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Shay had been working up to it for several months, and finally took the plunge, driving herself down to the Grass Valley, California, area for a raw juice fast and retreat. By nature, Shay is not a camper, but I've got to admit, she's been a real trooper down there being battered by bugs and bats by night, and horrid heat by day. Doing a juice fast with a group of people can be a two-edge sword. On the one hand, there can be moral support, yet on the other, emotional de-toxing can accompany the physical, making for a challenging social experience. Nonetheless, Shay told me today via cell phone she intends to go 21 days (she's been on it for almost two weeks now), returning home the first of August. I've been impressed with her resolve, and in honor of her odyssey have committed to a raw diet during the time of her sojourn, making extra sure to get to my yoga class daily.
Thus, it is fitting this month's article is dedicated to the pioneers of the American natural healing movement. Going all the way back to Hippocrates, who laid out the basic tenets of what is now more like alternative medicine, and galloping up through the years to include fasting guru Arnold Ehret, John Kellogg (brother of Will Kellogg the cereal magnate), up to present day with raw juice advocate Ann Wigmore and herbalist Dr. John Christopher.
These back-to-basics health gurus shaped what has these days become a major force in the furtherance of human health, despite corporate meddling in the public's self-determinism over personal health. In fact, it would seem more people are getting more success with natural health approaches than with mainstream medicine's chemical approaches. In my personal view, and personal experience with my own health, I never underestimate the healing power within my own body. If I respect it, let it do its work, and support it with unadulterated food, rest, and exercise, meanwhile maintaining a tranquil state of mind and low-stress daily activities, I've been able to avoid the common ailments befalling most men of my age, who in some cases have been fatally compromised by unnatural drug therapies.
We all have a choice. I believe we must not make our health decisions out of fear, but out of a confident, truthful appraisal of our condition, comforted by the deep knowing of our own healing power.
In vibrant health,
Pure Energy Rx
Featured Article: From Natural Healing and Back Again
We take a look this month at how Hippocratic medicine, proposed as an "art" 2400 years ago, really contained the basic precepts that Alternative Medicine currently espouses, and precepts that modern corporotized "mainstream" medicine has ignored, or in some cases, out and out attacked. How did we get here, and who have been the pioneers of the American Natural Healing Movement who have kept at least some of us sane and on track regarding our physical and mental health? The common sense and straightforward concepts these pioneers dedicated themselves to have created the boom in alternative and natural health practices we enjoy today. READ ON
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F.Y.I. - Interesting Health News Tidbits
Yoga and the middle-age spread...
A new study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has found that regular yoga practice may help prevent middle-age spread in normal-weight people and may promote weight loss in those who are overweight. The study--the first of its kind to measure the effects of yoga on weight--appears in the July/August issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study involved 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women who were asked to complete a written survey recalling their physical activity (including yoga) and weight history between the ages 45 and 55. The study measured the impact of yoga with weight change, independent of other factors such as diet or other types of physical activity. The researchers found that between the ages of 45 and 55, most people gained about a pound a year, which is a common pattern as people age and do not adjust their caloric intake to their declining energy needs. "However, men and women who were of normal weight at age 45 and regularly practiced yoga gained about 3 fewer pounds during that 10-year period than those who didn't practice yoga," said Alan R. Kristal, Dr.P.H., the study's lead author. For the study, regular yoga practice was defined as practicing at least 30 minutes once a week for four or more years. But the researchers noted the greatest effect of regular yoga practice was among people who were overweight. "Men and women who were overweight and practiced yoga lost about 5 pounds, while those who did not practice yoga gained about 14 pounds in that 10 year period," said Kristal. What accounts for yoga's apparent fat-fighting potential? Kristal, himself a longtime yoga student, suspects it has more to do with increased body awareness than the physical activity itself. "During a very vigorous yoga practice you can burn enough calories to lose weight, but most people don't practice that kind of yoga," he said. "From my experience, I think it has to do with the way that yoga makes you more aware of your body. So when you've eaten enough food, you're sensitive to the feeling of being full, and this makes it much easier to stop eating before you've eaten too much." Study co-author Denise Benitez, owner of Seattle Yoga Arts, agrees. "Most people practice yoga in a way that's not aerobic enough to burn a lot of calories, so it has to be some other reason." One reason, she speculates, could be that yoga cultivates a form of gentle inner strength. "When we practice yoga, although it may look easy, there is some mild discomfort. You bring your body to a physical edge that's just a little bit challenging. And people who regularly practice yoga develop the inner resources to stay with a little bit of discomfort. They develop a softness inside and an ability to stay mindful. So that when you go home after yoga class and open up the fridge and see a chocolate cake, you have the resources to stay with the discomfort of not eating that chocolate cake." Whatever the reason behind the apparent impact of yoga on weight maintenance and loss, Kristal stresses that these findings need to be replicated. MORE
A vacation may be your best medicine...
