Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is your Puffer Coat or Comforter CRUEL?

Your down coat or bedding may be the result LIVE PLUCKING of geese.

I did an investigative report for Salon. Check it out here 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Flame Retardants in all your furniture, the scandal:

After my son was born more than a decade ago, we got a new couch and carpeted the sun-room to make things more baby-friendly. For some reason I became freaked out about flame retardants + the petrochemical crap in carpets. I am grateful that my husband and his dad spent a whole afternoon laboriously removing the carpet and sofa and NOT A WORD or a grumble. Now, there's hard evidence, and the scandal is worse than you can believe:
RESEARCHERS this summer purchased 42 children’s chairs, sofas and other furniture from major retailers and tested them for toxic flame retardants that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, diminished I.Q.’s and other problems.
In a study released a few days ago, the Center for Environmental Health reported the results: the toxins were found in all but four of the products tested.
“Most parents would never suspect that their children could be exposed to toxic flame-retardant chemicals when they sit on a Mickey Mouse couch, but our report shows that children’s foam furniture can carry hidden health hazards,” a co-author of the study, Carolyn Cox, said in releasing the report.
These flame retardants represent a dizzying corporate scandal. It’s a story of corporate greed, deceit and skulduggery, powerfully told in a new HBO documentary, “Toxic Hot Seat,” that is scheduled to air on Monday evening.
This is a televised window into political intrigue and duplicity that makes “House of Cards” or “Breaking Bad” seem like a Sunday school picnic.

read more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/kristof-danger-lurks-in-that-mickey-mouse-couch.html?smid=pl-share

Friday, December 06, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wholesome Chow ORGANIC Gluten Free Flour - a winner~

Gluten-free flour is hard enough to find as it is, but I worry about GMOs and pesticides and I was so thrilled to try Wholesome Chow's ORGANIC GF flour (it's also vegan). Substituted it 1:1 for normal recipes, and here's Smitten Kitchen's chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. I also substituted coconut sugar and GF chocolate chips, etc., and made not only a healthy version but they tasted pretty close to "real" cookies. Then again, I've been GF/organic/white sugar free for so long, who knows.

Even better, this mix is completely allergy free: no wheat, soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, casein or nuts.  At our son's school, everyone has some kind of allergy, and this is going to be perfect.

I also made these wonderful pumpkin muffins, for which I just mixed up mooshed organic steamed pumpkin from the farmer's market, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and flour and got these beauties:

They also make baking mixes and it uses organic evap'ed cane juice--as well as cake and frosting mixes. These aren't low-carb, for the paleo types, but when I want to bake things for guests and have them not necessarily scream GLUTEN FREE, this is my go-to mix. For kids who need to be allergy-free, this is heaven!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Carcinogens in your Trader Joe's shampoo:

Yesterday's post was about using soap nuts do to you laundry AND use the last bits for a healthy shampoo. Maybe after you read this, you'll see it makes loads of sense; I didn't know cocamide DEA was so horrible, I remember seeing it in almost all my shampoos. It causes CANCER:

The Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health has sued four retailers -- Walgreens, Vogue International, Lake Consumer Products and Ultimark Products -- for allegedly selling shampoos and personal care products that contain thecarcinogenic chemical cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA) without proper warning, CEH Communications Director Charles Margulis told The Huffington Post.

If the claims are true, the companies may be in violation of California law, as the state identified the chemical as cancer-causing in June 2012. Under Proposition 65, businesses must notify Californians of "significant" amounts of chemicals in products for purchase. Cocamide DEA, a chemically modified form of coconut oil, is used in shampoos and other personal care products as a thickener or foaming agent. Companies were given until June 2013 to comply and properly label the products.
These companies are only the first four of more than 100 against which the CEH has vowed to pursue legal action; others include Trader Joe's, Walmart, Kohl's and Sephora, Margulis told HuffPost. According to a study commissioned by the CEH (which is not yet available online), the chemical was found in 98 products, including some manufactured by Paul Mitchell, Colgate Palmolive and Colomer. Other products marked as organic or marketed for children were also found to contain the carcinogen.

read more http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/30/shampoos-carcinogens-center-for-environmental-health_n_3831982.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Karma Clean soap nuts

I was recently doing a residency where they provide (wonderful!) food, the artists do the cleanup. They had those brightly colored soap pod things, very convenient, someone laughed as I carefully used two spoons to pick it up. When asked why, I said it's that they FELT very toxic. They now have these pods for laundry detergent, too.

