Creativity Slump? Exercise To Inspiration

Are you hurting from writers block? Maybe there is something you wish to start creatively and you cannot figure out where to begin? Or maybe you are a professional artist who has hit a low and cannot find the right inspiration to foster your creativity?

Researchers at Universiteit Leiden say you should exercise to get those creative juices flowing. In a series of tests and study reviews, researchers at Universiteit Leiden have found a positive link between exercising and stimulating creativity in the mind. That is, they have found that if one exercises, one can benefit from a more active and creative mind.

Related Article: Obesity has More to do with Diet than with Exercise

This bit of news pairs well with other ideas about exercise and the potential benefits to creativity and the psyche overall that they yield. In fact, it was found that children that exercise before school often improve their concentration during school. Not only do they improve their concentration, but they also potentially boost their grades! There is a possible road block to this theory however. Dr. Lorenza Colzato, from Universiteit Leiden, says:

We believe that active bodies think more deeply, but only if they are used to exercise.

Related Article: Fat and Fit don’t Mix

The idea is that if you are normally an active person then exercising will help boost your creativity and potentially help with such tragedies as writer’s block. However, if you are not an active person and you take up exercising to help with your creativity then you will most likely just tire out your body and reduce the likelihood of boosting your creativity.

This means that with regards to creativity, in most cases of inactive people it is to their benefit to be consistently inactive rather than exert themselves for inspiration once in a while. However, if one can maintain an active and healthy schedule, then one can reap the benefits of their creatively boosted mind and their healthy and strong body. So, if you are an out of shape artist planning to start a daily exercise regime make sure you stick to it, or else your precious creativity may just dry up rather than flow out like a broken dam.

Then again, being successfully creative is in the eye of the beholder, so for some this may be just a complete waste of time.

Either way, cheers to exercise!

 

Sources:

Universiteit of Leiden Exercise and Inspiration study

Youtube: Active Bodies Think More Deeply

USA today: Lots of Exercise may boost kids grades

AFP:Exercise before school improves concentration

http://www.leidenuniv.nl/

 

Wondergressive: Obesity has more to do with diet than with exercise

Wondergressive: Fat and Fit don’t Mix

What Your Poo is Trying to Tell You

Unicorn Poop www.instructables.com kristylynn84

Unicorn Poop Cookies
http://www.instructables.com kristylynn84

Poop, the good old number two; everyone does it. It’s a healthy part of being a living animal, and it turns out it can tell you a lot about your body and how your body is reacting to your diet. The important things to consider when observing your stool (a scientific word for poo) are the color, shape, and ease of passage.

Stool color covers the spectrum, but only some colors are considered normal. The Puristat website agrees:

The color of your stool can tell you all sorts of things about the health of your digestive system, ranging from what you ate the previous night to having dangerous bleeding in your colon.

Gastroenterologist Michael F. Picco M.D. states that:

All shades of brown and even green are considered normal. 

Only rarely does stool color indicate a potentially serious intestinal condition.

Stool color is generally influenced by what you eat as well as by the amount of bile — a yellow-green fluid that digests fats — in your stool. As bile pigments travel through your gastrointestinal tract, they are chemically altered by enzymes — changing the pigments from green to brown.

Both websites agree; brown and green are good colors for poo. Colors divergent from brown or green are a strong reason to go see the doctor. While some abnormal colors are more serious than others, all indicate a problem with the digestive tract. Black and any shade of red indicate bleeding within the system and lighter colors indicate a blockage of the bile duct or a lack of bile for some other reason.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to do a Headstand!

The shape of your poo is also important. The Bristol Stool Chart defines 7 different types of stool with descriptions. The Continance Foundation of Australia explains the chart saying:

Every person will have different bowel habits, but the important thing is that your stools are soft and easy to pass – like types 3 and 4 below.

  • Type 1–2 indicate constipation
  • Type 3–4 are ideal stools as they are easier to pass, and
  • Type 5–7 may indicate diarrhoea and urgency.

I was strongly under the impression that a daily bowel movement was important for the digestive systems health. However, a helpful page on constipation and impaction, reviewed by the Harvard Medical School, informed me that:

Normally, people have bowel movements at fairly regular intervals, and stool passes out of the body easily without much straining or discomfort. Although the normal frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, about 95% of healthy adults have a pattern that ranges from three times a day to three times a week.

