Milk sold near Chernobyl still radioactive, 30 years after the accident... Cesium persists for hundreds of years
(NaturalNews) 30 years ago the world's worst nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl in Ukraine released a lot of radioactive particles into the atmosphere which killed 31 people and made an 18.6-sqaure-mile exclusion zone around the reactor unsafe for humans for at least the next 20,000...
Climate change may not lead to more floods and droughts after all ... 1200 years of data contradict global warming scare stories
(NaturalNews) Climate alarmists on the Left don't want to hear it, and in fact want to punish – like, with fines and jail terms – anyone who disagrees with their claim that the world is burning up and your SUV is to blame. But in fact, some scientists are now claiming...
How the ketogenic diet can keep unnecessary sugars out of your body, while lowering your risk for cancer
(NaturalNews) The "ketogenic diet" has become one of the latest diet fads, heralded by Hollywood's healthiest stars. But what exactly does this new buzzword mean? Well, the "keto diet," as some like to call it, is notorious for being low in carbohydrates. Maintaining a low-carb diet...
Consumer advocacy groups are taking the FDA to court over genetically modified salmon
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Photo: The story behind this McDonald's Happy Meal will disgust you
(NaturalNews) It's enough to make your stomach turn, but then again, it involves the fast food giant McDonald's, so is it any surprise?What we're talking about is a photo of a McDonald's meal that Alaska resident Jennifer Lovdahl recently shared on social media. It features a...
Higher muscle mass associated with lower mortality risk in people with heart disease
Cardiovascular disease patients who have high muscle mass and low fat mass have a lower mortality risk than those with other body compositions, researchers have found. The findings also suggest that regardless of a person?s level of fat mass, a higher level of muscle mass helps reduce the risk of death.
The mechanism of efficient lymphocyte motility within lymphoid tissues has remained unknown. A research group has found for the first time that a lipid called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) plays a vital role in regulating lymphocyte motility within lymph nodes. Targeting LPA and its receptors may provide novel strategies to control immune responses.
Key to Herbal Remedy?s Success May Be in the Bacteria
Juzen-taiho-to, also known as shi quan da bu tang, is a most popular herbal formula in China and Japan and is used in the West by practitioners of traditional Asian medicine. New research suggests the remedy?s immune-boosting effects are due, at least in part, to bacteria that grow on the roots of one of the formula?s component herbs.
An Inside Look Into the Fish Industry Reveals Disturbing Facts That Could Threaten Your Health
By Dr. Mercola
Nicolas Daniel?s documentary ?Fillet-Oh-Fish? takes a critical look at the fish industry, featuring exclusive footage from fish farms and factories across the globe. Many still have a rather romanticized view of fishing, but when it comes to large-scale food production, the picture is actually rather grim.
Today?s fisheries are faced with a range of severe problems, from overfishing to chemical pollution and genetic mutation from toxic exposures. As noted by the producers of the film, ?through intensive farming and global pollution, the flesh of the fish we eat has turned into a deadly chemical cocktail.?1
Despite that, the fish business is booming, in part due to efforts to keep the dirty underbelly of modern fisheries from public sight.
Aquaculture promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing. But in reality, fish farms actually cause more problems than they solve. There?s really little difference, in terms of environmental pollution, between land-based feedlots and water-based ones.
Farmed Salmon ? One of the Most Toxic Foods in the World?
The film starts off in Norway, looking at the chemicals used in fish farms. Kurt Oddekalv is a respected Norwegian environmental activist, and he believes salmon farming is a disaster both for the environment and for human health.
Below the salmon farms dotted across the Norwegian fjords, there?s a layer of waste some 15 meters high, teeming with bacteria, drugs, and pesticides. In short, the entire sea floor has been destroyed, and since the farms are located in open water, the pollution from these farms is in no way contained.
A salmon farm can hold upwards of 2 million salmon in a relatively small amount of space. These crowded conditions result in disease, which spreads rapidly among the stressed salmon.
According to Oddekalv, sea lice, Pancreas Disease(PD)2 and Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA) have spread all across Norway, yet consumers are not informed of these fish pandemics, and sale of these diseased fish continue unabated.
A number of dangerous pesticides are used in an effort to stave off disease-causing pests, one of which is known to have neurotoxic effects. Fish has always been considered a health food, but according to Oddekalv, today?s farmed salmon is one of the most toxic foods in the world!
Toxicology researcher Jerome Ruzzin has confirmed Oddekalv?s claims. He?s tested a number of different food groups sold in Norway for toxins, and indeed, farmed salmon contains the greatest amount of toxins of them all, and by an incredibly large margin.
Overall, farmed salmon is five times more toxic than any other food product tested. In animal feeding studies, mice fed farmed salmon grew obese, with thick layers of fat around their internal organs. They also developed diabetes.
Ruzzin notes that a theory gaining traction is that rising rates of obesity is related to the increasing number of toxins and pollutants we?re exposed to through our environment and food. In light of his own studies, Ruzzin has stopped eating farmed salmon.
Genetic Mutations and Other Crazy Facts
Besides keeping pests like sea lice in check, the pesticides used also affect the fish?s DNA, causing genetic mutations. Disturbing examples of deformed cod are shown in the film.
What?s even more disturbing is that, according to Oddekalv, about 50 percent of farmed cod are deformed in this fashion, and female cod that escape from farms are known to mate with wild cod, spreading the genetic mutations and deformities into the wild population.
