Category: Nutrition

Resolutions > No Resolutions

How many New Years Resolutions have you made in your life?  How many of them have you actually kept?

Every year, losing weight and getting fit are in the top five resolutions that people in the United States make.  Unfortunately, exercise-related resolutions are usually the easiest ones not to keep, as things like lack of time, low motivation, and other barriers get in the way.

But there is good news for all of us who make these resolutions anyways.

Experts say that if you make a resolution to get in shape, you are more likely to actually follow through than those who make no resolutions at all.

According to researchers at the University of Scranton, about 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and about eight percent achieve their goal.

As most people who lead or participate in health programs know, good intentions are only half the battle, and even the best intentions are often not enough to bring about a lasting change.

Arizona-based wellness and weight management coach Lauve Metcalfe says that unrealistic expectations are why many people have a difficult time keeping New Year’s resolutions.  Some have even said that New Years resolutions can have a negative impact when they’re not met, lowering already-existing feelings of inadequacy and negative self-image.

So how do you make your resolutions, especially those about exercise, more realistic, and ultimately attainable?  Make them S.M.A.R.T.

Jacqueline Ratliff, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, borrows this acronym used for goal-setting in many workplaces, and says:

“With regard to New Year’s resolutions, it is important for people to make these goals S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).”

So whether you’re already pressing the snooze button instead of hitting the gym in the morning, or you’re still trying to figure out which healthy resolutions you should be making this year, remember that making a resolutions is an important first step, and consider making your professional and personal goals S.M.A.R.T. this year.

Cancer + Toxics Update – Everyday Action for Everyday Products We Use

For many cancer patients + advocates, the link between toxics in our environments, and our environment’s role in igniting cancerous activity in our bodies, is increasingly apparent. Scientific research is catching up to what we might guess, intuitively — that toxic chemicals to which we’re repeatedly exposed in our homes, transit, and places of work, might spell bad news for cancer spreading in our bodies.

Many toxic chemicals which disrupt the function of our hormonal and endocrine systems, our nervous and respiratory systems, are a part of our “normal” daily experiences, such as foods with petrochemical pesticides,  and cosmetics with parabens. Consumer campaigns have often focused on products once research is able to prove their carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, effects, such as in the case of BPA.  Another example is Triclosan — a common “anti-microbial” agent in most soaps, many toothpastes, and hygienic cosmetics. Several years ago, Triclosan was proven as an environmentally ubiquitous endocrine disruptor (J. Applied Toxicology), possibly linked to breast and other cancers. While the FDA provides no conclusive answer, many research advocacy groups, like the renowned Environmental Working Group and affiliate programs in “Safer Chemicals Healthy Families“, recommend against the use of Triclosan, which also has no proven increase in “cleaning” capacity over other soap components. (Indeed, with many industry bulwarks to Safe Chemicals Legislation, the FDA “caution” may prove to be “as good as it gets” unless we can advocate for more resounding chemicals legislation for consumers!)

The most recent President’s Cancer Panel Report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now?” walks through the environmental impacts of the status-quo (i.e. stuff we just don’t question) when it comes to our manufacture of carcinogenic products. In 2010, the panel posited that “the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated.” While legislation to regulate toxics in our everyday lives has been introduced in the house and senate each year since that time, it has yet to be voted upon in Congress.

Why is this concern about toxics in our everyday lives not a part of our everyday conversations and everyday actions for cancer prevention and cancer advocacy?

Let us know what you think, readers — !

 

PS – In the meantime, here are some great “everyday” approaches* you can take for:

(1) Cosmetics …. scroll to see which “ingredients” mean you should throw away, or avoid buying

(2) Pesticides in Produce ….. what are the “clean 15″ or the “dirty dozen“? ….how to eat well on budget?

(3) Cleaning Products ….how do your cleaning products “rank”?

(4) Household Items …. and things we use with our kids (sunscreen, and bug repellent, stuff in cans)

(5) ….and best of all, advocacy for Safer Chemicals Legislation, in your district (call or email today!)

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BONUS: Readers, in order to match up to all these well-designed guides by EWG Scientists, let us know: what approaches to advocating against and reducing toxicity do you value in your own life?

 

 

Thanksgiving Health Myths and Facts

Before scrolling to the bottom of the page to see the answers, see if you can figure out which of the following statements are facts and which are fiction:

#1. Turkey makes you sleepy.

#2. Thanksgiving chefs have an increased risk of burns and cuts.

#3. The average Thanksgiving costs 3000 calories and 226 grams of fat.

#4. Stuffing your turkey increases the risk of salmonella poisoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….figured out which statements are fact and which are fiction?  If yes, keep scrolling…if no, keep scrolling…

 

 

 

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Facts:

#2: Thanksgiving chefs have an increased risk for burns and cuts.