Sadly, I was right, I read a story about how a toddler DIED after he ate one of those detergent pods: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/child-eats-laundry-detergent-pod_n_3764770.html

Anyway, if you really like the convenience of packets, there's nothing easier than these Karma Clean soap nuts packets. You toss 'em in the wash--up to 5 washes--then toss 'em into the compost OR you can even soak them in hot water and use as shampoo. I use a product from India called Aritha, that is also made of soap nuts. Soap nuts are basically just the nuts of a kind of tree and they lather and clean GREAT, I think better than chemical soap. We've been using these for years, plus, our appliance guy said they seem to be very gentle on the washer.

Check out Karma Clean, which is a genuine small business owned by a real person--and maybe bug your local health food store to carry these: http://karmaclean.info/

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's Wheat is just TROUBLE ~

One thing that really bugs me lately is when people make fun of people who are going gluten-free because it's a "fad." I have a medical condition for which I need to go gluten-free, but guess what, I feel much better and also maintain a good weight. Friends I've suggested go gluten-free have all lost weight when needed.

Anyway, maybe this is not to far-fetched. Apparently the wheat we eat today is not as "normal" as what we used to eat. Indeed, the doctor talks about "gliadin" in the new wheat, and that's exactly the protein that makes autistic kids more autistic.

 Modern wheat is a "perfect, chronic poison," according to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has published a book all about the world's most popular grain.
Davis said that the wheat we eat these days isn't the wheat your grandma had: "It's an 18-inch tall plant created by genetic research in the '60s and '70s," he said on "CBS This Morning." "This thing has many new features nobody told you about, such as there's a new protein in this thing called gliadin. It's not gluten. I'm not addressing people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. I'm talking about everybody else because everybody else is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year."
Asked if the farming industry could change back to the grain it formerly produced, Davis said it could, but it would not be economically feasible because it yields less per acre. However, Davis said a movement has begun with people turning away from wheat - and dropping substantial weight.
"If three people lost eight pounds, big deal," he said. "But we're seeing hundreds of thousands of people losing 30, 80, 150 pounds. Diabetics become no longer diabetic; people with arthritis having dramatic relief. People losing leg swelling, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and on and on every day."
To avoid these wheat-oriented products, Davis suggests eating "real food," such as avocados, olives, olive oil, meats, and vegetables. "(It's) the stuff that is least likely to have been changed by agribusiness," he said. "Certainly not grains. When I say grains, of course, over 90 percent of all grains we eat will be wheat, it's not barley... or flax. It's going to be wheat.
"It's really a wheat issue."

Read more here

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Where do miscarriages go?

I have had a number of miscarriages, but most of them were really early. One was at 12 weeks, so I sent it in to the pathologist, but only heard back that it was "normal" (for a miscarriage). I had no idea this is where it might have gone.

This is a beautiful meditation on being pregnant, at that stage where everything is potential, and not:

One moment a young mom-to-be is decorating the baby’s room, preparing to welcome a new son or daughter. The next moment, she is giving birth to death.
For some women every period is a failure. The disappointment, the longing, the despair is overwhelming. One woman describes “years and years of monthly miscarriages—a constant cycle of anticipation, devastation, acceptance, and surrender.”
How much is a human life worth? Women spend tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments that may still end in miscarriage.
What happens to all these miscarriages?
I asked Mom, a retired psychiatrist. She told me that during her pediatric rotation in medical school, she was called to a premature delivery. When she arrived, the obstetrician had already tossed the miscarriage in the trash. Mom looked down. The tiny body was still moving. Mom tried to save it, but it died.
It seems odd that someone so valuable could be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash. But not all miscarriages are discarded. Some are sent to my father.

read more here

from the blog:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Some foods you may be surprised are NOT gluten free

Yes, if you want to stay gluten-free OR begin a gluten-free diet, you should know that it takes UP TO 6 MONTHS for gluten to fully leave your body, so give it some time before you assess how you're doing.

