep it up!

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Last month, we looked at pots and pans, and we learned what is safe to cook in and what’s not. This month, we’ll be focusing on storage containers, utensils/silverware and wraps/coverings.

Let’s look at what we stir our food with first. Most metal utensils and silverware these days are made of stainless steel, which is good. 18/10 (which refers to the composition and grade – 18 percent chromium, and 10 percent nickel) is the highest quality, so if you’re planning to purchase some new cutlery and such, make sure to look for those numbers.

Also, most that are made of stainless steel will say that they are stainless steel somewhere on the utensil. Check yours – if they don’t say or if they were Grandma’s – you might want to invest in a new set. Everything that we learned about aluminum pots and pans goes for aluminum utensils and silverware, too. Anything aluminum is just NOT good for you, so avoid it at all costs.

Wooden utensils are excellent to use when cooking. Top chefs across the world use wood, in fact. I will admit that growing up, I never understood why my mom used wood, but after researching for this blog, I have learned that there are quite a few advantages. Wood naturally inhibits bacterial growth, so that’s a plus. Wooden utensils won’t scrape or damage your pots and pans – which is another plus – because scrapes could cause other issues (as you found out in the last blog).  They also conduct heat very slowly, so if you leave it in the pot and grab it without thinking, you won’t burn your hand. Lastly, they are ridiculously durable – did you know that wooden spoons are excavated all the time from thousands of years ago?

Here are just a few sites that offer some wooden utensils. Don’t run down to the dollar store to buy any because those will be of low quality, and the wood will ‘shed’ over time. Jonathan’s Wild Cherry Spoons, Manzanita Wooden Spoons, Kitchen Carvers and KR Designs in Wood. Purple heart and black walnut are my two favorite types of wood, so I’ll be looking for ones made of those. Also, check my favorite site – Etsy – for more handmade wooden kitchen utensils.

Next up is plastic – and this is for utensils, silverware and any type of container. Plastic will have its own in-depth blog later, so I will just give you highlights here.

Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to create a plastic-like substance during the Renaissance period, but the first patented man-made plastic wasn’t until 1856. Polyethylene was industrially produced in 1933, thus skyrocketing the use of plastic in the general public. Since then, there have been many evolutions of plastics – polyesters, resins, PVC, Dacron, Myler, Kevlar, styrofoam, Teflon, Saran and nylon.

Earl Tupper was a young inventor who worked for DuPont in the 1930’s. As 1940 neared, he took his acquired knowledge of polyethylene and formed his own company. He continued to work with the substance, and in 1942, he developed a product that was lightweight, flexible, unbreakable, odorless and clear for food storage use. In 1946, Tupperware was born.

Today there are 7 “grades” of plastic.  Here is a quick rundown with the symbols that you need to look for (also here):

POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE – You will find this symbol on soft drink and water bottles, as well as beer bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter and salad dressing containers. Antimony trioxide is the chemical that leaches into whatever is stored in these containers. Antimony trioxide causes respiratory problems. It also causes women to have menstrual problems and miscarriages. It gets passed into breast milk, and it causes children to develop slower than usual during their first 12 months. PETE also has been shown to leach DEHP [Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate], which is a probable carcinogen. It also affects the reproductive systems of both men and women, disrupts the endocrine system and can encourage obesity. Many countries have banned DEHP from use in toys. AVOID as often as you can!

HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE – You will find this symbol on milk jugs, cosmetic containers, shampoo and detergent bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs and cereal box liners. It’s also used in trash and retail bags. HDPE is made from petroleum. Based on current research, it is the safer option, but it is not perfect – it’s still a blend of chemicals. If you insist on storing food/liquid in plastic (rather than glass), try to use only HDPE plastic.

POLYVINYL CHLORIDE (PVC) – Although many companies are finally phasing out the use of this toxin in their products, it can still be found in some toys (children/pet/adult), food packaging, shampoo bottles, medical tubing and commercial uses (pipes, fittings, flooring, window panes, etc). This also has DEHP in it along with BBzP (benzyl phthalate). Both of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, and they have been linked to asthma and allergic symptoms in children. The plasticizers added (lead and cadmium) to PVC can also cause cancer. It poses an environmental threat, as well, because when incinerated, it forms dioxins, AND if put in a landfill, the toxins will contaminate the ground water. It can also contain BPA (see 7 OTHER below). AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

LOW DENSITY POLYETHYLENE – Similar to HDPE, this is a safer option. You’ll find this symbol on dry cleaning bags, bread bags, squeezable bottles and food storage bags (Ziploc). While this is considered ‘safer’, you still want to use with caution. The food storage bags can still leach chemicals if they are heated (dropping that frozen bag of pasta sauce into hot water to help thaw for dinner, for example).

POLYPROPYLENE – Again, one of the safer options with plastics. This substance is found in food packaging, textiles, stationery, lab equipment, medicine bottles and automotive components. Do not store food/liquid in it for long periods of time, and don’t HEAT food up in it. It’s safer, yes, but not without its own issues.

POLYSTYRENE – This is essentially any kind of styrofoam – to-go containers, egg cartons, grocery store meat/veggie trays, cups, plates, etc. Polystyrene is AWFUL for the environment. It doesn’t biodegrade for HUNDREDS of years, it can contaminate the ground water *and* the air and more often than not it ends up polluting the ocean (it’s toxic to sea life). Most of it is made with hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which are bad for the ozone and can contribute to global warming. This is another plastic that you don’t EVER want to heat up (remove your leftovers from the night before and place them on a proper plate before warming). Styrene leaches into food from the polystyrene, and heating it up makes it twice as likely to leach. On June 10, 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

OTHER– This reminds me of ‘fragrance’ – it’s a generic term, which means there are all sorts of icky chemicals in this mix. The worse chemical is bisphenol (BPA). It’s an organic compound that is used to make plastics and resins, and it has been banned from use in many items. Exposure can cause/worsen heart disease, intestinal damage, breast cancer, infertility and reproductive issues, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, obesity and behavioral issues with children. One of the main applications of BPA is the lining of canned food, but it’s also found in baby bottles, cell phones, water bottles and computers. The Environmental Working Group reports that the three foods showing the highest levels of BPA are canned chicken soup, canned ravioli, and – most disturbingly – infant formula. AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!

