Archive for the ‘Health Tips’ Category

Preventing Lyme Disease

Mark your calendars for an engaging evening with Captain Richard Phillips presented by Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod  on April 18 @ 6:00pm.  He’ll be speaking at the Barnstable High School Performing Arts Center on Cape Cod about his life experiences and the dangers he faced on the high seas with Somali pirates.  Following the talk is a dinner at the Yarmouth House along with a meet and greet and book signing by Capt. Phillips of his book “A Captains Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS,and Dangerous Days at Sea”.  Tickets for talk only are $25.00 and available on-line at www.lymeticks.org or at the Brewster Book Store, $30.00 at the door.  

 

Watch out -deer ticks are here!  My cousins and I were enjoying a beautiful Easter walk in the woods and near the marshes on Cape Cod when we discovered several deer ticks.  Already? Yes!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is one of the fastest spreading infectious diseases in the United States.

English: National Lyme disease risk map with 4...

English: National Lyme disease risk map with 4 categories of risk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deer ticks in the Northeast carry the illness, where 90% of all US cases are reported.  Lyme disease has become more prevalent partly because suburban neighborhoods have expanded into wooded areas where ticks thrive.  Deer, mice and pets carry deer ticks, about the size of a poppy seed. If a tick bites you, remove it right away, identify it and have it tested if you suspect a deer tick. One in four nymphal deer ticks can infect you with some kind of disease if they feed for more than 24 hours.  (Some sources say they only have to  be attached for as little as two hours to transmit the disease.)

Ticks

Ticks (Photo credit: Kriatyrr)

 

I had Lyme disease a few year ago and was the sickest I had ever been with a severe headache, joint pain, high fever and flu-like symptoms.  I was one of the lucky ones however, with a defining bull’s eye rash and was able to get on antibiotics right away, which cured it.  But many people don’t get the rash and it’s easy to confuse body aches and fevers with other diseases. The blood tests are often inaccurate too; you can still have Lyme disease even with a negative blood test.

English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a...

English: Erythematous rash in the pattern of a “bull’s-eye” from Lyme disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

As with anything else, prevention is your best medicine.

What you can do to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease:

  • Avoid being bitten by a tick, which is most plentiful where woodlands transition into fields, meadows or yards.
  • Avoid tall grasses.
  • Avoid deer paths in the woods, which are usually loaded with ticks.
  • Avoid places where mice are abundant like leaf litter, woodpiles, mulch beds, gardens, rock walls.
  • When you are in high tick area, wear light-colored clothing to spot them easier.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants with your pants tucked into your socks when working outside or hiking in tick-infested areas.
  • Use insect repellant; clothes can be sprayed directly.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Always do tick checks after being outside in a high deer tick area.  Magnifying glasses help with spotting deer ticks.
  • Shower after being in a tick-infested area.
  • Putting your clothes in a dryer at high heat for 35 minutes will kill ticks.  Most ticks are very sensitive to heat.
  • Take garlic supplements daily to help repel insects and ticks.
  • Treat pets to minimize risk. Pets can get Lyme disease too and bring ticks into the house.

Cultural Practices you can do in your yard to help eliminate ticks:

  • Mow along boundary lines of your yard.
  • Treat your yard with a professional spray or do it yourself.
  • Keep grass mowed regularly.
  • Install a low brick wall where your yard ends and woods begin.
  • In high tick areas, get guinea hens – they eat deer tick.

Visit Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod for more detailed  information.  The University of Rhode Island has a comprehensive website as well.   tickencounter.org

Lyme disease is a dreadful disease which left untreated can cause chronic major problems seriously affecting your health.  Early diagnosis and proper treatment can help cure you.

Be vigilant and don’t let ticks ruin your summer!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Thieves Oil To The Rescue!

After speaking with one of my teacher friends who was frustrated at getting one cold after another from her students despite taking every precaution to keep germs from spreading, including Clorox wipes, I decided to repost my entry about Thieves Oil, an amazing non-toxic germ-killing spray! It is that time of year!     