AND ALSO, you have to be very strict with the diet. For son with autism, we just threw everything out  (i.e, gave it away) that had ever come into contact with gluten including the toaster. Because our whole house was gluten free, that helped me diagnose my own problems with gluten.

You may also not know that certain foods that don't look gluten contain gluten, like TABLE SALT (if it's cut with dextrose made from wheat). So do your best to keep up - the gluten-free community is getting better about figuring out hidden sources of gluten such as:

If you have celiac disease -- or another condition that requires avoiding gluten -- you probably got the basics down pretty quickly. It's a no-brainer that things like breads, cakes and beer need to be gluten-free to be on your menu.

But gluten can be found in a number of less obvious foods -- things like pickles, candy and even meat. What's more, not all of them are food. Certain vitamins, supplements and even medications may contain gluten, so make sure all of your doctors, not just your gastroenterologist, are in the loop.


Read more here

Monday, August 19, 2013

Not just Obesity: Soft Drinks Linked to Behavioral Problems in Young Children

As a society, we worry so much about marijuana while THIS is legal. How many of you have seen a harried young mom giving her child a baby bottle full of Coke? Addiction to a corporate product is not only seen as okay, it's something that's started early to guarantee lifetime profits. Just like blowing marijuana smoke in a little kid's face is child abuse ...what is this?

From ScienceDaily:

Aug. 16, 2013 — Americans buy more soft drinks per capita than people in any other country. These drinks are consumed by individuals of all ages, including very young children. Although soft drink consumption is associated with aggression, depression, and suicidal thoughts in adolescents, the relationship had not been evaluated in younger children. A new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics finds that aggression, attention problems, and withdrawal behavior are all associated with soft drink consumption in young children.

read more here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

10 Everyday "health" foods that are commonly counterfeited

This list will seem pretty incredible--aren't there supposed to be labeling laws protecting us? Apparently not. Anyway, a friend brought us some REAL olive oil from a relative's olive grove in Italy. At first I didn't LIKE the oil, I noted a weird peppery burn. Then I found out that it's from oleic acid, the stuff in OO that makes it to healthy. When I've bought other, real, certified oils I've noticed they all have the burn, and much of the cheaper stuff I'd been getting at the supermarket didn't. Lesson learned. 

8. Olive oil
Researchers have found that olive oil is the food most vulnerable to food fraud. In most cases consumers are getting a lesser quality than what is labeled – regular olive oil instead of extra virgin, or a cheaper, non-Italian variety being sold as Italian. But olive oil is also frequently diluted with imposter oils such as hazelnut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil and walnut oil. One sample even contained lard.
In rare instances, varieties of non-food-grade oil may be added in. In one notorious case, more than 600 Spaniards died in 1981 after eating a non-food-grade, industrial rapeseed oil that was sold as olive oil.

The lesson: buy from people you know, small producers if possible and as little processed as possible. Your body will thank you and you won't be throwing money away on toxic crap, like honey that actually has high fructose corn syrup in it. 

Read about the other 9 food products  here>

Saturday, June 22, 2013

VOCs in paint

We needed to have our apartment painted and insisted on low-VOC paints. The contractor screwed up twice (hmmmm) and just used whatever crap he had that was lying around. The landlord tried to tell us that after speaking with the people at the paint store, that after 30 days, it's all offgassed anyway, no biggie.