Farmed salmon suffer less visible but equally disturbing mutations. The flesh of the farmed salmon is ?brittle,? and breaks apart when bent ? a highly abnormal feature.
The nutritional content is also wildly abnormal. Wild salmon contains about 5 to 7 percent fat, whereas the farmed variety can contain anywhere from 14.5 to 34 percent.
Many toxins accumulate most readily in fat, which means even when raised in similarly contaminated conditions, farmed salmon will contain far more toxins than wild.
Shockingly, research reveals that the most significant source of toxic exposure is not actually the pesticides or the antibiotics, but the dry pellet feed! Pollutants found in the fish feed include dioxins, PCBs, and a number of different drugs and chemicals.
What Makes the Fish Feed so Toxic?
So what?s wrong with the fish feed? Why is it so toxic? In one Norwegian fish pellet plant, the main ingredient turns out to be eel, used for their high protein and fat content, and other fatty fish from the Baltic Sea.
That?s where the problem begins, as the Baltic is highly polluted. Some of the fish used have toxic levels of pollutants, which then simply get incorporated into the feed pellets.
In Sweden, fish mongers are now required to warn patrons about the potential toxicity of Baltic fish. According to government recommendations, you should not eat fatty fish like herring more than once a week, and if you?re pregnant, fish from the Baltic should be avoided altogether.
Swedish Greenpeace activist Jan Isakson reveals some of the sources of all this pollution. Just outside of Stockholm, there?s a massive paper mill on the bank of the Baltic that generates toxic dioxins.
Nine other industrialized countries surrounding the Baltic Sea also dump their toxic waste into this closed body of water. Dioxins bind to fat, which is why herring, eel, and salmon are particularly vulnerable, and end up accumulating higher amounts than other fish.
As a result of being deemed unfit for human consumption, some of these fatty fish are now primarily used as fish food. In this way, toxicity in the farmed salmon is allowed to build up even higher than in the wild.
One of the Best Kept and Most Dangerous Secrets of the Fish Industry
But there?s yet another problem, and it stems from the manufacturing process of the pellets. The fatty fish are first cooked, resulting in two separate products: protein meal and oil. While the oil has high levels of dioxins and PCBs, the protein powder further adds to the toxicity of the end product.
To the protein powder, they add an ?antioxidant? called ethoxyquin. According to the filmmaker, this is one of the best kept secrets of the fish food industry. Ethoxyquin was developed by Monsanto in the 1950s ? as a pesticide. Its use is strictly regulated, so why is it being added to fish pellets?
A couple of years ago, a Swiss anti-fraud laboratory was surprised to find extremely high levels of ethoxyquin in farmed fish ? some 10 to 20 times higher than the 50 mcg per kilo allowed in food in the European Union ? and that discovery began to unravel the secret. Ethoxyquin was designed for use on fruits and vegetables, but the fish feed industry discovered another novel use for it ? they add it to the feed to prevent the fats from oxidizing and going rancid.
However, the fish feed manufacturers never informed health authorities of their use of the chemical. As a result, the EU strictly regulates ethoxyquin levels in fruits, vegetables, and meat ? there are even standards for kangaroos and reptiles ? but not for the fish people consume. What?s more, the effects of this chemical on human health have never been established.
The one and only study ever done on ethoxyquin and human health was a thesis by Victoria Bohne, Ph.D. a former researcher in Norway who made a number of disturbing discoveries, including the fact that ethoxyquin can cross the blood brain barrier, and may have carcinogenic effects. Bohne, as many other researchers who have made unpopular findings, was pressured to leave her research job after attempts were made to falsify and downplay her findings.
Others have linked the secret use of ethoxyquin in Norwegian fish farming, and the lack of scientific investigation into its effects, to the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, who also happens to be a major shareholder in a commercial salmon farm, and has held many high-ranking positions within the fishing industry.
The Rise of Panga Exploited Fish Consumption
In France, fish consumption has more than doubled in the past five decades, now surpassing consumption of both beef and chicken. To meet demand, fish is being imported from around the globe. Rarely will you find a fish caught off the coast of France. Nearly half of all fish sold in France is raised in fish farms. Lesser known and less expensive species have also been brought to market.
Panga, which is now one of the 10 most consumed fish in France, was relatively unknown a decade ago. Its low price has also made panga a top seller in the school system. The questions asked in the film are, how can this farmed fish be sold at such low prices, and what?s actually in these fish that children are now eating on a regular basis?
The investigation begins in southern Vietnam, where panga is part of the culinary tradition. However, behind this cultural image, there?s a more disturbing reality. Over the past 15 years, panga exports have become a major source of income for the region. In fact, 95 percent of the global production of panga comes from southern Vietnam, and this success has resulted in both environmental and human exploitation.
Farmed panga grow twice to four times as fast compared to those in the wild, allowing them to reach adult size in about six months. The fish are then harvested and processed, which includes washing the fillets in big vats filled with water and polyphosphates ? chemical additives that facilitate freezing.
The chemical also allows the fish to soak up water, which artificially increases their weight. After this process, the fish lack both taste and odor, and will take on the flavor of whatever spices you add to it during cooking.
