Monday, October 12, 2009
Timely information for me! Perhaps it will be of use to you as well.
Did you know indoor air pollution can actually be more of a problem than outdoor? As the seasons change and youâ€™re warming up inside your home, try these inexpensive solutions.
1. Replacing your standard filter with one that is pleated (increased surface area collects particles more efficiently) and electrostatic (helps capture small particles and allergens) can help clean up forced air from the furnace. Look for a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of ten or higher.
2. Use ventilation fans in the bathroom and kitchen if you have them. High levels of humidity breed mold and mildew. Microscopic particles from these can trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and, in rare cases, lung infection or poisoning. Get rid of mold naturally.
3. Lower VOC (volatile organic compounds) exposure by looking for low VOC paints or paint strippers. VOCs can cause headaches and upper-respiratory health problems as well as liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.
4. Purify with plants, which can remove common chemicals from the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide. These plants actually thrive on them! Peace lilies, bamboo, palm, English ivy, mums, and gerbera daisies are among the top air-purifying plants.
5. Pick cleaning products with care by steering clear of ingredients in air fresheners and cleaning products that are known causes of health problems, including cancer and respiratory ailments, says Samuel Epstein, MD, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. Go with nontoxic products (or make your own cleansers) whenever possible. www.care2.com/greenliving/simple-ste
Sunday, October 11, 2009
On a more positive note now, I love focusing on the foods that have special nourishing qualities. So here goes:
When it comes to cleansing your body of harmful toxins, food really is the best medicine. You'll be amazed to learn that many of your favorite foods also cleanse the body's detoxification organs like the liver, intestines, kidneys, and skin, preventing harmful toxic buildup. Help ward off the harmful effects of pollution, food additives, second-hand smoke, and other toxins with delicious fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and beans.
APPLES. Because apples are high in pectin, a type of fiber that binds to cholesterol and heavy metals in the body, they help eliminate toxic build up and to cleanse the intestines.
AVOCADOS. We rarely think of avocados as a cleansing food but these nutritional powerhouses lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least thirty different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals.
BEETS. Time to whip up some delicious borscht soup since its main ingredient, beets, contain a unique mixture of natural plant compounds that make them superb blood purifiers and liver cleansers.
BLUEBERRIES. Truly one of the most powerful healing foods, blueberries contain natural aspirin that helps lessen the tissue-damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while lessening pain. Blueberries also act as antibiotics by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They also have antiviral properties and help to block toxins from crossing the blood-brain barrier to gain access to the delicate brain.
CABBAGE. Cabbage contains numerous anticancer and antioxidant compounds and helps the liver break down excess hormones. Cabbage also cleanses the digestive tract and neutralizes some of the damaging compounds found in cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke). It also strengthens the liver's ability to detoxify.
CELERY AND CELERY SEEDS. Celery and celery seeds are excellent blood cleansers and contain many different anti-cancer compounds that help detoxify cancer cells from the body. Celery seeds contain over twenty anti-inflammatory substances. It is particularly good for detoxifying substances found in cigarette smoke.
CRANBERRIES. Cleanse your body from harmful bacteria and viruses that may be lingering in your urinary tract with cranberries since they contain antibiotic and antiviral substances.
FLAXSEEDS AND FLAXSEED OIL. Loaded with essential fatty acids, particularly the Omega-3s, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are essential for many cleansing functions throughout the body.
GARLIC. Eat garlic to cleanse harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites and viruses from your body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also helps cleanse build-up from the arteries and has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. Additionally, garlic assists with cleansing the respiratory tract by expelling mucous build-up in the lungs and sinuses. For the health benefits, choose only fresh garlic, not garlic powder, which has virtually none of the above properties.
GRAPEFRUIT. Add a ruby red grapefruit to your breakfast to benefit from pectin fiber that binds to cholesterol, thereby cleansing the blood. Pectin also binds to heavy metals and helps escort them out of the body. It also has antiviral compounds that cleanse harmful viruses out of the body. Grapefruit is an excellent intestinal and liver detoxifier.
KALE. Steam some kale to benefit from its powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds that help cleanse the body of harmful substances. It is also high in fiber, which helps cleanse the intestinal tract. Like cabbage, kale helps neutralize compounds found in cigarette smoke and strengthens liver cleansing.
LEGUMES. Add a handful of cooked beans to your next meal since they loaded with fiber that helps lower cholesterol, cleanses the intestines, and regulates blood sugar levels. Legumes also help protect the body against cancer.
LEMONS. Excellent liver detoxifiers, lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C, a vitamin needed by the body to make an important substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (not the bottled variety) to pure water to support your cleansing efforts on a daily basis.
