Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dirty Keyboard, Health Risk?

The next time you decide to eat at your desk, think again - it may be a source of disease-carrying vermin that can cause food poisoning. These germs survive on the breadcrumbs and other food that drop inside of your keyboard while you snack, and then transmit harmful bacteria like E. coli, coliforms and enterobacteria through their droppings. The Royal Society of Chemistry says dirty workspaces are real health hazards. Workers who fail to keep their desk area clean and crumb-free can get sick simply by typing on a pooped-on keyboard and then picking up a sandwich or piece of fruit with their unwashed hands, the researchers warn.

They warned that mice droppings could also fall between the keys as the rodents snoop around.
"You always have to be careful," The New York Daily News quoted Eiesha Earlington, a financial planner who lives in Woodbridge, N.J.
"On some desks you can see the germs and the dirt creates a little fingerprint, and that's just gross," she said.
She added: "It's disgusting. I usually don't like to have anybody else at my desk except for me.
"I'm definitely the one with the worst desk in the office," said Dawn Bruent, 40, a claims adjustor who lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. "I found ants on my desk once.
"I eat at my desk every day and spend about seven hours at my keyboard.
"I haven't cleaned my desk in about eight months.
 "I guess I need to clean it - maybe I will do that tomorrow."


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Health Benefits of Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfates. There are many benefits of Epsom salt baths. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts can relax your muscles, reduce inflammation, minimize pain, fade bruising, aid digestion, relieve stress and tension, and detoxify your body.

    Pain and Inflammation

  1. Epsom salts can ease muscle cramps and pain from inflammation. It can also relieve tired, aching feet and may be used to treat the pain and inflammation of gout. According to the Epsom Salt Council, two cups of Epsom salts should be added to your bath for soaking. One cup of Epsom salts added to a foot bath can be soothing. The water should be as hot as you are able to tolerate. Keep in mind, if you have skin conditions, the water should be warm, not hot, to avoid skin breakdown and further complications.
  2. Stress and Tension Village Naturals Therapy Stress & Tension Mineral Bath Soak 20 oz

  3. Having too much adrenalin in your body due to stress and tension can result in a low magnesium level. Stress can be caused by a deficiency of magnesium in your blood. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts may allow magnesium to be absorbed through the skin; magnesium then attaches to serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone, and helps to relax you. It can also lower your blood pressure, improve your concentration and help you sleep.
  4. Detoxification

  5. Your body can accumulate a residue of medications and impurities from the environment. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts can pull these toxin from the cells of your body through reverse osmosis. This is a process where salt is drawn from your body and the toxins come with it. It can also soothe your nerves by balancing your electrolytes.
  6. Digestion

  7. Sulfates trigger the pancreas to release digestive enzymes as they are needed. While sulfates are not easily obtained through foods, they can absorb very quickly through your skin. Sulfates can aid your nutrient absorption. They are also important for production of mucin proteins, the cells that secrete mucus along your digestive tract.
  8. Other Benefits

  9. According to Natural Home Remedies, Epsom salt can assist in blood circulation, aid in wound healing, remove foot odor, soften your skin and increase your strength and stamina. The Epsom Salt Council adds the benefits of increasing the effectiveness of insulin, lowering blood pressure, improving oxygen use and easing the pain of migraine headaches.
  10. Cautions

  11. The use of Epsom salt baths is not recommended without the consultation of your health care provider. Hypermagnesemia in a condition of excess magnesium that may be fatal. Epsom salts should not be used if you have an allergy to sulfur or if you are pregnant.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cooking without chemicals

Several research studies have found that when plastic comes in contact with certain foods, molecules of the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the food or beverage. Certain characteristics of the food item can make it more likely to pick up plastic molecules:

    * The more liquid a food is, the more it touches the plastic, so the more opportunity it has to pick up plastic molecules.
    * Acid foods, such as tomato sauce, appear to be particularly interactive with plastic.
    * If you heat a food item in a plastic container—even if the container is microwave-safe—the transference of plastic from the container to the food is even more likely.

When molecules of plastic—or more properly, molecules of the chemicals that get added to plastics during manufacturing—get into picture of plastic storage containers our bodies, it's not a good thing. They can cause unwanted effects in the human body; for instance, some of the chemicals mimic estrogen. Estrogen, of course, is a normal, essential human hormone; but having too much of it (or the molecules that mimic estrogen) has been associated with breast cancer and other health problems. In general, chemicals that fool the body into thinking they are estrogen or other hormones are called endocrine disruptors and are best avoided.

So, if plastic food containers are sometimes trouble, what would a better food-storage solution look like? The primary characteristic you want in a container material is inertness—that is, you want a material that holds tightly to its own molecules and does not let them go floating off into the food or drink touching the container. On this score, glass is the best choice, followed closely by porcelain, ceramic, and stainless steel.