Thieves Oil is a powerful blend of germ-killing essential oils – clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary – that help eliminate airborne bacteria and boost the immune system. Research conducted at Weber State University, as well as other documented research, shows that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many essential oils. When bacteria cultures were sprayed in an enclosed area, Thieves Oil had a 99.96% success rate against airborne bacteria.

The name comes from the legend of four thieves who were captured and charged with robbing dead and dying victims during the bubonic plague, which killed millions of people in Europe and Asia for about 600 years. In exchange for leniency, the magistrate wanted to know how the thieves escaped from contracting the plague.  They confessed to rubbing themselves with a special concoction of aromatic herbs, including garlic, cloves and rosemary.  Hence, the name Thieves Oil.

There are a variety of Thieves® antiseptic products such as household cleaners, soaps, hand sanitizers, toothpaste, and mouthwash. All are formulated from the essential oils mentioned in the legend that help fight against bacteria, fungi and viruses and ward off disease.

As germs become more virulent and antibiotic resistant, it’s more important than ever to support your immune system and ward off bugs, and anything is worth a try! Do so with Thieves® products, especially during cold and flu season. Keep some in your natural medicine cabinet, at your office, in your car, and at school. I use it, my kids use it, and I can tell you it works. And the spray smells great…….

Information compiled http://www.secretofthieves.com.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Nutrient-Dense Chocolate For Valentine’s Day!

Red HeartThis Valentine’s Day, indulge in a bit of nutrient-dense chocolate. Hailed as a super food as scientists begin to identify all the benefits of the cacao bean, it’s loaded with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that can help ward off many common lifestyle diseases. The key is consuming the right chocolate – raw, unprocessed cacoa beans or nibs, or at least 70% cocoa dark chocolate. Not your typical candy bar loaded with fat, sugar and other fillers!

Some of the potential benefits of eating chocolate are:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels and relaxing blood pressure
  • Preventing cognitive decline – Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate “can help preserve blood flow in working areas of the brain”. Compounds in chocolate may reduce or block damage to nerve pathways in the brain.
  • Reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems
  • Protecting against type-2 diabetes – due to the high levels of flavonoids in chocolate (also found in tea, berries and wine)
  • Preventing obesity – certain antioxidants in chocolate are said to lower blood sugar levels and possibly prevent weight gain

As most people instinctively realize, chocolate also releases certain feel good chemicals, or endorphins naturally produced by the brain “that generate feelings of pleasure and promote a sense of well being.”

On Valentine’s Day, promote well-being and buy your loved ones some healthy chocolates! And, when you next crave a cup of steaming hot chocolate on a snowy day or a piece of chocolate to boost your mood, go for it. Your body knows what it needs. Just make sure it’s a moderate amount of the right kind. Moderate amount?  That’s not always easy for chocoholics like me!

Watch this short video on the amazing benefits of eating a little chocolate everyday!

Information compiled from: http://www.medicalwellnessassociation.com/, http://www.organicauthority.com/, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

The Safety of Plastic Dental Appliances

A reader asked me about the safety of the plastic used in mouth guards, retainers and other dental appliances.

It seems like dentists tell everyone to wear a mouth guard, even my 25-year-old son, because they grind their teeth, which is either a testament to our high stress society or a dentist up sell. I use one because I clench my teeth and it was affecting my bottom teeth. It helps, but I too get concerned about the safety of the material used.

A wide variety of materials is used to manufacture dental devices and it’s hard to find information about the exact materials and their safety. According to the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, or PPRC, a nonprofit organization that is a leading source of high quality, unbiased pollution prevention, “Sealants, fillings, mouth guards and other dental appliances can and may contain bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates and other chemicals of concern.”

The BPA chemical is a synthetic hormone and endocrine disruptor used in plastics, and has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. It has been under scrutiny and has now been removed from many plastic products including baby bottles, water bottles, and plastic toys. The FDA does not require testing for BPA exposure however, for dental materials. New federal regulations have required that manufacturers also stop using phthalates (Chemicals used in plastic household and personal care products linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities) in children’s toys, but again, it is unclear whether these new regulations pertain to mouth guards. The PPRC states “ The ADA (American Dental Association) and other authorities suggest that the risk of contamination from dental materials is low compared with other sources of BPA in the environment and food supply.” I hope so!