SEAWEED. Seaweed could be the most underrated vegetable in the western world. Studies at McGill University in Montreal showed that seaweeds bind to radioactive waste in the body. Seaweed also binds to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. In addition, they are powerhouses of minerals and trace minerals.
WATERCRESS. If you haven't tried watercress add this delicious green to your next sandwich since it increases detoxification enzymes and acts on cancer cells in the body. In a study at the Norwich Food Research Centre in the United Kingdom, smokers who were given 170 grams of watercress per day eliminated higher than average amounts of carcinogens in their urine, thereby eliminating them from their body.
Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables assists with detoxifying harmful substances from your body. Who knew cleansing could taste so good?
Michelle Schoffro Cook, RNCP, ROP, DAc, DNM, is a best-selling and six-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, and The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan. Learn more at: www.TheLifeForceDiet.com
Saturday, October 10, 2009
This is important information. Though a bit "long in the tooth" I decided this is an appropriate forum in which to share it, so here goes --
What do strawberries and oysters have in common? Both make the list of the top ten foods responsible for the most outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States. Oysters, okay -- but berries?
A century ago, typhoid fever, tuberculosis and cholera were the common foodborne diseases. Improvements in food safety (think pasteurization, safe canning, disinfection of water supplies) have conquered those diseases -- but a host of other foodborne diseases have stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to take their places. Foodborne disease outbreaks are currently responsible for tens of millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths every year in the United States.
This week the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) published their report of the top ten riskiest foods (FDA Top Ten) overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is responsible for regulating produce, seafood, egg and dairy products, as well as packaged foods such as cookie dough and peanut butter. The FDA regulates nearly 80 percent of the American food supply. From the CSPI, here they are -- followed by precautions from the CDC on how to reduce the risk:
1. LEAFY GREENS: 363 outbreaks involving 13,568 reported cases of illness.
Ouch. Salads and other leafy greens (iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce, escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula or chard) account for 24 percent of all of the outbreaks linked to the FDA Top Ten, the very leaves we're supposed to be eating to improve our health! E. coli accounts for 10 percent of all outbreaks in leafy greens; Norovirus, which is commonly spread by the unwashed hands of an ill handler or consumer was linked to 64 percent of the outbreaks in leafy greens. Salmonella was responsible for nearly 10 percent of the outbreaks.
2. EGGS: 352 outbreaks involving 11,163 reported cases of illness
The overwhelming majority of illnesses from eggs are associated with Salmonella. Regulations for cleaning and inspecting eggs were implemented in the 1970s and have reduced salmonellosis caused by external fecal contamination of egg shells. However, Salmonella enteritidis, the most prevalent type of Salmonella in eggs today, infects the ovaries of otherwise healthy hens and contaminates the eggs before the shells are formed. Notably, final regulations that require the adoption of controls aimed at minimizing Salmonella enteriditis in egg production were issued in July 2009 (and will become effective in 2010 or 2012, depending on producer size), after over a decade of inaction by the federal government. Half of all egg outbreaks occurred from restaurants and other food establishments.
3. TUNA: 268 outbreaks involving 2341 reported cases of illness. Scombroid, the illness caused by scombrotoxin, was by far the most common cause of illness related to tuna dishes, affecting over 2300 people who were reported to have been sickened. Fresh fish decay quickly after being caught and, if stored above 60F degrees, begin to release natural toxins that are dangerous for humans. Adequate refrigeration and handling can slow this spoilage, but the toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking, freezing, smoking, curing, or canning.
Symptoms of scombroid poisoning can include skin flushing, headaches, abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, palpitations, and loss of vision. In addition to scombrotoxin, Norovirus and Salmonella caused illnesses related to tuna consumption, affecting nearly 1000 people. Over 65 percent of outbreaks linked to tuna occurred in restaurants.
4. OYSTERS: 132 outbreaks involving 3409 reported cases of illness
Though they comprise a trivial part of the American diet, tainted oysters are the fourth entry in the FDA Top Ten, responsible for almost 2000 reported illnesses. Not surprisingly, the majority of outbreaks from oysters occurred in restaurants.
Illnesses from oysters occur primarily from two sources: Norovirus and Vibrio. Although Norovirus in other foods is usually associated with improper handling during harvest or preparation, oysters can actually be harvested from waters contaminated with Norovirus. When served raw or undercooked, oysters can cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and small or large intestines.
The most dangerous of the two pathogens found in oysters is Vibrio. This hazard is a type of bacterium in the same family as cholera. The most common strains in the U.S. are V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus, both of which can cause severe disease. In immuno-compromised persons, particularly those with chronic liver disease, V. vulnificus can infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstream infections, called septicemia, are fatal about 50 percent of the time.
5. POTATOES: 108 outbreaks involving 3659 reported cases of illness
Potatoes, often in the form of potato salad, were linked to 108 outbreaks, with more 3600 consumers reported to have been sickened by spuds since 1990.
