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March 4, 2014 · Reality · No Comments
Posted in: Avoiding the Fast Food Industry, The Enviornment

Super Food – Flax Seeds

Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.

Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased. Flaxseed is what’s used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:

Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.

The Health Benefits of Flax

Although Lilian Thompson, PhD, an internationally known flaxseed researcher from the University of Toronto, says she wouldn’t call any of the health benefits of flax “conclusively established,” research indicates that flax may reduce risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.

Cancer

Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.

In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.

The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Thompson says some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.

Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.

Cardiovascular Disease

Research suggests that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. Fitzpatrick says new research also suggests significant blood pressure-lowering effects of flaxseed. Those effects may be due to both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the amino acid groups found in flaxseed.

Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flaxseed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings.

“Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%,” Fitzpatrick says.

Because plant omega-3s may also play a role in maintaining the heart’s natural rhythm, they may be useful in treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. More research is needed on this.

Eating flaxseed daily may also help your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A study of menopausal women showed a decrease in LDL level after the women ate 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day for a year. Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol-lowering effects of flaxseed are the result of the combined benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans.

Diabetes

Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).

Inflammation

Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson’s disease and asthma) by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents, Fitzpatrick says.

ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. And studies in animals have found that lignans can decrease levels of several pro-inflammatory agents.

Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attack and strokes.
Hot Flashes

One study of menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half. The intensity of their hot flashes also dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.

But another study reported no significant reduction in hot flashes between postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients eating a bar containing 410 milligrams of phytoestrogens from ground flaxseed and women eating a placebo bar.

The results, says Thompson, are consistent with other studies that have shown no siginifcant difference in the effect on hot flashes between flaxseed and placebo.

Flaxseed Isn’t a Magic Bullet

It’s tempting to think of flaxseed as a super food because of its many potential health benefits. But keep in mind there is no magic food or nutrient that guarantees improved health.

What matters is consistently making great dietary choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Who Shouldn’t Use Flaxseed?

Until more is known, Thompson says, pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flaxseed.

“Our own animal studies showed that flaxseed exposure during these stages may be protective against breast cancer in the offspring. But a study of another investigator showed the opposite effect,” Thompson says.
Tips for Using Flaxseed

Many experts believe it’s better to consume flaxseed than flax oil (which contains just part of the seed) so you get all the components. But stay tuned as researchers continue to investigate.

Thompson says, “Ground flaxseed, in general, is a great first choice, but there may be specific situations where flax oil or the lignans (taken in amounts naturally found in flaxseed) might be as good.”

How much flaxseed do you need? The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. But 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada.

Here are more tips for using, buying, and storing flaxseed:

Buy it ground or grind it yourself. Flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components. If you want to grind flaxseed yourself, those little electric coffee grinders seem to work best.
Milled = ground = flax meal. Don’t be confused by the different product names for ground flaxseed. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
Buy either brown or golden flaxseed. Golden flaxseed is easier on the eyes, but brown flaxseed is easier to find in most supermarkets. There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
Find it in stores or on the Internet. Many supermarket chains now carry ground flaxseed (or flax meal). It’s usually in the flour or “grain” aisle or the whole-grain cereal section and is often sold in 1-pound bags. You can also find it in health food stores or order it on various web sites.
Check the product label. When buying products containing flaxseed, check the label to make sure ground flaxseed, not whole flaxseed, was added. Flaxseed is a featured ingredient in cereals, pasta, whole grain breads and crackers, energy bars, meatless meal products, and snack foods.
Add flaxseed to a food you habitually eat. Every time you have a certain food, like oatmeal, smoothies, soup, or yogurt, stir in a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just do it.
Hide flaxseed in dark, moist dishes. The dishes that hide flaxseed the best are dark sauces or meat mixtures. No one tends to notice flaxseed when it’s stirred into enchilada casserole, chicken parmesan, chili, beef stew, meatloaf, or meatballs. For a 4-serving casserole, you can usually get away with adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed. For a dish serving 6 to 8, use 4 to 8 tablespoons.
Use it in baking. Substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flour with ground flaxseed if the recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour.
Keep it in the freezer. The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Freeze pre-ground flaxseed in the bag you bought it in or in a plastic sealable bag if you ground it yourself. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.
Whole flaxseed keeps longer. The outside shell in whole flaxseed appears to keep the fatty acids inside well protected. It’s a good idea to keep your whole flaxseed in a dark, cool place until you grind it. But as long as it is dry and of good quality, whole flaxseed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.