I did read that the store-bought boil and bite guards like the ones used for sports protection are problematic since BPA is more likely to leach from plastic when it is heated.  Amazon FYI, sells a BPA-free, FDA-approved soft material tooth grinding and athletic mouth guard.

The solution?  Ask your dentist about the materials used in his/her dental appliances, about the effectiveness of store-bought guards, and request BPA-free ones. As with anything, you have to outweigh the risks vs. the benefits.

Information compiled from: http://pprc.org/research/rapidresDocs/Dental_Guard_BPA_RR_FINAL.pdf and ewg.org.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Red Palm Oil

I use a variety of oils. Olive oil for salads, salad dressings and even washing my face like they do in Greece; grape seed oil for sautéing and roasting; coconut oil for cooking, baking, moisturizing and swishing; avocado oil for dressings and face washing. Depending on the recipe, pumpkin seed and walnut oils are delicious alternatives in salad dressings too. All are tasty and nutritious, but not the powerhouse of the oil I’ve recently discovered, red palm oil. Red palm oil has been a staple in indigenous cultures for 5,000 years. According to ancient legends, red palm oil was a sacred food, revered for its healthful properties and entombed with the pharaohs of Egypt for their enjoyment in the afterlife.

Health Benefits

The high beta-carotene and lycopene content give red palm oil its color and numerous health benefits. The same antioxidants are found in tomatoes and carrots, but there are even more in red palm oil. The carotenoids help support the immune system, protect the skin from UV rays and improve eye health, as well as guard against osteoporosis, asthma, cataracts, macular degeneration, arthritis and liver disease. It’s high in Vitamin A and contains rare tocotrienols and tocopherols of the Vitamin E family. Studies funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) have shown that tocotrienols can help reduce the effects of stroke by protecting the brain’s nerve cells. Tocotrienols also improve blood flow to brain cells, which can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. With red palm oil, cholesterol levels and blood pressure are improved. It’s also a potent anti-cancer food.

Cooking with Red Palm Oil

In addition to its many nutritional benefits, red palm oil is a stable oil meaning it has a high smoke point and remains nutritionally rich when cooked or heated. Its buttery taste makes it perfect for sautéing, baking, cooking or as a popcorn topper. Fried eggs are especially tasty when fried with red palm oil instead of butter. I’m a firm believer in eating a variety of nutritious foods for optimum health. Nutritionists say with fruits and vegetables, try to eat every color of the rainbow daily. Variety is important for oils too – no one oil does it all. And, it’s fun trying different ones for different applications. Go ahead and give this powerhouse oil a try. You can find red palm oil at Whole Foods or other natural food markets. Make sure to buy organic, raw, unrefined red palm oil. Once refined and processed, its color and nutritional benefits are destroyed. Information compiled from: www.droz.com and nutiva.com   For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Steroid-free Chicken

unnamed

 

Read carefully the above menu description for Five Spice Chicken.  Does this  strike anyone else as weird and unappetizing?  While I’m pleased the chicken is steroid and antibiotic free, what a commentary that we have to write that on a menu description.  All chicken should be steroid and antibiotic free, but the reality is conventionally grown chicken is injected with growth hormones and antibiotics and often tainted with harmful bacteria.  The steroids are used to make them grow quicker and plumper, and the antibiotics are a preventative measure to counteract the problems of being raised in confined quarters on big factory farms.  Furthermore,  conventional chicken feed is loaded with pesticides.  All of this is passed onto us when we eat conventionally raised chicken.

The good news is that we are aware now of these problems and healthier choices do exist.  The many healthy choices you find in a supermarket however, can be overwhelming, confusing, and often without proper varification. Below is a list from Consumer Reports explaining the various labels, which you should find helpful.

