Health, Science

Genetic Modification: What’s the big deal?

Read my latest guest post on farmfoodieandfitness.com, know what you are eating!

 

Farm, Foodie & Fitness

Genetically Modified Food: Should we be eating it?

Attempts to increase nutritional benefits and productivity of food crops with genetic modification have been made, but in reality the two main traits that have had widespread use to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. Herbicide tolerance lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it. Crops such as Bt cotton produce pesticides inside the plant. This kills or deters insects, in hopes of saving the farmer from having to spray pesticides. The plants themselves are toxic, and not just to insects. Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after harvest, saw thousands in their sheep herds die. These crops have resulted in great economic benefit to the companies that have now been allowed to put a patent on nature while farmers and the environment…

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Poetry

Out of your darkness

my best enemy, my worst friend

my best enemy, my worst friend (Photo credit: eggrole)

 

Jeopardizing everything

 

to stand by your side

 

& for what?

 

Only for you to use my friendship

 

for your advancement

 

and my downfall

 

Isn’t a true friend there

 

to lift you up,

 

not drag you down?

 

The blinders have been removed

 

but why did it take so long?

 

Now I am left with the decision

 

where to go from

 

here

 

Still questioning why it took

 

so long to see

 

the light

 

while hidden in your darkness

 

But you-you must remain

 

for you must find your

 

own way to the light

 

The realization that a dear friend has become toxic

 

©Ellice Campbell 2013

 

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Health

Natural Prescription: Stress

Stress

Stress (Photo credit: topgold)

When you’re stressed, regardless of the source of the stress, your body releases hormones that produce the stress response commonly known as the “fight-or-flight response. This response allows energy to flow to parts of the body that need to take action, like the muscles. However useful this response may be in the event of a life threatening situation, when the body remains in a stress state for a long time, emotional or physical damage can occur.

There are three types of stress: physical, psychological, and psychosocial. Physical stress involves stressors from the environment like noise or pollution. Psychological stress is the reaction to a perceived threat, whether real or imaginary. Psychosocial stress is stress resulting from interpersonal relationships, the conflicts of these relationships, or the lack of social interaction.

Long-term or chronic stress may actually weaken the body’s ability to fight off illness and makes it more vulnerable to serious disease. Additionally, chronic stress may result in recurrent headaches, stomach ache, and a shorter lifespan. Research into stress has found that it is not always the major life events that cause the most damage, but sometimes the mere accumulation of minor hassles, like the traffic jam on the way to work or the unexpected house guest, that can cause problems. Thankfully, attitude, perception, and the way that stressful events are handled, proves more important than the events themselves, and this resilience may help deflect the ill effects of stress.

In the past 30 years, there has been considerable interest in the relaxation response and how inducing this state may counteract the negative effects of stress. Research has focused primarily on illness and conditions in which stress may play a role either as the cause of the condition or as a factor that can make the condition worse, as has been found with asthma. Relaxation is more than a state of mind; it physically changes the way your body functions. When your body is relaxed breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, and some people report an increased sense of well-being. This is called the “relaxation response.” Being able to produce the relaxation response using relaxation techniques may counteract the effects of long-term stress, which may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention to calm the mind and the body. Most methods require only brief instruction from a book or experienced practitioner before they can be done without assistance. These techniques may be most effective when practiced regularly and combined with good nutrition, regular exercise, and a strong social support system. For further guidance on relaxation techniques, please visit, http://enlightenedlotuswellness.com/2012/07/11/pocket-guide-to-modern-stress-relief/

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Management

Biofeedback -assisted relaxation uses electronic devices to teach you how to consciously produce the relaxation response. Biofeedback is sometimes used to relieve conditions that are caused or worsened by stress. Please visit, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/biofeedback/MY01072 for additional information.

Deep breathing or breathing exercises. To relax using this method, you consciously slow your breathing and focus on taking regular and deep breaths.

Visualization. For this technique, you focus on pleasant images to replace negative or stressful feelings and relax. Visualization may be directed by you or a practitioner through storytelling or descriptions designed to suggest mental images.

Progressive relaxation. (Aka Jacobson’s progressive relaxation or progressive muscle relaxation). For this method, you focus on tightening and relaxing each muscle group. Progressive relaxation is often combined with guided imagery and breathing exercises.

Self-Hypnosis. In self-hypnosis you produce the relaxation response with a phrase or nonverbal cue. Self-hypnosis may be used to relieve pain as well as to treat anxiety and limiting beliefs. For free self-hypnosis MP3s visit, http://www.josephclough.com/

As with any complimentary or alternative therapy, do not use relaxation techniques as a replacement for conventional care or to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem.

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Alternative Medicine

Natural Prescription: High Blood Pressure

English: Blood pressure measurement.

Blood pressure measurement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the most prevalent vascular diseases worldwide. Elevated blood pressure increases risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease. If you have elevated blood pressure and want to avoid a lifetime of medication, there are dietary and lifestyle changes you can make now to reduce your blood pressure without prescription medications.