Environmental Pollution Poses Risks
Many panga farms are plagued with disease, courtesy of the polluted waters in which they?re raised. Mekong River, where many panga farms are located, is one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the world. In 2009, the World Wide Fund for Nature placed panga on their ?red? list of products that pose a danger to environmental and human health.
Millions of Vietnamese households dump their waste directly into the Mekong River each day. Pesticides used in rice cultivation also migrate into this waterway. Green algae and bacteria release toxins into the water and reduce oxygen levels in the water, which adds further stress on the fish?s immune systems, making them more prone to disease.
To address disease, farmers add industrial quantities of drugs into their fish ponds, including a wide array of antibiotics. The side effect is drug resistance, which forces the farmers to keep increasing the dosages. The panga are not the only thing affected by this strategy, of course. Antibiotics spread through the river systems, are absorbed into the fish?s tissues and excreted through feces, which redistributes the drugs into the environment ? and to those who eat the fish.
Are You Eating Fish, or Fish Waste?
Fish can be one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but in the industrial age you have to be ultra careful about choosing the right type of fish. If you needed another reason to avoid processed foods, watch this film to the end, where it describes how fish waste has become a ?highly valued commodity? used in processed foods. At less than 15 cents per kilo, these fish heads and tails, and what little meat is left over after filleting, is a real profit maker.
Virtually nothing actually goes to waste anymore. Fish skins are recycled for use in the cosmetics industry. The remainder of the fish waste is washed and ground into a pulp, which is then used in prepared meals and pet food.
Since food manufacturers are not required to tell you their products contain fish pulp rather than actual fish fillet meat, this product offers a high profit margin for food manufacturers. One tipoff: if the product?s list of ingredients includes a fish without specifying that it?s made with fillet of fish, it?s usually made with fish waste pulp.
Fish fraud is also commonplace. Investigations have shown that 1 in 3 fish labels are false or misleading. Typically, an inexpensive fish is mislabeled as a more expensive one. Some farmed fish are also passed off as wild. Since traceability is more complex in the processed food industry, due to the mixing of ingredients, that?s where most of the fish fraud occurs. It?s somewhat more difficult to pass off fillets of fish as another species, although that also occurs.
Best Seafood Options: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sardines and Anchovies
It?s become quite clear that fish farms are not a viable solution to overfishing. If anything, they?re making matters worse, destroying the marine ecosystem at a far more rapid clip to boot ... So what?s the answer? Unfortunately, the vast majority of fish ? even when wild caught ? is too contaminated to eat on a frequent basis. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals that wind up in the environment.
This is why, as a general rule, I no longer recommend getting your omega-3 requirements from fish. However, I do make two exceptions. One is authentic, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon; the nutritional benefits of which I believe still outweigh any potential contamination.
The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years. Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn't feed on other, already contaminated, fish.
Alaskan salmon is not allowed to be farmed, and is therefore always wild-caught. My favorite brand is Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics, which offers a nice variety of high-quality salmon products that test high for omega-3 fats and low for contaminants. Canned salmon labeled "Alaskan salmon" is a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets.
The second exception is smaller fish with short life cycles, which also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, such as sardines and anchovies, so it's a win-win situation ? lower contamination risk and higher nutritional value. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated. Just make sure they?re not from the Baltic Sea.
Other good choices include herring and fish roe (caviar), which is full of important phospholipids that nourish mitochondrial membranes.
Why Do Insides of Apples Turn Brown After Slicing?
By Dr. Mercola
Apples are rich in phenolic compounds called polyphenols, which play a role in the color, flavor and nutritional quality of the fruit. They?re also the reason why apples turn brown soon after you cut them.
Phenolic compounds are located in the vacuoles of plant cells, while an enzyme known as polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is located in cell structures called plastids. When you cut the apple, the damage from the cut allows contact between PPO and phenolic compounds, which triggers a reaction known as enzymatic browning.1
Cutting an apple exposes the cells to oxygen, which allows the PPO enzymes to rapidly oxidize the phenolic compounds in the apple tissues into ortho-quinones (o-quinones). O-quinones form a natural antiseptic that helps protect the apple from bacteria and fungi.
While o-quinones have no color, they react with oxygen and amino acids to produce melanin, which turns the apple brown. Put another way by a study published in the journal HortScience:2
?The enzymatic browning is a consequence of the oxidation of polyphenols to their corresponding quinones by PPO. These quinones are then polymerized with other quinones or phenolics, originating brown pigments.?
Many Factors Affect How Fast an Apple Browns
An apple?s PPO level and phenolic compound concentration, and thus its propensity for browning, varies between varieties (such as Fuji and Granny Smith) and is also influenced by growing conditions.
Apples with higher levels of phenolic compounds are best for your health, but also tend to brown faster than apples with lower levels. One study suggested that among the apple varieties studied, Fuji is the best for fresh consumption because of its higher phenolic content at harvest time.
However, they suggested a variety known as ?Aori27? is best for processing, as it had the lowest PPO activity and the lowest polyphenol content, and therefore the lowest potential for enzymatic browning.3
You?re certainly better off choosing polyphenol-rich apples for your health and using simple methods to stave off browning (if you?re not planning to eat the whole apple at once, that is). Among them:
Put cut apples in the refrigerator. This will slow down the chemical reactions and oxidation process that leads to browning.
Spray exposed areas of cut apples with pineapple juice or lemon juice, which will slow enzymatic browning.
