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Dangerous Chemicals in Fast Food

10aakkBy: Nadia Haris

With your busy lifestyle and constant demands on your time, it may seem easy to pull into your local fast food restaurant for a quick meal on-the-go. However, fast foods are rich in fat and sodium that can lead to health problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that they also contain high amounts of chemicals that add flavor, color and texture and help to keep them fresh longer. The chemicals are added when these foods are processed, packaged and prepared. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that although food additives are considered safe in minimal amounts, eating too much fast food and other foods that contain these chemicals can lead to harmful effects.

Trans Fats

You may have noticed that fries from fast food chains are typically crisp and have a characteristic taste and texture. This is because they are usually fried in trans fats, which are also used in commercially prepared doughnuts, cookies, chicken nuggets, pizza and other foods. Trans fat is also called partially hydrogenated oil because it is produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, which gives it a longer shelf-life, according to MayoClinic.com. Fast food restaurants use trans fats because they keep foods fresh longer and give them a less greasy feel. However, the American Heart Association warns that trans fats can lead to diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 

Nitrite Salts

Fast foods keep their fresh taste, smell and color longer because they contain added chemicals, such as nitrite salts, that help to preserve them. Nitrite salts are used in processed meat, bacon, corned beef, smoked fish, ham and sausages. Although this chemical and other preservatives help to prevent bacterial contamination such as botulism, they can also cause harmful effects. Research published in the “International Journal of Cancer” reports that people who eat processed meats and other foods with these preservative are more likely to develop stomach cancers. The American Cancer Society warns that eating food preservatives can also increase your risk of cancers in the digestive tract.

Saccharin

Fast foods are typically super-sized with your choice of a large sugary soft drink. These beverages as well as many fruit juices, jellies, donuts, canned fruits and other foods contain an artificial sweetener called saccharin. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reviewed animal studies that showed that consuming saccharin may increase the risk of cancers of the bladder, ovaries, uterus, blood vessels and skin. Although this study was carried out on animals, saccharin may have similar harmful effects on people.

Butter Flavor

Most fast food restaurants and movie theaters have a familiar aroma of butter. This is usually due to a buttered-flavored chemical called diacetyl, which is also found in microwave popcorn, margarine, snack foods, baked goods and candies, giving them an appetizing smell and buttery taste. However, The American Chemical Society reports that diacetyl may be associated with harmful effects on the lungs and changes in the brain that can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Food Coloring

The brightly colored pies, candies, ice cream, sundae syrup, soft drinks, cheeses, sandwich meats and sausages sold at many fast food outlets contain chemical food dyes and coloring agents. These chemicals give them long-lasting color that makes these foods appear more appealing and appetizing. A review of studies published in the “International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health” reports that many of these chemicals are byproducts of coal tar and other chemicals that can increase the risk of certain cancers.

 

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Seven Amazing Medicinal Properties of the Banana Plant

By Sayer Ji from Wake Up World

There is much more than meets the eye with the banana. A household favorite, a lost-leader at the grocery store, a metaphor for psychiatric problems, a mainstay of comic slap stick, the banana has woven itself deeply into human affairs, on both gut and mental levels. And this relationship is at least 10,000 years old, as far as conscious human cultivation of the species goes.

But, many do not realize that the banana is more than just an exceptionally starch-rich fruit, but has a complex biochemistry, with pharmacologically active properties. Bananas actually contain the catecholamines dopamine[i] and norepinephrine,the very same adrenal hormones released in the human body when it undergoes the typical “fight-or-flight” response. It is believed that the banana plant uses the biosynthetic pathway for catecholamines when under the stress of attack to fight off infectious pathogens such as in crown rot disease. Some varieties excrete a form of serotonin in their sap,  and there is even mention in the biomedical literature of the discovery of the NSAID drug naproxen (trade name Aleve) within the banana cultivar Musa acuminate. Sound crazy? Well, that’s to be expected from a fruit we commonly associate with a state of unbridled madness.

But the banana has a secret second life. It has been observed slyly practicing medicine without a license, and indeed, seems readily equipped with the following nutritional “super powers”….

1. Green Banana Is Anti-Diarrhea

Before a banana is ripened, while it is in its green state, it contains starches which are resistant to digestion, but have been studied in combination with pectin to significantly reduce intestinal permeability and fluid loss in those suffering with bouts of diarrhea.  Even when used without pectin, green banana has been found to hasten recovery of acute and prolonged childhood diarrhea when managed at home in rural Bangladesh.