Flaxseed Recipe

Ready to try flaxseed? Here’s a recipe to get you started from The Flax Cookbook: Recipes and Strategies for Getting The Most from The Most Powerful Plant on the Planet.

Fruity Flaxseed Muffins

These moist and high-flavor flax muffins are not only good for you, but they taste great too.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice, canned

1/2 cup finely chopped apples (with peel)

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 large egg, higher omega-3 if available, beaten lightly

2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)

1 cup fat free sour cream

1/4 cup dark molasses

1/2 cup raisins, currants (or any other dried fruit, chopped)

1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup ground flaxseed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Coat inside of liners with a quick squirt of canola cooking spray.
In large mixing bowl, beat together the pineapple with juice, apples, canola oil, egg, egg whites or egg substitute, sour cream, and molasses until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in raisins or dried fruit.
In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flaxseed.
Add flaxseed mixture to sour cream mixture, beating on low speed just until combined (batter will be a little lumpy). Spoon batter by 1/4 cupful into prepared muffin pan.
Bake in center of preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch.

Yield: 12 muffins

Nutritional Analysis: Per muffin: 194 calories, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, .8 g saturated fat, 2.1 g monounsaturated fat, 2.6 g polyunsaturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g fiber, 224 mg sodium, 1.7 g omega-3 fatty acids. Calories from fat: 28%.

Recipe reprinted with permission.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

February 18, 2013 · Reality · No Comments
Posted in: Super Foods

NASTY WASTE FACTS! FREAK OUT!

Fast food Litter:

McDonald’s waste makes up largest proportion of fast food litter on streets.
Wrappers and cups from McDonald’s meals make up nearly a third of fast food litter on our streets.

A study in 10 cities over two days in the first attempt to discover which brand names were most commonly discarded.
McDonald’s waste makes up largest proportion of litter on streets.
Wrappers and cups from Mcdonald’s meals make up the largest proportion of litter on the streets, according to the new survey.

Fast food litter was second to cigarette ends in littering the country’s streets and 29 per cent of that was from McDonald’s restaurants, followed by boxes and cups from other fast food shops. Followed by Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway and a number of coffee brands.

Fast food companies should be doing more to ensure that the country’s streets were tidier.

  • Reduce unnecessary packaging.
  • Make eating inside their restaurants a more attractive option.
  • Encourage customers to use a bin.
  • Offer discounts to people who returned packaging and provide more bins.
  • “We condemn litterers for dropping this fast food litter in the first place but, also believe the results have pertinent messages for the fast food industry. McDonald’s, KFC and Subway, and the coffee shops need to do more to discourage littering by their customers.”

    The most shocking statistic is the fact that the waste generated by the fast food industry outweighs the food product by an average of 3 to 1. That does not include the waste produced by the factory farms in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere which are raising extremely poor quality, unhealthy animals in absolutely horrid conditions. The feces and runoff has actually destroyed the Eco-system in several areas.

    So again we ask, why would you eat this stuff? Some say, because it tastes good and is cheap.
    Taste is a matter of “training your taste buds”. You can stomach anything with practice. Here is a great stat: 92% of the people in a third party test that were not allowed to eat fast food for six months could not stomach the taste afterward! Some even became sick just because of the smell and could not bring themselves to eat the so called “food product” from the fast food “restaurant”.

    Cost? Fast food in not cheaper and those who think so are living in denial. A $2.50 pound of hamburger from the grocery store will make up to 8 hamburgers. Typically 4 to 6. A bag of fries $3.00. Buns $2.00. Feed four people a MUCH HEALTHIER 1/4lb burger and way more fries for under $2.00 each. But where’s the cheese? Cheese, ketchup, mustard lettuce, onions all go a long way and can be added for an extra ~20 cents which puts cost right around $2.00! Logic also prevails here. The fast food product HAS TO BE INFERIOR or they could not cover overhead on stores, payroll, insurance and other operating costs. Think about it!
    Number one issue is laziness and people making excuses. THERE ARE NO VALID EXCUSES TO EAT FAST FOOD! WAKE UP!