We did a little research on our own and found that VOCs are terrible and persistent - and can offgas for years. We are gently insisting that the stuff be repainted (it will need primer in some places) even though it will undoubtedly annoy people. Apparently VOCs are so bad, you shouldn't even store your paint where there are humans.

Also, watch out for VOCs in your floor sealer!

From the EPA: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

Friday, June 14, 2013

Deaths tied to YAZ birth control pills:

This is pretty unnerving;

OTTAWA, Ontario — Health Canada records indicate that at least 23 deaths and 600 adverse reactions have been reported among women taking the birth-control pills (BCPs) Yaz and Yasmin (Bayer) in that country.
News of the reports was first reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and has been widely picked up by Canadian media [1].
Adverse-reactions reports, reviewed by heartwire , show that a total of 333 distinct cases, including 15 deaths, were collected for Yasmin and 267 for Yaz, including eight deaths.
The Health Canada database includes adverse reports collected between 2007 and February 28, 2013.
The most common categories of adverse reports for both products are nervous system, vascular, and respiratory/thoracic/mediastinal disorders, but cardiac disorders were not infrequently listed. For Yasmin, cardiac disorders are listed as the primary system organ class in 4.1% of cases; for Yaz, that number was 6.6%.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Alert! FDA Warns agains migraine treatment drugs for pregnant women

Valproate and other drugs are linked to diminished mental function of babies and are now being warned about by the FDA. If you're pregnant, read this: http://hcp.obgyn.net/pregnancy-and-birth/content/article/1760982/2141651

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stuff without carageenan

RE: my earlier post about the food additive carrageenan possibly causing inflammatory conditions like ulcerative colitis, here's a list of foods that normally have it but that you can get without it: http://www.cornucopia.org/shopping-guide-to-avoiding-organic-foods-with-carrageenan/

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ditch your bra?

Over the years I've posted about the possibility of bras contributing to breast cancer, mostly because they impede lymph drainage. You can read about how the daughter of Olga (yes, that Olga of the bras) died of breast cancer herself and how her daughter was committed to making a "better" bra, which may be no-bra. 

Here is an article on how it seems like anatomically, a bra might not be doing you huge favors, either and may make things SAG EVER MORE. Read more here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is Carrageenan bad for you?

Silk sludge= Sick from sludge?

I'm a big seaweed lover, so I thought carrageenan was just another way to get seaweed. However, I'm hearing more and more about how this food additive (I think there's tons in McDonald's milkshakes) may cause gastro and BRAIN inflammation. I think I'd rather be safe than sorry. Also, it's in INFANT formula, although in Europe they don't allow it. That tells you something.

My sadness is that the nut and soy milks I make are so watery, while the commercial stuff is so nice...because of carrageenan.

Supposedly carrageenan is about as natural a seaweed extract as high fructose corn syrup is to corn; i.e., they use terrible alkali and so forth to get it out. I'm getting rid of all my carrageenen products right now.

Read more here: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-18/health/ct-met-carrageenan-0318-20130318_1_carrageenan-fda-scientists-food-additive-safety

and here: http://www.notmilk.com/carageenan.html

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chemicals in perfume

You may have already suspected this, but most commercial perfumes contain chemicals, some petroleum based, many cancer-causing, and in the cases of synthetic musk, they may even affect your hormones.

Especially if you are trying to conceive, you might want to be aware of fragrance use both for yourself and "secondhand" fragrance, e.g., by your colleagues at works, etc., so you can avoid it.

The Environment Working Group helps lay out some of the risks:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just like American "cheese" isn't really cheese, soon what we think of as milk may not be milk anymore if the big business lobby gets its way: it wants to be able to add ASPARTAME (i.e., Equal, i.e., the stuff that can give people seizures) to milk and not tell consumers. Also, children drink more milk and are smaller and so will be affect disproportionately.