2. Banana Is Anti-Ulcer Activity

Banana powder has been studied to prevent ulcer formation induced by a variety of drugs, including aspirin, indomethacin, phenylbutazone, prednisolone, cysteamine, and histamine. Researchers have found that banana powder treatment not only strengthens mucosal resistance against ulcerogens but also promotes healing by inducing cellular proliferation. One of the anti-ulcer compounds identified within unripe banana is the flavonoid known as leucocyanidin, and which is particularly effective against aspirin-induced erosion.

3. Banana Peel Suppresses Prostate Gland Growth

Banana peel has been found to suppress testosterone-induced prostate gland enlargement.

4. Banana Stem Extract suppresses Oxalate Kidney Stones

A water extract of banana stem extract has been found to suppress the formation of oxalate-associated kidney stones in the animal model, leading researchers to conclude that it “may be a useful agent in the treatment of patients with hyperoxaluric urolithiasis.”

5. Banana Consumption Protects the Skin Against UV-Light Damage

UV-B light induced skin damage may be prevented or reduced through the consumption of bananas, with a protective effect against loss of skin elasticity.

6. Banana Has Anti-Diabetic Properties  

Banana flower extract has been studied in a type 1 diabetic model, and has been found to have both antioxidant and blood sugar lowering effects. Banana root extracts have been discovered to contain blood sugar lowering properties comparable in efficacy to the drug glibenclamide (trade name Glyburide).Also, unripe banana contain starches resistant to hydrolysis and therefore beneficial to diabetics.

7. Banana Contains a Variety of Anti-Infective Compounds

Banana contains compounds with demonstrable anti-MRSA activity,  anti-HIV replicative activity, and following metabolic transformation by fungi, anti-leishmanicidal activity. The leaves of the plant are used in many centers in India during the care of patients with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and other extensive blistering disorders which can result in deadly sepsis in the absence of treatment.

 

 

 

About the Author: Sayer Ji is the founder and director of GreenMedInfo.com and co-author of the book The Cancer Killers: The Cause Is The Cure with New York Times best-seller Dr. Ben Lerner and Dr. Charles Majors. His writings and research have been published in the Wellbeing Journal, the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, and have been featured on Mercola.com, NaturalNews.com, Reuters.com, GaryNull.com, and Care2.com. Check out his newest project: Dr. Gourmet.

8 New Ways to Detox

by Healthy Living

Acupuncture

Devotees swear that this 5,000-year-old practice cures everything from bad skin to indigestion. New York acupuncturist and skin/digestive specialist Selma Rondon recently cured a patient’s explosive hives in a day, after antihistamines didn’t work; patients with constipation or bloating quickly feel re-energized, too. Rondon, who learned Mandarin to read authentic Chinese texts, tackles toxicity by examining patients’ tongues — the color clues her in to how internal organs are doing — then inserts slim needles into the energy lines that run through the body.
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Charcoal

For centuries, the Japanese have used white charcoal to soak up substances, from poison to bad breath; its pores absorb a range of gases and toxins. The technique is landing stateside thanks to Sort of Coal, a line that incorporates the porous charcoal, produced from sustainably harvested forests in Japan and Korea.Best for: Removing daily environmental impurities from air and water
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Coffee Wraps

Doctors credit caffeine with reducing swelling and upping our fat-burning mechanisms when applied topically, which explains its omnipresence in cellulite creams. At Hawaiian SpaHalekulani, the “Day of Detox” package incorporates essential oil from a potent South American coffee plant in its Espresso Limon body wrap. Wild cinnamon and lemon oils are added to boost circulation, while massage and body-brushing soothe limbs and open pores further.Best for: Cellulite, lymphatic drainage
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Salt

Salt fights bacteria and inflammation and creates a negative-ion environment — the reason a dip in the sea feels great. At the new Halo/Air Salt Rooms in New York City, you can re-create that effect in “caves” full of Ukrainian salt, which is pumped into the rooms in controlled amounts; temperature and humidity are regulated, too. In the lungs, sodium chloride dispels bacteria and mucus. Sessions improve allergies and respiratory ills.Best for: Respiratory problems, asthma, flu, colds
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Ayurveda

Dr. Pratima Raichur, a longtime ayurvedic practitioner in Manhattan, works wonders for your complexion “with her holistic approach to health and life. Raichur nourishes and cleans skin with essential-oil-based treatments; detoxifying facials combine natural and antibacterial ingredients like sandalwood, aloe vera, red clay, and rosemary with a blast of steam to cleanse and exfoliate skin, and pressure-point massage around the nose and eyes clears sinuses and the puffiness that allergies can cause.
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Infrared Heat

