the ecovangelist

SIMPLE CHANGES FOR A HEALTHIER YOU!

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

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Earthquake….you ready? Your disaster kit checklist!! March 23, 2011

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 2:35 am
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In light of the earthquake in Japan, I decided to dedicate this next post on what should be in your earthquake or disaster preparedness kit.  Since many of us are guilty of not having a disaster kit and/or plan, I urge all of you to spend an hour during your weekend and prepare a kit.  It’s Easy!!!  You probably already have majority of these items around your home. The key is to put them in a dedicated container and to devise a plan with your family.  Here is a list of items that should be in your earthquake/disaster kit.

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All items should be placed in a large water-proof, plastic container that is easily accessible and preferably placed outside.

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WaterOne gallon per person per day. Keep at least a 3-day supply and store in plastic bottles.

FoodCanned non-perishable food, 3-day supply.  High energy food that will not make you thirsty.  Try to avoid foods that require water to prepare them.

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First Aid Kit

  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage/dressing
  • Burn ointment
  • Over the counter medication: Pain-med, Aspirin, Anti-diarrhea
  • Prescription medications: inhaler, insulin, heart medication
  • Scissors
  • Latex gloves
  • Tweezers

Documents (copies of)

  • Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
  • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
  • Bank account and credit card numbers
  • Important telephone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)

Blanket or Sleeping bag

Minimum of $100 cash since banks/ATMs shut down during disasters

Warm clothing and Rain gear

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Tools

  • Battery-operated or hand crank radio
  • Heavy Duty gloves
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Signal flair
  • Batteries
  • Matches
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to cover broken windows)

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Nice to have items but not essential

  • Battery operated lanterns
  • Dust Mask and Goggles
  • Family photos, to find missing people
  • Gas/camping/portable stove
  • Crowbar
  • Solar charger
  • Whistle

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Also, if you would like to donate to the Red Cross for the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief fund, please click on the link below

http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.1a019a978f421296e81ec89e43181aa0/?vgnextoid=af4f8ddf76cce210VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD

 

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


 

Flame Retardants ….the burning truth April 4, 2010

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 9:33 am
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What are Flame Retardants?

Flame Retardants are commonly used to prevent the spread of fires. While chemical flame retardants have done an excellent job of protecting us from fires, low dose exposures have been linked to health concerns. Several types of chemical flame retardants such as octaBDE & pentaBDE have been banned in the US due to increasing health concerns. However Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE, type DecaBDE is still in use, and is required by the state of California to be used on several products.

Why are Flame Retardants used?

The original intent of PBDEs was to prevent the spread of fires. This was more imperative when indoor smoking cigarettes was prevalent. With the decrease in smoking, the risk of home fires has reduced and an excess of PBDEs are unnecessary.

Health Concerns with PBDE:

PBDEs are of greatest concern for children and pregnant women. Limited human studies have been conducted on PBDEs. However, of the limited studies that have been done, they have shown that exposure to PBDEs, can possibly cause the following:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Decreased Fertility
  • Developmental, reduced IQ
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cancer (in animals studies)

How am I exposed to Flame Retardants?

    • Products sprayed with PBDEs
      • Sofas
      • Mattresses & other furniture
      • Carpet Padding
      • Children’s clothing
      • Computers , TVs & other Electronics
    • Food: Since PBDEs are overly used in our environment, they have found their way into the eco-system via disposal of chemicals – especially in marine life. People are now exposed to PBDEs through consumption of dairy, fish, beef and other high fatty foods.
    • Americans were found to have 20 times greater PBDE levels in their body, compared to Europeans.
    • PBDEs bioaccumulate, meaning they are largely resistant to environmental degradation/decomposition. Essentially, they survive in our environment and bodies for a very long time.

 

Children’s Clothing:

Currently majority of children’s pajamas have PBDEs incorporated in the fibers. If you want to purchase clothing that is PBDE free, look for labels that state they are flame retardant free

  • Organic sleepwear is often free of PBDEs
  • Some polyester fabrics are naturally fire resistant and do not require PBDEs
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require tight fitting sleepwear to be flame resistant

What Can I do?

    • Purchase Mattresses that are flame retardant free (options listed below)
      • Avoid furniture labeled as meeting California TB 117
    • Vacuum and dust often, since primary route of exposure is through inhaling dust
    • Keep windows and doors open for cross ventilation
    • Purchase flame retardant free children’s clothing
    • Limit consumption of high fatty foods such as beef, fish, butter
    • Wash your hands before eating or handling food
    • Install a Fire Detector to protect you from fires

 

Flame Retardant Free Mattresses

Supporting Articles and News

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/flame-retardants-and-human-fertility

http://www.epa.gov/ncea/iris/toxreviews/0035-tr.pdf

http://greensciencepolicy.org/consumer-information/

http://greensciencepolicy.org/building-materials/

http://www.pri.org/health/effects-of-chemicals-in-flame-retardants1860.html

 

Plastic bottles and BPA…why should you worry?

Filed under: In your body — theecovangelist @ 2:01 am
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What is BPA?

  • BPA, also known as Bisphenol A is a common chemical used to make plastic and is lined in metal containers.
  • It is found in baby bottles, water bottles, almost all canned food, and soda cans When heated or cooled, BPA leaches into food and liquids.
  • The chemical was found in the urine of 95% of Americans tested How does it effect me? BPA is a known endocrine disruptor and when in your body, it can mimic your hormones, eventually causing an imbalance.
  • Several studies have linked BPA to many medical problems, including breast and prostate cancer, thyroid disruption, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, hyperactivity and possibly miscarriages.
  • This is of specific concern for children, since several baby bottles still have BPA, and many of the effects are seen in fetal and infant brain development.

What should I do?

  • Use Stainless Steel bottles
  • Use Glass containers to store food
  • Avoid plastic bottles and containers….yes even many of your favorite Nalgene bottles have BPA
  • Avoid canned food, canned soda Aluminum bottles are great also, but are sometimes lined with BPA, so double check before you purchase
  • If you must use plastic bottles/containers: make sure they are BPA free, do not leave them in extreme heat or cold.
  •  Do not put in them in the dishwasher, hand wash gently Avoid #7 and #3 plastics: Most plastics have a symbol or number at the bottom.
  • Plastics #1, #2, #4, #5, #6 do not use BPA, but may leach other chemicals

Supporting News Articles and Journals

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/opinion/08kristof.html?_r=1 http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm197739.htm http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/34532034.html “CERHR Expert Panel Report for Bisphenol A” http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/84527992.html http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123270713/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703906204575027260626461950.html