Organic: In order to be labeled “USDA Organic,” the chicken had to have been fed not just a vegetarian diet, but a diet that does not include any genetically modified ingredients or toxic synthetic pesticides. It also means that antibiotics can not be used for anything other than medically necessary antibiotics (though some may argue that there are farmers who stretch the boundaries of what is medically necessary). However, chickens can be provided with antibiotics during their first day of life; the drug-free rule kicks in the day after the shell breaks open.

Organic certification, which requires annual inspections, mandates that access to the outdoors be provided for the chickens, but sets no specific standards for the size of the outdoor area, the size of the door leading between inside and outside, or the amount of time the birds spend outdoors.

No antibiotics: These chickens are never given antibiotics, including in the egg. That said, there is no inspection process to verify this label before it is employed.

No hormones: This label can be used on all conventionally raised chickens in the U.S. as the use of hormones in not allowed in the production of chickens for market. So if you see “no hormones” on a label, it just means “chicken.”

Cage-Free: Another label that is just touting the industry minimum, says CR. “No chickens raised for meat in the U.S. are kept in cages. Neither does it mean that the birds have access to the outdoors.”

Free-range: The only difference between conventionally raised chickens and free-range is that the chickens have access of some sort to the outside. Once again, there are no standards for size of the outdoor area or for the door to the outside, and inspections are not required to use this label.

No GMOs: To get the “Non GMO Project Verified” label, the chicken’s feed must be comprised of less than 0.9 percent of genetically modified crops. Verification is required for this label.

Natural: CR dubbed this one “the most misleading label” of the bunch, as more than half of the survey respondents said they believed “natural” meant the chickens didn’t receive antibiotics or chow down on feed containing GMOs. 42% of respondents said they thought the term meant the chickens were raised outdoors, while 1-in-3 said they thought it meant the same as “organic.” The only substantial requirement for “natural” chicken breasts is that they contain no artificial ingredients, but even then there is no process to verify this claim. 

 

If you haven’t already seen it, I urge you to watch Food Inc, an eye-opening documentary exploring the way food has changed in the last 50 years and not necessarily for the better.  It’s well worth the watch.

The bottom line when eating chicken? Eat locally grown and organic whenever possible, as with most foods.

 

Some information compiled from: http://consumerist.com/2013/12/19/organic-chicken-is-different-than-antibiotic-free-and-natural-means-nothing/

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

 

Whenever possible, eating organic food is always preferable.  Organic food is grown without chemical pesticides, may contain more natural antioxidants and nutrients linked to reduced risk for cancer, stroke, and heart disease, and tastes more flavorful.  But, organic food is usually more expensive than conventional food and many people can’t afford it.  While I still maintain you can’t afford not to eat organically (it’s cheaper than the doctor),  I of course understand.  That’s where the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” guidelines developed by the Environmental Working Group come in handy.  The EWG is a non-profit watchdog organization, which uses “the power of public information to protect public health and the environment” and “empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”.

The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides – they contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving – and the ones you should always buy organic. These foods are most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides. They are, starting with the worst:

  • apples
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • celery
  • peaches
  • spinach
  • sweet bell pepper
  • nectarines – imported
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • snap peas – imported
  • potatoes

+ 2 more

  • hot peppers
  • kale/collard greens

 

The Clean 15 are the fifteen fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticides and not necessary to buy organic.  They are, starting with the best:

  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • cabbage
  • sweet peas – frozen
  • onions
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • papaya
  • kiwi
  • eggplant
  • grapefruit
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower

The organic food market is growing and organic foods are now easily found in conventional grocery store chains as well as natural food markets.  To be sure the produce you choose is organic, check the sticker on the fruit or vegetable. If the code number starts with a “9” ,then it is organic.

Next time you go grocery shopping, bring your Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen shopper’s guide.  You’ll find it’s cheaper than you think to eat safely!

Visit the Environmental Working Group website to download the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce and to see their full list of all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data. Their website also contains shopper’s guides to safe cleaning products, safe cosmetics, safe sunscreen and a variety of other important topics.

 

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Information compiled from ewg.org.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 370 other followers