The ease of passing a bowel movement can be affected by the amount of fiber, and fluids in a diet, or by the amount of exercise or medication in one’s life. For more information on how to keep normal, easy bowel movements head over to the Intelihealth page about constipation and impaction.

Related Article: AI Prescribes Better Treatment than Doctors

Another factor that can also be an indication of a health problem is the smell of your stool. Stool is not a generally pleasant smelling byproduct, but if it starts to smell particularly foul for an extended period of time, consider the factors at hand. If there has been no change in your diet it might be time to see a doctor.

 

 

 

Sources:

The New York Times- Looking Beyond Fiber to Stay ‘Regular’

Harvard Medical School Reviewed- Constipation and Impaction

Puristat- Understanding Bowel Movement Stool Color

Mayo Clinic- Stool Color: When to Worry

MD Health- Stool Color Chart

Bristol Stool Chart

The Continance Foundation of Australia

Medline Plus- Stools Foul Smelling

 

Extra Reading for those Interested:

PLOS ONE- An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit: Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and Hookworm Eggs in Human Stool

NDDIC- Gas in the Digestive Tract

io9- This scientific article about poop may have the best title in the history of peer-reviewed research (possibly NSFW figures)

The American Gastroenterological Association- Understanding Constipation: A Patient’s Guide from Your Doctor

National Institutes of Health- Let’s Talk About Bowel Control

Mayo Clinic- Frequent Bowel Movements

Instructables- Unicorn Poop Cookies

Prevent Type 2 Diabetes By What You Love to Do Most: Sleep

It was found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes has been linked to a lack of sleep. According to the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, including a few more hours of sleep every week may lower your risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death and affects an estimated 26 million people in the United States, as well as many more in the developed world.

Type 2 diabetes patients become resistant to insulin and it becomes inefficient in clearing out glucose from the bloodstream. The study found that men who prolonged three nights of their sleep also improved their insulin sensitivity, which is responsible for regulating glucose in the blood stream.

RelatedRed Wine Vinegar Fights Diabetes

Insulin sensitivity can be improved with longer sleeping hours. Most Americans these days work for a longer period of time during the work week and are engaged in more social activities than in the past. Such a lifestyle explains the current decrease in sleeping hours.

According to the article from labiomed.org, researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia did a study on 19 non-diabetic men who had reported an average of 5.1 years of having a lack of sleep during the workweek.  They slept an average of 6.2 hours each night during the week, but slept 37.4 percent longer (or 2.3 hours) longer each night during the weekend. Length of sleep was reported by a device the subjects wore on their wrist which monitored the sleep-wake cycles.

Related: How to Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk With Less Grains

The men spent three nights in a sleep lab on each of two separate weekends. The researchers randomly assigned the men to two of three sleep conditions: (1) 10 hours of sleep, (2) six hours of sleep or (3) 10 hours in bed, in which noises during deep sleep aroused them into shallow sleep without waking them. The six hours of sleep tested persistent sleep restriction.

During the whole study time, the men had the same food intake so that the diet would not influence the results. Researchers concluded that the men who slept 10 hours a night had improved insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin resistance by a significant factor.

Things to Consider About Type 2 Diabetes

Despite the news that longer sleep could provide improved insulin sensitivity and raise the possibility of preventing type 2 diabetes from developing, keep in mind that this study consisted of a sample of 19 people. Some may consider this to be an insufficient quantity for conclusive research, including myself. You certainly would not want to be prescribed a medication whose effectiveness was confirmed by a few studies that had a handful of sample cases each. More elaborate research should be done to find conclusive evidence for a link between improved sleep and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

In line with longer sleeping hours, one should also take personal responsibility for his or her own diet. One should be aware of how much sugar and carbohydrates are consumed. There is a higher risk for type 2 diabetes in people with obesity. As of June 18th, 2013, obesity is now officially recognized as a disease, according to the American Medical Association.

 

Sources:

http://www.labiomed.org/2013/06/18/getting-enough-sleep-could-help-prevent-type-2-diabetes/

http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2435701

 https://wondergressive.com/2013/05/08/red-wine-vinegar-aids-weight-loss-and-fights-diabetes/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/12/save-the-food-pyramid-by-cutting-it-by-the-limbs/

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/#fast

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/

http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2435701

Seven Minute Workout Can Get You to Lose Weight

 

It is hard to lose weight when most of us live such busy lives. However, new research suggests that a seven minute workout could be all you need to rev up your metabolism and fight the subcutaneous fat under your belly and hips.