Whew. Now that we know what those little symbols mean on everything plastic, I’ll give you a minute to go rummage through your kitchen cabinets and in the fridge to see just how much you’ve got and exactly what kinds.

***

Done? Anything with 1, 3, 6 and 7 THROW AWAY IMMEDIATELY. Put the contents into something else. Don’t ever heat anything up in any plastic container, and don’t put them in the dishwasher (for the same reason). And just to clarify what ‘leach’ means – often the toxic substances added to soften or stabilize the plastic do not bind to the toy or container or whatever it is being produced, so that over time (or once they are heated up), these chemicals will separate, and they will get absorbed into whatever food/liquid is in the container, or if it’s a toy that’s getting chewed on, it will get absorbed into the body.

This includes your kitchen utensils/mixing bowls/measuring spoons/etc. that are plastic, as well. Toss them immediately because you’ll have the same issues with them. Again, go for wood, glass and/or stainless steel. I’ll be going through my kitchen this weekend!

Glass is the optimum container for everything. I purposely buy things in glass, and then I hoard the containers so that I can use them for other stuff later. There is nothing to leach out of glass, and there are no hidden cracks or crevices for bacteria to hide in. You can put glass in the dishwasher, and you can pull it straight from the fridge and put it on or in the stove (or microwave, if you still insist on radiating yourself). Glass is truly a beautiful thing. Invest in glass.

“But glass is breakable” I’m hearing. In that case (or if you have chronic butter-fingers), try stainless steel – which is the next best thing. HERE are some SS containers that you can use for lunch, and HERE are some dishes for children. HERE are more options for storage, and HERE are more options for kids. New Moms: USE ONLY GLASS BOTTLES. Don’t even take the chance with plastic bottles. Many have been pulled off of the shelves because of the toxins in them.

There are even glass and stainless steel STRAWS! You can get rid of more plastic! Glass is HERE, and stainless steel is HERE. (You can find more…just search on Google!) Even though I’m not a big user of straws, I’ll definitely be getting some.

“But I like my plastic water bottles” is the next thing that I’m hearing. Convenience is NOT worth harming yourself over EVER. Invest in some stainless steel water bottles – you can find them everywhere or search online. Not only are you ensuring that nothing toxic gets into your water, but you’re saving future generations from having to deal with zillions of plastic bottles. There are also glass water bottles available now (check out the lively designs HERE). Take advantage of all the options out there.

All right, now that we’ve purged our cabinets and fridge of most of the toxins, let move on to the last subject matter for this blog – wraps and coverings for food. Available are cling wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper and parchment paper.

Cling wrap. You know all about this stuff. You tear a sheet off the roll and then spend 10 minutes unsticking it from itself so that you can cover a bowl with it. It was invented in 1953 and made of PVC (see recycle icon 3 above). Remember the email that circulated years ago about not using this cling wrap in the microwave? You thought it was a hoax, right? WRONG. You just read above about the toxic chemicals used to make PVC and how they leach out – well, they do the same in this wrap. Don’t EVER heat it up. In 2004, SC Johnson was getting so much flack about the PVC, they switched to low density polyethylene (see recycle icon 4 above). Better – yes – but I can’t figure out why we need it, anyway. I remember Mom wrapping up baked potatoes for the microwave (another evil that will have its own blog one day). Why do such a thing when you can put them in the oven unwrapped (just poke some holes in them) with a little olive oil rubbed on to the skin? They come out delicious, and you don’t radiate yourself in the process. And covering containers with it? Why? Buy GLASS bowls with lids! Not only is it safer, but you’re helping the environment by creating less waste and – over time – fewer emissions and other such atmospheric toxins because if the company doesn’t sell any, they’ll make less or come up with alternatives!

** Remember, every single thing you buy is YOUR VOTE for that product. Contrary to our political system, your vote actually counts here. Fewer votes from you =  less business revenue, and that will ALWAYS make companies pay attention. There have already been big changes in ingredients and packaging because of fewer votes!!

So, ditch the cling wrap. You don’t really need it. Next is aluminum foil.

We know from the previous blog that aluminum is BAD and to be avoided, but what about foil? We all use foil for EVERYTHING! I have done quite a bit of research about this (because I was torn over it), but it’s coming down to aluminum foil can be just a hazardous as the aluminum pots and pans. The metal still leaches into food. It stands to argue that you could cover a dish with it as long as the foil isn’t touching the food and be okay, but I’m not really sure that I want to take that chance. Like with aluminum and acidic foods, what if there’s some weird chemical reaction and it leaches anyway, even though the foil isn’t touching the food?

Personally, I’ve been using foil less and less. Like with cling wrap, there are few reasons to use it, really. I use glass containers to store food in, and they all have lids. I’ve realized that the main reason I use it is to line the pan in my toaster oven or the pan we use for cooking pizza in the oven. And I think I will stop that now and look for some alternatives.

Parchment paper. Some is bleached, and this can cause dioxins to leach. From the EPA announcement on reducing dioxin levels in bleached paper: “Dioxin is a generic term for a group of 75 related chemical compounds known as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins. Dioxin is an unwanted by-product created by the manufacture of some chemical products, by certain combustion processes and by treating wood pulp with chlorine bleaching processes to make white paper. Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical and is a probable human carcinogen. Dioxin persists in the environment and can accumulate in the tissue of fish, other wildlife and humans. It has caused cancer, liver dysfunction and toxic effects in laboratory animals.” HERE is a good explanation about the bleaching.

So, leave the bleached parchment paper on the shelf. Next thing to watch out for is paper containing quilon. Bet you’ll never guess who makes it – DuPont. Technically, quilon is a ‘chrome complex’ – it’s a solution (mostly isopropanol {petroleum solvent}) consisting of a dark green, chemically reactive complex in which fatty acids are coordinated with trivalent chromium. Trivalent chromium is necessary for humans in trace elements, so that part is good. The part that’s not good is that propylene (a known irritant) is used to make the isopropanol, AND that the paper pulp is usually dipped in either sulfuric acid (see my blog The Skinny on Diet Soda for more info on this harmful acid) or zinc chloride (a skin and respiratory irritant that’s also corrosive) before treated with the non-stick surface (whether quilon or silicone).