A study by the American Institute of Stress addresses the effect of vacations on the feeling of being overworked. This study found that 79 percent of employees had access to paid vacations but that:
A study conducted in 2000 on behalf of Oxford Health Plans reported that one in six employees are so overworked they are unable to use up their annual vacation because of excessive job demands. The survey also revealed that:
> Although the average number of paid vacation days was 16.6, the average number of vacation days that employees had taken or expected to take in 2004 was 14.6 days.|
> More than one third (36 percent) did not plan to use their full vacations.
> Very few (14 percent) take extended time for their longest vacations (2 or more weeks).
> 37 percent take less than a 7-day vacation including weekends, 12 percent take 1-3 days and 25% take 4-6 days.
> 49 percent take 7-13 day vacations and 14 percent take 14 days, both including weekends.
For example, a 42-year-old computer analyst in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who had gone without a vacation in two of the last four years explained that, "If you take off a week, you've got three times as much work to do when you get back." A 31-year-old Microsoft program manager in Seattle quit her job because she had not been able to take a vacation for five years. She remembered thinking "I can't go... I've got too many things to do." She subsequently took a less demanding position overseeing computers for the Seattle Opera in order to "have a life" and hopefully take a vacation the following summer. MORE
> 34 percent report they have such pressing jobs that they have no down time at work.|
> 32 percent work and eat lunch at the same time.
> 32 percent never leave the building once they arrive at work.
> 19 percent say their job makes them feel much older than they are.
> 17 percent say work causes them to lose sleep.
Tats on yer taters...
A pear is just a pear, except when it is also a laser-coded information delivery system with advanced security clearance. And that is what pears - not to mention organic apples, waxy cucumbers and delicate peaches - are becoming in some supermarkets around the country. A new technology being used by produce distributors employs lasers to tattoo fruits and vegetables with their names, identifying numbers, countries of origin and other information that helps speed distribution. The marks are burned onto the outer layer of the skin and are visible to discerning consumers and befuddled cashiers alike. The process, government approved and called safe by the industry, may sound sinister. But it was designed with the consumer in mind: laser coding could mean the end of those tiny stubborn stickers that have to be picked, scraped or yanked off produce. Sticker-removal duty took Jean Lemeaux of Clarksville, Tex., half an hour one day last week. "I was picking all the little stickers from the Piggly Wiggly off my plums and my avocado pears and my peaches," said Ms. Lemeaux, 76. "Then I had to make fruit salad out of the ones that got hurt when I took the stickers off, and then I had to wash the glue off the other ones before I put them in the fruit bowl. One time," she said, "I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror and there were two of them up in my hair." The stickerless technology has a broader purpose, too: it is part of the produce industry's latest effort to identify and track, whether for profit or for security, everything Americans eat. Since 9/11, the industry has been encouraged to develop "track and trace" technology to allow protection of the food supply at various stages of distribution. In addition, next year federal regulations will require all imported produce to be labeled with the country of origin. The tattooed fruit is being sold in stores nationwide as other tracing methods are also being tested, like miniaturized bar coding and cameras with advanced recognition technology that can identify fruits and vegetables at the checkout counter. In Japan, apples have been sold with scannable bar coding etched into the wax on their skin. No one knows exactly when every piece of fruit will be traceable, but the trend is clear: Wal-Mart is already requiring all pallets delivered to its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., to be fitted with radio frequency identification tags, so that they can be tracked by a satellite. But the carrier of information about fruits and vegetables in America remains the tiny sticker called the P.L.U., for "price look-up." It is unpopular not just with consumers but with the industry itself. "If they are sticky enough to stay on the fruit through the whole distribution and sales network, they are so sticky that the customer can't get them off," said Michael Hively, general manager of Bland Farms in Reidsville, Ga., the country's largest grower and packer of sweet Vidalia onions. But apart from the occasional crate of locally grown produce, "most supermarkets no longer accept fruit and vegetables that are not stickered," said Francis Garcia, a vice president of Sinclair Systems in Fresno, Calif., a major manufacturer of the stickers and of the automated systems that blow them onto fruit at centralized packing houses. Henry Affeldt Jr., director of research for Sunkist, said the technology worked the same way lasers work in surgery, cutting and cauterizing almost simultaneously. The skin of fruit that has been etched with a laser is still airtight, Dr. Affeldt said, and the mark is as permanent as a tattoo. FULL ARTICLE