Blanch apples in boiling water for four to five minutes (this should only be used for apples you plan on cooking, as it will affect the texture).
FDA Approved Genetically Engineered (GE) Arctic Apples in 2015
In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved so-called Arctic Apples, which are genetically engineered to resist browning when sliced or bruised. Developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the apples are engineered to suppress the production of the enzyme that causes browning.
Although the GE apples have been approved for commercial planting, it will be a few years before they?re widely available because the trees first have to be planted and then mature enough to grow fruit.
They will eventually be available in two varieties ? Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. To avoid these ?Frankenfruits,? choose organic apples. As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement:4
?This GMO apple is simply unnecessary ? Apple browning is a small cosmetic issue that consumers and the industry have dealt with successfully for generations.?
Apples Are Antioxidant Powerhouses
Berries, pomegranates and other flashier fruits often make headlines for their antioxidant levels, but apples are also a phenomenal source.
Compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the U.S., apples ranked second for highest antioxidant activity. However, they ranked highest for the proportion of free phenolic compounds, which means they are not bound to other compounds in the fruit and therefore may be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream.5
Notably, much of apples? antioxidant power is contained in the peel, where you?ll find antioxidants like catechin, procyanidins, chlorogenic acid, ploridizin and more. According to the New York Fruit Quarterly:6
?Since apples are so high in antioxidants, it is no surprise that apples, specifically, are associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease.
Three studies have specifically linked apple consumption with a decreased risk for cancer ? [and] a study has shown that apple and pear consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of asthma.
Apple consumption has also been associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease ? [and] a reduced risk of Type II diabetes was associated with apple and berry consumption in another major Finnish study.
Five Major Health Benefits of Apples
It?s said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and here are some reasons why:
1. Brain Health: Apples have been found to protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.7
2. Stroke: Eating apples is linked to a decreased risk of stroke.8
3. Diabetes: Three servings of apples (and other fruits such as blueberries and grapes) are linked to a 7 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.9 This may be due to their beneficial role in blood sugar regulation, as apples contain compounds that may:10
Lessen absorption of glucose from your digestive tract
Stimulate beta cells in your pancreas to secrete insulin
Increase uptake of glucose from your blood by stimulating insulin receptors
4. Cancer: Apples have a number of properties that may help reduce the risk of cancer, including antimutagenic activity, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory mechanisms, antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing activity, as well as ?novel mechanisms on epigenetic events and innate immunity. According to the journal Planta Medica:11
?Apple products have been shown to prevent skin, mammary and colon carcinogenesis in animal models. Epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer.?
5. Heart Disease: Eating apples is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, an association that may be related to their content of antioxidant flavonoids.12
Apples Are Heavily Contaminated With Pesticides: Choose Organic
Apple earned the second highest spot on the Environmental Working Group?s 2016 ?Dirty Dozen? list for most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables (only strawberries were more contaminated).13
Further, much of the antioxidant content of an apple is found in its skin, so you?ll want to leave the peel on when you eat it. For this reason, look for organic apples whenever possible to minimize your exposure to pesticides.
If you purchase conventional apples, briefly soaking them in a solution of 10 percent vinegar to 90 percent water may help to remove some pesticides (and bacteria). When it comes to choosing an apple, the Washington State Apple Commission recommends:14
Choosing an apple with shiny, not dull, skin (dull apples will not be crisp)
Firm apples free from bruises and punctures
Refrigerating apples at 32 degrees F to maintain crispness
Protecting cut apples from browning by dipping them into a solution of one part citrus juice to three parts water
If you?re looking for even more apple facts and nutrition information, be sure to check out our apple food facts page.
It's often suggested ? in media, movies, and the like ? that the more sex you have the happier you'll be. But is this really true? Researchers from Dalhousie University in Canada conducted a series of experiments to find out.
The first study revealed the association between sexual frequency and well-being is only significant for people in relationships. The next two studies involved only those in committed relationships and found the "magic number" to be once per week.1
While having sex more often ? four times a week or more ? wasn't a bad thing, it didn't lead to additional happiness compared to having sex once a week. For couples who may feel obligated to have sex more often just because they think they should, this study takes off some of the pressure.
Sex Makes People More Satisfied in Their Relationship
The researchers revealed that sex leads to increased happiness among couples because it boosts feelings of satisfaction with the relationship. Postdoctoral researcher and lead author Amy Muise told CNN:2
"For people in relationships, their romantic relationship quality is one of the biggest predictors of their overall happiness ? Having sex more than once a week might not be enhancing that (relationship connection), although it is not bad."
That being said, it could also be that couples who have sex once a week or more were happier in their relationships to begin with ? the study couldn't distinguish which came first, the sex or the happiness (and maybe it doesn't matter).
Further, there's certainly no rule that states once a week works for everyone. Some couples may thrive on more and some on less. Most often, sex therapist Vanessa Marin suggested that couples would like to have more sex, simply because their busy schedules make it difficult to find the time.
For this, you can try scheduling it into your calendar, although this is also a personal matter. Some people like to plan their intimate time while others prefer spontaneity. Again, there's no right answer ? do what works for you and your partner.