A new article in ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal was published on the potential health benefits of HITC (High-Intensity Circuit Training) using just the weight of your body. This seven minute workout is a type of interval training in which you have short 30 second periods of 90% maximum effort combined with ten second breaks between each period. The whole circuit consists of twelve exercises that alternate between the upper body and lower body muscles. What that does is, in a sense, give the muscles more than 10 seconds of break since one group is barely being used to support the other group that is exerting the effort.

According to a New York Times blog post, even a few minutes of training at an intensity approaching your maximum capacity produces molecular changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding 1.

The ACSM journal also points out that incorporated resistance training contributes significantly to the amount of fat burned during a workout. When resistance training exercises using multiple large muscles are used with very little rest between sets, they can elicit aerobic and metabolic benefits. Research has found that these metabolic benefits can be present for up to 72 hours after a high-intensity exercise bout has been completed.

There also may be a greater impact on subcutaneous fat loss with high-intensity intermittent circuit-style resistance training protocols than with traditional steady state sustained-effort aerobic work or traditional resistance training. This is thought to be from the increased level of catecholamines and growth hormone found in the blood both during and after high-intensity resistance training exercise with shortened rest periods (<30 seconds).  -ACSM Journal-

Shorter rest periods result in a shorter total exercise time. This is attractive to individuals who are trying to maximize the impact of an exercise program in minimal time. So if you have a busy lifestyle like I do, this is efficiency to its maximum.

Other health benefits of the seven minute workout include an improvement in the VO2max capacity and decreasing insulin resistance, which is good news for those who are fighting with type 2 diabetes.

 

If you don’t have an adequate chair in your house you can always get one from Amazon.

 

Sources:

1 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/

2 http://journals.lww.com/

Japanese Diet Secret: Black Soybean Tea (Kuromame Tea)

black soybean kuromame

Kuromame Black Soybean Tea http://www.hirokoskitchen.com

 

Black soybean tea, otherwise known as kuromame tea, is another wonderful secret of how the Japanese maintain their weight and health. Obesity is arguably the worst health risk threatening the developed world, especially in the West. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third, or 35.7%, of American adults, are obese. More than two-thirds of adults are considered overweight.

Kuromame tea is here to help you, if not save you. Kuromame, or black soybeans, a rare legumes native to China, and have long been used in Chinese medicine to clear toxins from the body and promote urination. Kuromame has also been linked to effective weight loss along with promoting a healthy diet. There are a few major components to black soybean kuromame tea that give it its remarkable fat shedding ability.

Related Article: Japanese Diet Secret: Kurozu (Black Vinegar)

 

Polyphenols in Black Soybean Kuromame Tea

Polyphenols are compounds known for their anti-aging properties. They are found in foods such as black rice, pears, and potatoes. Black soybeans contain a specific polyphenol called anthocyanin which is known to fight numerous human diseases. Anthocyanin has shown positive results in cancer prevention, anti-aging, reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis, lowering cholesterol, and promotion of lipid metabolism.

A study done by the Journal of Medicinal Food found that anthocyanin inhibited fat absorption in a group of mice that included a higher amount of fat in their diet compared to the control group. The mice did not gain any additional weight.

 

Isoflavones and Weight Loss

Isoflavones are themselves a type of anti-oxidant and help prevent certain types of cancer such as breast cancer. They also improves lipid metabolism. Lipid metabolism powers your weight loss, or more specifically fat loss. Kuromame tea can help you with this because black soybeans are filled with isoflavones. Lipid metabolism is the process of your body fat being mobilized to be used as energy. They also help to control circulatory blood fats.

There are two more very important components to black soybeans that make kuromame tea the choice for a healthier diet and effective weight loss. One is fiber. Black soybeans are a high carbohydrate legume. However, a large portion of  those carbohydrates come from fiber. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and helps prevent a steep rise in blood sugar levels. The other important and not commonly known compound found in kuromame skin is saponin. Saponin is a chemical compound that also inhibits the absorption of fat.

 

Make Your Own Black Soybean Kuromame Tea

I have been making my own kuromame tea from the black soybeans I buy in the Asian markets near my house (which you can also buy on Amazon). There is really not much to it:

You grab a handful of black soybeans and put them in a pan over high heat. Let them roast for a few minutes. Nothing extra has to be added. Boil some water for later use. The black soybeans will be ready once you hear the skin crack and the color of the beans turns brown. Take the beans and put them in a french press or other utensil you normally use to prepare tea. Pour in the boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes, or let it sit until you are done drinking.