K. So, leave the bleached parchment paper with the quilon on the shelf. What kind do you use then? HERE is one option. I just saw this in my local ‘natural’ store yesterday.

You’ll see that the If You Care brand parchment paper is coated with silicone, and you’ll notice that I’ve not mentioned silicone yet. There are *many* bakeware items that are made of silicone these days, but silicone is SO new, and there is so LITTLE research about it, I will have no opinion about it until there HAS been time for research. It could be perfect…or it could not. Tread lightly for now, k?

Last one – waxed paper. The practice of oiling some type of paper goes back to medieval times, though Thomas Edison is given credit for inventing the type that we use today (there is a rumor it was his assistant, but I digress). Wax paper is coated with paraffin (I just emailed Reynolds and confirmed that they ARE still using this type wax). I bet you didn’t know that this popular candle wax starts out at the bottom of an oil barrel. That’s right – it’s another petroleum product. In fact, it’s what the petroleum industry discards. It’s then mixed with industrial strength bleach and many other hazardous chemicals. It’s been repeatedly confirmed that paraffin contains carcinogens and neurotoxins. Yes, many dangers come from burning the wax, but even with the waxed paper, you have to remember that there are still two VERY toxic chemicals in the paper: benzene (a proven carcinogen that’s linked to leukemia) and toluene (a benzene derivative that’s a toxic air contaminant). There is a better option HERE – it’s unbleached, chlorine free and is coated with soybean wax.

A quick word about cutting boards, while we’re talking about kitchen related items. If you have one made of any kind of plastic, DITCH IT immediately. The cuts in the board will harbor bacteria, not to mention all the chemicals that can leach out of it that we learned about earlier. Invest in an unfinished wooden board (like this one HERE) or glass board (like this classic kind HERE or an upcycled, creative one like this one HERE).

It’s time for a kitchen overhaul! Do you and your family a favor and make mealtime as SAFE as it can possibly be. There is SO much out there that we have little to no control over – let’s make sure to go all out on the things that we DO have control over!

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No…I’m not talking about dangers *in* the food this time. I’m talking about what you cook/store the food in.

Look around your kitchen – what do you see? Pots, pans, silverware, cooking utensils, plastic containers. Harmless, right?

Not completely.

This will be a two-parter. First, we’ll look at what we cook in for this blog, and then we’ll look at what we stir with and what we store our food in for the next blog.

Take a quick inventory of your pots and pans. I’ll wait. 🙂

____________________________________________________

Ok. Anything that’s aluminum or anything with Teflon – trash. Anything that’s stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic or glass (this includes Corningware and Corelle) – keep.

I heard a bunch of groans after mentioning parting with the cherished Teflon pieces. I know that that non-stick surface is wonderful for cooking on (especially eggs!), but it’s hazardous!  Let’s look at that first.

Teflon’s actual name is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It is a type of plastic in the fluoropolymer (fluorocarbon based polymer) family. Nylon and polyester are popular polymers. PTFE is the polymerized (means reacting monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form three-dimensional networks or polymer chains) form of tetrafluoroethylene (see note below).

In 1938, PTFE was accidentally discovered by a chemist at DuPont. He was trying to duplicate a certain refrigerant by mixing hydrochloric acid (aqueous solution derived from hydrogen chloride & a natural acid found in the stomach) with a compound called tetrafluoroethylene (colorless and odorless gas – but not harmless). He created a large amount of the gas in preparation for his testing, and after left overnight, it has transformed into a white, flaky powder. Once the new substance was analyzed, he discovered how it changed and learned that it was inert, didn’t react with chemicals, resisted electric currents and was extremely smooth and slick. Immediately, he patented it, and PTFE was born.

Note: Tetrafluoroethylene was deemed to be a ‘reasonably anticipated human carcinogen’ by the National Toxicology Program based on their studies, and the EPA proposed to add that and fifteen other chemicals to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 and section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA). Those chemicals were added as of November 30, 2010.

Initially, PTFE was not used on pots and pans. It’s début was during WWII – scientists making atomic bombs had to handle large amounts of uranium hexafluoride, which was extremely corrosive. Du Pont provided them PTFE-coated gaskets and liners that resisted the hexafluoride’s corrosion, and the company later used PTFE for making nose cones of other bombs. “Teflon” was patented in 1944, and in the 50’s, it was used as a coating for machined metal parts. It wasn’t until the 60’s that they decided to coat cookware with it.

Most Teflon-coated pans are aluminum (two harsh strikes against you right there, but let’s continue). Doctors have documented a particular illness called polymer fume fever that workers who have inhaled the gaseous byproducts of PTFE manufacturing suffer from. When it comes time to dispose  of PTFE products, they are supposed to be buried in a landfill; if they are burned, they will release hydrogen chloride and other toxic substances. Buried in a landfill?! As if buried pots and pans will ever breakdown? If you have any concern about the world and/or your grandchildren’s world, PLEASE stop buying these type pans. Talk about NOT being eco-friendly.

Anyone with pet birds knows that they CAN’T use Teflon because it WILL kill their beloved pets (the kicker here is that Du Pont actually ACKNOWLEDGES this fact). When we got our African Grey, the couple of pans that we had with Teflon on them (not that they were used very often) were the first to go. Here is a link from the Environmental Working Group explaining about the toxic gas that is emitted. If it’s that harmful to birds, it is harmful to us, as well. Granted, it won’t necessarily kill us because our systems are different, but it can cause small birth weights, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and a weakened immune system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFCs (perfluorinated compounds, ie: Teflon)  present “persistent bioaccumulation and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree”. Here is just a little more info about PFCs for now because this will probably be a blog topic on its own.

Let’s move on to aluminum pans. As you’ve read in previous blogs, aluminum is quite dangerous to your health. It’s a neurotoxin, and it’s readily absorbed into the body. Once ingested or absorbed, aluminum accumulates in various tissues in the body, including the kidneys, brain, lungs, liver and thyroid. Toxicity can cause ulcers, Parkinson’s disease, hyperactivity, learning disorders, liver disease, headaches, heartburn and nausea. Aluminum (which is a soft metal) can leach from the pot/pan into the food – especially from cooking acidic foods like tomato sauce (NEVER heat up tomato sauce in an aluminum pot). If the pot/pan is old, chances are there are scrapes in the metal that cause microscopic flakes to enter your system (microscopic amounts still have bioaccumulating effects). Anodized aluminum is supposed to be better, but there is so much debate over its safety, I’m not willing to take that risk.

