Eat Your Vegetables Children

If you thought it was hard enough to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, then here is one word that just might make your life even more difficult:  organophosphates.

Organophosphates were at one time refined and developed for chemical warfare by the German Army in the 1930’s in what was called “nerve gas”.  Today nerve agents like sarin, the chemical used in the Tokyo subway terrorist event in 1995, are of the organophosphate group.

Organophosphates also exist in the form of insecticides such as diazinon, chlorpyrifos, disulfotun, dursban and malathion.   These chemicals kill insects by interrupting their brain and nerve signals affecting neuromuscular function.

Chemists have also known for years – as did the German Army – that organophospates have the same affect on humans.  That’s why pesticides like diazinon was removed from the market in 2001.  Yet, these chemicals are still making their way into our bloodstream.

The latest research, to be published in the June issue of Pediatrics, studied 1,139 children in the U.S. between the ages of 8 to 15.   119 of those children had already been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Researchers measured levels of residue left by behind by six pesticides of the organophosphate group in the urine of the children studied.  They found that the higher level of pesticide residue, the greater the odds of a child being diagnosed with ADHD.  More specifically, a ten fold increase in pesticide residue resulted in a 55% increase in the diagnosis.

Since the researchers didn’t study the children’s diet, they couldn’t determine how the pesticides found their way into the children’s bodies.   The most common exposure to pesticides is through eating or drinking something that has the pesticide on it.

The best way to avoid pesticides on your food is to buy organic varieties of the most likely fruits and vegetables to be contaminated.  The Environmental Working Group has a list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Imported Grapes

See the list of the “Clean 15” here.

Secondly, before eating, wash all fruits and vegetables with cold water and scrub produce that has a firm skin with a brush.  The Food and Drug Administration recommends that you not use soap to wash your produce as it could leave behind other chemical residues found in the soap.  Also, frozen fruits and vegetables should be washed as well before eating.

So while it might take some adjustments in thinking at the grocery store and a little more preparation at the kitchen sink, the results are worth it to a healthy brain and central nervous system for years to come.

– Paul Kulpinski, LMT

References:

Pesticides in Kids Linked to ADHD, MSN.com

Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children, Yahoo News

Pesticides Tied to ADHD in Children in U.S. Study, Reuters

Pesticides Linked to ADHD in Kids, Medpage Today

Organophosphates,  EMedicine from WebMD

Organophosphates, Illinois Department of Public Health

Environmental Working Group

Advertisements
Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Full Spectrum Light and Your Health

I’ve written here several times about the importance of natural sunlight in the balance of producing good health.  Whether its for stimulating Vitamin-D production to managing the body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, sunlight is key to all of that.  Our bodies have evolved over millions of years in harmony with that natural sunlight.  The balance of hormones circulating in our blood stream is regulated by the rising and setting sun, until one day in 1879 when a young man in New Jersey put an end to all of that.  Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric light bulb finally enabled humans to free our circadian cycles from the rotation of the planet and allow us access to the 24/7 lifestyle that we value so deeply.

Sleep disorders are now so common in our electric world that we take drugs to fall asleep and another drug in the morning to wake up.   Other more prolonged conditions are classified as related to the seasonal changes in the length of the day.  We call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).   So the solution for SAD is to let in the light – no not natural light, but artificial light designed to mimic natural light, or “full spectrum light“.

The term full spectrum light was first used in the 1960’s by a photo-biologist named Dr. John Ott.    His idea was to identify a lighting source that would approximate the lighting conditions of daylight.  You see natural sunlight contains all of the colors of the visible spectrum – the rainbow, while artificial light, depending on the type of bulb used is weighted more in certain colors and less in others.

In general, the color of light can be described in temperature based on the premise that if a “black body” object were heated to a specific temperature, it would emit the color associated with that temperature.  Here is a chart of generalized color temperatures.