The reason I do not put down specific measurements is because you can adjust the amount of water to your own liking. Some people like kuromame tea with a smokier taste and some like it more diluted.

After drinking, you can eat the black soybeans themselves since they will be nice and soft. This way you can take in all of the healthy carbs and fiber available to you. It is also worth mentioning that black soybeans are low on the glycemic index, so they make a perfect snack for diabetics!

 

 

Sources:

Wondergressive: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

http://www.livestrong.com/article/305656-calories-in-black-soybeans/

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2000/07/03/general/its-a-drink-and-a-snack-black-soybeans/#.UYCFjbWG1rM

http://slism.com/diet/black-bean-diet.html

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2006.147

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082894/

http://www.med.unc.edu/neurology/files/documents/child-teaching-pdf/OVERVIEW%20OF%20LIPID%20METABOLISM.pdf

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/33070

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

 

Recommended Reading for those Interested in More Japanese Secrets

Japanese Farm Food

Japanese Diet Secret: Kurozu (Black Vinegar)

 

Black vinegar, also known as kurozu (黒酢) is a very popular weight loss product among the Japanese. Men and women alike are awed by the health benefits, especially the ones concerning their diet.

Black vinegar is believed to have originated in China and spread out to the rest of East Asia.. Kurozu is a light but traditional black vinegar produced from unpolished rice and has been widely used in Japan as a seasoning and as a health supplement. Currently in the states, a one liter bottle of this could cost you up to $35 dollars!

 

Kurozu Benefits

 

Kurozu and Weight Loss

Now the real interesting part about kurozu is that it can help people shed fat without any drastic changes to their diet (not that adding kurozu to a salad as opposed to ranch dressing would hurt though). According to a study performed by a Kyushu professor, kurozu reduced the size of fat cells, called adipocytes, in mice. The study used kurozu liquid concentrate (KLC). The findings were as such:

In the KCL group, the average adipocyte size in subcutaneous and perirenal adipose tissues was significantly reduced. The KCL-administered rats displayed greater numbers of small adipocytes in the subcutaneous, perirenal and mesenteric adipose tissues than did rats from the other groups. In the KCL group, the DNA content in subcutaneous adipose tissue was significantly increased. The rate of fatty acid excretion was significantly increased in the KCL group.

In plain English, fat cells shrunk in the presence of the constituents that make up kurozu. Fat cells are made up of fatty acids that, when secreted by fat cells, get used up as a form of energy, leaving you with smaller fat cells, less fat tissue, and a leaner look. The great part about kurozu is that it is rich in amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Ingesting enough amino acids also promotes the growth of lean tissue such as muscle, since muscle needs protein.

Another way to increase the rate of fatty acid excretion is through fasting for short periods of time, such as 16-36 hour periods.

Get your own bottle of Black Vinegar over at Amazon!

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_vinegar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid_cycle

http://www.livestrong.com/article/269937-natural-health-benefits-of-black-vinegar/

http://www.lipidworld.com/content/9/1/134

Wondergressive: The Health Benefits of Fasting

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128363/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15149153

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1081754/human-digestive-system/45315/Salivary-glands

Obese? Got a Fatty Liver? No Problem. Spinach & Nuts Have You Covered

 

Besides the obvious reasons for eating spinach and nuts, like losing weight and eating real food, they can also aid in fighting fatty liver disease. For the first time, a correlation between vitamin E and symptoms of fatty liver disease caused by obesity has been uncovered. Fatty liver disease occurs when 5-10% of the weight of your liver comes from fat. It can be caused by alcoholic and non-alcoholic means.

The collaborators, from Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cornell University, discovered that the essential nutrient vitamin E can alleviate symptoms of liver disease brought on by obesity.

The implications of our findings could have a direct impact on the lives of the approximately 63 million Americans who are at potential risk for developing obesity-related liver disease in their lifetimes,

says Danny Manor, an associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Eating leafy greens such as spinach, as well as nuts and sunflower oils, could help battle the symptoms of fatty liver disease since they contain high amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E has many beneficial health altering properties such as protection against toxins like air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

The Fatty Liver Test

Dr Manor tested this hypothesis on a group of mice that were in the advanced stage of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). It’s a common symptom of obesity by fat accumulation and inflammation in the fatty liver. The team deprived the group of mice of vitamin E and recorded an increase of fat deposition and other liver problems in the mice. Once vitamin E supplements were given to the mice, these symptoms ceased to exist.