    The scenario above is the DIRECT result of cost reduction. Would you like to know about the long term costs and health issues?
    After all, fast food is harming more people than S.T.D’s., Smoking, Firearms and Traffic Accidents combined!

    Excuse number 1: Wah, I don’t have the time to cook! That’s a tough problem, right? Cook up the burgers when you have the time and throw them in the freezer. Nuke-em and enjoy or throw in your lunch bag. Problem solved and time saved is monumental! How long did you wait at that drive through again, engine running, eating gas, polluting the air for one meal per person? Hmm, seems like a no brainer! Same with breakfast. Pancakes just rock out of the freezer into the toaster or microwave! BREW YOUR OWN COFFEE! Save $700 annually alone! Enough for a cruise for two! Or would you rather line the pockets of a faceless executive somewhere so he can fill the 200 gallon gas tank on his yacht?

    The U.S. health care system is in BIG trouble. People continually point fingers at our government and leaders. Remember this, when you point your finger, there are three pointing back at you! The truth is, our health care system became overwhelmed with diseases related to poor diet at a rate DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE GROWTH OF THE FAST FOOD INDUSTRY! The United States health care financial problem is caused by the fast food industry PERIOD!

    How about taxpayer dollars to clean up all the litter. What about the impact on the environment? What about the clearing of rainforests to raise cattle in sub standard conditions to support the industry? What about the tribes of indigenous people ousted from their land where they lived for hundreds of years so factory farms can be built? Want to talk about cost now? BE PART OF THE SOLUTION! Teach your children to be healthy, not corporate puppets! Would you rather eat real food or be fed by a clown?

    February 15, 2013 · Reality · No Comments
    Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: The Enviornment

    Factory Farms – Sick Animals Make Sick People

    Here is a quote from the creator or our organization, James Conzett.

    “I was raised in Ohio in the 60’s and early 70’s. Surrounded by farmlands of family farms that have been there for generations. For twelve years I had never known anyone to be seriously ill or overweight. There was no “fast food”, the phrase was not even coined yet. My first experience with fast food was a place called the Red Barn. Then there was Arby’s which, at the time, used a real piece of roast beef on a slicer not some pre-formed “mystery meat” beef product. Then there was a McDonalds which, I never liked as the burgers did not taste like real beef. I did like the fries. After being raised on farm fresh food, my taste buds knew “real” food -vs- processed but, I really did not care why, I was a kid. Even the Bob Evans up there used locally farmed produce and animals.

    NOT ANY MORE! I re-visited Ohio a couple decades later. MOST ALL the family farms were gone. Forced into bankruptcy by the fast food industries’ factory farms. There were fast food restaurants, fat kids and three hospitals within ten miles of each other where once, there were none. The economy was going down the drain and the health problems were intensifying. I knew then, before it was “trendy” that the fast food industry was a very bad thing. Now, another couple decades later, I see far worse. What I find even more disgusting is the fact that people just don’t care and will even defend the places responsible for the demise of our health, health care system and environment. Ignorance is bliss I guess. Big fat, unhealthy, expensive bliss. Well, I cannot turn my head to this serious issue.

    It does not even take an education to realize when a factory “food” manufacturing industry, like McDonalds, generates THREE TIMES the weight of waste to “food product” that there is a problem. Adding to the problem is the health issues derived from eating the product that these industries have labeled “food”.
    The same people who complain about our governments health care financial woes will do so while sitting at a drive through. Guess what? YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! Stop supporting the industry that is killing you, your planet and your kids!

    I started this organization to raise awareness to all aboard our planets fragile ecosystem. I have found that many people just do not know the facts. So, would you rather be fed by a farmer or a clown? The choice is yours.”

    February 14, 2013 · Reality · No Comments
    Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Avoiding the Fast Food Industry

    Poor Diet Kills More Than Smoking & Firearms

    (From a 2004 article) Poor diet and physical inactivity are overtaking smoking as the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths in the United States, federal officials reported Tuesday.