For adults over the age of 50, research findings show, the risks of developing cardiovascular disease doubles for every 20 points systolic pressure goes up and for every 10 points diastolic pressure goes up. Prehypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 or a diastolic pressure between 80 and 89. It is meant to identify adults who are at high risk for developing hypertension. Luckily, many with high blood pressure fall into the prehypertension to moderate range and blood pressure can be brought under control with diet and lifestyle changes. In fact, non-drug therapies are preferred over medications to treat borderline to moderate hypertension since many of these medications have significant risks associated with taking them such as fatigue, headaches and impotence.

Lifestyle factors that can contribute to elevated blood pressure include, coffee consumption, alcohol intake, and lack of consistent physical activity, stress, and smoking cigarettes. Dietary factors that have been found to influence the development of hypertension are high-salt and sugar intake, low intake of essential fatty-acids, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. The biggest contributing factor though is obesity, so achieving your ideal body weight is the single-most important thing you could do to avoid developing severe hypertension.

Dietary Recommendations:

Reduce salt and sugar intake by reducing consumption of processed foods and incorporating more “whole” foods. The large amount of salt in the American diet, an estimated 6 to 15 grams of salt per day, is largely a result of increased processed food intake.

Increase your potassium intake- Research has shown that reducing sodium intake alone does not have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure, but rather low sodium intake and high potassium intake is more effective. To boost potassium levels, increase intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The DASH diet study has shown that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods and foods with reduced saturated fat and total fat can lower blood pressure substantially.

Eat more celery– Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that the compound 3-n-butyl phthalide, found in celery can lower blood pressure 12-14%. To use celery therapeutically, adults should eat 4 ribs of celery daily.

Incorporate more of these foods- Nuts and seeds for the essential fatty acid content, garlic and onions for their sulfur-containing compounds, cold water fish like salmon or mackerel, green leafy vegetables for their calcium and magnesium, whole grains and legumes for their fiber, and foods high in vitamin C like citrus fruits and broccoli.

Try Honey water- According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, honey water helps to reduce cholesterol, maintains vasodilation, and helps to regulate blood pressure. To make honey water, add 1 teaspoon of honey and 5 to 10 drops of apple cider vinegar to a cup of hot water, drink first thing in the morning.

Lifestyle Recommendations:

Relax- Tension and stress are major contributing factors to high blood pressure. Learn deep breathing techniques, meditate, or try yoga. When combined with dietary interventions, stress reduction is an important component in a natural blood-pressure lowering regime.

Consistent Physical Activity-Engage in regular aerobic physical activity, like brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. If your blood pressure is elevated you should not engage in weight lifting or vigorous exercise without guidance from a physician.

Limit alcohol consumption-limiting alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women has also been shown effective in reducing blood pressure.

Supplementation Recommendations:

For Mild Hypertension:

Vitamin C: 500-1000 mg three times per day

Vitamin E: 400-800 IU per day

Magnesium: 800-1200 mg per day

Flaxseed oil: 1 tbsp. per day

For Moderate Hypertension:

Include the recommendations for mild hypertension listed above as well as:

Coenzyme Q10: 50 mg two to three times a day

Hawthorn Extract: (10% procyanidins or 1.8% vitexin-4’-rhamnoside) 100-250 mg per day

Follow these guidelines for one to three months. If blood pressure has not dropped below 140/105, you will need to consult your physician to select appropriate medications. If a prescription drug is necessary to treat your hypertension, calcium-channel blockers or ACE-inhibitors appear to be the safest choice.

©Ellice Campbell 2013

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Parenting

Fight Childhood Obesity by Teaching Healthy Eating Behaviors

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)

 

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Obesity is the result of too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed, and can be affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Obese adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes. Additionally, children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Obesity increases the risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

 

The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, child care settings,  faith-based institutions,  the media, and the food and beverage industries and entertainment industries. Regardless of age, everyone needs the same nutrients, just in varying amounts. The responsibility to teach children how to make healthy food choices largely falls on the parents, and as any parent can attest, this proves a daunting task.

 

Healthy Eating for Toddlers & Preschoolers

 

After the first year of life, children’s growth slows and they require less food. When planning portions for this age group a good rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of food for every year of age. It is better to serve a small amount of food and allow them to ask for more than to overwhelm them with a large initial portion. Children thrive on routine and will do best when following a regular eating schedule.  It is always best when children learn to eat what the rest of the family is eating instead of being provided with a special meal, keep in mind however when new foods are introduced, it may take up to 10 times of the food being introduced and tasted for the new item to be accepted. With this in mind, children may be more accepting of new foods when they are introduced with a familiar favorite, so include food that you know the child will eat at each meal. Children are less likely to accept foods that were introduced during a negative meal situation, so making meal time an enjoyable family affair reinforces positive eating behaviors. Parental modeling may be the most influential factor when children are learning what to eat, so be sure you are practicing the good eating behaviors you would like your children to adopt.  Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is imperative in establishing healthy eating patterns for life and involving young children in planting and growing vegetables is an excellent way to draw the child’s interest healthy eating. This period of growth is a wonderful time to begin to establish physical activity habits. Physical fitness established at an early age can lower the risk that the child will become overweight or obese.

