Friday, May 22, 2020

Laundry: The Eternal Chore

Laundry is the eternal chore that must always be done.  Many of us make mistakes regarding how we handle our laundry, and it can affect our health.  For example, TV has lead us to believe that unless our clothes smell “spring fresh,” they are not clean.  This affects those of us who are adversely sensitive to fragrances.  Even “masking fragrances,” designed to cover unpleasant chemical smells of a product will negatively affect the sensitive person and cause them to have symptoms.  Fabric softeners are scented and contain over five chemicals that are neurotoxic and carcinogenic.  Reading labels is of extreme importance to avoid harmful exposures.  Watch for the words “scent, fragrance, or masking fragrance” anywhere in the label.

The temperature at which clothes become clean during washing has changed over the years.  Washing machines now operate at higher temperatures, and in today’s world detergents are formulated with enzymes that become active at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Above 75 degrees they are less effective and, at this heat, blood stains will be set and some fabrics and colors will be damaged.  Washing clothes at around 65 degrees will clean them, but it will not sanitize them.  Chlorine bleach will sanitize them, but can wipe out the color of a fabric.  Nonchlorine bleaches will not bleed colors, but they will not sanitize laundry.  Sanitizing may be important if washing baby diapers or the sheets and bedding of a contagious sick person.

In most cases people do not need sanitized laundry.  They just need clean clothes.  Many people in the US wear an item of clothing only once and then wash it.  People are washing clean clothes.  If clothing does not have visible stains, hanging it up and airing it out is all that is necessary before wearing it again.  Clothing worn when exercising is a different situation as our bodies sweat and detoxify while we exercise.  This clothing should never be worn numerous times as rewearing it can cause these toxins to be absorbed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene deals with all factors that may interfere with sleep.  It is a series of habits and activities that will improve ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.  It will increase the chances of getting better sleep, and can be of some help for virtually every type of sleep problem.

The bedroom is very important in sleep hygiene and combating sleep problems.  It should be clean, quiet, and at times an air cleaner may be helpful.  The bed should have a comfortable mattress and pillows, and both should be replaced whenever they are no longer comfortable.  Bedding should all be washable.  Clock watching, reading, and television in bed can occupy attention and prohibit sleep.  The only two activities for which the bed should be used are sleeping and sex.

Reduce all types of noise and dim light sources in the evening.  Sleep in total darkness and avoid exposure to a bright light if you have to get up.  Try to get sunlight in the mornings.  Keep the bedroom at a temperature comfortable for sleeping.  Allow enough time for sleep and keep a regular sleeping schedule, even on weekends.  Diet, exercise too close to bedtime, caffeine, and alcohol can all adversely affect sleep, as can smoking.  If you practice good sleep hygiene and still do not wake up feeling refreshed and alert more help is required.  See a physician for more help.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Is It Safe to Eat Moldy Food?

Foods inevitably mold and the question arises, “Is it safe to eat moldy food?”   Tossing large amounts of food can seem to be uneconomical and people hesitate to do it.  However in some cases eating moldy food can cause serious consequences.  There are certain rules that never change regarding the safety of eating moldy food.

If the food is hard, such as a brick of cheese or a carrot, the moldy section can be cut off (plus about one inch around it) and the food safely eaten.  Small mold spots can be trimmed off of firm vegetables.  To avoid spreading the mold, care must be exercised to keep the knife out of the moldy areas. Soft foods should be thrown away when mold is spotted.  The “roots” of mold can permeate soft foods, contaminating areas that appear to be mold free.  Molds also release toxins (mycotoxins) that can be present in the food.  Foods with high moisture content, left-over meats and casseroles, yogurt, jams and jellies, soft fruits and vegetables, bread and baked goods, peanut butter, legumes, and nuts must all be discarded if moldy.  Soft cheeses must be discarded, but cheeses such as Brie and Camembert should be discarded only if they contain mold that is not a part of the manufacturing process. If you have fruit that is about to mold or spoil, toss it in the freezer and blend it later to make smoothies. 