The very technology used on preemies in the hospital, infrared heat penetrates skin almost two inches to warm the body directly, rather than heating the air around you. The infrared sauna at The Arcona Studio in Santa Monica, California (frequented by Diane Lane), is made of sweet-smelling Canadian cedar and confers all the benefits of a traditional sauna: Your pores open, shedding dead cells and toxins like zinc, lead, and cadmium; your heartbeat increases and blood vessels dilate as sweat evaporates; and after just a few minutes, your face develops a fetching rosy glow.
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Detox Bath

Aside from being relaxing, hot water increases blood flow and sweating and dilates the capillaries near the skin’s surface; your body expels the bad stuff and drinks in any herbal oils and salts. Detox Bathing enhances these effects with ingredients like grapefruit oil (a purifier and astringent) and rosemary oil (for circulation). It also makes our cut because of what it leaves out: parabens, sulfates, preservatives, and synthetic fragrances and colors.Best for: Fluid retention, bloating
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Vegetable Fast

More nutritious than sugary juice fasts,  an organic-vegetable juice diet, is a hush-hush favorite among lean beauties like Adriana Lima and Natasha Henstridge. These nutrient-packed liquids like kidney-cleansing almond milk, fibrous green vegetables (kale and celery) are also great for cleaning the liver and boosting immune function. Juicing for more than three days? Add light exercise, such as brisk walking, to counteract a slowing metabolism.Best for: Dropping the last 5 pounds
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Eight Ingredients You Never Want to See on Your Nutrition Label

By David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding

The year was 1950, and The Magic 8-Ball had just arrived in stores. It looked like a toy, but it wasn’t. It was a future-telling device, powered by the unknown superpowers that lived inside its cheap plastic shell. Despite a bit of an attitude—”Don’t count on it,” “My reply is no”—it was a huge success. Americans, apparently, want to see their futures.

A few decades later, Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act that, among other things, turned the 45,000 food products in the average supermarket into fortune-telling devices. Americans inexplicably yawned. I’m trying to change that. Why? The nutrition label can predict the future size of your pants and health care bills.

Unfortunately, these labels aren’t as clear and direct as the Magic 8-Ball. Consider the list of ingredients: The Food and Drug Administration has approved more than 3,000 additives, most of which you’ve never heard of. But the truth is, you don’t have to know them all. You just need to be able to parse out the bad stuff. Do that and you’ll have a pretty good idea how your future will shape up—whether you’ll end up overweight and unhealthy or turn out to be fit, happy, and energized.

While researching the new Eat This, Not That! 2013: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution, I identified 8 ingredients you never want to see on the nutrition label. Should you put down products that contain them? As the Magic 8-Ball would say: Signs point to yes.

1. BHA

This preservative is used to prevent rancidity in foods that contain oils. Unfortunately, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) has been shown to cause cancer in rats, mice, and hamsters. The reason the FDA hasn’t banned it is largely technical—the cancers all occurred in the rodents’ forestomachs, an organ that humans don’t have. Nevertheless, the study, published in the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research, concluded that BHA was “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen,” and as far as I’m concerned, that’s reason enough to eliminate it from your diet.

2. Parabens

These synthetic preservatives are used to inhibit mold and yeast in food. The problem is parabens may also disrupt your body’s hormonal balance. A study in Food Chemical Toxicology found that daily ingestion decreased sperm and testosterone production in rats, and parabens have been found present in breast cancer tissues.

3. Partially Hydrogenated Oil

I’ve harped on this before, but it bears repeating: Don’t confuse “0 g trans fat” with being trans fat-free. The FDA allows products to claim zero grams of trans fat as long as they have less than half a gram per serving. That means they can have 0.49 grams per serving and still be labeled a no-trans-fat food. Considering that two grams is the absolute most you ought to consume in a day, those fractions can quickly add up. The telltale sign that your snack is soiled with the stuff? Look for partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient statement. If it’s anywhere on there, then you’re ingesting artery-clogging trans fat.

FIGHT FAT WITH FAT! Some fats, like trans fat, will pad you with extra pounds, but other types can help you shed unwanted weight. See for yourself—pick up these 5 Fatty Foods that Make You Skinny today!