Safer options for cookware include pieces made of stainless steel, iron, glass and ceramics (careful with the porcelain-coated pieces…porcelain enamel over an non-cast iron base is dangerous; the coating can crack – causing tiny chips to end up in your food – plus the exposed iron will eventually rust). There is a new material out called Thermolon (which is supposedly not created from any harmful ingredients), BUT there has not been enough research to warrant it ‘safe’, and the reviews that I’ve found online don’t seem favorable overall. At home, we have stainless steel and glass.

** On a slightly related note, how many of you use a traditional can opener? Ditch it. (I’m getting ready to ditch mine.) Ever had to pick shavings out of your food? Regardless of what the can is made of, THAT’S NOT GOOD. Here is one that I might try; I’ll keep looking around. If anyone has one that they like that opens cans cleanly and safely, send me a message!

In part two, we’ll look at silverware, cooking utensils, aluminum foil, cling wrap and plastic storage containers.

Go check those pots and pans!!

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Continuing along in the same vein as my last post – and, actually, my last post is what prompted this one – I am betting that this topic is something that you’ve not read one word about before.

A show of hands – how many of you have seen the word “fragrance” in ingredient lists over the years?

Ah…all of you. Well, how many of you know what it is or what has gone into that particular ‘fragrance’?

Hmm. No hands.

I’m right there with you. I’ve seen it for years, but I’ve not given it much thought – until my last post. What I came across sent up a big ol’ red flag that I decided I’d better check out, and boy am I glad that I did.

Where to start…this is a tricky one.

First of all, let’s look at the law. Currently, there is the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act of 1938 (yes…that’s 1938!). It supposedly gives the FDA control over the quality and safety of all food, drugs and cosmetics. Immediately, you think ‘good…that means they’ve tested everything and that they know all ingredients are safe for human use/consumption’. Well, in a perfect world – yes – but we don’t live in a perfect world, and it *is* the FDA we’re talking about here.

What the FDA does require: (quoted straight from their website here)

“… an ingredient declaration to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.”

“… packaged products to be properly labeled.”

“… marketing of adulterated cosmetics is prohibited.”

“…  imported cosmetics are subject to review at the time of entry through US Customs.”

What the FDA does not require: (again, quoted from their website above)

“Cosmetic products and ingredients are NOT subject to FDA pre-market approval authority.”

“Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing.”

“Recalls of cosmetics are voluntary actions taken by manufacturers. The FDA is NOT authorized to require recalls.”

“Manufacturers are NOT required to register their cosmetic establishments, file data on ingredients or report cosmetic-related injuries to FDA.”

Wow. Does that send up serious red flags for anyone else?? Does the saying “don’t let the fox guard the hen-house” mean anything?!

In sum, a cosmetic company can put out a new product with absolutely NO testing required (that is terrifying). The only time the FDA will require any kind of proof of quality or safety from these companies is if too many people complain or have issues/reactions (maybe someone should share with them the concept of ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’). In other words, the FDA will only take action when the general public pushes them to do so, and usually once it’s too late for some individuals. They also have NO authority to issue a recall, regardless of findings – the manufacturer has to issue the recall (funny thing about that – if the manufacturer cared enough in the first place, they would have taken more time to research their ingredients and then maybe the recall wouldn’t be necessary because the product never would have been released). The one that gets me is the last – manufacturers are not required to register their establishments, file data on ingredients or report cosmetic-related injuries to FDA. Isn’t that the very definition of being regulated? How do you regulate something if you have NO idea of what they’re doing?!

So, basically, the FDA is supposed to be governing the cosmetic companies, yet they hardly have any requirements (shouldn’t ingredients and injuries be on the top of their concerns list?), AND the cosmetic companies essentially regulate themselves. Seriously? Who thinks that this is a slight conflict of interest? These companies are in existence to MAKE MONEY. They do NOT care about the public’s health (in general), so does anyone really think that they’re going to take the time to consider whether their ingredients are toxic? Not as long as they continue to make a profit!

There is a new bill that has been introduced – The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 – but it’s still in the process of being approved, and you can read the specifics here. It’s not perfect (is any bill ever?), but it will certainly make companies more accountable, which – again – is the whole point of being regulated.

Ok…so now we know that the FDA requires nothing except ‘truth in marketing’ from these companies, so let’s go back to fragrance specifically. There are 2 types; the generic term ‘fragrance’ that shows up in ingredient lists and perfumes.

Fragrance shows up in everything from shampoos to make-up to cleaning supplies. When listed as ‘fragrance’, there are no other specifics given (and remember, it’s not required). The company could literally put rat poison in there, and not only would you never know, but until enough people had a reaction, nothing would ever be done about it.

Have you ever known someone with a chemical sensitivity to fragrance and perfumes? They either couldn’t wear it, couldn’t use something that contained it or couldn’t stand to be around someone who wore perfume, regardless of what kind or how much that person had put on? Ever stop to wonder why they had such a bad reaction to it?

Fragrance mainly affects the skin, lungs and brain. You can have rashes and develop dermatitis from prolonged exposure. You can develop breathing problems, or if you already have them (such as asthma), attacks can be triggered. Scents have been proven to be able to change one’s mood. Think about this – our moods are controlled by chemicals in the brain, so in order for that to change, it means that those chemicals have to change. What changes them then? The chemicals in the fragrances.

Some other symptoms of fragrance chemicals that people experience are headache, sneezing, watery eyes, sinus problems, anxiety, nausea, wheezing, shortness of breath, inability to concentrate, dizziness, convulsions, sore throat, cough, hyperactivity (especially in kids), tremor, fatigue, lethargy and drowsiness.

New studies are finding that children are especially sensitive to these chemicals. If you have young ones, check out any products (lotions, creams, wipes, etc) that you use for them. Also, if you wear a lot of perfume, don’t forget that they’re breathing it, too, and are being affected by it. If you’re nursing, resist the urge to spray perfume – especially. Studies have found that the chemicals can be stored in the body because they have shown up in breast milk. Read this link to find out what chemicals were recently discovered in umbilical cords.