Temperature Source
1,700 K Match flame
1,850 K Candle flame
2,700–3,300 K Incandescent light bulb
3,350 K Studio “CP” light
3,400 K Studio lamps, photofloods, etc.
4,100 K Moonlight, xenon arc lamp
5,000 K Horizon daylight
5,500–6,000 K Typical daylight, electronic flash
6,500 K Daylight, overcast
9,300 K CRT screen
Note: These temperatures are merely characteristic;
considerable variation may be present.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the color temperature of daylight can range from about 5,000 K on up to 6,500 K.  And if you’ve ever spent any time outside, you’ll know that morning light is different than noon light, which is different from late afternoon light.   In fact daylight doesn’t come just from one source.  Wait a minute you might say, daylight comes from the sun.  Yes, but some of that light is also scattered in the atmosphere which produces that blue light that fills in the shadows.

So what does it really mean to make an artificial light that is “full spectrum”?  Well as it turns out, “full spectrum” light is not quite a technical term, but rather a marketing term.  And different marketing departments at different companies have different definitions of what is “full spectrum”.    Here’s a nice graph comparing two artificial lights (one fluorescent and one incandescent) to natural daylight.

Spectral Power Distribution Comparision: Lighting Research Center

Notice how neither artificial lights come close to the blue line of natural daylight.

Yet, there is a perception in the general public that “full spectrum” lights, that cost several times the price of standard lights, have significant benefits including improved health.   According the the Lighting Research Center, the general public believes that some of those health benefits include:  reducing the impact of SAD, improving mood, improved awareness, improved vitamin-D production and reduced dental decay.

The fact is that full spectrum artificial light sources have no effect on improved health in increased vitamin-D production or on dental decay.   Research does show an impact on SAD, but only at lighting levels above 10,000 lux into the eye.  Other researchers contend that any light source at this intensity will have a positive effect.  Yet, full spectrum light may have a psychological effect on mood and awareness because of the association with natural light color, there is no biophysical connection to the mood change and the light.

The bottom line here is that we are creatures that are in tune with the natural cycles of the sun.  Time your activities accordingly.  Do more during the daylight, and minimize your dependence on artificial electric light of any kind.  Does that mean that you should stumble around in the dark?  No.  What it does mean is that your health is tied to the sunlight.  Trying to compensate for inadequate sun exposure with artificial lights of any color temperature is a myth.  If you want better health, shut of the lights and get to sleep.  That alone will do wonders to improve your health.

Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Resources:

The Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY

H.E.S.E. Project

Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Current Event Stress

In each of the e-mail newsletters that we send out from Mountain Waves Healing Arts, I always include a poll to get a sense of what is on people’s minds.  This month, I asked the question about whether the current political climate is increasing people’s level of stress.

While the results aren’t in yet, think about all of the rhetoric being bantered about from both ends of the political spectrum with regards to health care, the economy, taxes, state budgets, school funding cuts, immigration, the wars in Iraq and the one in Afghanistan that seems to be spilling over into Pakistan, terrorism,  the list goes on and on.  In fact in the ever-present 24/7 news cast (or news show as it’s now called), there’s always something stressful to report on.

It’s easy to see how people can feel unsafe and threatened in this world, regardless of whether they actually know anyone who might be involved in the latest disaster.  Any more, if it’s not a tsunami, it’s an earthquake.  If it’s not a wildfire, it’s an avalanche that’s trapped a party of mountain climbers on a mountain that you’ve never heard of – and likely never hear about again.  That’s because most news is trivial.   The only really relevant part of the news report is the weather, which can help you decide how to dress for the day.  Other than that, it’s pretty much over-hyped trivia.

Now the internet and the proliferation of social networking has added to the frenzy as bits of semi-facts circulate in a whirlwind.  How many times have you re-received that e-mail warning you of the latest scam that you first found out was a hoax three years ago?  This is all on top of simply trying to hold down your job, put food on the table and keep the check book balanced.  Are we stressed?  You bet we are, but the problem is that we’ve become so used to it that we barely recognize it.  We just think that this state of muscle tension and ache in our bodies is the normal level of relaxed.