4. Sodium Nitrite

Nitrites and nitrates are used to inhibit botulism-causing bacteria and to maintain processed meats’ pink hues, which is why the FDA allows their use. Unfortunately, once ingested, nitrite can fuse with amino acids (of which meat is a prime source) to form nitrosamines, powerful carcinogenic compounds. Ascorbic and erythorbic acids—essentially vitamin C—have been shown to decrease the risk, and most manufacturers now add one or both to their products, which has helped. Still, the best way to reduce risk is to limit your intake.

5. Caramel Coloring

This additive wouldn’t be dangerous if you made it the old-fashioned way—with water and sugar, on top of a stove. But the food industry follows a different recipe: They treat sugar with ammonia, which can produce some nasty carcinogens. How carcinogenic are these compounds? A Center for Science in the Public Interest report asserted that the high levels of caramel color found in soda account for roughly 15,000 cancers in the U.S. annually. Another good reason to scrap soft drinks? They’re among The 20 Worst Drinks in America.

6. Castoreum

Castoreum is one of the many nebulous “natural ingredients” used to flavor food. Though it isn’t harmful, it is unsettling. Castoreum is a substance made from beavers’ castor sacs, or anal scent glands. These glands produce potent secretions that help the animals mark their territory in the wild. In the food industry, however, 1,000 pounds of the unsavory ingredient are used annually to imbue foods—usually vanilla or raspberry flavored—with a distinctive, musky flavor.

7. Food Dyes

Plenty of fruit-flavored candies and sugary cereals don’t contain a single gram of produce, but instead rely on artificial dyes and flavorings to suggest a relationship with nature. Not only do these dyes allow manufacturers to mask the drab colors of heavily processed foods, but certain hues have been linked to more serious ailments. A Journal of Pediatrics study linked Yellow 5 to hyperactivity in children, Canadian researchers found Yellow 6 and Red 40 to be contaminated with known carcinogens, and Red 3 is known to cause tumors. The bottom line? Avoid artificial dyes as much as possible.

THE DOMINO EFFECT: Sugar doesn’t just come in the form of cookies and candy. Discover the insidious ways it can creep into your diet with 9 Sneaky Sources of Sugar.

8. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, used as a flavor enhancer, is plant protein that has been chemically broken down into amino acids. One of these acids, glutamic acid, can release free glutamate. When this glutamate joins with free sodium in your body, they form monosodium glutamate (MSG), an additive known to cause adverse reactions—headaches, nausea, and weakness, among others—in sensitive individuals. When MSG is added to products directly, the FDA requires manufacturers to disclose its inclusion on the ingredient statement. But when it occurs as a byproduct of hydrolyzed protein, the FDA allows it to go unrecognized.

 

 

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New Scientific Study Shows that Sunlight Can Prevent Skin Cancer

Sunlight Prevents Skin Cancer

Since the 1980s, physicians and cancer groups have regularly warned the public against the potential health dangers of direct sunlight on skin. As a result, many people have stayed out of the sunlight completely, covered their limbs even in warm weather or slathered themselves with UV protection products, all in the interest of lowering their risk of melanomas.

However, more recent findings indicate that this kind of nearly vampiric avoidance of the sun may not benefit your cancer odds after all.

A 2009 study by a group of Leeds University researchers found that higher levels of Vitamin D were linked to improved skin cancer survival odds. Other studies have found that Vitamin D has a connection to a strong immune response in the body. In fact, Vitamin D may hasten the death of tumor cells.

Unfortunately, most people have low levels of Vitamin D, leaving them at higher risk for a host of diseases including breast cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, cervical cancer, rickets and osteoporosis.

“It’s common for the general public to have low levels of vitamin D in many countries,” said Professor Julia Newton Bishop of the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine and author of the Leeds study. “Melanoma patients tend to avoid the sun as sunburn is known to increase the risk of melanoma. We use sunshine to make vitamin D in the skin, so melanoma patients’ levels of vitamin D may be especially low.”

Bishop also noted that people can get more Vitamin D through dietary sources such as fatty fish. She points out that balance is key, as extremely high levels of Vitamin D can have a negative effect on health.

The mainstream media continues to run stories every summer warning people against the sun even two years after the Leeds study. While hours of sunbathing may be risky behavior for your long-term health, receiving a moderate amount of sunlight while out gardening or walking is actually as good for you as eating a low-fat diet and engaging in regular exercise. In fact, laying off the sunscreen may help you not only absorb sunshine into your skin to help fight tumors, but also helps you avoid the chemicals in most commercial sun blocking products. Some studies have indicated that these chemicals can actually generate harmful free radicals in the body.

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Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

 

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