Here is a brief list of some chemicals that are used in the formulation of fragrances and what they can cause.

Here is a specific list for dryer sheets alone.

Here is an article that was in Glamour magazine. Excellent explanations as to WHY and HOW these chemicals are harmful!

MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) America has an interesting page here with more links to check out. If you’d like a “holy sh*t” moment, scroll to the bottom and click on the EPA Fragrance Ingredient list.

Where in the world do all of these fragrance chemicals come from, anyway? The majority come from petroleum products – bet you weren’t expecting that. Also commonly detected in these chemicals are phthalates – known hormone disruptors that affect the reproductive organs/system and the brain. When it comes to these hidden ingredients, Europe is a little better protected than we are – they require certain ones (26 to be exact) to be listed on the label if they are in the fragrance. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recently tested 17 perfumes, and they found 22 of the 26 European ‘must list on label’ ingredients in them – 12 of the 17 perfumes contained phthalates. Want to read a bit more about phthalates? Go here.

There is a group called The International Fragrance Association. It receives funding from the fragrance industry (that’s interesting right there), and it provides guidelines on the use and safety of fragrances. Those guidelines are based on research by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (another industry-funded group that tests raw materials). Unfortunately, none of the guidelines are overseen or regulated by any government agency (not that it would make much of a difference, anyway), AND adherence to the guidelines is purely voluntary. Kind of makes you wonder why it exists in the first place, huh? Their testing is also limited; they do not regularly test for inhalation effects (which should be high on the list, in my opinion), nor do they regularly test the effects on children (again…should be rather high on the list). I do give them kudos for trying, though, and I hope as time goes on that they will continually strive to be more thorough and extensive in their testing methods.

I know…some of you are saying ‘well I don’t have chemical sensitivities, so I’m fine’. Keep in mind that just because you don’t get a rash or a headache doesn’t mean that you’re not being affected. Many of these chemicals have a bioaccumulative effect – means that prolonged exposure (even in ‘small doses’) will build up over time until it finally manifests itself. (Think of it like clogged arteries…it’s a slow process that closes them up…and then all of a sudden…BAM!)

So, what do you do? Everyone likes a nice smell, after all, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as that ‘nice smell’ isn’t hurting you. Firstly, use common sense – that always goes a long way. Secondly, READ INGREDIENT LISTINGS. If it says ‘fragrance’, put it back. Look for something ‘fragrance free’ (even with that you have to be careful, but at least it’ll have less chemicals). If possible, find an alternative to whatever it is you’re buying. At this point, there are alternatives for just about everything! If you really want to be proactive, cast your vote by calling the company directly or sending emails; they’re listening a bit more than they used to. Thirdly, do some searching on the Internet for more alternatives. There are thousands of companies ‘out there’ whose products never make it to a local store, but that are just as good, if not better, than the ones on the shelves.

As for perfumes/colognes specifically, look for ‘essential oil’ blends. Now, understand when I say that just because a fragrance is made from an essential oil, it does not make it 100% safe – you can still have an allergic reaction if you are prone to such – BUT you will find less harsh/dangerous/toxic chemicals and more natural/organic ingredients.

One last link – Guide to Less Toxic Products. I thought this site was quite helpful. It offers suggestions for less toxic products, offers alternative products and tips to help you eliminate/cut down on harsh chemicals in every aspect of your life. Take a few minutes to check it out!

As always, my aim with these blogs is not to convince you that my words alone are 100% fact (all facts evolve over time, anyway), but it is to provide information that you more than likely wouldn’t have discovered otherwise AND to encourage you to take a second – and even a third – look at what you eat and use in your daily life. We’re never going to have a completely perfect or pure world, BUT we can stay informed – we can make better choices – and if I can be responsible for influencing you to take a few more seconds when you’re making purchases to decide if a particular product is really the best option for your health, then I have been successful.

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I know, I know…this pushes the boundaries just a smidge as to what we’re comfortable discussing. I mean, who carries on conversations about sweat on a regular basis? Who posts on Facebook about it or updates Twitter about perspiration? Usually, we like to pretend that it doesn’t exist at all.

Sweating is natural and necessary, though – it’s all about body temperature regulation. There are thermosensitive neurons located in the hypothalamus (which is in the brain), AND there are temperature receptors in the skin that work together to regulate our body temps. Generally speaking, there are 2 different reasons why we sweat – emotional stress and heat.

You’ve heard people talk about the nutrients that you ‘lose’ when you sweat, right? Know what they are? They include, but are not limited to: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, chromium, nickel and lead. Those are pretty important nutrients that you don’t want to be without, so that’s why Gatorade was invented. Unfortunately, while they got the electrolyte part right in their ingredients, they didn’t get the high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors right, so it’s not a completely safe option.

** Side note here: After a quick search on Google, Clif Bar has an electrolyte drink that is decent here, and there is an option for younger people here made by a company called Crayons (I don’t like the ascorbic acid in it because it’s synthetic vitamin C and has NO nutritional value, but everything else is okay). If you consume Gatorade often to replace these nutrients after working out, you might want to search for a safer and healthier option.

So, sweat has obviously been around since the dawn of man, but what did people do thousands of years ago? If you go here, you will discover what some of the ancients used to deal with the odor that comes along with the sweat (and there are lots more links on that page, as well). Wealthy Egyptians often wore wigs that held a scented cone of wax. The heat from the day would slowly melt it, and they would be surrounded by a pleasant scent. Herbs and flower petals were used to scent water, and they were also woven into rugs and tied into swags to be placed around the home to keep things ‘fresh’.

It was only a matter of time before someone would create something to put on the underarms (because that’s the main area of concern). In the 9th century, Ziryab – a Persian polymath – created one of the first deodorants, but it wasn’t until 1888 that the first commercial deodorant was produced. Mum was the name, but it’s better known now as Ban.

What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant, I hear someone asking. Deodorant covers up smell, but it doesn’t stop sweat. An antiperspirant does both. Oh, that should be good then. Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak?

Not so fast. The way that an antiperspirant works is by using aluminum ions to clog/block/close the pores so that no sweat can be released. When the process starts, as soon as the sweat reaches the skin, it runs into the antiperspirant barrier. Having nowhere to go, the sweat (now laced with whatever ingredients are in the antiperspirant) retreats back into the pores, which causes the cells to swell. Once swollen, the sweat ducts are essentially closed. This affects the physiology of the body, and it is not healthy.

