One of the premier arguments used against organic farming methods in the “organic farming vs. Big Ag” debate is that organic farming is incapable of providing enough food to feed the planet. However, a recent article citing a study to be published in Nature tells a different story.
The joint study between the Univeristy of Minnesota and McGill University in Montreal did indeed find that crop yield is typically higher using non-organic farming methods versus organic methods. However, it also found that when best farming practices are used on organic farms, crop yield is actually higher than with non-organic crops.
“We found that, overall, organic yields are considerably lower than conventional yields,” explains McGill’s Verena Seufert, lead author of the study to be published in Nature on April 26. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) “But, this yield difference varies across different conditions. When farmers apply best management practices, organic systems, for example, perform relatively better.”
Furthermore, researchers cited the use of excessive amounts of environmentally damaging nitrogen-rich fertilizer as being chiefly responsible for the increased yield using conventional farming methods. Yet, the environmental ramifications of using such heavy-handed methods seems to outweigh the increased crop yields.
‘Of course, the cost of using 171 million metric tons of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is paid in dead zones at the mouths of many of the world’s rivers. These anoxic zones result from nitrogen-rich runoff promoting algal blooms that then die and, in decomposing, suck all the oxygen out of surrounding waters. “To address the problem of [nitrogen] limitation and to produce high yields, organic farmers should use best management practices, supply more organic fertilizers or grow legumes or perennial crops,” Seufert says.’
Here’s a great article at Natural Health Sherpa written by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS. In the article, Dr. Bowden makes it clear why HFCS is dangerous to your health, citing studies that indicate the dangers of high fructose corn syrup. He also takes time to explain the chemical make-up of HFCS in an honest and straightforward manner.
Despite the similarities between HFCS and table sugar, Dr. Bowden says the data strongly indicates that high fructose corn syrup is indeed a high fructose health disaster:
“When fructose is found in its original setting (like an apple or a berry), it’s surrounded with healthful nutrients like phytochemicals and fiber. When it’s extracted and made into a liquid sweetener, it’s a complete nightmare.
Studies have shown that fructose produces insulin resistance in animals. Insulin resistance is a central feature of metabolic syndrome and type ll diabetes.
More than any other kind of sugar, fructose raises triglycerides—a serious risk factor for heart disease. In 2000, Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto fed a high-fructose diet to rodents that have a fat metabolism similar to our own—Syrian golden hamsters. In a matter of weeks, the hamsters developed both elevated triglycerides and insulin resistance.
Fructose has also been linked to non-alcoholic, fatty-liver disease. Rats that were given high fructose diets developed a number of undesirable metabolic abnormalities including elevated triglycerides, weight gain, and extra abdominal fat. So it’s no wonder it contributes mightily to creating new fat on your body.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recently released test results that gave “failing” grades to products sold by many name-brand and premium food companies, based on how their products lived up to food label claims. The tests were conducted between 2006 and 2010, and were released under Canada’s access to information laws.
The test results released indicated that name brands such as Kraft, Frito Lay, and Heinz as well as premium and organic brands such as Amy’s Kitchen, Eden Organic, Natur-a, and Kashi had flunked nutrition claim testing.
“CFIA allows for a variance of up 20 percentage points on nutrition information found on food packages to account for natural variances in ingredients or deviations in testing equipment. Anything beyond that is considered unsatisfactory.”
These results seem to point to the fact that it’s best to eat mostly foods that are whole, fresh, and locally grown. No matter how well-intentioned a food manufacturer may be, it appears that the more processed a food or dish is, the greater the chance for a negative impact on nutritional content – even if the product in question is organic.
As someone who has firsthand experience with food allergies and inflammatory disease, I find this TED talk by Robyn O’Brien on food allergies to be of great interest and significance.
I find what she has to say about bioengineered proteins that have been added to our foods over the last few decades to be chilling. The correlation between the introduction of those proteins and the incidence of food allergies in children is quite telling.
Is Losing Weight Naturally Better Than Medical Weight Loss Methods?
Losing weight naturally seems to be an unpopular solution these days. With medical weight loss centers and medical doctors selling the benefits of surgery for weight loss, weight loss prescription medications, and the hCG diet, it’s no surprise that many consumers often go for the fast and “easy” ways to lose weight.
Unfortunately, just as traditional Western medicine often only deals with the symptoms and not the cause of an illness, medical weight loss solutions often work in much the same way. For example, many prescription weight loss pills are stimulants that merely suppress the appetite; however, this does nothing to address the reasons why the individual is driven to overeat, or why they have such food cravings in the first place.
Natural Weight Loss vs. Medical Weight Loss Interventions
Surgical interventions often come with more risks than they eliminate. Lap band surgery is one of the most common interventions, and it is often touted as being the safest… but that’s not saying much. According to a recent ABC news story, roughly half of patients who get lap band surgery have to have it removed due to complications. These complications can include infection, damage to the stomach, and the lap band itself slipping from the intended position.