Potatoes are grown in the soil, but they are always cooked before consuming. Outbreaks are linked to dishes, like potato salad, that can contain many ingredients and also a broad range of pathogens. Salmonella is most common, associated with almost 30 percent of potato outbreaks. E. coli also appears in the potato category, accounting for 6 potato outbreaks. Normally found in animal feces, the presence of Salmonella and E. coli in potato dishes could indicate cross contamination from the raw to the cooked ingredients or possibly from raw meat or poultry during handling and preparation. Shigella and Listeria monocytogenes also appear in outbreaks associated with potatoes. Shigella is easily transmitted from an infected person to a food product, and thus may indicate improper handling during
6. CHEESE: 83 outbreaks involving 2761 reported cases of illness
Cheese products were linked to 83 outbreaks that sickened thousands of consumers since 1990, making it number six of the FDA Top Ten. Salmonella was the most common hazard among cheese products.
Cheese can become contaminated with pathogens during the initial phases of production (curdling, molding, and salting), or later during processing. Most cheeses are now made with pasteurized milk, lowering the risk of contamination with milk-borne pathogens. However, as recently as August 2009, California officials warned consumers about eating Latin American-style cheeses (such as queso fresco, queso oaxaca, and others), which may be made by unlicensed manufacturers using unpasteurized milk that could contain harmful bacteria.
Pregnant women should be particularly cautious about consumption of soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese), which can carry Listeria. Linked to at least four outbreaks from cheese since 1990, listeriosis is vastly under-reported, since overt symptoms of infection can be mild in those who are not particularly at risk. Outbreaks from cheese products occur most frequently in private homes.
7. ICE CREAM: 74 outbreaks involving 2594 reported cases of illness
The largest ice-cream outbreak in history occurred in 1994, when a popular ice cream manufacturer used the same truck to haul raw, unpasteurized eggs and pasteurized ice cream premix. Contaminated with Salmonella en route to the plant, the premix was not pasteurized again before being incorporated into ice cream products. The result: thousands of people sickened in 41 states.
Soft ice cream can be a particular hazard to pregnant women and others who are more susceptible to listeriosis. A particularly hardy bacterium, Listeria can survive on metal surfaces -- such as the interior of soft ice cream machines -- and may contaminate batch after batch of products. Almost half of all ice-cream outbreaks contained in CSPI's database occurred in private homes. This is most likely due to the use of undercooked eggs in homemade ice cream.
8. TOMATOES: 31 outbreaks involving 3292 reported cases of illness
In 2005 and 2006, tomatoes were implicated in four large multistate outbreaks of Salmonella, sickening hundreds of people across the country. Tomatoes may have been wrongly implicated in a sweeping 2008 outbreak (later linked to fresh jalapeno and serrano peppers), tomatoes have caused at least 31 identified outbreaks since 1990. The most common hazard associated with tomatoes is Salmonella, which accounted for over half of the reported outbreaks. Salmonella can enter tomato plants through roots or flowers and can enter the tomato fruit through small cracks in the skin, the stem scar, or the plant itself. Once inside, destruction of Salmonella without cooking the tomato is very difficult. Norovirus was the second-most common hazard. Restaurants were responsible for 70 percent of all illnesses associated with tomatoes.
9. SPROUTS: 31 outbreaks involving 2022 reported cases of illness
Raw and lightly cooked sprouts have been recognized as a source of foodborne illness in the U.S. since the 1990s. Since 1999, CDC and FDA have recommended that persons at high risk for complications of infection with Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7, such as the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems, not eat raw sprouts. Although FDA has provided guidance to sprout producers to enhance the safety of sprout products, these commodities are still causing problems.
Notably, FDA has been encouraged to mandate consumer warning labels for sprouts. These labels would warn high-risk consumers about the dangers of raw sprout consumption. While it requires similar warnings for other high-risk foods (such as unpasteurized juice and raw oysters), FDA has not moved forward to mandate sprout warnings.
10. BERRIES: 25 outbreaks involving 3397 reported cases of illness
In 1997, over 2.6 million pounds of contaminated strawberries were recalled after thousands of students across several states reported illnesses from eating frozen strawberries in their school lunches. Hepatitis A was the culprit, and contamination may have occurred through an infected worker at a farm in Baja California, Mexico. That same year, raspberries imported from Guatemala and Chile were implicated in an outbreak of Cyclospora across five states. Most of these illnesses, affecting 2700 consumers, were caused by Cyclospora in berries. The resulting infection is a parasitic illness of the intestines, which can cause severe diarrhea, dehydration, and stomach cramps. Importantly, the illness does not resolve itself without antibiotics, thus requiring a trip to the doctor.