But I don’t wanna sweat, I already hear someone whining. I don’t want underarm stains on my clothing. Of course you don’t – no one does – BUT you don’t want to inhibit your body from a normal and necessary function, either. Doing that will only serve to cause medical issues down the road. What if you tried to stop your body from excreting waste? What if you tried to stop yourself from vomiting or coughing or sneezing and the like? We have bodily ‘processes’ for a reason, and stopping them is not good.

Let’s look at some typical ingredients in deodorant/antiperspirant. They include, but are not limited to: aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly, water, cyclopentasiloxane, PPG-14 butyl ether, denatured alcohol, propylene glycol, dimethicone, talc, fragrance.

Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly: This is the stuff that turns the underarms of your white shirts yellow. Aluminum is harmful to your health, period, regardless of what form it’s in. It is also readily absorbed into the body through the skin. In fact, a 2001 study showed that aluminum was still present in blood samples 15 days after one application of aluminum to the armpit. It’s also a neurotoxin, which means that it causes damage to nerves or nerve tissues. Another study determined that the use of aluminum based deodorants increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 60%. Yes…it has been documented through autopsies that the aluminum levels are higher in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient than of those who died free of the disease. Is it the sole cause? No, there are others, but aluminum has a definite link. Once ingested or absorbed, aluminum accumulates in various tissues in the body, including the kidneys, brain, lungs, liver and thyroid. Toxicity can cause ulcers, Parkinson’s disease, hyperactivity, learning disorders, liver disease, headaches, heartburn and nausea. Aluminum is also found in aspirin, vaccines, OTC medications, baby powder, dentures, baking powder, table salt and even cake mix. At home, we got rid of all of our aluminum cookware and switched to glass and/or cast iron (future blog topic right there).

Cyclopentasiloxane – This is a type of silicone fluid. It’s also used in hair conditioners. (Your hairdresser will tell you that it’s wonderful for your hair because it’s makes it slick and less tangled, however, it’s little more than wax. It doesn’t actually moisturize your hair, it just makes it feel like it.) Canada has classified it as a known toxin, though there has been much debate about it. It has been proven to irritate the skin, especially for women because most have shaven underarms. It’s also harmful to wildlife when it gets in the water supply.

PPG-14 Butyl Ether – PPG stands for popypropylene glycol, which is made from a completely artificial petroleum product; methyl oxirane. Another name for that is propylene oxide, which is a probable human carcinogen. Propylene oxide is also an irritant and highly flammable. Butyl ethers are in the paraben family, and they are toluene derivatives (toxic petrochemical compounds).  Toluene has proven to have a harmful effect on the reproductive system while parabens have been linked to cancer.

Denatured Alcohol – This is ethanol to which poisonous and foul-tasting chemicals have been added to make it unfit for drinking. As for being in cosmetics, it can dry out your skin, irritate it and cause inflammation. It can make acne even worse, and it can rob the skin of natural oil. It’s also capable of generating free radical damage.

Propylene Glycol – This is another petroleum derivative, and it’s quite harmful. The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for propylene glycol says:  “May be harmful by ingestion or skin absorption.  May cause eye irritation, skin irritation.  Chronic exposure can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting, central nervous system depression.” It has been linked to many severe health problems including contact dermatitis (irritation), auto toxicity, kidney damage and liver abnormalities. It has been shown to inhibit skin cells growth in human tests and cell respiration in animal tests. Lastly, it is a known irritant and sensitizer causing dryness, erythema (abnormal redness) and even blistering.

Dimethicone – This is another silicone product that coats the skin and inhibits toxins from being released from the body. It’s been shown to cause tumors and mutations in experimental work with animals, plus it accumulates in the liver and lymph nodes. According to the Environmental Canada Domestic Substance List, dimethicone is bioaccumulative in humans and wildlife.  Basically, it pollutes our bodies and environments and accumulates in our organs. Not only is it non-biodegradable, but poisonous hydrochloric gas is emitted during the chemical production of this ingredient.

Talc – This is a mineral, produced by the mining of talc rocks and then processed by crushing, drying and milling. Processing eliminates a number of trace minerals from the talc, but does not separate minute fibers which are very similar to asbestos. It is closely related to the potent carcinogen asbestos. Talc particles have been shown to cause tumors in the ovaries and lungs of cancer victims. For the last 30 years, scientists have closely scrutinized talc particles and found dangerous similarities to asbestos. Responding to this evidence in 1973, the FDA drafted a resolution that would limit the amount of asbestos-like fibers in cosmetic grade talc, however, no ruling has ever been made, and today, cosmetic grade talc remains non-regulated by the federal government. This inaction ignores a 1993 National Toxicology Program report which found that cosmetic grade talc, without any asbestos-like fibers, caused tumors in animal subjects. Clearly with or without asbestos-like fibers, cosmetic grade talcum powder is a carcinogen.

Fragrance – Ever wondered what the particular fragrance is or the ingredients that went in to create it? “Fragrance” (for some strange reason) is considered a trade secret, so companies are not required to disclose information about it. Some hidden hazards could be allergens, sensitizers, phthalates (hormone disruption), neurotoxins (toxic to the brain) and synthetic musks (read more about secret fragrance ingredients here). This is a new area for me to explore, and be rest assured that I will be delving into this more at length in the near future.

For further reading:

http://hannaqueen.blogspot.com/2010/03/dangers-of-deodorant-and-directions-to.html – This site goes over more ingredients, plus has a recipe for making your own deodorant. I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to!

http://www.education.com/reference/article/potential-dangers-mainstream-deodorants/ – Again, more information is provided about ingredients and what they can cause. This article specifically addresses older children that are just beginning to use deodorant.

http://www.controlyourimpact.com/articles/deodorants-antiperspirants-and-your-health/– This is a lengthy article with a ton of references for you to further your research, if you wish.

http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=596 – A cornstarch and baking soda deodorant recipe. (I’ll be trying this one, too!)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Deodorant/ – One more recipe!