The FDA, by law, has to have this issue open for comments. LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU THINK: http://www.infowars.com/u-s-dairy-industry-petitions-fda-to-approve-aspartame-as-hidden-unlabeled-additive-in-milk-yogurt-eggnog-and-cream/ 

Also, I'm not a big conspiracy theorist, but in this particular issues of you google "asparatame" "Searle" (the company) and "Rumsfeld" (yet, the Iraq war-monger), you'll see that it'sa travesty of justice that aspartame was ever approved as safe. Know what's in your food! Protect your right not to be drugged.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

$10 off first order, free shipping at iherb

I love iherb.com, largely because you only need $20 worth for free ship and then with $40 you get free EXPEDITED 2-day shipping, perfect because I am always running out of supplements. Plus, their prices can be very good. I get everything from supplements to candles to gluten free groceries.

Even better, for first timers, get $10 off with this code: PIX328. Check it out: iherb.com

Friday, February 01, 2013

Hemp --biofuel? bio-plastics?

In Korea, so much stuff is made out of hemp: Clothes, rope, even shoes. It was SO useful, the early US colonists were MADE to plant it.

But now, we deliberately deny ourselves this useful plant that needs little in the way of fertilizer/pesticide all because we are somehow scared of another harmless/useless plant, Cannabis.

Treehugger.com has an interesting article on it:

Hemp, which is considered to be a wonder-crop by many, is now legal in Colorado. Voters not only gave the thumb up to marijuana in November, but also to its THC-light cousin. Since hemp has so many uses, from being an ingredient in many types of foods, to skin care creams and lotions, to paper, textiles, bio-plastics and building materials, biofuels, etc... It's going to be very interesting to see how commercial production will shape up and, hopefully, how it'll influence the mindset of the rest of the country and the world.
NPR has a great little piece about this, which you can listen to or read, and theDenver Post also weighs in on the federal-state issue:
Like marijuana, hemp is still illegal in the eyes of the feds, despite Colorado's clear electoral mandate to legalize it.
Federal officials have said little about how they will react to Colorado's new law. Some analysts say it's unlikely they will target individual users, but the outlook is less certain for federal crackdowns on larger enterprises, such as farm-scale growing.
Hemp backers say that would be an extreme injustice, given that hemp has no narcotic properties. But federal law does not differentiate between the cultivation of hemp and marijuana. (source)

read more here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Original OZONATOR - keeps food + fridge fresh

I actually have an ozonator to ozonate water because it's healthful. You probably know about theozone layer, but ozone is actually the natural way our planet cleans itself. You've probably smelled ozone after a big thunderstorm--it's that clean smell.

The Original Ozonator is a gizmo that ozonates the air in your refrigerator. It basically gets rid of things like mold and bad bacteria, so it freshens and also--here's the kicker--it KEEPS FOOD FROM GOING BAD FASTER. Foods that are full of natural bacterias and yeast decompose faster--think of how quickly berries like strawberries go bad. Or the "bloom" you see on blueberries is a yeast that starts the berry fermenting. The Ozonator gets rid of stuff like that and you will save money because your food lasts longer naturally.

Of course, it's not suspended animation--your food will still go bad. However, as an inadvertent test, when we left for Christmas vacation for a week, an expensive package of opened organic turkey (already a few days old) had been left behind, and I was sad it was going to go to waste.

When we got back, I was surprised that it still looked fresh and indeed was not only edible, but still good.

The Ozonator is small and unobtrusive, and works much better than a bo of baking soda. One thing I will caution is that it can be irritating to breathe in ozone, so don't put your face in it while you have the fridge open, wondering what to eat for a snack...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Is US polluting the water it will need to drink? NO FRACKING!