Well, I’ve got news for you.  Relaxed for many people today is being wound up tighter than the rubber band on a toy airplane propeller.  I can’t tell you how many times on the massage table that I’ve lifted a client’s arm and asked them to relax.  When they thought they had relaxed their arm, I let go only to have their arm stick straight up in the air without any support by me!  This is what it means to be relaxed?

My suggestion to get back in balance is to begin to eliminate all of the non-essential stimulus that is contributing to your state of stress.

First, go on a “news fast”.  This means, resist the temptation to watch the TV news, radio, newspaper or internet.  Nothing in the “news” is so important to you personally.  If it was, you would have known about it before the news reporter!  If not, you’ll find out about it in due time.  Do this for a week (just as if you are on vacation).   After that week, you’ll find yourself being a little more discerning about what news information you are willing to let into your consciousness.  That’s important.   Preserve that awareness, because you are less likely to feel caught up in that whirlwind if you are consciously choosing the news you let in.

Second, focus on what you can control.   You probably can’t control national health care reform and it’s impacts on individuals you’ve never met, but you can focus on your personal health.  So spend that time exercising or doing something that improves your health, so what ever happens with national health care no longer becomes a concern because you are a healthy person.  This is empowering and will help you feel in control of your life rather than at the mercy of the talking heads on the tube.

Finally, make time for something fun in your life, something that makes you laugh.   Socialize with people who are fun to be with and who can bring a smile to your face.  Even more simply, bring home a comedy movie rather than the action thriller or suspense drama – after all, isn’t that what the news cast is for?

Rule number one is:  don’t sweat the small stuff.  Rule number two is:  it’s all small stuff.”   – Robert Eliot

– Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Additional Resources:

Overcoming News Addiction

Media Menace?

Stress Management

For Email Marketing you can trust

Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Springtime Wellness Tip

You can tell it’s springtime in Northern Arizona when all of the snow on the ground has melted overnight and the wind starts to blow, or rather howl non-stop until about the 10th of July.  Then just as suddenly it becomes summer.  Someone recently told me that the reason for the all the wind in the spring is to dry out the forests from all of the snow so that they can go camping.  Well that might be true, but all of that wind is drying you out as well.

If you are familiar with me at all, you’ll know of my constant preaching of drinking at least 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water each day. This rule of thumb is a good guide to staying properly hydrated, especially in our climate of Northern Arizona.   See the chart below to reference how much daily water is best for you.

Body Weight (lbs)

Ounces

Quarts

Liters

100

50

1.6

1.5

125

63 2.0 1.9

150

75

2.3

2.2

175

88

2.8

2.6

200

100 3.1 3.0

225

113

3.5

3.3

250

125

3.9 3.7

275

138

4.3 4.1

As for what to drink, I’m pretty consistent in sticking to just plain water, or watered-down fruit juice. Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages should not be counted in those ounces.

Here’s why I don’t recommend counting those caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that, among many things, dilates blood vessels which increases the amount of blood being filtered by the kidneys – resulting in an increased production of urine. This is combined with caffeine’s effect of sensitizing the bladder’s trigger system to alert you of the need to urinate. The result is a net loss of fluids from drinking caffeinated beverages. For regularly brewed coffee, in order to derive the two cups of water in the two cups of coffee you are drinking, you’ll need to drink an extra cup of coffee to offset the diuretic effect of the caffeine! It’s simpler to stick to plain water.

One note, the study that found that caffeine is not a diuretic was funded by the National Coffee Association. Go figure. (Click Here to view that study)

So how does dehydration relate to allergies? A 1995 Danish study confirms the process by which dehydration triggers an increase in histamine production by the body’s endocrine system. Histamine production is a defensive mechanism by the body to preserve the vital water that remains in the body and to prevent further loss.