What can consumers do to protect themselves from foodborne illness? Follow these precautions form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
COOK meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. For example, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate one food with another. Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather back on one that held the raw meat.
CHILL: Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours. Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.
CLEAN: Wash produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours. Don't be a source of foodborne illness yourself. Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food. Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness. Changing a baby's diaper while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.
REPORT: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local health department. The local public health department is an important part of the food safety system. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public health official contacts you to find our more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people. Your cooperation may be needed even if you are not ill.
SPEAK UP with Care2: The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed bipartisan food safety reform legislation in July 2009 that would update the law and strengthen the system: Now the Senate must act. Your Senators have the opportunity to change course and help protect children, families, senior citizens and all others from foodborne illness. Tell your Senators it is time to pass strong food safety legislation now! You can also ask Prime Minister Harper to fix the food safety deficit in Canada (open to all).
Friday, October 09, 2009
I've been seriously missing Keith's presence here in this community. This poem is dedicated to him, whose impassioned cries for justice speak to my soul, just as Michael Hartnett does. It's also true that Keith has chronic insomnia, so on a more mundane level, this exquisite piece has meaning for him as well!
A PRAYER FOR SLEEP
Grant me one good rest tonight, O Lord;
let no creatures prowl
the tangled pathways in my skull:
wipe out all wars,
throw guilt a bone;
let me dream, if I dream at all,
no child of Yours has come to harm.
I know, of course, that death's the norm,
that there are people who have yet to climb
the Present's rungs, who lag behind
(hyenas at the rim of civilization's light),
whose laughing hides a Stone Age howl,
who wait till darkness comes to pounce
and tear the guts of progress out.
Yet, grant me good rest tonight, my Lord,
blind my internal eyes;
guard my anxious baffled years
with Your protecting arm
and let me dream, if I dream at all,
no child of Yours has come to harm.
~ Michael Hartnett ~
tt_%28poet%29 -- a little bio on Hartnett
"Lord" to me is the enlivening presence within; that which propels us to seek the Good and to reach out to others.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
OK, this poem simply burst into my heart this morning, begging to be shared...and so here it is...in all its outrageousness. Sufi poetry (Hafiz, Rumi, Kabir, etc.) is not for everyone, but oh how it resonates with my heart and soul.
Hafiz is Sufi, the mystical arm of Islam which is universal in nature, those crazy-wisdom teachers, including the whirling dervishes. Remembrance of the Divine is the most basic teaching and practice of Sufism.
I have a deep *knowingness* that if I can somehow intuitively learn to move to a rhythm closer to the pulsing of the universe, my mind and body and spirit will align with it and I will be healthy and at peace in all ways in spite of outer circumstances. Ahhhhhhhhhhh....
OUT OF GOD'S HAT
The stars poured into the sky
Out of a Magician's hat last night,
And all of them have fallen into my hair.
Some have even tangled my eyelashes
Into luminous, playful knots.
You are welcome to cut a radiant tress
That lays upon my shoulders.
Wrap it around your trembling heart and body
That craves divine comfort and warmth.
I am like a pitcher of milk
In the hands of a mother who loves you.
All of my contents now
Have been churned into dancing suns and moons.
Lean your sweet neck and mouth
Out of that dark nest where you hide,
I will pour effulgence into your mind.
You can find me rolling in the fields
They are exploding in
Of scents, of sounds - everything is
A brilliant colored nova on a stem.
Forest animals hear me laughing
And surrender their deepest instincts and fears,
They come charging into meadows
To lick my hands and face,
This makes me so happy,
I become so happy
That my rising wink turns into a magic baton.
When my soft-eyed creatures see that wonderful signal
We all burst into singing
And make strange and primal beautiful sounds!
My only regret in this world then becomes:
That your shyness keeps you from placing
Your starving body against God
And seeing the Beloved become so pleased
With your courage
That his belly begins to rock and rock,
Then more planets get to leap
Onto the welcome mat of existence
Of your previous love.
The Friend has turned my verse into sacred pollen.
When a breeze comes by
Falcons and butterflies
And playful gangs of young angels
Mounted on emerald spears
Take flight from me like a great sandstorm
That can blind you to all but the Truth!
Even if you have no net to catch Venus
My music will circle this earth for hundreds of years
And fall like resplendent debris,
Holy seed, onto a fertile woman.
Wants to help you laugh at your every
Wants you to know
Your life within God's arms,
Your dance within God's
(The Gift -- versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)
And for those interested:
The whirling dervish is a mystical dancer who stands between the material and cosmic worlds. His dance is part of a sacred ceremony in which the dervish rotates in a precise rhythm. He represents the earth revolving on its axis while orbiting the sun. The purpose of the ritual whirling is for the dervish to empty himself of all distracting thoughts, placing him in trance; released from his body he conquers dizziness.
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