Moldy food should be placed in a paper or plastic bag before it is discarded.  Do not attempt to smell moldy food to see if it has spoiled.  This can introduce mold spores into your respiratory tract.  You may also have to discard food that possibly touched the moldy area as molds can spread quickly, particularly in produce.  Proper food storage will help prevent food spoilage. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Diet Drinks May Not Be Wonderful

Many people believe that drinking diet soda will allow them to “have their cake and eat it too” and control their weight.  Research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened no- or low- calorie drinks and other diet foods actually stimulate appetite, increase cravings for carbohydrates, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain. In fact diet soda drinkers suffer from the same health problems as those who drink regular soda.  These health problems include excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Artificial sweeteners trigger enhanced activity in the pleasure centers of the brain, yet provide less satisfaction.  The brain craves more of it because there is no satisfaction on a cellular level by the sugar imposter.  This can contribute to overeating and weight gain as well as an addiction to artificial sweeteners.  Recent studies show that older women who drink at least two diet drinks a day are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular issue. The reason for this is unclear, but it is possible that there are feedback mechanisms that are disrupted.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Terpenes/ Terpenoids

Terpenes and terpenoids are a large class of organic compounds found mainly in plants.  The only difference between them is that terpenes contain only carbon and hydrogen, while terpenoids also contain oxygen.  They are in all parts of a plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and pollen.  They occur in the essential oils of plants obtained by steam distilling plants.  They are responsible for odors (fragrances) and colors of many plants.  Turpentine is a terpene, and the distinctive odor of juniper and piƱon trees is caused by terpenes.  Terpenes also occur in animals and are building blocks within nearly every living creature.  Steroids are produced from terpenoid precursors. 

People who are chemically sensitive are often sensitive to terpenes.  They may develop symptoms and problems from fragrances associated with many different products, including essential oils. Terpenes are encountered in many places and are natural flavor additives for food; fragrance elements in perfumes; and have traditional and alternative medicinal uses.  They are additives in many commercial products and may play a large role in pollen allergy.  All plants contain terpenes and their levels go up about a month before the plant pollinates.  People frequently have symptoms to both the terpenes and the pollen.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Food and Arthritis

Foods, particularly foods to which there is a sensitivity or allergy, can cause joints to ache and deteriorate.  Although any joint can be affected, hip, knee, and ankle joints may become excruciatingly painful if these foods are eaten.  The thumb joint can also be painful.  Some people choose to eat the foods occasionally with full knowledge that their painful joints will adversely affect their sleep and ability to move for several days.  Sometimes the ankles become so painful the person has difficulty walking or may even become unable to walk for a time. 

Sugar, wheat, pork, and foods in the Nightshade Family (a botanical family) tend to exacerbate arthritic pain.  The Nightshade Family includes tomatoes, potatoes, all peppers, eggplant, and pimentos.  (Tobacco is also in the Nightshade family.)  Even potato chips can trigger pain in some people.  Peppers of all kinds (especially bell peppers and chili peppers) are problematic for many people with arthritis.  It may take 6 to 9 months of total avoidance to determine if members of the Nightshade Family are affecting arthritis.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies.  It is important in a wide variety of biochemical processes in the body and is required for the production of more than 300 different enzymes.  If the body does not have enough magnesium, it cannot function optimally.  Insufficient cellular magnesium levels can affect metabolic function that leads to serious health problems.  Magnesium works in tandem with calcium, vitamins D and K2.  Eating processed food is a primary risk factor for magnesium deficiency.  Stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, and use of some prescription drugs (diuretics, statins, fluoride and fluoride-containing drugs) can also cause the loss of magnesium.

Among the most common symptoms that magnesium is lacking are “Charlie horses” (muscle spasms that occur when you stretch your legs), fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and headaches or migraines.  More serious symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms, muscle cramps and contractions, seizures, numbness and tingling, and personality changes.  All of these are warning signs that you may need to correct a magnesium deficiency. Deficiencies can be improved/corrected by eating a varied diet, being careful to include plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables. It is important to remember that magnesium content of foods depends on the amount of magnesium in the soil in which a plant was grown.  Some people must add a magnesium supplement if sufficient magnesium is not present in their diet.