    The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 400,000 deaths in the United States in 2000 could be attributed to poor eating and exercise habits, coming close to tying tobacco as the leading cause of avoidable deaths.

    Smoking deaths have essentially leveled out, and deaths tied to such culprits as alcohol, illicit drug use, sexual behavior and firearms have declined over the past decade. But against that backdrop, the obesity problem is strikingly different.

    “This is tragic,” Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC‘s director and an author of the study at the time, told reporters. “Our worst fears were confirmed.” She was joined by Tommy Thompson, secretary of health and human services, at a Washington, D.C., news briefing to call attention to the new cause-of-death study.

    In response to the findings, Thompson revealed a new public-health ad campaign to heighten awareness of the health benefits of walking, while the National Institutes of Health proposed a new research agenda to tackle the obesity problem.

    Many experts, however, said tougher measures might be needed to turn the grim numbers around.

    About half of all deaths in 2000 were tied to “largely preventable behaviors and exposures,” the CDC analysis concluded. Technically, smoking remained the No. 1 preventable killer in 2000, the “actual cause” of about 435, 000 deaths, up from 400,000 in 1990.

    The toll from poor diet and physical inactivity increased by about a third — to 400,000 deaths in 2000 from 300,000 deaths in 1990. But the figure might be even worse than the study suggests.

    Although the statisticians said they chose a more conservative approach for their published findings, they said diet deficiencies and sedentary lifestyles could be causing as many as 500,000 deaths each year, or about the same as the annual cancer toll.

    The new study appears in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association. A commentary in the medical journal demands a stronger “social commitment” to put the nation on a slimmer path.

    “Sometime within the last 10 or 15 years the obesity epidemic has really started to take full flight,” said Dr. J. Michael McGinnis of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, co-author of the commentary as well as the original 1990 analysis upon which the latest study was modeled.

    “Our policies haven’t caught up,” he said. “It isn’t enough anymore just to say, ‘This is the problem. People need to eat better and exercise better.’ We need to address the environmental influences and everything that goes into social behavior.”

    Smoking rates have peaked and even begun declining in some population groups. Experts attribute the trend to such factors as higher cigarette taxes, indoor smoking bans — soon to extend to the area outside the CDC’s own headquarters in Atlanta — and relentless anti-smoking ad campaigns.

    While obesity has been getting more attention lately as a public health issue, perceptions may lag the body counts. Some analysts, including McGinnis, have called for more potent measures to tackle the problem, such as tough nutrition labeling rules and insurance premiums with incentives to lose weight.

    The Bush administration has resisted some of the more sweeping proposals, and Tuesday’s announcements did little to change the perception that nothing far-reaching was in the works.

    Even though more is being done to get the obesity health message across, it’s proving to be a tough sell. Some specialists in analyzing risk-taking behavior say this is only to be expected given the different ways people perceive dangers.

    “Chronic deaths don’t scare us as much as deaths that happen catastrophically, all at once, like in a plane crash,” said David Ropeik, a spokesman for the Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health.

    People are also skilled at tuning out what they don’t want to hear about behaviors from which they derive immediate gratification, even if it means being at greater risk for disease in years ahead.

    “We get a benefit from being obese,” Ropeik noted. “All those fries we get to have, taking a nap and watching a ballgame on the weekend instead of working outside in the garden, the extra dessert, the burgers, the beer — we are certainly getting a benefit, and so we play down the risk in our mind if we get a benefit.”

    Local health officials said they were well aware of the scale of the problem.

    “The statistics here don’t surprise me at all,” said Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “We’ve known for some time that physical inactivity has a tremendous burden of disease in this country. Our society has evolved to the point that you don’t even have to get up anymore to switch TV channels.”

    The big challenge raised by the new findings is “getting people to be responsible for their own health,” Katz said. The interventions may be as simple as walking instead of taking the elevator at work — as signs exhort people to do in the San Francisco Health Department lobby.

    Katz said policies need to change to encourage a leaner society, including tax and other incentives for walking or bicycling. “Right now,” Katz noted, “we subsidize driving.”

    February 14, 2013 · Reality · No Comments
    Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: The Enviornment