Of course, hCG diet treatments have become all the rage, especially since Kevin Trudeau wrote about them in his book. However, calling the hCG diet a “natural weight loss method” is like calling immunizations a natural way to boost the immune system. The hCG diet is anything but a natural method of weight loss.
The hCG diet involves injecting the patient with unnaturally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG). The problem with this is that hCG is normally only produced in a woman’s body during pregnancy in order to facilitate post-partum lactation. In other words, in nature its function is to help the mother’s body release fat for calories to feed her baby during breast-feeding. This is one reason why breast-feeding mothers are able to lose their “baby weight” so quickly.
Sure, this sounds great – but what about the risks? The main risk with this diet is malnourishment, which leads to rebound weight gain after the treatments stop. Patients on the hCG diet are instructed to cut their daily caloric intake to just 500 calories a day. This is a dangerously low intake level that can have serious long-term consequences to the patient’s health and metabolism, thus sabotaging their weight loss.
As anyone who has successfully lost weight permanently can attest, severe calorie-restricted diets never work in the long-term, because the metabolism crashes in order to conserve calories. This is a natural response to the famine-like conditions these sorts of crash diets simulate, and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. And, when you get off your ultra-low calorie eating plan, you gain all that weight back quickly, and usually end up weighing more than before.
The Alternative to Medical Weight Loss
So what’s the answer? Instead of trying to take the quick and easy route (and potentially risking your health in the process), opt instead for methods of losing weight naturally. These interventions work along with the body to allow you to lose weight in a gradual, natural way that will allow you to keep the weight off for the long term.
Is losing weight naturally easy? Of course not, because it requires permanent lifestyle changes. However, natural healthy weight loss is obviously the safest and least-invasive method of losing weight permanently.
You can find more information on losing weight naturally in my new book, The Simplified Diet, available for sale on Amazon.com.
Many natural health advocates are turning to seaweed nutrition sources and sea vegetables to supplement the minerally depleted foods commonly found in grocery store shelves and produce aisles.
Yes, you read that right – the fresh fruits and vegetables that are commonly found in your local produce aisle are depleted of vital minerals that are essential to your good health.
The reason? Widespread large-scale corporate farming and agriculture practices, flood control (silt from flood waters replenishes soil when it floods), irradiation, and a lack of good crop rotation practices have led to food that is just not as nutritious as it once was.
For this reason, many health-conscious and nutrition-savvy people are turning to sea kelp and other sea vegetables to supplement their diets with naturally occurring “seaweed nutrition“.
Seaweed and sea vegetables are consumed by people who populate coastal regions of the world on a daily basis -
Seaweed is high in iodine, calcium, and magnesium – minerals which are often found to be deficient in the modern diet -
Seaweed also contains numerous trace and rare minerals that have been depleted from our soils; this is likely due to the fact that the minerals that have leached out of our soils have ended up in the oceans for ages on end -
Many Asian restaurants serve seaweed as a condiment or as a wrap for sushi and other foods. You might even be able to find dried seaweed (“nori”) in your local supermarket or whole foods store.
However, if you can’t find a good source of natural sea-harvested seaweed in your local area, another way to enjoy the benefits of seaweed nutrition is to take a liquid supplement that contains sea vegetables every day.
Green drinks and powders have recently experienced increasing popularity among people interested in naturally healthy living. But what’s the deal with these green drinks that make them so popular among die-hard natural health fans?
For starters, green drinks are chock full of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are a classification of chemical compounds that are naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables. These phytochemicals are believe to contribute to our overall health and wellness, although they are not considered to be essential nutrients by mainstream medical science.
The fact is we know very little regarding the role these plant chemicals and compounds play in our health. However, what we can observe is that when people follow a diet that is high in raw uncooked fruits and vegetables, they generally experience a greater degree of health and wellness.
It is believed that certain phytonutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables serve to protect the body at the cellular level from oxidant damage, perhaps by acting as powerful antioxidants. Many diseases and illnesses can be traced back to cellular and DNA damage caused by cell oxidation, which is why health practitioners often recommend supplements that contain antioxidants such as A, C, and E.
Since most of us don’t eat nearly enough fresh fruits and veggies, taking a good greens supplements every day can be a form of nutritional insurance to ensure we’re getting all those phytonutrients that our bodies potentially need each and every day. Simply mixing a scoop or two of greens into your favorite juice is a quick and efficient way to get more the nutrition your body needs.
So when it comes to green drinks, drink to your health and drink up!