Not only does the body lose water through urination and perspiration, normal respiration also causes a large volume of water loss through the vapor exhaled during breathing. Histamine is part of the regulatory mechanism that controls bronchial contractions in the lungs. Bronchial constrictions during an asthma attack may be the result of the body’s attempt to minimize water vapor loss.

Although a natural product of the body’s endocrine system, histamine is an irritant to the body which produces the itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing associated with allergic reaction. In a normally functioning system, a simple invasion by a virus, bacteria or pollen spore triggers histamine production to defend against and expel the invading micro-organism. However, dehydration can put this system out of balance, resulting in elevated levels of histamine circulating through the body. These elevated histamine levels produce symptoms similar to an allergic reaction even when there are no outside triggers creating the response.

If you then take an anti-histamine allergy medication to relieve these symptoms, you are then shutting down your body’s natural ability to produce histamine even when it’s necessary. I suggest that before reaching into the medicine cabinet, reach into the cupboard first and drink about a quart of water (with a pinch of salt), and see if after a few minutes your symptoms are lessened or even eliminated. If not, try again in another 30 minutes. If after these two attempts to rehydrate have no effect on your allergy symptoms, then try the pharmaceutical approach.

I believe you’ll find that water will be your best solution most of the time. Try it. You’ve got nothing to lose.

– Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Sources:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA57092

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/caffeine_sports.htm

http://nutritioninfo.tripod.com/id19.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histamine

http://www.watercure.com/udc.html

Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Organic Adventures

Last weekend I bought my first organic buffalo meat.  I bought it off the back of a pick up truck that drove in from Iowa.  I purchased (and shared it with a group of friends) the front quarter of animal 447B from Tall Grass Bison in Promise City, Iowa.   If you’ve known me for any length of time, you might recall that I was a vegan many years ago.   But even today, while my diet is not nearly as restrictive, I don’t enjoy eating much red meat.   Since my vegan days, I’ve remained leery of the “factory farming” techniques that most commercial feed animals are raised in.  But that’s part of the reason why this buffalo purchase opportunity intrigued me:  we could identify the buffalo we were buying (animal 447B – maybe they should have included a photo), and we met the ranchers who raised and slaughtered animal 447B – they were the one’s driving the truck.  More importantly, animal 447B was grass-fed in a stress-free environment that allows for the bison’s natural herd social structure to remain intact and none of the animals were treated with antibiotics or hormones – truly organic right down to the soil the prairie grass was grown in.

While I like the idea of organic foods, I especially like the idea of organically raised animals.  Here’s why.  Most animal protein contains fat.  The hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that are ingested by animals raised in the modern “factory farm” are ultimately stored in their muscle fat, which winds up on your plate.  You might be opposed to using antibiotics and hormones on yourself, but by eating an animal that spent its life ingesting these substances, you might have well as taken them directly yourself.  Because from the farm, to the animal, to your plate, to the fat cells of your body those same antibiotics, hormones and pesticides continue to “live on”.

Factory farmed animals are fed hormones to decrease the time it takes them to grow and “fatten up” for market.  This helps to increase the rancher’s yield by producing more animals in a given amount of time.   When those hormones make it onto your plate and into your body they help to do the same thing for you – grow and get fatter for market.  According to a French study, researchers found that the synthetic chemicals used in animal hormone injections disrupted the human hormone balance once they made their way into the bodies of the people who ate the meat.   This imbalance altered they way certain genes work to regulate fat storage, increasing the likelihood that the consumer would get fatter.  The more fat you have, the more of these chemical hormones you can store and the fatter you get.  Is it any wonder (high fructose corn syrup aside) that we have an obesity problem?

This accelerated growth cycle of factory farmed animals increases their stress which makes them more susceptible to illness from bacterial infection.  The solution is to fortify the animal’s food supply with antibiotics.   And in the same way, these antibiotics make it into your system.  Research in Spain demonstrated that these antibiotics reduced the number of naturally occurring “good” bacteria in your digestive tract, leaving that system susceptible to harmful microbes that create digestive imbalance and irritation.