Lessons Learned
  • The vast majority of adults do not consume enough vitamin E. This is most likely due to the increased consumption of processed foods which are not rich in Vitamin E for the most part.
  • We need to consume more vegetables, nuts and seeds, or a supplement, in order to get our daily vitamin E intake as well as to lose weight and avoid fatty liver symptoms.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/fatty-liver-disease

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

Aspartame…Miracle Sweetener or Deathly Toxin?


Diet soda has been prescribed by professionals for years as a healthier alternative to non-diet soda products, specifically due to the lower sugar intake. In fact, diet soda is almost always void of any grams of sugar due to the magic of artificial sweeteners like ASPARTAME! This replacement is a miracle for some and a disaster for others.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is it? And why are we talking about it?

Aspartame is, according to the FDA, one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners since its inception in 1981. It is used in place of sugar in consumable products. The reason it is important is simple: it’s found in many different products that we consumers may or may not know about.

Here’s just a short (ha!) list of products that contain aspartame:

Breath Mints
 
Cereal
Chewing Gum
Flavored Coffee Syrups
Flavored Water Products
msg_dees
http://www.znakovi-vremena.net/en/e-additives_fluor_and_aspartame.htm
Frozen Ice
Frozen Ice Cream Novelties
Fruit Spreads
Gelatin, Sugar Free
Hard Candies
Ice Cream Toppings
Ice Creams, No Sugar
or Sugar Free
Iced Tea, Powder
Iced Tea, Ready to Drink
Instant Cocoa Mix
Jams & Jellies
Juice Blends
Juice Drinks
Maple Syrups
Meal Replacements
Mousse
No Sugar Added Pies
Non-Carbonated Diet Soft drinks
Nutritional Bars
Powdered Soft Drinks
Protein Nutritional Drinks
Pudding
Soft Candy Chews
Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup
Sugar Free Cookies
Sugar Free Ketchup
Table Top Sweeteners
Vegetable Drinks
Yogurt, Drinkable
Yogurt, Fat Free
Yogurt, Sugar Free

 

Did you make it through all that? Great! Let’s continue!

The FDA’s stand on aspartame is:

Considering results from the large number of studies on aspartame’s safety, including five previously conducted negative chronic carcinogenicity studies, a recently reported large epidemiology study with negative associations between the use of aspartame and the occurrence of tumors, and negative findings from a series of three transgenic mouse assays, FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food.

There is a pro-aspartame website that you can view and gather information on, but the basic claim it makes is:

The overwhelming body of scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that aspartame, even in amounts many times what people typically consume, is safe and not associated with adverse aspartame side effects.

Cancer.org also states that:

Complaints of various health issues have circulated since aspartame first appeared on the market in the 1980s. But for most people, no health problems have clearly been linked to aspartame use.

Andddddd! Now… LETS GET DANGEROUS!

For starters: Aspartame is linked to leukemia and lymphoma, Aspartame’s neurological side effects, other side effects of Aspartame, and Etc. One specific anti-aspartame rally crier is Mercola which states that:

Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins.” They “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death.

What’s more, the different parts to aspartame are:

Aspartic Acid: as discussed by Dr. Russell Blaylock, in excess can cause serious chronic neurological disorders.

Phenylalanine: again discussed by Dr. Blaylock, in excessive can cause schizophrenia or make one more susceptible to seizures.

Finally, Methanol, which…is just poison.

One side says Aspartame is linked to brain tumors, the other side says Aspartame is completely harmless. In the end, it is all up to choice. Are you a believer or are you abashed by all the aspartame hate?

 

Research:

Aspartame

FDA on Aspartame

Pro-Aspartame information center

Anti-Aspartame Mercola website

Dr. Russell Blaylock on Excitotoxins

Aspartic Acid

Phenylalanine

Methanol

Darkwing Duck… Why? Best Childhood Memory Ever.

 

It Says Organic: Does That Mean It’s Non GMO?

non GMO food products

USDA certified organic non GMO Wheat

GMO or non GMO? That is the question….