Now, I know some people suffer from hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating. There are many, many options to deal with that, but what I would suggest is to spend some time searching on Google for more information about it AND to take the time to try various HEALTHY deodorants out there until you find something that works for you…or try making your own and tweaking it until you’re satisfied. Here is a link to some ‘home remedies’ to try to see if they will have any effect. Also, take a look at the clothing that you normally wear; some fabrics breathe easier than others, and you definitely want to wear clothing that breathes as much as possible. In addition, wear loose-fitting clothing, AND limit the solid colors – prints help hide a little sweat. I know it might seem daunting to have to deal with it in these ways, but it’s much better than having to deal with more serious health issues later in life.

What should you use instead? Go to your nearest ‘health food’ store and read ingredients. I guarantee that you will find something to try. Currently, I’m using Crystal deodorant stone (read more here), and I’m very satisfied with it. I have also used the lavender roll-on from Terressentials.  Here is a cream made with all natural ingredients. The president of Florere was kind enough to send me the stick & the cream, and I can happily report that I love them both – no mess, they smell great and they WORK!  Here is one on Etsy that has good ingredients and has gotten good reviews from those who have tried it. Here is another one.  (I love Etsy, and I encourage you to search that site for anything and everything. There are some ridiculously creative and talented people there!)

So, as you can see, with just a few minutes of searching, you will find that there are LOTS of options for you. Please rethink swiping those toxins under your arms – dry underarms now are not worth your life later.

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You’ve all heard the statement “eat calories, don’t drink them”, and for the most part, that’s an accurate statement – especially if you have a rather sedentary lifestyle or if you are trying to shed a few pounds.  That statement is NOT accurate, however, if you are choosing diet sodas as your main beverage. For many reasons, you are better off drinking calories than that mess of chemicals. (Any soda is bad, and while I have somewhat focused on the diet ones here, you’ll find that the ingredients listed below are found in regular soda, as well.)

But wait,” I hear in the back. “I’m on a diet. I don’t want to consume all those extra calories. What’s wrong with my diet soda? I thought it was better to drink the diet stuff.”

I’m SO glad that you asked!

First, a show of hands….how many of you drink a soda (diet or not) every day? How about every week?

Goodness. That’s quite a sea of hands.

How many of you drink water, tea, juice and/or milk every day? How about every week?

Oh dear. I only saw a couple of hands that time.

Well, as usual, let’s start at the beginning. This list of ingredients is typical in DIET soda: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, aspartame, potassium benzoate and citric acid.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Let’s look at each one individually.

Carbonated Water – This is plain water in which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved, thus causing effervescence. I’ve done quite a bit of reading, and this water is not necessarily unhealthy. I won’t say that is healthy, either, because I can’t seem to find anything nutritious about it (you get nothing from it that you can’t get elsewhere), but it doesn’t appear to cause or be linked to any issues. Click here to read a very informative article about carbonated water that separates fact from fiction.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – This is a whole blog topic right here, so I’ll try to be brief (I have mentioned this in previous posts, as well). This sweetener is derived from corn, but don’t be fooled – just because it comes from a natural grain does not make it healthy. Basically, in the 70’s, two things happened;  the price of real sugar went up because of tariffs and quotas, AND corn growers started losing money because their corn oil (that had been used in margarines and shortenings) was being replaced by soybeans. Do you see a money theme surfacing? You should – corn is not only cheap to grow, but the corn growers are also subsidized by our government (ah…another entire blog topic). High fructose corn syrup is pure glucose until enzymes are added to change it to fructose. It’s found in EVERYTHING these days, unfortunately. Consistent consumption leads to obesity (Princeton has done research to confirm this over and over), type 2 diabetes, elevated triglyceride and HDL levels, liver/gallbladder/kidney damage and mercury exposure.  If you see this ingredient in something, put it back on the shelf!

Caramel Color –  This is basically burnt sugar that is created from adding ammonia and sulfites to heated carbohydrates, and it has been around since the 1800’s (possibly 1700’s). Again, just because it’s been around a while does not make it automatically safe. There is much debate over whether it can be linked to causing cancer (it has in some lab rats), and in a study done by the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, it was shown to diminish the immune system function (weaken it, essentially). There is also argument that is contributes to ADD in children.

Phosphoric Acid – Phosphorus is a mineral, and next to calcium, is the most abundant mineral in the body. It works with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth, but it’s also present in the cells and tissue. It helps filter out waste in the kidneys, and it helps balance other vitamins and minerals in the body. Well, that sounds pretty good. So, this acid must be healthy, right? Wrong. Phosphates (salt from phosphorus) are combined with sulphuric acid (created from burning sulfur) to make phosphoric acid.

Let’s look at sulphuric acid for a moment. It is highly corrosive, and it is mainly used in the industrial field in the manufacture of inorganic and organic acids, electronics, batteries, synthetic drugs, technical gasses; it’s an important laboratory reagent; a nitrating, sulfonating, pickling and drying agent; used in preparing soluble phosphates. I searched for two days to try to find a difference between “food grade” sulphuric acid and “non food grade”. Turns out, “technical grade sulphuric acid” – the grade that is used in fertilizer, dyes, detergents and paints – is the same kind that gets put into food. Now, don’t get this confused with pure sulfur – your body needs that to function properly. Once it’s converted to an acid, however, it’s a different story.

Back to the phosphoric acid. I looked up the difference between “food grade” and “industrial grade” phosphoric acid, and they share the same molecular formula and weight. A couple of the numbers were different, but not by much. Industrial grade has more arsenic in it – yes that’s right – that means that food grade has arsenic present. It’s minute, BUT, if someone told you there was a “minute” amount of rat poison in your morning muffin, would you still eat it?? (Keep in mind that while the actual amount might be considered minute, people drink soda by the GALLONS, which means those minute amounts are not so minute, anymore.) Also, fluoride (see previous blog) appears in the food grade.

In addition, phosphoric acid can pull calcium from your bones. When soda is drank too often AND when the body does not have enough calcium (which most of ours don’t), the high phosphoric acid content pulls calcium from the bones in order to process it. It also weakens your teeth, because the acid does not discriminate from where it pulls the calcium from.