If You're Happy With Your Sex Life, There's No Need to Rock the Boat
If you and your partner are both satisfied with sexual frequency, there's no need to change things up. In fact, one study found that when couples were "assigned" to double their frequency of intercourse, it decreased happiness and sexual enjoyment.3 It's likely that doing the deed became more of a "chore" in this case.
As lead study author George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, told CNN, "Being told you should do something always makes it less fun."4
If, however, you're not sure where your "Goldilocks zone" is for sex, why not try an experiment? Try having sex three times a week for a month, then try once a week for a month, and keep adjusting until you find the magic number for you and your partner. It's likely that the number will change from month to month too.
Sex Is Good for You ? Really Good
Like letting the sun warm your skin on an early spring day or sinking your teeth into a healthy food you also happen to love, it's always a bonus when something that feels good is good for you ? and that's certainly the case with sex.
Beyond the emotional benefits, you can also expect to gain the following benefits from a healthy sex life.
1. Improved Immunity
People who have sex frequently (one or two times a week) have significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA).5 Your IgA immune system is your body's first line of defense.
Its job is to fight off invading organisms at their entry points, reducing or even eliminating the need for activation of your body's immune system. This may explain why people who have sex frequently also take fewer sick days.6
2. Heart Health
Men who made love regularly (at least twice a week) were 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who did so once a month or less, according to research published in the American Journal of Cardiology.7
3. Lower Blood Pressure
Sexual activity, and specifically intercourse, is linked to better stress response and lower blood pressure.8
4. It's a Form of Exercise
Sex helps to boost your heart rate, burn calories and strengthen muscles, just like exercise. Research revealed that sex burns about 4 calories a minute for men and 3 for women, making it (at times) a 'significant' form of exercise.9 It can even help you to maintain your flexibility and balance.
5. Pain Relief
Sexual activity releases pain-reducing hormones and has been found to help reduce or block back and leg pain, as well as pain from menstrual cramps, arthritis and headaches.
One study even found that sexual activity can lead to partial or complete relief of headache in some migraine and cluster-headache patients.10
6. May Help Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer
Research has shown that men who ejaculate at least 21 times a month (during sex or masturbation) have a lower risk of prostate cancer.11 This link needs to be explored further, however, as there may have been additional factors involved in the association.
7. Improve Sleep
After sex, the relaxation-inducing hormone prolactin is released, which may help you to nod off more quickly. The "love hormone" oxytocin, released during orgasm, also promotes sleep, which may be especially beneficial if you prefer to be intimate right before bedtime.
8. Stress Relief
Sex triggers your body to release natural feel-good chemicals, helping to ease stress and boost pleasure, calm and self-esteem. Sexual intercourse also helped people respond better when subjected to stressful situations like speaking in public.12
9. Boost Your Libido
The more often you have sex, the more likely you are to want to keep doing it. There's a mental connection there but also a physical one, particularly for women.
More frequent sex helps to increase vaginal lubrication, blood flow and elasticity,13 which in turn make sexual activity more enjoyable.
10. Improved Bladder Control in Women
Intercourse helps to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which contract during orgasm. This can help women to improve their bladder control and avoid incontinence.
You can boost this benefit even more by practicing Kegel exercises during sex (a Kegel squeeze is performed by drawing your lower pelvic muscles up and holding them up high and tight, as if you're trying to stop a flow of urine).
11. Increase Intimacy and Improve Your Relationship
Sex and orgasms result in increased levels of the hormone oxytocin - the "love" hormone ? that helps you feel bonded to your partner.
Hugging Is Good for You Too
If you don't have sex regularly, you can still reap many similar benefits from other forms of intimate contact ? like hugging and kissing. Like sex, hugging increases levels of the 'love hormone' oxytocin. This, in turn, may have beneficial effects on your heart health and more.
One study found, for instance, that women had lower blood pressure following a brief episode of warm contact with their partner.14 A 20-second hug, along with 10 minutes of hand holding, also reduced the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate.15
This makes sense, since hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Hugging also activates the orbitofrontal cortex in your brain, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.16,17 A 10-second hug a day can lead to biochemical and physiological reactions in your body that can significantly improve your health. According to one study, this includes:18
? Lower risk of heart disease
? Stress reduction
? Fight fatigue
? Boost your immune system
? Fight infections
? Ease depression
If one time a week is ideal for sex, how many times a week is ideal for hugs? It could be the more the better. According to research published in the British Journal of Theatre Nursing:19
" ? four hugs per day was an antidote for depression, eight hugs per day would achieve mental stability and twelve hugs per day would achieve real psychological growth."
What's in a Kiss?
Like hugging and sex, kissing prompts your brain to release a happy elixir of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. This isn't only important for your happiness, it also may also help to strengthen your relationship. Kissing has also been shown to boost your immune system and reduce allergic responses in people with skin or nasal allergies.20
Separate research also revealed that people who spent six weeks making kissing a priority with their partners reported significant decreases in their levels of stress. In addition to improvements in stress, the kissing participants also reported greater relationship satisfaction and improvements in total cholesterol.21
Another study even found that men who received a passionate kiss before they left for work earned more money.22 This suggests the kiss (and perhaps the happy home-life that goes along with it) makes people happier, boosts self-esteem and, ultimately, makes for a more productive workday.
Could Your Sex Drive Use a Boost?
If you've ruled out physical issues and/or relationship problems, to boost your libido naturally and help restore harmony to your intimate life a change to your lifestyle may be in order. The strategies that follow may help to enhance your sex life by boosting your sex drive.
1. Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is vitally important to eliminate sugars, especially fructose. High levels of sugar in your bloodstream can actually turn off the gene that controls your sex hormones.23
2. Eat a healthy diet, like the one described in my nutrition plan, which will help to normalize your insulin levels. This simple measure has a profound influence on every area of your health, including your sex life.
7. Consider choline and vitamin B5 supplements.The neurotransmitter that triggers the sexual message, in both men and women, is acetylcholine (ACH). With too little ACH, sexual activity goes down. One way to safely and effectively enhance ACH levels in your body is to take choline supplements (1,000-3,000 mg) and vitamin B5 (500-1,500 mg).
8. Stress can dampen your libido and make sex the last thing on your mind. Taking control of your emotions by learning the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can really help in this area to re-ignite your sex life.
EFT is a psychological acupressure technique that can help you effectively address your stress-related thoughts and leave you feeling calmer and more able to face your challenges, whatever they may be, so you're able to focus on more enjoyable pursuits.
9. Try maca root. Maca, a rainforest herb, has been used for centuries as a libido booster, and it's also used to relieve menopausal symptoms in women. Research shows maca root may alleviate antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women, and the herb was well tolerated with few side effects.24
Which Fruits and Vegetables Have the Most Pesticides?
By Dr. Mercola
If you eat strawberries in your morning smoothie or as a quick snack, make sure they're organic. In an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of 48 fruits and vegetables, strawberries earned the dubious moniker of most contaminated with pesticide residues.1
They beat out apples (last year's top offender) and were found to be almost universally contaminated ? 98 percent of samples contained at least one detectable pesticide residue.
It probably comes as no surprise that conventionally grown produce may be contaminated with pesticides, but there are wide variances in the levels of different crops.
Since most people tend to pick and choose which fruits and vegetables to buy organic, knowing which items are most contaminated helps you to prioritize which foods to buy organic and which are safe to purchase conventionally grown.
Eating Strawberries Could Expose You to Dozens of Pesticides
Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S. The average American eats close to 8 pounds a year, "and with them, dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage or are banned in Europe," EWG's Bill Walker and Sonya Lunder said in a statement.2
EWG used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which found strawberries tested in both 2009 and 2014 contained nearly six different pesticides per sample compared to under two per sample for all other produce.3
According to California data, nearly 300 pounds of pesticides were applied to each acre of strawberries grown in the state in 2014. Compare this to corn, which is doused with about 5 pounds of pesticides per acre ? and is considered to be a pesticide-intensive crop.
Hormone-Disrupting, Potentially Cancer-Causing Pesticides Used on Strawberries
What types of pesticides are used on strawberries? According to EWG:4
Carbendazim, a hormone-disrupting fungicide that's banned in the European Union
Bifenthrin, an insecticide designated a possible human carcinogen by California regulators
Malathion, a nervous system toxin that the International Agency for Cancer Research also classifies as a probable human carcinogen
The EWG analysis revealed that 40 percent of strawberries tested had residues of 10 or more pesticides (one sample even had 17 different pesticide residues).
It's also known that some strawberry growers use 60 different pesticides on their fields. Whenever possible, choose organic strawberries or, even better, grow your own.
Strawberries are easy to grow and, as a bonus, they're perennials and will come back each year in most climates. Plus, when you grow your own you get the satisfaction of harvesting your very own seasonal summer treat. As EWG noted, strawberries have only relatively recently become available year-round:5
"Fresh strawberries once were a seasonal treat, available in limited supply only for a few spring and summer months.
In recent decades the increased use of pesticides and other chemically-aided growing methods have made cheap strawberries available year round, and aggressive marketing campaigns have spurred consumption."
The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15: Most and Least Pesticide-Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables
With the exception of strawberries beating out apples for the top spot, EWG's 2016 "Dirty Dozen" list for most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables looks very similar to last year's list. So, too, does their "Clean 15" list, which are those that tend to contain very little pesticide residue.
EWG's analysis combines six different measures of contamination to come up with a composite score for each type of produce. The results are as follows:6
EWG's 2016 Dirty Dozen (Buy These Organic)
Sweet bell peppers
EWG's 2015 Clean 15 (OK to Buy These Conventional)
Most of the samples tested fell within allowable legal limits for pesticide residues. For instance, only five strawberry samples tested exceeded the tolerance level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is the upper allowable limit for individual pesticides on produce.
Unfortunately, just because pesticide levels fall below the tolerance level does not guarantee they're safe. As EWG noted:7
"Some liken pesticide tolerances to a 500 m.p.h. speed limit. If the rules of the road are so loose that it's impossible to violate them, then nobody can feel safe."
For instance, there is no legal limit on the number of different pesticides allowed on food. The effects of these chemical cocktails are unknown, but concern is warranted, especially since adults and children alike are exposed to low doses for a lifetime.
The tolerance levels also fail to take into account more recent research showing such chemicals may be toxic even at very low levels. The CHAMACOS Study is among those showing that very small amounts of pesticides may be harmful. Children born in Salinas Valley, California, an agricultural mecca, were followed through age 12 to assess what impact the pesticides had on their development.8 Mothers' exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:9
Shorter duration of pregnancy
Poorer neonatal reflexes
Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
Increased risk of attention problems in children
Glyphosate Residues Are Still a Mystery
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is the most used agricultural chemical of all time. However, it's not known exactly how much glyphosate may be in your food because the USDA does not test for it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced in February 2016 that it may begin testing foods for glyphosate.