Lately, GMO products have been hit with some bad publicity. I recently went to a local grocery store in Palatine, Illinois and took a photo of this USDA Organic certified wheat package. In case you can’t see it, this is a whole wheat Gemelli brand wheat product with the fancy USDA Organic logo. However, an organic label alone does not guarantee that you are getting a non GMO product.

What’s the Difference?

non gmo use graph

The agriculture industry has decided the answer to the question for you: “GMO or non GMO?” . newhealthom.com

The difference is what each of these terms describe. The term organic is used to define how a product is grown. GMO and non GMO are adjectives that describe whether the product is genetically altered in some way. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. An organism that is genetically modified can still be grown organically.

GMO plants have their genetic code changed in a way deemed beneficial by scientists, not by nature.  Before 1997 the USDA Organic label did not specify whether or not the produce grown organically was non GMO or if GMO plants needed to be excluded from the definition of organic. Over the years the USDA has changed it’s stance.

The USDA government website states that,

USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use…

These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.

Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

These standards specifically state that USDA certified organic products are in fact non GMO products as well. This is not necessarily true for all organic standards and certainly has not been true at all times in the past.

According to NewHope360.com,

In 1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its draft National Organic Program rule. At this time, they proposed that organic allow the use of GMOs. This proposal was unacceptable to consumers, manufacturers, retailers, farmers, and basically anyone who had anything to do with organic.

The battle ended with consumers and farmers reigning victorious.

The final rule outlines that an organic operation has to document that it has not used GMOs and takes reasonable steps to avoid contact with GMOs. Whether a product is labeled “100% organic,” “certified organic” (with an allowance of 5% non-organic ingredients) or “made with organic” (a minimum of 70% organic ingredients), none of the ingredients are permitted to use genetic engineering.

That means in a “made with organic” cereal containing 70 percent organic ingredients, the remaining 30 percent non-organic ingredients cannot be produced from genetic engineering. Providers of non-organic ingredients being used in organic products, must also be able to provide proof that their ingredients are non GMO.

So the USDA Organic certification on a product is the government’s guarantee that these products will contain only non GMO ingredients. If you want to avoid GMO products and go only for the non GMO, then this is as sure of a bet as you can get at the grocery store.

non gmo map

Want to go non GMO in he US? Good luck. eatdrinkbetter.com

How To Tell If A Product is Non GMO

If you don’t want to buy exclusively USDA certified organic products but would still like to eat non GMO foods there is another way to go about your grocery shopping. It is common for produce to use short numbers called PLU codes, or price-look-ups, to indicate what kind of product is behind the label. It can be used to indicate manufacturer, color, etc. It is often used to indicate growing conditions. The major benefit of the PLU system is that each PLU code is unique to each product, regardless of where you buy it. This is key for those people going the non GMO route.

The PLU Code user guide states that:

The IFPS shall be responsible for deciding the assignment and definition of qualifying prefix digits
for international recognition. At present, only three digits have been allocated:

0 Applies to all non-qualified produce and is generally presented without the leading
“zero” digit.
8 Genetically modified
9 Organic

This means that if the PLU code is five digits the first digit indicates organic or genetically modified, but it is not mandatory for the producer to specify if they do not want to. If the PLU code is four digits, then PLU code will not indicate whether the product is GMO or non GMO. While it is not currently a requirement in the United States to label GMO produce, in the USA and Canada, food manufacturers are not allowed to label their food as 100% organic if any GMOs are used.  To be 100% certain that your food is organic: look for an organic label, a 9 at the beginning of a 5 digit PLU code, or just grown your own.

 

 

Sources:

NewHope360.com- USDA says “organic” means “non GMO”

USDA.gov- Organic Agriculture

USDA.gov- National Organic Standard

International Federation of Produce Standards

IFPS- Produce PLU Codes User Guide

Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?

Organic Food Council- Certified Food Logos

Snopes- PLU Codes

Obesity and Low Carb Fads: Where Did We Go Wrong? (Part 1)

 

The rate of obesity in America and the West is just as much in an incline as low fat and low carb diet fads. Do you know someone who successfully lost weight recently from a strictly low fat diet?

 

Obesity and Low Fat Diets

Low fat diet fads started to appear in the 1980s, but the obesity rate then was nowhere close to what it is now. Also, after the introduction of low fat diets, the rate of obesity did not fall, rather it increased. So where did we go wrong?