Even though plastic food containers are dominant on store shelves, some companies do make storage containers from glass and other preferred materials. Some of them are oven-safe and large enough to cook in; in those cases, you can simply store the leftovers in the same thing you cooked in. Some of the containers are smaller and more appropriately sized for small portions of leftovers and items transported to work or school for lunch.

Some containers have glass lids that fit loosely—fine for storing in the fridge, but not so good for putting leftovers in a lunchbox. Other containers have lids designed to be air- and liquid-tight, making them good for just about any type food storage. Having a good assortment of containers will allow you to choose the right size and style for each food-storage application.

All glass, ceramic, and porcelain containers are microwave-safe, though you should check the manufacturer's specifications before assuming they are safe for use in a regular oven. Plastic lids should be left off even when heating in a microwave. Our experience shows that the heat from the food tends to warp the lid. It's better to microwave the dish covered with a plate or microwave food cover.

Glass storage containers, stainless steel containers, BPA free plastics, Ceramic containers, stainless steel cookware.


Stainless steel cookware is also a good choice. If you cook something in a small or medium pot on the stove and have leftovers, why not just put the lid on, let it cool, and then put the pot right in the fridge? It will mean one less thing to wash, too.

Frozen veggies better for you?

Frozen Veggies are the best way to go!
Canned foods are almost always higher in sodium than their fresh or frozen counterparts. Salt, or sodium chloride, is often used as a preservative as well as a flavor-enhancer. Sodium intake is one factor that is involved in the development of high blood pressure. On average, Americans consume somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 milligrams of sodium each day, much higher than the 2300 milligrams recommended. Rinsing some canned foods can be beneficial. For example, rinsing canned tuna for 3 minutes was shown to reduce sodium content by as much as 80% in one study. The rinsing did not affect the salt content of canned beans, however.

After a December Consumer Reports article, much media coverage has focused on Bisphenol-A (BPA) as a component of the resin lining inside most commercial food cans. BPA has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the available data to find if there is an acceptable amount of BPA to be allowed into the packaging of food products, particularly those that are marketed for children.

Fresh and frozen foods are the recommended forms in order to gain the most nutritional benefit with the least side effects. However, canned foods can be healthful as well, particularly if they create a tendency to include more fruits and vegetables to the dinner plate. Be sure to look for BPA free cans, and rinse foods before eating to reduce sodium.

Steam veggies for max health benefits

Vegetables are cooked to enhance taste without paying attention to the loss or retention of nutrients. Vegetables are the major sources of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants. Some nutrients are found specifically in some particular vegetables and cannot be supplemented by other foods. The essentials nutrients of vegetables may get lost by faulty cooking habits like frying. The nutrients either evaporate with water or are burnt by overheating, thereby depleting the nutritional content of vegetables.
Preparation may not be the most exciting aspect of cooking vegetables, but learning the correct techniques can make a big difference not only in the appearance of the food or the final results, but also in efficiency. Good technique can keep a beginning cook from getting frustrated and help an experienced cook more thoroughly enjoy time spent in the kitchen.
There is a right way of cooking vegetables to help in keeping the nutritional value of the vegetables intact which in turn provides maximum benefit to your mind and body. Given below are such helpful cooking tips:
Start with vegetables that are fresh and preferably in season. When you start out with vegetables at their nutritional and flavorful peak, you will find that little needs to be done to showcase their flavor.
 Try to eat your vegetables as close to their natural state as possible. But if they require cooking, then try not to overcook them. Overcooking can easily destroy the important nutrients in the vegtables, in addition to making them bland and soggy.
 Do not peel your vegetables whenever possible. The nutrients in vegetables and fruits are mainly concentrated just below the skin, so it is better to eat vegetables and fruits unpeeled so that you do not loose any fibers or essential nutrients. You can scrub vegetables and remove any blemishes, but do not peel.
 Wash vegetables thoroughly in clean water under a tap before cutting or chopping to minimize nutrient loss. This will preserve vitamins because if you cut and then wash, there are 90% chances that you are washing away the vitamins too. Also, you will be able to wash the vegetables properly before cutting. If you cut first then it may not be possible to reach to every chopped pieces where invisible sand or soil remains.
 Cut vegetables just before eating or cooking to retain the most amount of vitamins especially Vitamin C. The Vitamin C content of vegetables is lost at a fast rate once the vegetables have been cut or bruised. Larger the exposed area, more the loss. If you are not going to immediately use the vegetables, then cut them in larger pieces and store them in an airtight container in a refrigerator.
Steaming vegetables is always a good choice. It is fast, preserves nutrients, and it works best for fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach (palak) and roots like beets, peas and beans. If you don't have a steaming basket, you can fill a pot with mixed vegetables and add about one and a half inches of unsalted water and cover. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Check often to make sure that the water doesn't evaporate. If it gets too low, just add a little more water. Don't forget to keep the remaining broth for soup or pour it in a nice mug and enjoy the warm flavorful broth.
 Frying food is one of the worst ways to cook. Frying vegetables is very harmful to your health as they absorb huge amounts of fats thus becoming high in calories too and produces cancer-causing chemicals. Grilling foods that contain fat is less damaging than frying because of the less you don't have to add much fat to your food.
For extra antioxidant benefits as well as more variety in flavoring, try tossing with a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh herbs. It is important to use fresh herbs for this. Dried herbs are better used when you are cooking for a long time. Using fresh herbs makes a fresh tasting dish, still allowing the natural flavor of the vegetables to come through. Herbs like oregano, Coriander, Peppermint etc go brilliantly with vegetables.
Vegetables contain vitamin C, vitamin B and foliates, all of which dissolve in water when cooked. This makes the water in which the vegetables are cooked very valuable to your health. So, don't throw away the water used to cook the vegetables, drink it or use it in soups or sauces.
It is ideal to lightly steam vegetables instead of boiling, sauteing, or roasting. The one exception to the rule would be the red tomato. Cooking actually increases its level of lycopene, an antioxidant thought to help prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, and vision loss.
Properly cooked vegetables should be tender yet firm and crisp. They should neither be hard and tough nor soft and soggy. This not only helps in providing proper taste but also provides proper nutrition to the body.
Now that you know how to prepare and cook vegetables to give yourself maximum health benefits, why not prepare some steamed vegetables at your next meal? They'll taste delicious and pack a powerful punch against cancer!