Pesticides are used on the animal’s original source of food when it was grown.  Just like the other two examples, these pesticides make their way into the animal, then onto your plate and finally into your cells.  The pesticides diphenyl, paraquat and maneb have been shown to damage nerve cells and according to research in Brittain, have been liked to Parkinson’s disease.  The same research demonstrated that pesticides can affect human fertility by reducing the sperm counts in men who ate animals that had ingested the pesticides.   Other research in Italy has shown that pesticides used in factory farming can weaken your immune system, making you susceptible to more illness as well as an increase in allergic reactions.

On the flip side, organic animal products have higher nutritional content then their factory farmed brethren.  There’s ample research demonstrating that meat from animals that were grass-fed had 60% more Omega-3 fatty acid, 200% more vitamin E, and up to 3 times as much conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer fighting fat than can also help you to lose weight.  As for chicken, one study found that organic chicken contained up to 28% more Omega-3’s.  Other research support similar differences in milk and eggs produced from organically raised animals compared to ones raised in factory farms.

So what does “organic” actually mean and what’s with all of the different terms used to market the stuff we eat?    For meat, the USDA allows the producer to label the meat as organic if  the animal was raised without antibiotics and growth hormones and fed an organic diet.  See the compete definition for all foods here. While organic foods follow standards established by the USDA, the same is not true for labels that use the term “natural”.   While the term might connote the idea of being preservative free with no artificial ingredients, there are no standards to define it and “natural” foods aren’t necessarily organic.

While I don’t expect that the buffalo meat we purchased will be overwhelmingly obvious in the difference in taste or nutrition, I do find comfort in knowing the people who raised, slaughtered and prepared the meat.  To me that’s essential in trying to live a sustainable lifestyle.  Now, let’s fire up the grill!

– Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Sources:

Tall Grass Bison, Promise City, IA

Men’s Health Magazine

CBS News

USDA

Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Language of Touch

Earlier this month, I wrote about giving a loving massage to your Valentine.  In that I wrote that your intentions will be revealed through your touch.  An article this week in the New York Times illustrates some recent research into how deep this language of touch goes.

The article cites research that correlates higher student performance to the frequency of reassuring touches to the arm or back by the teacher.  Patients perceived the length of time spent in a doctor’s office was longer when they were touched sympathetically by the physician.  There is other research mentioned in the article that blindfolded subjects were able to identify up to eight different emotions expressed only through touch.  This is powerful stuff.

According to the Times article, research is currently being done to correlate touch to team athletic performance.   The research being conducted at the University of California, Berkley has cataloged each expression of touch in every game played in the National Basketball Association 2009 season.   Early evidence points to the higher performing teams demonstrated more touches like high fives, hugs, fist pounds and chest bumps.   Studies have shown that supportive touch can reduce the production of cortisol, a hormone produced when under stress, and increase the hormone oxytocin which is related to the perception of trust.

Try this for your self.  Here’s an experiment that I do on a regular basis ever since becoming a massage therapist.  The next time you are in the check out line at the grocery store, when you had the cashier your cash or debit card, try to make contact with your fingers to their fingers, in an ever so slight brush or touch so that it’s barely noticeable.  I’ve found that every time I’ve done this, the clerk relaxes ever so slightly, smiles more, looks me in the eye, or somehow gives me an extra moment of consideration in a genuine personal connection.  I’m sure they aren’t even aware of it, but I’m happy to know that the next person in line behind me is going to receive the benefit of my touch.

Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Source Links:

The New York Times

The Touch Research Institute

Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lifestyle Beverages: The Perfect Life in a Bottle

My wife startled me the other day when she showed me a sex-toy shaped bottle containing a pink colored beverage with the name Neuro Gasm.  I thought it was a joke.  The name, the packaging and the tag line:  “passion in every bottle”.  I could just stop here but it gets worse.  There’s a whole line of Neuro beverages for creating nearly every aspect of a perfect life.   While Neuro Gasm seems to be the flagship product, there’s also Neuro Sonic, Neuro Sleep, Neuro Trim, Neuro Bliss, Neuro Sport and if you want just plain water, there’s Neuro Aqua.

The products are marketed by Neuro Brands, LLC which is  the brain child of Diana Jenkins, a Bosnian refugee turned chic entrepreneur who has established herself into the Hollywood glamour culture.  It’s this culture that Jenkins is us using to help propel the Neuro beverages from regional fame to larger markets (right now the drinks are only available in California).  She’s recruited a lot of celebrity support for the products through slick marketing and event promotion.

So once you get past the packaging and branding (an presumably stop your giggling), is there any substance in the bottle?  I’m not convinced.   The drinks are basically blends of vitamins, minerals along with essential and non-essential amino acids blended to achieve specific effects – like the touted “increased blood flow” for the Neuro Gasm.

All of the ingredients in the Neuro beverages are either manufactured by the body or readily available through natural food sources.  Yet, some of the drinks seem to have competing ingredients.  For example, the  organic acid taurine is found in both Neuro Sonic and Neuro Sleep.  If your familiar with taurine, it’s been used in energy drinks along with caffeine to increase energy.  Yet in the Neuro line, we find it in two products that have competing intentions.  So what does taurine actually do?  We don’t know – or at least there is no solid research on taurine’s energy boosting potential.

Part of the problem for me is that there is scant research available on the benefits and side-effects of using individual amino-acid combinations to achieve specific effects.   The appeal of these products comes from the recent trends to blend a pharmaceutical type promise into an unregulated product with strong marketing and branding – yet fly under the radar of scrutiny because food is unregulated by the FDA.  Who reads the fine print on the label anyway that says:  “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”?

Products like the Neuro beverages are trying to find a niche for those  seeking external solutions to the poor lifestyle choices.  Jenkins promotes the use of the Neuro beverages through out the day.  On one of her blog posts, here’s what she recommends:

“Neuro products support around-the-clock activities:
7:00 a.m. Start the day with Neuro Sonic – Mental Alertness (Supports Brain Function)
8:30 a.m. De-stress in traffic with Neuro Bliss – Happiness in a Bottle (Happiness Enhancer)
11:30 a.m. Prepare for a Light Lunch with Neuro Trim – Appetite Suppressant (Supports Healthy Weight Loss)
6:00 p.m. Workout with Neuro Sporti – Recovery in a Bottle (Replenishes & Hydrates)
8:00 p.m. Have a Happy Hour cocktail with Neuro Gasm – Passion Enhancer (Supports Circulatory System)
11:00 p.m. Prepare for a restful night with Neuro Sleep – Sleep Enhancer (Promotes Restful Sleep)”

Can it be that all you need is the complete line of Neuro beverages for a happy life?   That’s what Diana Jenkins would like you to believe.

If you know anything about me, you know that I constantly remind people that what you believe is key to what you will experience.  So is it possible that someone can lose weight after drinking Neuro Trim, or have great sex after drinking Neuro Gasm?  Absolutely you can.  But more importantly, where is one placing the power of their belief.  Is it within or is it in the product.

This is why I don’t support this product.  The message steals your power to have the life you seek and places it in the product.  The message distorts your power to make you think that you need the product to achieve your dreams.  The fact is that you don’t.  The fact is that you have the power to heal and renew yourself and create the life you want.

Now if you want to drink the beverage because you like the taste, that’s another thing.  How it tastes is a different discussion.  My preference is just plain old water.  Plain water is what your body really needs and best of all, it’s free!

– Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Sources:

Neuro Brands

Introducing Neuro

Diana Jenkins:  Accidental Philanthropist

WebMD

Andrew Weil, MD

Posted in Wellness Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments