the ecovangelist

SIMPLE CHANGES FOR A HEALTHIER YOU!

New BPA study shows exposure may effect behavior October 24, 2011

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 3:29 pm
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A new study released by the Journal of Pediatrics reinforces our previous fears about bisphenol-A (BPA). The study found that 3-year old girls who were exposed to higher levels of BPA while in the womb, were more aggressive, hyperactive, anxious and depressed. BPA is a chemical used to make plastic and we are exposed when BPA leaches into our food through the lining of canned food, plastic packaging, and plastic bottles. BPA has been found to be estrogenic and an endocrine disruptor. Limiting exposure to BPA is important for everyone, but is especially imperative for children and pregnant women. Joe Braun, the author of the study says, “These results suggest that the girls may be more vulnerable to the effects of gestational BPA exposures and there is this unique window of brain development that is susceptible to BPA exposures.”

Check out my previous post on bottled water and BPA for more details.

To reiterate, you can limit your and your children’s exposure to BPA by:

* Limiting your exposure to plastic products

* Avoid canned products

* Do not use liquid infant formula that has BPA lined in the bottles (this generally only occurs in the pre-made infant formula

* Use bulk food, rather than food that comes in plastic packaging

* Avoid plastics #7 and #3

* Use stainless steel or glass containers and bottles

* It is very difficult to completely eliminate our exposure to plastics, but if you take away one tip from this post, please do not microwave plastic containers. Even if they are BPA free, they still might leach other chemicals into your food.

For more information:

http://healthfinder.gov/News/newsstory.aspx?docid=658121

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/sya/sya-bpa/

http://www.aoec.org/pehsu/aboutus.html

 

Turmeric, the Wonder Drug!! July 29, 2011

Filed under: In your body,On your body — theecovangelist @ 3:26 pm
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Whenever I go camping or hiking, I always pack a small container of turmeric in my first aid kit. You read correctly…in my first aid kit!! Turmeric works phenomenally to stop bleeding and helps reduce the appearance of scars! Turmeric has been used for years in India due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It is widely used in Indian cooking and its what gives curries that lovely yellow color. Turmeric has several health benefits when consumed and also when applied externally.

When consumed:

  • May prevent or reduce effects of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Possibly help with weight loss
  • Shown to prevent/reduce the risk of several cancers: 
    • Breast cancer
    • Melanoma
    • Leukemia
    • Prostate cancer 
    • Colorectal cancer
  • Helps with sore throats when consumed with a glass of warm milk or hot water (add a teaspoon into one cup of milk or water)
  • Reduces risk of myocardial infarction  
  • Improves digestive and gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Strengthens bone structure
  • Helps with liver health
  • Eases joint pain and arthritis inflammation

Applied externally:

        • Use it as a disinfectant, antibacterial agent for cuts, burns and bruises (apply as a paste, mix the powder with water)
        • Reduces appearance of scars
        • Acne treatment
        • Improve skin, anti-aging agent
        • Reduces body hair growth

Sounds like the wonder drug to me! You can either incorporate turmeric into your cooking, or consume turmeric capsules. Just be careful when you are cooking or applying turmeric, since it stains very easily.  Also, while there are not many major negative effects with consuming turmeric, those suffering from congestive heart disease, gallstones, liver disease or blood clotting disorders should consult their doctor before consuming supplements.


 

Dangers and Benefits of Oil and Butter Video July 28, 2011

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 3:29 pm

You’ve probably already read my blog post Olive Oil! The Heat is on!!  Please check out the Video Blog I did on my sister Pallavi’s Indian cooking recipe site: Dangers and Benefits of Olive Oil, Ghee, Butter, and other Oils 

 

Olive Oil! The Heat is on!! April 8, 2011

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 4:27 pm
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A few years ago, I jumped on the olive oil bandwagon. I tossed all of my other cooking oils and was solely using olive oil for all of my cooking.  Big Mistake! While olive oil has many positive health benefits:

  • Protects against heart disease
  • Decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Can possibly protect from colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancers
  • High in antioxidants
  • Can improve insulin sensitivity in Diabetics
  • Anti-inflammatory effect in Asthmatics
  • Great for moisturizing skin

What I did not know was that to gain the positive health benefits, olive oil should be consumed:

  • Raw
  • Cooked at low-medium heat

In fact, cooking at high heat with olive oil can be extremely unhealthy for you. Cooking or frying with olive oil at high heat past it’s smoking point can create polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  PAHs are basically byproducts of burning oil.  At high concentrations PAHs are carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic. Below is a list of various oils that can be used at high eat or for frying.