How to stop craving sugar

When you eat sugary foods, you may find that you have a quick boost of energy that quickly disappears and leaves you craving more sweets. Too much sugar in the diet can increase your daily caloric intake and pack on the pounds. Sugary foods can leave you with a good feeling and usually taste yummy, which makes it hard to stop craving them. However, strong willpower can help you reduce the amount of sweets you eat.
Step 1
Eat small meals throughout the day. Never skip a meal; aim to eat four to five smaller meals throughout the day. If you allow yourself to go hungry, you may crave something sugary to satisfy your appetite.
Step 2
Consume foods that are naturally sweet. Replace desserts with naturally sweet foods like apples, oranges, grapes and cherries.
Step 3
Add healthy carbohydrates to your diet. Low-carb diets may have you craving sugar. Choose healthy carbs that are not refined. Some examples are sweet potatoes, carrots, brown rice, buckwheat and whole grain bread.
Step 4
Brush your teeth when you feel a sugar craving coming on. The flavor in the toothpaste will not mix well with the sweet taste of the snack you are craving. Using mouthwash can also help combat sugar cravings.
Step 5
Keep sweets out of the house. If you don't have easy access to sugary snacks, it will be easier to control your cravings. Keep your house stocked with fruits and cut up vegetables to eat when you feel hungry.
Step 6
Get enough sleep. You may crave sugar when you are stressed or tired. Try to get eight hours of sleep a night and keep stress at bay by participating in relaxation techniques, like deep breathing and yoga.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

U.S. county bans toys with kids' meals

The California county that encompasses the Silicon Valley is banning the use of toys as incentives to purchase fast food meals for kids.
Santa Clara County has introduced a local ordinance stating that toys can only be offered if meals meet national nutritional criteria for children.
That would mean no McDonald's Happy Meals — if there were a McDonald’s restaurant in the area affected by the new law, that is.
However, the ordinance applies only to unincorporated areas and about 150 restaurants, none of them McDonald's.
Still, the fast food retailer has been quick to weigh in.
"McDonald's is disappointed with the council's decision, even though it does not impact any of our restaurants in Santa Clara County," McDonald's vice-president of corporate media relations said in an email to CBC News.
The deputy medical officer for Santa Clara County says the ordinance is not aimed at McDonald's.
"This is not directed at Happy Meals," Dr. Sara Cody said in an interview with CBC News, "What this is about is it's breaking the link between an incentive and a food that's not healthy for a kid. So, it's really an effort to support parents in offering healthier choices to their kids."
Santa Clara County has not escaped the epidemic of obesity sweeping North American children. One in four county youth are either overweight or obese.
"Childhood obesity is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and this new ordinance gives parents another tool for making healthy choices for their children," said county supervisor Ken Yeager, who pushed forward the proposal.
"This ordinance simply levels the playing field by taking away the incentive to choose fatty, sugary foods over healthier options."
Cody says the problem with offering kids toys is pester power.
"If they want that toy, they’re going to pester you for it, and they're going to wear you down," Cody said.
County officials hope to get other jurisdictions talking about the issue and perhaps passing similar laws.
"One of the goals that I think we've accomplished is to get the conversation started," said Dr. Cody.
It's not a conversation McDonald's wants to have.
"Concerning this particular ordinance, parents tell us they want to have the right to make their own decisions," Riker wrote in his email. "Our customers are smart, and they will continue to make choices that are right for them."
Source: CBC.CA