Archive for January, 2008

Why Meat Gets the Heat

Since the dawn of humanity, people have eaten meat for food and it has consistently remained a primary source of protein. In recent years, we have witnessed a monumental shift from diets primarily rooted in meat-eating habits to those of vegetarian and vegan. Health rhetoric, news, and medical reports continually advocate the superiority of vegetarian and vegan diets to those containing meat. But are the answers really that black and white? Trying to decipher where the real truth lies can be a challenge.

Research shows that strict vegetarian and vegan diets can be considered unhealthy in many aspects, especially when careful attention is not paid to obtaining proper amounts of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals on a daily basis. This statement does not in any way advocate diets lacking in a sufficient supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole sprouted grains — it means merely that diets including healthy meats in moderation are probably going to offer the greatest nutritional support to most people.

Because all people differ slightly in various biological aspects and needs, select care should be taken in tailoring your diet to your body’s specific needs. The Metabolic Typing Diet is a great book which illustrates not a “fad diet” but more of an observatory guide and of how to decide which foods are best for your own needs by applying the right kinds of food in the proper amount.

So, the problem with meat is not that all meat is unhealthy. The problem is how the majority of meat is produced, and the amounts of meat that are demanded by the public, and therefore consumed. Many factors in the raising of meat have changed since the the beginning of time. The reality of conditions in factory farms (those which produce meat in the most horrific conditions available) should be a resounding wake-up call to anyone who claims to be a thinking human being. The amount of waste, disease, abuse of animals, damage to our health and the environment created by the presence of factory farms alone should be enough to make the majority of citizens stand up and cause a revolt.

“Environmental damage caused by industrial farming costs the U.S. more than $34.7 billion a year.”

Environmental Protection Agency

Because the culture of our society is so tied to consuming, changing opinions and habits is not an easy thing to do. But momentum has already begun. Look around in local communities in newspapers, bookstores, health food stores, and online. You’ll be astonished to learn that you can find groups of people in advocacy of cleaning up current farming practices and making changes in many different places.

It’s not too difficult to find documentation detailing the damage to our planet from the existence of commercial or factory farms. As affluence has grown in communities, so does the demand for more and more products – including meat. To produce this horribly mutated food product, we have destroyed millions of acres of rain-forests and other valuable lands, increased the growth of soy, corn, and grain in order to have enough feed for animals, increased our consumption of oil to transport both the feed for animals and meat, contributed to the world’s greenhouse gas issue in a significant way, and caused the development of super-bacteria and other drug resistant strains of illness due to filthy conditions in facilities that administer continued doses of antibiotics and other medications.

The issue of what is being fed to farm animals is of critical importance. Cattle are not designed to consume grains, soy, and corn. These animals are meant to eat grass – and this is far too often the exception than the rule. When cattle eat grass, the meat is lower in fat and therefore, also lower in calories. Meat from grass-fed animals also contains the correct amounts of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. These important fats keep the cardiovascular system functioning properly.

Studies also show that “eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more Omega 3s” than birds raised in a feed barn. American diets are saturated with too many Omega 6s and Omega 9s, causing the delicate balance in the body to become upset. This disturbance in the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids can also contribute to cancer.

Factors associated with factory-farmed meats have created an adverse outcome on the health of the average individual and the environment. As a nation, we are in a health crisis. Not a trivial amount of it can be connected to the manner in which the process of meat-production has converted its once natural methods and beneficial impact on the earth into something scarcely resembling real farming.

One way to solve some of these issues would be to cut back on meat consumption. In the United States, meat consumption is at about 200 pounds (including fish and poultry) per person annually. Alteration of meat consumption levels would have to rest upon massive educational efforts and a change in the fundamental philosophies held about eating meat. It’s really not about the elimination of meat entirely. The key is in moderation and intelligent efforts to raise high-quality, healthy meat from animals that are treated humanely. We should demand quality over quantity; that is, meat raised in humane, healthy conditions. The outcome would be lower rates of meat production and subsequently less waste of natural resources such as oil, water, and feed, and ultimately a marked reduction in the presence of greenhouse gases in our environment.

In most local areas, consumers can do some research to find out which farmers produce and sell grass-fed, organic meats. Check in health magazines, health food stores, and online. Health food stores often stock healthy meat selections in many areas. By supporting these farmers and merchants, you are making a statement about what’s important in agriculture and health. You are also making it possible for these business people to continue their activities so that you will have healthy meat for the future. Remember, the less you purchase commercially produced meat from factory farms, the more evident it will become that people demand healthy meat on their tables.

Pastured and grazing animals versus those confined in mass amounts where disease and ailments prevail makes more sense from both a health perspective and economic standpoint. It is easy to see why organically and naturally raised animals for meat should be the preferred alternative to the status quo of commercial and factory farms. To learn more about the dangers of factory farming, to become involved and help bring about change, visit The World Animal Foundation. You can also learn about how to be instrumental in bringing about important legislative changes by visiting to The Petition Site and signing an important petition to stop factory farming.

You can read thousands of reports detailing the terrible damage eating meat (red meat is the most targeted) has done to our health – from our colons and digestive systems to cardiovascular and other body systems. What many studies fail to mention is that these problems stem from mass consumption of meat raised in unhealthy conditions. Studies like this advocate eating poultry and fish instead of red meat- but do not bother to discuss whether meat from these animals is healthy to consume in the first place. Chicken and turkeys raised on average feedlots do not yield meat choices that are much improved over their red meat counterparts from similar conditions. If we were to change levels of meat consumption and the way in which our meat was raised, we would see an enormous shift in the health and well-being of all — from ourselves individually to the entire planet.