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Take home point: Olive oil has great health benefits, but should not be used with high heat cooking or frying since it can possibly be carcinogenic.

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List of oils and what temperature they should be used at *

*Sources:

Information regarding temperature and oil taken from PCC natural market.  http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/guides/tips_cooking_oils.html

http://www.oliveoilsource.com/page/asthma

 

Mmm tastes like chicken…the truth about soy products March 4, 2011

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 4:18 pm
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When I first became vegetarian, I thought I was entering a healthier more holistic lifestyle.  With an abundance of imitation meats, soy and gluten products, this was going to be easy. Plus soy had so many health benefits….right?

Fake meat made from soy has become a vegetarians safe haven.  For practically any animal derived product, there is a soy substitute: soymilk, soydoggs, meatless meatballs, tofurky, vegenaise….the list goes on.  While some of these items taste more like cardboard then chicken or turkey, there are actually several appetizing products.

However, the more I ate these plant-derived soy products, the more I heard about ingredients called isoflavones that might not be so healthy!

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Conflicting studies

There are conflicting studies, some showing the positive benefits of Soy and others claiming harmful effects when ingested in excess.  It was all rather confusing, so after sifting through several studies, here is what I found.

Soy also contains natural isoflavones, which when ingested are transformed into phyto-estrogens….a weak form of estrogen in the body

In moderate amounts, this can be beneficial to the body, however in excess can cause exceeding amounts of estrogen.

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Positives

  • Protective effect against breast cancer in low doses

  • Decreases risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease

  • Can help prevent osteoporosis

 

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Negatives

  • Might cause potential tumor growth in current or past breast cancer survivors

  • Can increase the risk of breast cancer in high doses

  • Excess estrogen can lead to hormonal imbalance

  • Can cause Eczema in high doses

  • Studies show, that they may cause thyroid, thymic and immune system abnormalities when ingested in excess

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Take home point

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The conundrum is confusing, on one hand soy has several health benefits, however on the other, in excess can be potentially harmful.  Studies are still being conducted, and there is seems to be no conclusive answer yet.

So in the mean time what should you do? Eat soy products, but in moderation.  Scientists say that 25 grams a day is safe. (A 4-ounce serving of tofu has about 10 grams; a cup of soy milk, 6 to 8 grams.) I personally have restricted my soy intake to 3 times a week.

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Supporting Articles both on the positive and negatives of Soy

http://www.ajcn.org/content/68/6/1333S.abstract

http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=5002345889

http://www.ajcn.org/content/68/6/1375S.abstract

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/soymessina

 

Phthala…..Who? January 28, 2011

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Phthalates, what are they?

Phthalates, a chemical that can possibly cause infertility and decrease testosterone & sperm count….did that catch your attention?  Many of you have probably never heard of Phthalate Esters, but they are a class of chemicals we are constantly surrounded by and probably have in our bodies.

  • Phthalate esters are a group of chemicals used as a plasticizer in plastics and a solvent in personal care products.

Why are they used?

  • Phthalates are used in majority of cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, perfumes, conditioners and several other personal care products as a solvent.
  • They allow plastics to be more flexible, transparent and increase the longevity of plastic.
  • Phthalates are found in: cosmetics, shampoo, lotions, toys, cable wires, medication, paint, canned food, dental & medical materials, wood varnishes, food containers, floor tiles, PVC flooring and most plastic products.

How is it bad for me?