However, for now an analysis commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse10 suggested that eating non-organic, genetically engineered (GE) foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body. The Detox Project explained:11
"Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.
In a separate detailed analysis, glyphosate was found in the urine of cows, humans, and rabbits. Cows kept in a GM-free area had significantly lower glyphosate concentrations in urine than cows in conventional livestock systems."
Eating Organic Lowers Pesticide Levels in Your Body
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine, and unless you're a farmer, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure.12
Eating organic is one of the best ways to lower your overall pesticide burden. The largest study of its kind found that people who "often or always" ate organic food had about 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce.13
Research also found that organic produce had, on average, 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional produce.14 That being said, not everyone has access to a wide variety of organic produce, and it can sometimes be costlier than buying conventional.
Remember that eating vegetables, even if they're not organic, is better than not eating vegetables at all. However, when you need to prioritize, refer to the Dirty Dozen list and buy those organic as much as possible. If you shop at farmer's markets, which I strongly recommend, you can also ask the farmer directly about pesticide usage.
It's possible to find produce that is not certified organic that may still have a lower pesticide burden than typical conventional produce depending on the farmer. So if you can't find organic produce, look for a local farmer who has eliminated pesticide use (or uses such chemicals only minimally).
Finally, if you know you have been exposed to pesticides, eat fermented foods like kimchi. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi may help your body break down pesticides.
Fast Food Identified as a Significant Source of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals
By Dr. Mercola
Fast food contains many ingredients that compromise health, but did you know these convenience meals also come with an extra serving of endocrine-disrupting chemicals? According to recent research, people who eat drive-through hamburgers and take-out pizzas have higher levels of phthalates in their urine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected data on nearly 8,900 Americans of all age groups between 2003 and 2010 as part of a nationwide survey on health and nutrition. Participants reported everything they'd eaten in the past 24 hours and provided a urine sample.
While other studies have investigated exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals from processed food in general, this is the largest study looking at exposure specifically from fast food meals.1,2,3
"Fast food" was broadly defined as food from restaurants without table service and/or those with takeout or drive-through service. So besides McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and similar establishments, it also includes sandwich shops, Starbucks, and other "casual dining" restaurants. As reported by Time magazine:4
"The new report,5 published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate more fast food also had higher levels of two substances that occur when phthalates ? which make plastic more flexible ? break down in the body. "
Fast Food Consumption Significantly Increases Phthalate Levels in Your Body
The two phthalate metabolites identified in this particular study were:6
? Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), a highly lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical that is loosely chemically bonded to the plastic, allowing it to leach out into other fat-containing solutions in contact with the plastic.
Animal studies show that exposure to DEHP can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, particularly the developing testes of prenatal and neonatal males.
? Di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP), a commonly used plasticizer in flexible PVC products.7 While DiNP has been considered harmless from a health and environmental perspective, more recent research suggests it may in fact have similar effects as DEHP and other phthalates.
For example, a 2015 study8 linked both DEHP and DiNP to increased insulin resistance in adolescents.
Approximately one-third of the respondents reported eating fast food in the past 24 hours, and according to the authors, "that alone tells you the public health impact of this type of food preparation."9
Those who got at least 35 percent of their calories from fast food had nearly 24 percent higher levels of DEHP and 39 percent higher DiNP in their urine compared to those who had not consumed any fast food in that time frame.
In those who ate some fast food, but got less than 35 percent of their calories from it, DEHP and DiNP levels were still nearly 16 and 25 percent higher respectively.
Avoiding Fast Food Can Be a Simple Way to Cut Phthalate Exposure
As noted by the authors, many scientific and clinical bodies, such as the Endocrine Society, now suggest reducing exposure to phthalates ? especially during pregnancy.
The problem is they're so widely used, making avoidance difficult. According to this research, simply abstaining from fast food is one way you can significantly reduce your exposure.
Personal care products are another major source of phthalates that are within your control. Pregnant women and young children are at particularly high risk when it comes to these kinds of chemicals. As noted by CNN:10
"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a report11 in 2013 stating that high levels of exposure to phthalates could lead to adverse reproductive outcomes in women.
Research has linked these chemicals with increased risk of fibroids and endometriosis, which can cause infertility, and reduced IQ and behavioral problems in children exposed in the womb. High phthalate levels have also been linked with diabetes risk in women and adolescents...
'This study shows that fast food may be an especially important source of phthalate exposure,' said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program."
Phthalates From Plastic Gloves, Conveyor Belts, Packaging ? It All Adds Up
The researchers point out that one reason fast food exposes you to higher levels of plasticizing chemicals is because workers also use plastic gloves when handling each and every ingredient, and that's a source of phthalate contamination too, over and beyond the actual packaging.
Japan banned vinyl gloves for use in food establishments back in 2001 due to their phthalate content. In the U.S. however, use of vinyl gloves has actually increased over the years due to the rising prevalence of latex allergies.
While additional research needs to be done to identify which foods pose the greatest risk, the study did find that meats and grain-based food items ? even if they were not from a fast food restaurant ? tended to result in higher phthalate exposure.