Unborn U.S. babies are soaking up a stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according to a report released last week. Although the effects on the babies are not clear, the survey prompted several members of Congress to press for legislation that would strengthen controls on chemicals in the environment. The report by the Environmental Working Group is based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical-cord blood taken by the American Red Cross. They found an average of 287 contaminants in the blood, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA. "These 10 newborn babies were born polluted," said New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, who spoke at a news conference about the findings. "If ever we had proof that our nation's pollution laws aren't working, it's reading the list of industrial chemicals in the bodies of babies who have not yet lived outside the womb," Slaughter said. Cord blood reflects what the mother passes to the baby through the placenta. "Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical-cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests," the report said. Blood tests did not show how the chemicals got into the mothers' bodies, or what their effects might be on the babies. Among the chemicals found in the cord blood were methylmercury, produced by coal-fired power plants and certain industrial processes. People can breathe it in or eat it in seafood and it causes brain and nerve damage. Also found were polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are produced by burning gasoline and garbage and which may cause cancer; flame-retardant chemicals called polybrominated dibenzodioxins and furans; and pesticides including DDT and chlordane. The same group analyzed the breast milk of mothers across the United States in 2003, and found varying levels of chemicals, including flame retardants known as PBDEs. This latest analysis also found PBDEs in cord blood. MORE
Only food within a 100-mile radius...
In the interest of preserving the environment, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon are on a "100-Mile Diet," vowing to eat nothing originating more than 100 miles from their home in Vancouver, British Columbia... It's strawberry season. James and I are at the Ellis Farms u-pick on Delta's Westham Island, crouching between long rows of the bunchy green plants, plucking the big berries and dropping them gently into small buckets. We imagine their future with cream and in pies. I lick the sweet red juice from my fingers. "If I make jam we can have strawberries all year," I say. James asks with what, exactly, I plan to make the jam? Sugar? One of the planet's most exploitative products, shipped in from thousands of kilometres away? "But what," I reply, "Will we eat all winter?" This may seem like a peculiar question in an age when it's normal to have Caribbean mangoes in winter and Australian pears in spring. However, on March 21, the first day of spring, we took a vow to live with the rhythms of the land as our ancestors did. For one year we would only buy food and drink for home consumption that was produced within 100 miles of our home, a circle that takes in all the fertile Fraser Valley, the southern Gulf Islands and some of Vancouver Island, and the ocean between these zones. This terrain well served the European settlers of a hundred years ago, and the First Nations population for thousands of years before. This may sound like a lunatic Luddite scheme, but we had our reasons. The short form would be: fossil fuels bad. For the average American meal (and we assume the average Canadian meal is similar), World Watch reports that the ingredients typically travel between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres, a 25 percent increase from 1980 alone. This average meal uses up to 17 times more petroleum products, and increases carbon dioxide emissions by the same amount, compared to an entirely local meal... READ ON | AND, THE 2ND REPORT
Stop global warming...become a vegetarian...
Global warming could be controlled if we all became vegetarians and stopped eating meat. That's the view of British physicist Alan Calverd, who thinks that giving up pork chops, lamb cutlets and chicken burgers would do more for the environment than burning less oil and gas. Writing in this month's Physics World, Calvert calculates that the animals we eat emit 21% of all the carbon dioxide that can be attributed to human activity. We could therefore slash man-made emissions of carbon dioxide simply by abolishing all livestock. Moreover, there would be no adverse effects to health and it would be an experiment that we could abandon at any stage. "Worldwide reduction of meat production in the pursuit of the targets set in the Kyoto treaty seems to carry fewer political unknowns than cutting our consumption of fossil fuels," he says. SOURCE