 

Obesity Campaign Poster

 

6-12 Years of Age

 

This stage is often referred to as the “latent time of growth” because the rate of growth slows and changes occur more gradually. This is also the period when inappropriate concepts of body image may take root, leading to chronic dieting or eating disorders. While energy needs may decline slightly, the quality of the diet is imperative to provide the necessary nutrition essential to school performance and physical demands and should focus on real, whole foods and limiting the amount of refined and processed foods. The school and home environments should be conducive to assisting these children in making appropriate food and activity choices.

 

Adolescents

 

The growth experienced during this can vary from child to child and metabolic rate as well as food needs will vary.  The quantity as well as the quality of the food choices is also important during this period of rapid growth. Adequate supplies of iron, zinc, calcium and essential vitamins are important to fuel the changes in body size and development.  Despite the critical nutritional needs during this stage, dietary surveys indicate that of all different age groups, adolescents have the poorest diets. It is important to stress to teens that healthy eating behaviors along with consistent physical activity can help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, provide energy to meet the demands of school and work, and will increase the overall sense of well-being.

 

©Ellice Campbell 2013

 

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Pregnancy

Pregnancy & Chemical Exposure

Bisphenol A Exposure During Pregnancy

Todays society is bombarded with an array of chemicals daily, often the harmful effects are unknown until the chemical causes health problems. One of these chemicals, Bisphenol A (BPA) is a widespread endocrine-disrupting chemical used as the base compound in the manufacturing of some plastics, it is often used in food and beverage packaging. BPA exposure has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. While exposure to these chemicals is never ideal the effects that they could have on mother and fetus needs to be explored further.

Chemical structure of bisphenol A.

Chemical structure of bisphenol A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A study conducted to examine the action of environmentally relevant doses on BPA on glucose metabolism in mice during pregnancy and the impact of BPA exposure on the females later in life. The authors of the study also investigated the consequences of in utero exposure to BPA on metabolic parameters and pancreatic function in the offspring. The study found that BPA exposure during gestation had long-term consequences for the mothers, at four months postpartum, treated females weighed more than untreated females and had higher plasma insulin, leptin, triglyceride, and glycerol levels and greater insulin resistance.  As for the male offspring, at six months of age, the males exposed in utero had reduced glucose tolerance, increase insulin resistance, and altered blood parameters compared with the offspring of unexposed mothers. (Alonso-Magdalena, et al., 2010).

The “developmental” or “fetal” origin of adult disease hypothesis states that environmental factors act early in life to program the risks of developing chronic diseases in adult life. In this study, the metabolic effects observed in mice prenatally exposed to BPA may be due to two factors: abnormal hormonal environment and altered glucose metabolism. This is most likely because the fetus is exposed to altered maternal metabolism since BPA crosses the placenta and because glucose tolerance, insulin, and leptin signaling during gestation are important for fetal growth. This study concluded that the test results suggest that the endocrine disruptor BPA should be evaluated as a possible risk factor for gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease associated with metabolic syndrome. The findings also suggest that fetal exposure predisposed males to type 2 diabetes in adulthood. (Alonso-Magdalena, et al., 2010)

Too often consumers do not research the products they use or the potential health risks that they pose. This study showed how even exposure during gestation could predispose males to health problems as adults. BPA has been used in the past in products such as baby bottles and sippy cups, while this practice is slowly changing, the FDA still regards BPA as safe. Consumers have the power to change this practice and to demand products that are safe and do not pose such health risks.


References

Alonso-Magdalena, P., Vieira, E., Soriano, S., Menes, L., Burks, D., Quesada, I., & Nadal, A.. (2010). Bisphenol A Exposure during Pregnancy Disrupts Glucose Homeostasis in Mothers and Adult Male OffspringEnvironmental Health Perspectives, 118(9), 1243-50.  Retrieved April 8, 2011, from Health Module. (Document ID: 2150863971).

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©Ellice Campbell 2013

 

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Poetry, The Wonder Years
ellice.campbell

I took this on the way to St. Mary’s Glacier in Colorado

promises are always

broken

words are never meant

enemies are always

remembered,

it’s the friends you

seem to forget

time goes on forever

as life passes you

by

you never forget

the pain

no matter how hard

you try

and the times that remind

you of the past

May always break your heart

tears will always fill your eyes

but then a new day will start.

I wrote this 6/12/1992 a mere three years before I graduated high school.

©Ellice Campbell 2013

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A New Day

Aside