The exact reason for this is still unclear, but it could be related to the way they're processed, or because the fats they contain bind phthalates more efficiently. That said, fast food as a category had the strongest association with elevated phthalate levels by far.
Researcher Ami Zota notes that previous studies have compared phthalate levels in food before and after packaging, showing that levels rise 100 percent after being packaged. This clearly demonstrates these chemicals do leach out of the plastic and into the food.
Moreover, if the food is packaged when hot, the migration of phthalates is sped up. Findings such as these are hotly refuted by the chemical industry which, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still maintains that phthalates are both safe and relatively stable within the plastic.
Chemical Industry Insists Decades' Old Safety Levels Are Adequate
Both the National Restaurant Association and the American Chemical Society responded to the study in question saying the phthalate levels found in fast food are "well below" levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems potentially harmful to human health.12
However, EPA safety levels for DEHP have not been revised since 1988.
And, according to study author Ami Zota: "The same range of concentrations measured in this [group] overlaps with the range of concentrations that have been measured in some of epidemiological studies that find adverse health effects," so EPA levels may simply be too lenient.
In fact, some researchers suggest there may be NO safe level of phthalates in humans. Dr. Leo Trasande, an associate professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine who has researched phthalates in food, told Civil Eats:13
"No studies in humans have found a safe level of phthalate exposure. We know there are effects of low level exposure. For example, the levels found in this new study are comparable to those previously linked to blood pressure increases14 and metabolic effects15 in children."
Health Risks Associated With Phthalates
Phthalates are one of the groups of "gender-bending" chemicals causing males of all species to become more female. These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales and otters. Scientists suspect phthalates may affect human fertility and reproduction in similar ways.
Animal studies have also linked phthalate exposure to a wide range of other health problems, including the following (see chart below)16,17,18 The reason for their diverse effects has to do with the fact that they mimic natural sex hormones. This is particularly problematic in children who are still growing and developing, as the glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of your body.
Besides being instrumental in sexual function and reproductive processes, your endocrine system also plays a role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism.
? Reduced IQ in children19,20 (phthalates may affect the activity of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, which plays an important role in brain development)
? "Decreased dysgenesis syndrome" involving cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), hypospadias (birth defect in which opening of urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the end), and oligospermia (low sperm count)
Interference with sexual differentiation in utero
Enlarged prostate glands, testicular cancer, breast cancer, and uterine fibroids
Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)
Numerous hormonal disruptions and metabolic disease
Early or delayed puberty
Toxicity to developing male reproductive systems21,22
Neurodevelopmental delays, inattention, hyperactivity, and symptoms of autism23
Phthalates are among the most pervasive of all known endocrine disrupters. According to EPA estimates, more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year.25
They're primarily used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient, but they can also be found in air fresheners, dryer sheets, and personal care products like shampoo, shower gels, lotions, and makeup. Their prevalence in personal care products is thought to be the reason why women tend to have higher levels of phthalates in their system than men.
Furniture, upholstery, mattresses, and wall coverings can also contain phthalates. They've even been detected in infant formula and baby food (likely because they migrated from the packaging materials). They are also used as "inert" ingredients in pesticides.26
Considering how ubiquitous they are, avoiding phthalates entirely may be near impossible. Being mindful when shopping for food, household, and personal care products can go a long way toward minimizing your exposure, but the risks these chemicals pose really demand a more universal response.
As Zota told Time magazine:27 "Our study helps shed light on one potential way that people can reduce their exposure to these chemicals through their diet, but it also points to a broader problem of widespread chemicals in our food systems that will require many different types of stakeholders to get involved in order to fix it."
Tips to Help You Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
To limit your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA), keep the following guidelines in mind when shopping for food, personal care and household products.
? Avoid fast-food restaurant fare and processed goods. Eating a diet focused on locally grown, ideally organic, whole foods cooked from scratch will significantly limit your exposure to not only phthalates and BPA but also a wide array of other chemicals, including synthetic food additives and pesticides.
? Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Besides phthalates, avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) ? two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.
? Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans; be aware that even "BPA-free" plastics typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad for you as BPA.
? Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics.
EWG's Skin Deep database28 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
? Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap as it too contains phthalates that can migrate into your food (especially if you microwave food wrapped in plastic).
? Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or glass doors.
? Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants.
Under the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for DEHP of 0.006 mg/dL, or 6 ppb.29
Note that the Safe Drinking Water Act regulates DEHP levels only for public water supplies, not for well water.
? Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds ? even thousands ? of potentially toxic chemicals, including phthalates.
Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.
? If you have PVC pipes, you may have DEHP leaching into your water supply. If you have PVC pipe from before 1977, you will definitely want to upgrade to a newer material.
This "early-era" PVC pipe can leach a carcinogenic compound called vinyl chloride monomer into your water. Alternatives to PVC for water piping include ductile iron, high-density polyethylene, concrete, copper, and PEX.30
? Consider replacing vinyl flooring with a "greener" material. Also avoid soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens), as there's a good chance it is made from phthalate-containing PVC.
? Read the labels and avoid anything containing phthalates. Besides DEHP, also look for DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), BzBP (benzyl butyl phthlate), and DMP (dimethyl phthalate).
Also be wary of anything listing a "fragrance," which often includes phthalates.
? Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on ? even books, which are often plasticized. It's advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.
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