Food Portions

Food Portions

For the past 20 or 30 years, ads for low fat food products started to proliferate the market at an alarming rate. What also increased at a steady pace was the average American food portion. Furthermore, there was a rapid replacement of fat with carbohydrates, including sugars. For the food companies to be able to produce products that people would salivate over, this was a necessary step. This is a step backward in the fight against obesity. Let’s not forget that the food companies don’t have our best interest in mind. The amount of ingredients also doubled, or even tripled for some items, such as JIF peanut butter. Try to compare the ingredient list between the regular JIF peanut butter and the low fat version.

 

Enter Low Carb Diets

 

After seeing that obesity was far from being solved by a low fat diet fad, we turned to a new approach; limiting our carbohydrate intake. We have realized that we are consuming way too many simple and processed carbohydrates. Carbohydrates make up the majority of a Westerner’s diet. We saw the rise of such diets as the Atkins diet. There are countless forms of low carb diets out there. This seems to have partially solved the problem as lowering overall carbohydrate intake does decrease the rate of obesity to a certain extent (many studies have even linked low carb diet with blocking the effects of aging!). Despite many successful cases, the West is still fighting obesity more than ever. Perhaps there is a crack in this low carb diet that needs to be patched up.

 

Successful High Carb Diets

 

A local tribe in Papua New Guinea called the Kitavans have a diet that is comprised of 65% carbs, 17% saturated fat, and high fiber, yet their obesity rate is at 0%. Literally no obesity at all has been reported thus far. They are also not prone to strokes, diabetes, nor heart disease. Their diet mainly consists of starchy root vegetables, fruit, some fish and meat, and coconuts. Food is also abundant and they don’t suffer from scarcity.

The Machiguenga people, local to Peru, also have a diet that is high in carbohydrates and fiber. Their diet also consists of mainly root vegetables, fruits and nuts. Meat and fish are eaten in low amounts. These people also don’t have reported cases of obesity.

The Mexican Pima Indians have a diet that roughly consists of 62% carbohydrates, high fiber intake, and 25% saturated fat. There is a 7% obesity rate in males, and 20% obesity rate in females. Incidence of diabetes is at 7%. Their diet mostly consists of beans, wheat-flour tortillas, corn tortillas, and potatoes.

Just across the border, the Arizona Pima Indians have a diet that consists of 49% carbohydrates, 15% protein, 34% fat, and more than 10% of it is saturated fat. Even though they consume less carbohydrates, the obesity rate in males is 64%, and in females it is 75%. Over 30% have been reported to have diabetes. The big difference between the two people is in their diet. The Arizona Pima Indians consumed fried breakfasts, processed meats, hamburgers, pork chops, beans, white bread, flour tortillas, fried or baked dough, cereals, canned foods, and fruit juices.

 

The Culprit: Carbohydrate Density

 

According to the National Institute of Health, the diet of these people is closely tied to the diets of people in the Paleolithic period. The main trait that these people share is consuming cellular carbohydrates as opposed to acellular ones. Foods that have living cells such as fruits and vegetables contain the carbohydrates inside the cells themselves. The maximum density of carbohydrates that a cell will allow is at 23%. Most of the cell’s mass is comprised of water. When digesting these sources of carbohydrates, it also takes time for the stomach to break up the cellular walls and take in the energy from the carbs.

Acellular carb sources, on the other hand, are very simple in form and contain no cellular walls. There is nothing between them and the stomach microbiota. They are easily taken in by the body and swiftly used. These include all wheat products, grains, and sugars. These are also what currently dominate the ingredient lists in Western diets. All things being equal, macronutrients, amount of carb intake, calorie intake, etc.; it is the foods with the higher carb density that relate to the promotion of obesity. The chart in the beginning of the article shows foods (in grey) that are dominant in the modern diet, and the ancestral diet (white).

The discussion about carbohydrate density and its relation to obesity will continue in a follow up article, but for now, the main point that I am trying to summarize is: stick to foods that have a lower carbohydrate density, and you will be more than likely to prevent obesity.

 

Sources

 

Wondergressive:Low Carb/Low Calorie Diet Produces Compound that Blocks Effects of Aging

Wondergressive: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

Wondergressive: Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting it by the Limbs

PubMed.gov: Comparison with Ancestral Diet Suggestion

PubMed.gov: Ancestral Diets Table

PubMed.fov: Carbohydrate Density of Ancestral Foods 

Image Source: http://paducah2poland.blogspot.com/2012/06/dont-be-ignorant-know-your-food.html