It’s TRUE!  Think about how busy the kitchen gets during the Thanksgiving holiday – people can’t resist the smell of Thanksgiving dinner, leading them to gravitate toward and around the kitchen; kids running around playing tag and/or football in and around the kitchen; and the college students grazing on more free food than they have probably had set in front of them all semester…more hands in the kitchen increases the likelihood of cuts and burns whether due to cooking, or just being in the way of the cook.

#3:  The average Thanksgiving costs 3000 calories and 275 grams of fat!

Also true, but this can’t be THAT much of a surprise, right?  All those starches and desserts…so wrong, yet so right…just don’t make a habit of it and try to listen to your stomach – if it’s full, maybe stop after only two slices of Aunt Suzie’s famous pie.

Myths:

#1: The biggest myth of all: Turkey makes you sleepy.

No it doesn’t.  Turkey has no more of that magical natural sedative called tryptophan than any other meat.  So what is it that makes you sleepy? Carbs...

#4: Stuffing your turkey increases the risk of salmonella poisoning.

Not true.  Some people like the stuffing that comes out of the bird, and others would rather never see anything put on their plate that was prepared in such a way.  However, whatever your taste may be, fresh-out-the-bird stuffing can be safe (and for those of you who like that sort of thing, I’m sure you would add ‘yummy’) as long as you follow some very easy guidelines:

1.Make sure the stuffing is moist and loosely packed

2. DO NOT BUY A PRE-STUFFED TURKEY! Instead, stuff it yourself right before popping it in the oven.

3. Internal stuffing temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Red Wine – Revving Up Against Cancer

Alcohol is a double-edged sword. Usually a social libation associated with pleasure, alcohol’s “sharper” side also cuts deeply the world over, in unhealthy compulsions, peer pressures, binge drinking, or addiction.

But what can a drink — like red winegive us, in terms of health, when consumed in moderation?  Red wine is a drink present in religious and cultural lore for thousands of years, and also the subject of contemporary scientific interest in its instrumental use in fighting cancer.

Curious about family and friends’ anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of red wine, I wondered: why red wine over white (see this MD Anderson plug), and, for that matter, over any other drinks?

My inquiry begins with the book Foods To Fight Cancer, an accessible “go-to” guide by researchers Dr. Richard Believeau, and Dr. Denis Gingras. The book lays out in “lay terms” the science of preventative (and potentially therapeutic) anti-cancer nutrition. Molecular processes are whittled to their core, essential facts (and even supplemented by appealing color photos!). In a chapter detailing the unique characteristics of this alcoholic beverage we know as red wine, the authors focus on the variety of phytochemical compounds contained in the fermented skin of red grapes. (Phytochemical compounds are made by plants, and are studied for their effects on human health).

Benefits:

  • Reservatrol is present in red wine at 16 times the level of white wine, according to Beleiveau and Gingras’ research; and comes in far more concentrated forms through alcohol-based extraction, even more so than in its original grape form. Because it is absorbed quickly in the body and bloodstream, including in amounts attained by moderate human consumption of red wine, reservatrol can act swiftly in the body to attack cancerous cells  — a finding accorded by studies with animal models of colon, esophogeal, and breast cancers induced by chemical substances and inhibited by reservatrol.
  • This compound turns out to be pretty impressive – ! Namely, reservatrol present in red wine “possesses powerful anticancer activity” at 3 important levels: cancer cell initiation, promotion, and progression. Once inside the body, reservatrol’s power even extends into its byproducts, such as piceatannol, a molecule which specifically produces cancer cell death in the body.
  • Reservatrol’s “modes of action” can be compared to synthetic drugs designed to limit the growth of cancerous cells — akin to several other key anticancer foods, such as the spice curcumin. In order to prove their “weight” as an anticancer force, these natural compounds are now paradoxically entering the world of pharmaceutical trials (in the case of the spice curcumin), and food design and engineering (in the case of reservatrol), with the possibilities afforded by concentrated form.

So, if we are talking about choices in the field of play, relaxation, and leisure — venturing beyond our “typical” discussions of dietary options which feed or stem the spread of cancerous cells in our bodies — it appears red wine is on the table! Of course, anything on the table has both its benefits and drawbacks.

Of course, when we’re talking cancer and nutrition, the larger questions also still remain — whether or not we can access and afford vegetables and plant-based foods, foods which are whole and not toxically amended with chemicals.

But if the simple question is which drink to have when gathering with friends or coworkers for the holidays or over the weekend, or which beverage to “unwind” with after a long day once or twice per week, then one option stands out above all the rest: red wine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Photo taken of the book “Foods to Fight Cancer,” by Beliveau, Gingras, London: DK Publishing, 2007.