For more information on factory farms, visit Farmsanctuary. – a site for rescue, education, and action.

Visit Mercola.com for more information on the myths and explanations of those in a vegetarian diet.

To learn more about possible risks and deficiencies of vegetarian diets, visit Epigee.

Suggested reading on this topic: Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin.

This article is featured in the March 2008 issue of Healthy Beginnings.

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Malnutrition and Obesity – Why America has Both of These Problems in Spades

What do malnutrition and obesity have in common? A lot, actually. It may come as a huge surprise, but the main reason obese individuals and those who fall into the “skinny as a rail” category are similar is because both of these body types are failing to receive the nutrition they desperately need – plain and simple. How could this be?

It all begins with food choices you make. In this country, a majority of the food people consume comes from the processed variety. Most of these “foods” are not really food, but a manufactured or altered form of food that is devoid of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. When you eat like this regularly, your body and health start to decline. If you are eating healthy foods and staying away from processed foods high in chemical and carbohydrate content, your natural weight should be very easy to maintain. As long as you continue to include in your regular diet processed foods, your weight will always be a problem.

Instead of eating processed, convenience foods, start choosing whole foods (and organic whenever possible) – those that are real and not processed. Begin a regimen of preparing foods in your home if you are prone to eating out a lot just for the sake of ease and convenience. When you work these activities of preparing foods at home into your schedule, you will soon start to see the difference and want to take that time to make your food instead of always buying prepared, processed foods. Be certain to include a wide variety of vegetables (both raw and steamed or lightly sauteed), and moderate amounts of fruits. Vegetables should be one of the most common types of foods you eat, and should be eaten with each meal if possible.

Most people are aware that exercise plays a big role in maintaining good health, but lack a complete understanding of why. Exercise not only improves stamina, flexibility, and strengthens muscles like the heart but also causes the body to remove toxins through sweat and reduces insulin levels. Lower insulin levels mean less storing of carbohydrates (sugar) which is converted to fat. When we exercise we should do so according to our own bodies’ abilities – which means we do not start out on an intense work-out without first gradually building up. If you have not engaged in regular exercise for some time or ever, walking or gentle hiking is a good place to begin. Sessions of 15 to 20 minutes work fine for the first few episodes. Over time, work up to a faster pace and longer interval to give your body a chance to adjust to lifestyle changes in diet and sleep as well as a new exercise regimen.

Another critical component in maintaining ideal weight and health is obtaining adequate sleep and sleeping at the proper times. If you are getting less than 6 or more than 9 hours of sleep, or going to bed at late hours (after 10 p.m.) on a regular basis, your weight can suffer. Why? Because insulin levels are lowered during sleep. Conversely, too much sleep will contribute to raising insulin levels. When you retire to bed too longer after about 10:30 p.m., this interrupts a significant job the digestive tract must perform to remove toxins (occurring from approximately 11 p.m. to 1 a.m). If you are awake during that time frame, this cycle cannot occur.

Removal of toxins from your liver and associated digestive system is key in maintaining good health and optimal weight. Obese people are obese due to bad dietary habits and the body’s inability to empty out toxins from the filtering system. Filtering systems such as the liver, blood, and colon become hampered and interrupted by poor lifestyle choices that do not allow that process to complete itself. Cleansing the body of toxins is also another crucial step in achieving good health and maintaining ideal weight. For a good article about detoxification and cleansing, read How Cleansing Positively Affects Your Health on this web site.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you are eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle, you will also avoid products (such as low-fat and non-fat foods) and gimmicks (like diet pills and fad programs) that promise or guarantee a quick way to lose weight. The only way to lose weight effectively is to build a foundation of health from within yourself. Great suggested reading on this topic: The Metabolic Typing Diet. This book could literally change your life.

If you would like additional information about obesity and losing weight naturally, visit the following sites:

Mercola.com

My Lifetime

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Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) and Help Save the Earth

As we start the year anew, take a few moments to pledge some good things for yourself and your planet. We all share the same space, even though many of us are miles from one another. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and the future to do a few things that will make a difference. Pollution, toxins, and too much garbage are a big problem. Just by making some small changes, you can reduce the amount of plastic and garbage in the world and decrease the use of limited resources.

The following is a request I received to help the earth in my e-mail box this morning from my dear friend Jordan. Please read and take heed, and Happy New Year to you all!

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Hey everybody! Just writing to ask you ladies to check out the new BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) campaign from the New American Dream. Sign the pledge and bust out your re-usable totes! Use them everywhere from the grocery store to Target. Together, we really can make a difference.

Did you know you can reduce your carbon footprint, help eliminate waste and pollution, and give yourself a chance at some great prizes in one simple step? It’s a win-win situation for you, the community and the ecosystem…and you can even win a $5000 prize package from Brighter Planet.

What do you have to do? Just fill out the pledge form at c3.newdream.org and then start using reusable bags when you go shopping. It’s that easy. Just by doing that you’ll start making a dent in the waste of the 12 million barrels of oil and the 14 million trees used to produce plastic and paper bags each year. Plus you’ll curb your carbon footprint by almost 4 pounds each month.

Visit the C3 site to sign up and then tell your friends: you could win a $5000 prize package from Brighter Planet or one of several other terrific prizes.

New American Dream has also made it easier for you to join the new BYOB, when you pledge you get a coupon for 20% off from ReusableBags.com. Worldwide, an estimated 4 billion plastic bags end up as litter each year. Tied end to end that’s enough to circle the earth 63 times. Isn’t it time to start making a difference?

Pledge Now to Bring Your Own Bag!

Visit New Dream to join the campaign and learn more about becoming a Carbon Conscious Consumer.

Thank You for Making a Difference,
Jordan

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