Caffeine – Did you know that caffeine occurs naturally? It’s found in coffee beans, regular beans, leaves, kola nuts, tea bushes, guarana berries and some fruits. It works as a natural pesticide for plants. Since it was first isolated from a coffee bean back in 1820 by a German chemist and then in 1821 by a French chemist, it was named ‘caffeine’ after the French word for coffee; ‘cafe’, and the German word for coffee; ‘kaffee’.  Many of us think we “need” our coffee  to help wake us up (because of the caffeine content). I have maybe half a cup in the morning, but honestly, I feel no different after drinking it. The *only* thing that helps wake me up is TIME. While it’s been shown that caffeine can have some positive attributes, it’s also been shown to have negative ones. Click here to read a little more about it. Simply put, the less you have, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Aspartame – I touched briefly on this in another blog. STAY AWAY FROM ASPARTAME AND OTHER SYNTHETIC SWEETENERS! I can’t stress that enough. Dr. Mercola has a fabulous explanation of the ingredients that are mixed to create aspartame, AND he goes into detail about what each one does to the body here. Please take a minute and read it to understand what these poisons are doing to your body. Here is another site that gives you a list of all the side effects from ingesting aspartame. If you really want to delve more into it, go here; it will keep you busy for hours. Anyone that tells you aspartame is safe is either getting a kickback from the distributors OR they’ve not taken the time to research it. It is poisonous to your body, period.

Potassium Benzoate – Potassium, in and of itself, is necessary for your body – potassium ion to be exact. This is found in certain foods like bananas, orange juice and potatoes. Potassium benzoate is the salt of benzoic acid. Benzoic acid is made from partial oxidation of toluene with oxygen. Toluene is commonly known as an industrial solvent, and it is a benzene derivative. Benzene is a highly flammable liquid and a KNOWN CARCINOGEN. It’s mainly used in rubber, dyes and solvents. Want to read about the FDA admitting that benzene IS in soft drinks and that it IS a carcinogen? Go here. Do they put it in soft drinks?  No. It forms when ascorbic acid (NOT to be confused with pure vitamin C) has a reaction to the potassium benzoate in heat and light.

Citric Acid – Did you know that most citric acid in the food industry is not extracted from citrus fruit, but fermented by Aspergillus niger mold (one of the most dangerous molds that causes black mold on plants and causes fungal ear infections in humans, among other respiratory issues) from scrap molasses, waste starch hydrolysates (partial hydrolysis of starch that makes sugar) and phosphoric acid (remember all that bad stuff you just read)? Also, often times sulphuric acid is used in that cocktail (you just read about that, too). It’s found naturally in citrus fruits, of course, but the additive that shows up in your food is not natural. It’s produced synthetically from cultures of cheap, sugary solutions. Consumption of too much citric acid additives in foods can cause stomach cramps or pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, increased sweating and swelling, and pain in the abdominal or stomach area. Citric acid – either in synthetic or natural form – can break down the enamel on your teeth, as well as cause chronic sore throats and mouth ulcers. Ladies, too much citric acid (real or synthetic) can also lead to a yeast infection.

So, there you have it my fellow harbingers. Every time you consume soda, you’re drinking ALL of that stuff. I’ll admit that I usually have one soda once a week, but after doing the research for this blog, I’m not sure when I’m going to have another soda. Personally, I don’t want to drink all of those chemicals that are certainly doing nothing good for my body. During the week, I drink a rotation of milk, juice, water and tea. I encourage you all to start drinking more nutritious beverages.

Alrightie, now that we know the ingredients, what they’re made out of and what they can cause, let’s look at diet soda as a whole. The question begs to be asked – does diet soda actually make you lose weight?

This is a highly debated question, but the most recent studies show that it can cause you to not only NOT lose weight, but that you can gain weight.

But wait,” I hear. “Diet soda has no calories, so if you cut calories out of your diet, how could you possibly gain weight?”

Again, I’m SO glad that you asked!

True, *IF* you’ve been downing four to five cans of soda a day, switching to diet will cut your calorie intake, and you might find that over a few months, you might lose a few pounds. However, that effect will not last long term. After years of consuming diet soda, that weight you initially lost you will more than likely gain back. In fact, there is a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for EVERY can of bottle of diet soda a person consumes each day. Why?

The consumption of artificial sweeteners and no calories confuse the body. There are chemical triggers in the brain that tell us when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Diet soda confuses these triggers, and instead of being satisfied and sending signals to stop eating, they do the opposite – they send signals to continue looking for food. Over time, you can gain weight because your brain is telling you that you’re hungry, so you seek more food – usually starchy, fatty foods – and there are the extra pounds.

The caffeine in the soda also adds to this. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, so the more soda you drink, the thirstier you become, so you drink even more soda. It’s a vicious cycle that repeats itself. The more you drink, the more messed up the food chemicals in the brain become, so the more you eat.

The acids in the soda affect your pH balance, as well, and that can lead to a whole host of other problems. pH measures the acidity or basicity (alkali) in our bodies.  Ever seen litmus paper change colors? That’s because it’s reacting to either too much acid in the body or not enough. Drinking too much soda introduces more acid to your body, which forces it to try to neutralize those acids, and then it throws your balance off because your body is forced to take minerals from vital organs and bones in order to remove it. The range is 5 (acid) to 9 (alkaline); the healthy range for humans is between 6 – 7.5. The body naturally strives for this balance, but if it has to work too hard, the body becomes compromised. Most who have an unbalanced pH are too acidic, which can cause cardiovascular damage, weight gain, diabetes, bladder/kidney infections, acceleration of free radical damage, premature aging, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, digestion/elimination issues and yeast overgrowth. Here is an informative site for more about this topic.

For a list of dangerous food additives in food, go here.

And for the love of all things healthy, PLEASE PLEASE ignore the commercials paid for by the Corn Refiners Association that try to sell you on the misconstrued fact that “your body can’t tell the difference” between high fructose corn syrup and regular sugar. It’s a bold-faced LIE. Your body can certainly tell the difference between the two, and anyone who has diabetes or other sugar-related issues can tell you that. Click here for an in-depth explanation as to how these sugars are processed. Don’t believe the hype!!

I sincerely hope you will rethink your next soda, whether it be diet or not. There is absolutely NOTHING nutritious about it, and the dangerous chemicals used to make it are a hazard to your health. As most other health issues, you might not see effects right now, but they are cumulative, and they will show up one day, possibly when it’s too late. Don’t wait for anything life threatening to happen. Make better choices starting today. Be good to your body – it’s the only one that you’ve got!!

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