Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Easiest Way to Avoid Toxins in Food

The nation's food supply has been invaded by an army of hormone-disrupting agents. Take your average tomato, which, as designed by nature, is packed with nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants. As grown by today's conventional farming methods, the tomato gets sprayed with a host of pesticides, then picked too early because it has to travel thousands of miles to your grocery store, then sprayed with argon gas to make it ripen (since it didn't get the chance on the vine). Suddenly, our tomato is a lot less healthy for us and for the environment.

So, what's the best way to avoid 90 percent of the chemicals involved in growing food and getting it to market? Eat organic foods instead of conventional ones. The term "organic" applies to farming methods that produce food without pesticides or other chemicals. The idea is that by allowing natural processes and biodiversity to enrich the soil and protect crops from pests, as opposed to relying upon synthetic chemicals or genetically modified seeds, we'll get healthier food and a healthier environment. Here are some of the many benefits of eating organic foods:

Organics help you avoid pesticides and other chemicals. Certified organic foods cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

Organics help you avoid scary hormones and antibiotics. To be certified organic, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products must come from animals that have not been given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Organic fruits and veggies can be more nutritious. Because organic fruits and vegetables can't rely on pesticides, they have to fight off bugs with their own "immune systems," naturally raising their antioxidant levels. Also, conventional farming methods can strip nutrients out of soil over time, so there's a good chance your organic fruits and vegetables came from better-quality, nutrient-rich ground. You can tell if a fruit or vegetable is organic by looking at the number on the sticker: If it has five digits and starts with 9, the food is organic. If it only has four digits, the food is conventional. (If it has five digits and starts with 8, the food is conventional and genetically modified.) For foods with multiple ingredients, identifying truly organic products becomes trickier, so look for the USDA organic seal. The USDA regulates the claims a food can make about how organic it is. Here's what the label lingo means:

  • "100 percent organic" — All of the ingredients in the food are certified organic. These products can display the USDA organic seal. 
  • "Organic" — At least 95 percent of the ingredients are organic. These products can display the USDA organic seal. 
  • "Made with organic ingredients" — At least 70 percent of the ingredients are certified organic. The other 30 percent can be anything. These products cannot display the USDA organic seal. 
  • "All natural" — This term is not regulated and can mean anything. Don't rely on it.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


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Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to Stay Fit Even in Winter

I know it's tough to work out when you have to rise before the sun and bundle up before you head outdoors. What you really want to do — and the last thing you should do — is to hit the snooze button and pull the blankets up over your head. But it's only winter! Don't let it throw you off your game.

Yes, the so-called winter blues produced by short days and cold weather can be very real and very draining, but exercise is one of the best ways to fight those feelings. Stop wasting time mulling over whether you should get up at 5 a.m. Get moving! That means getting your gear ready the night before so you can grab it and go. Remember, no excuses! Once you're outside, you'll be glad you stuck to your plan — and you'll find out pretty quickly that cold air can be just as good as coffee when it comes to getting you moving.

Here are some other tips for getting outdoors when the temperature drops:

  • Protect yourself. Dress in layers of soft, breathable fabrics such as bamboo, organic cotton, and merino wool. You'll be able to adjust the layers according to your body heat — remove them as you warm up, and putting them back on as you cool down. Take care to protect your head, hands, and neck with hats, gloves, and scarves, and don't neglect any exposed skin — apply layers of organic SPF face cream and lip balm as needed. 
  • Stay hydrated. When your body's working hard to stay hydrated out in the cold, dry air, each exhalation can sap your system a little more. People tend to forget that they can get dehydrated as easily by exercising in cold weather as in hot, so it's extremely important to up your water intake. The same goes for fuel: Even if you aren't out to run a marathon in Antarctica, getting a hearty helping of complex carbs an hour or two before vigorous exercise can make all the difference. 
  • Warm up…and stretch and cool down inside, where it's warm. When it comes to the cold weather, it's really important to make sure your muscles aren't stiff, so take the time to warm up slowly to prevent pulling a muscle. 
  • Be smart. Listen to your body — and the weather forecast. Bring it indoors if the mercury dips unusually low — freezing temperatures can end up doing more damage than good for even the most ambitious of outdoor enthusiasts. After all, you can always do my circuits or DVDs indoors! 
 Remember — the best way to liven up the dead of winter is to make great use of it. Running, hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating are all ideal for getting outside and enjoying winter's beauty.