  • Due to their chemical properties and lack of covalent bonds, phthalates leach from plastics and solvents extremely easily. 
  • NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data shows that Phthalate were found in 78% of the 2541 sampled.
  • Studies are still being conducted to further understand phthalates but they may be linked to the following:
    • Infertility
    • Decreased sperm count
    • Cancer
    • Decreased pulmonary function
    • Asthma
    • Brain development in fetus and infants
    • Reproductive development
    • Endocrine and Thyroid disruption
    • Anti-androgen effects
    • Obesity and type II diabetes
  • Many argue that these health concerns are only seen at high levels of phthalate exposure. However, since phthalates are in several plastic products and cosmetics, the cumulative effect on our bodies can be rather high.

How does it get into my body?

  • Phthalates exposure comes from several routes such as ingestion, inhalation and dermal exposure.
  • Majority of exposure is primarily through dust and food ingestion.

What can I do?

  • Purchase lotions, shampoos, cosmetics and other personal care products that say phthalate free.  Unfortunately companies are not required to list phthalates in their ingredient list, so the only way to know if a product does not contain phthalates is if it states “phthalate free”
  • Dust & vacuum often, like several other chemicals, our exposure is through dust particles that contain them
  • Purchase toys that are phthalate free…especially chew toys
  • Limit your use of plastic, especially as food containers and use glass or stainless steal instead.

Current regulations

  • The European Union has banned/phased out phthalates in several products, especially toys.
  • The US EPA has phased out three phthalates, DEHP, BBP, and DBP.  However there are several other phthalates that are still commonly used in cosmetics, personal care products and toys.
  • Unfortunately there is little regulation on products that are imported from other countries into the US, so it is unknown what the phthalate content is.

Supporting articles

http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/newscience/oncompounds/phthalates/phthalates.htm

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/less-potent-dinp-phthalate-not-so-different/

http://www.ewg.org/reports/teens

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2011/01/22/suzuki-health-products-hormone-disruptors.html

http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2005/113-8/ss.html

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/121/2/e260

 

The sticky truth about non-stick pans January 14, 2011

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 3:09 pm
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Non-stick pans

Non-stick pans…what a great idea!!  They require no butter or oil, allow eggs to slide off, and make cooking so easy….what could be better!!  Unfortunately, along with our omelets…little known harmful chemicals such as PFOA & PTFE, are also sliding off.  Teflon, manufactured by DuPont, is the most well known non-stick coating. The EPA has asked DuPont and several non-stick cookware companies to phase out PFOA by 2015.

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What is it?

  • Non-stick pans are coated with PTFE (polytetraflouroethylene) coating, the most common PTFE is Teflon
  • PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is a chemical used to bond the non-stick coating to the pan

How does non-stick coating (such as Teflon) get into my body?

  • When non-stick pans are used at high heat, non-stick coating can break down and be released into toxic smoke and fumes
  • Non stick coatings can chip off from scratches & overuse and end up in your food
  • PFOA has been found in 95% of Americans and in the blood of most newborns

How is it bad for me?

  • Cancer in animals studies, especially when young animals are exposed
  • Low birth weight in newborns, in mother’s who were exposed to PFOA
  • PFOA has been linked to birth defects
  • PFOA linked to increased level of cholesterol
  • PFOA linked to endocrine disruption
  • PTFE fumes can cause fever and “Teflon flu” with symptoms of chills, headaches and fevers

 

Safer Alternatives

  • Stainless steel pans- Great to cook with, but even with lots of butter and oil, will sometimes stick
  • Hard anodized
  • Iron Skillet- yes our parent’s generation had it right, the good’ol iron skillet

If you must use non-stick

  • Do not use at high heats
  • Do not use metal utensils on non-stick cookware
  • Wash non-stick cookware by hand
  • If the coating starts to chip, it’s time to toss the pan


 

Supporting Articles

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2605.2008.00870.x/full

http://www.revolutionhealth.com/healthy-living/natural-health/natural-home/health-hazards/teflon

http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/teflon4.htm

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hJdnEzg00IYC&oi=fnd&pg=PP5&dq=non+stick+cookware+safety&ots=dgucHy_6fE&sig=g5a2Rmd9tnt3Bub5EFPOr5_zYwg#v=onepage&q&f=false