Fracking is ridiculous on so many levels--it uses carcinogenic chemicals, makes people and animals sick, etc. But shortsight profit seekers think it's ok to pollute local aquifers, and the government also exempts them from the Clean Water Act. Read this article and contemplate why this might be a bad bad idea:


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Routine Health Checks have No Effect on Mortality

This is interesting because I am of the school "Why go looking for trouble?" My father was a physician and so my mother goes to the doctor at the drop of a hat. Here's what's happened to her recently:

1. a botched mammogram required her to come in for *2* more radiation-filled mamograms, they thought they saw "something," which I predicted was a calcification. My mother got very very stressed and had 3 more mammograms, all which pointed to a misreading of the 1st one. Also, as I pointed out, she's in her 80s and shouldn't be getting them at all, even though her doctor wants her to come in every 6 months for one because the one was "suspicious"--see what happens?

2. she also has a benign heart palpitation called SVT. I know about SVT because I've had one all my life, too, and because it's benign, I just try to reduce stress, because it's exacerbated by stress. She started seeing all sorts of doctors, once was sent to the ER for some kind of "shot" (she didn't ask what it was) that made her feel terrible and gave her MORE palpitations later and she almost had open heart surgery to install a pacemaker....don't ask. a cardiologist friend finally explained what bullsh*t this all was and that she should leave it alone. She did, and she's fine.

3. she was diagnosed with "pre hypertension" even though her blood pressure was raised b/c she was in the doctor's office (it's called "White coat syndrome"--they even have a name for it). They put her on a BP med that made her faint. So then she almost had her driver's license taken away. They blamed the palpitations and wanted to do a surgical ablation (where they zap and kill the valve--50% success rate). She was fine once she was off the meds.

4. she had a benign cyst that I argued should be left alone. She went ahead and had ONE done and it became more painful and more inflamed that the other one--which went away on its own.

There's more, but let me stop there. My mother is robustly healthy and I wish the doctors would quit trying to make her sick:

This article is from Medscape, a physician's website:

In a systematic review of 14 randomized controlled trials conducted between 1963 and 1999, researchers evaluated the effect of annual health checkups on morbidity and mortality. The authors defined a general health check as "a visit dedicated solely to preventive counseling and screening tests," excluding visits required for the management of chronic conditions or acute care visits.
The researchers evaluated data from more than 182,000 patients and assessed primary outcomes of all-cause mortality and disease-specific mortality. "Secondary outcomes assessed included morbidity, new diagnoses, hospitalizations, disability, worry, self-reported health, referrals to specialists, and additional visits to general practitioners," the authors write.
The researchers found that general health checks had no significant effect on total mortality (risk ratio [RR], 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95 - 1.03), even when other factors such as inclusion of lifestyle counseling, duration of follow-up, and types of testing were examined. In terms of disease-specific mortality, no significant reduction in cancer mortality (RR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.92 - 1.12) or cardiovascular mortality (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.91 - 1.17) was found.
Not all trials included data on secondary outcomes; however, the researchers noted an increase in the number of new diagnoses of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus during the health checks.

read more here

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The flu is here

I'm not sure if the flu is really at an "epidemic" as the news media scaremongers seem to suggest, but an awful lot of people are getting the flu...and that includes people who are vaccinated. My friend who is a primary care physician says that the flu shot's efficacy is only around 60%, so it's up to you to decide your risk/reward ratio.

I used to get free flu shots at work (still do) but in the last few years have decided to go without and (knock wood) I've been fine. Ironically, I was still getting the flu shots so either (1) the flu shot doesn't work, at least for me or (2) it really does give you the flu!

Dr. Mercola suggests the following:
There are many other, far more effective ways to prevent the flu and other flu-like illness, such as dietary interventions, making sure your vitamin D and gut flora are optimized, being more meticulous about washing your hands, getting enough exercise and sleep, and eating foods that support your immune system like oil of oregano and garlic. read more here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/22/flu-epidemic.aspx?

PLAIN SOAP AND WATER is as good or even better than those chemical hand sanitizers, many of which contain triclosan, and ingredient that is banned in Europe. I would add to that making sure you get enough sleep, and for myself, I drink a cup of green tea every day. That's seemed to help a lot of things. And laugh--laughing is good for the immune system!