How To Help Manage Your Autoimmune Disease Through Natural Eating and Living
If there’s ever been a more controversial topic related to natural health, it’s overcoming disease through naturally healthy living, diet, and supplementation.
For mainstream Western medicine, the controversy surrounds the proliferation of poor information being disseminated online regarding natural health and healing. Their primary argument usually hinges on the fact that much of the information shared online regarding natural health and healing is not proven science.
Yet, unfortunately most of the research dollars “invested” into medical research go to studies testing new pharmaceuticals, while scant little is set aside for researching alternative and complimentary medicine.
This is no surprise, considering most of the research funding and grants come from government coffers and big pharma.
Yet, for those of us who have been through the modern medical merry-go-round in search of a cure for what ails us, blind faith in what the Western medical establishment has to say about dealing with chronic autoimmune disease has almost certainly left us wanting.
As someone who has lived with an autoimmune disease for nearly a decade, I can honestly say that if I hadn’t taken my health into my own hands, I would not be living anything near what could be considered a normal life at this time. After being cut on (needlessly due to being misdiagnosed), prodded, poked, bled, prescribed, and led to believe that there was nothing to be done over a six-year period, I’d had enough.
So, I went looking elsewhere for answers.
As it turns out, the road back to health through natural living is a long one, and full of detours. And I’ll be the first to admit, I fell for quite a few natural health remedies that weren’t what they claimed. Such experiences can be discouraging, to say the least.
Yet, I can also say wholeheartedly that learning to live a naturally healthy lifestyle over the course of several years has led to the greatest improvements in my overall health and quality of life.
Here are some suggestions that I can make for those of you who are suffering from autoimmune diseases, based on my own experiences:
First off, find a good rheumatologist who is open to integrative approaches to health and wellness. There’s nothing worse than having to fight your physician to get alternative treatment options. A good doctor’s attitude should be that if it doesn’t hurt you and it makes you feel better, keep doing it. So, find a physician who cares more about your well-being than his or her own ego; believe me, it will make a world of difference in your care.
Start with your diet. Many autoimmune disorders have shown a correlation to food and diet. I have personally experienced this in my own road to recovery, and can attest to the fact that what you eat does make a difference. Start with eliminating all junk food, sugar, alcohol, fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, and other foods that are commonly known to be bad for you from your diet. Then, look into following a diet similar to the rheumatoid arthritis diet (eliminating common “trigger foods” like wheat, soy, dairy, and corn can make a HUGE difference in how you feel). I actually wrote a whole book on this, which you can buy on Amazon here. But, if you have time you can find plenty of information online as well. And, eat as much whole, raw, organic fruits and vegetables as possible.
Cut down on your stress. Stress causes a whole cascade of hormonal and chemical changes in your body, that if left unchecked and unaltered, can cause a host of illnesses. You may even notice that stress triggers symptomatic flare-ups of your condition. This is common among people with autoimmune disease. So, start doing deep-breathing, yoga, self-reflection and quiet time each day. Believe me, it helps.
Supplement your diet with whole-food nutrition. I suggest starting with a good natural daily vitamin, as well as taking supplements that are known to help the body deal with stress and alleviate inflammation. Make sure you check with your physician to avoid any drug interactions if you’re on medicines, as many herbs and some vitamins and minerals can interfere with drug absorption, etc.
Rest. This may require altering your lifestyle considerably. Do it. Your body needs time to heal. Once you eliminate the culprits from your diet, and start providing it with the nutrients it needs to heal it will still take time to heal. Also, avoid overexertion on your “good days” as this can trigger a relapse.
Hydrate with clean water. Drink purified and filtered water only. Remember that the stuff in clear bottles can leach chemicals from the plastic. Best to have your own water filtration system. Get a good one if you can. If not, even the $20 water filtration pitchers are better than nothing.
Exercise, but in moderation. It’s tempting to start pushing it when you have good days or when you start feeling better. Resist this temptation. 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week, along with a brisk walk each day is plenty. But, keep moving. Movement helps move lymph and helps the body clean out toxins and waste. Also, being outdoors in the sun is one of the best things you can do to improve your mood. Get some sunlight every single day.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you learn to manage your autoimmune symptoms. Remember that our bodies break down from years and years of constant abuse and insult; it will take time for you to recover.
Be patient, and stick with the suggestions above over time. Your health will improve when you convert to and stick with a naturally healthy lifestyle.
As many natural health advocates have long theorized, not all saturated fats are bad for your health. Apparently, some saturated fats can actually have a positive impact on heart health.
The most recent research indicates that “several factors can influence the atherogenic potential of specific saturated fatty acids, including chain length, fats eaten concurrently, overall diet, carbohydrate intake, and the person’s state of health.”
None of the information on this site is intended as a substitute for qualified medical care. Consult a physician before starting any diet, nutrition, or exercise program.