Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Green Help

Know your ABCs Given that there are so many options when it comes to choosing baby products, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. When you're considering organic alternatives or specifically seeking eco-friendly products, let this green terminology be your guide:

Bisphenol-A (BPA). A chemical compound sometimes found in plastic products, cosmetics, and foods. Recent studies suggest links between Bisphenol-A and developmental toxicity (e.g., reproductive consequences) and carcinogenic effects (e.g., cancers). Bispenol-A has been found to leach from plastic into food and liquids. Go green tip: Look for "Bisphenol-A free" or "BPA free" on the label.

Fair Trade Manufactured or Certified. Products featuring fair trade labels usually means that they were manufactured or produced in a way that meets certain environmental, labor and developmental standards. Think no child labor.

Lead. Lead is a metal that if ingested or inhaled (think lead dust) can cause lead poisoning, which may result in developmental or behavioral problems, or possibly worse. Given that young children tend to put toys and their hands in their mouths after handling toys, reports of lead in toys makes the threat of lead a growing concern among parents. Go green tip: Look for lead free or lead tested on the label.

Non-toxic. Products marked non-toxic are generally believed to be free of harmful toxins or poisons. For example, toys labeled as having non-toxic finishes should, in theory, be safe for children to chew on, without posing health risks.

Organic. Products or ingredients marked organic usually means that they are grown or processed free of pesticides, artificial fertilizers, radiation, genetic modification, or synthetic additives.

Phthalates. Chemical compounds sometimes found in vinyls, fragrances and beauty products. Studies suggest possible links between exposure to phthalates and effects on human health. Go green tip: Look for Phthalate-free on the label.

PVCs. Polyvinyl chlorides ("PVCs") are chemical polymers used in plastics to make them soft and flexible. There is growing concern that toys made with PVCs can pose health risks to children, such as when children chew on toys, resulting in chemicals leaching out of toys into children's mouths. Go green tip: Look for PVC-free on the label.

Sustainable. A product that is made via sustainable processes or materials means that those processes or materials can last indefinitely. In other words, if managed responsibly, the materials won't run out. That’s good news for the Earth and for future generations. Go green tip: toys made from sustainable, solid woods are generally given green thumbs up.

VOCs. Volatile Organic Compounds ("VOCs") are chemical compounds which when emitted have potential consequences on health. Go green tip: Look for VOC-free on the label.

Know your 123s
Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but ever wonder about the meaning of those code numbers imprinted inside triangular recycle symbols? Here's some help:

“1” – Products/packaging contain polyethylene terephthalate. Examples include water bottles and soda bottles.
“2” – Products/packaging contain high-density polyethylene. Examples include laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs.
“3” – Products/packaging contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Examples include baby bottle nipples and vinyl toys.
“4” – Products/packaging contain low-density polyethylene. Examples include plastic grocery bags.
“5” – Products/packaging contain polypropylene. Examples include yogurt or sour cream containers.
“6” – Products/packaging contain polystyrene. Examples include Styrofoam packing peanuts and coffee cups.
“7” – Products/packaging contain a hodge-podge of plastic #1-6 chemical polymers (a.k.a. the miscellaneous category).

View Source

Friday, June 6, 2008

splendid splenda?

Since its introduction in 2000, Splenda has practically become a "staple" in many households. Appearing in everything from ice cream to candy bars to jams, this no-calorie artificial sweetener (made from suclarose) will soon be joining forces with two of the largest soft drink distributors: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda is scheduled to debut this spring, and will be branded with the name of the sweetener as well as a distinct yellow streak. Despite its new addition, however, Coca-Cola will continue selling its traditional Diet Coke, flavored with aspartame. Other changes/additions Coca-Cola has made to Diet Coke--in order to boost sales in North America--include the introduction of new flavors, such as:

Similarly, PepsiCo has made plans to reformulate its single-calorie drink, Pepsi One, with Splenda, while Diet Pepsi is sweetened with aspartame.

More on Splenda
Splenda is sold by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Nutritionals as a table and baking sugar substitute. Manufacturing of this artificial sweetener involves selectively replacing three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the original sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. It is 600 times sweeter than sucrose, or white table sugar.

Source: USA Today 02.07.05

Just before the end of 2004, shortages of Splenda had forced its manufacturer, Tate & Lyle, to ration new customers, putting the brakes on "new and improved" product lines with the artificial and totally unnatural sweetener. Since Pepsi and Coke already had relationships with them they weren't under that restriction.

The overwhelming demand for Splenda is largely due to those who believe using potentially toxic products like this are making a healthier choice by using it instead of sugar. Folks, if you are consuming Splenda because you believe it is a safe alternative to sugar or other artificial sweeteners, then you're in for a big surprise.

Let me tell you something the manufacturer or the FDA is not telling you that may have you reconsider using Splenda. The simple fact is that there is not even one long-term study on Splenda--the FDA doesn't require it and the company did not perform any long-term tests. Why should they? That could only hurt their sales. Did you ever hear of Vioxx killing over 50,000 people? Well the FDA approved that drug and let me assure you that the approval process for a drug is far more stringent than it is for a food additive like Splenda.

If you really trust the FDA to protect you than I would strongly encourage you to read my review of the expose on Nutrasweet. You will be in for a shocking surprise.
Research in animals has also provided us with some additional concerns, linking consumption of Splenda with severe health problems such as shrunken thymus glands (up to 40 percent shrinkage), enlarged liver and kidneys and atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus.

What Should You Do?
Eating too much sugar will also adversely affect your health, as it causes your
insulin level to rise and this is associated with a host of health problems. Therefore, the best option for your health is to radically reduce the sugar and sweets in your diet. Over time and once you normalize your insulin levels your desire for them will dramatically decrease.

Related Articles:
The Meteoric Rise of Splenda
Controversy Surrounding Splenda's Deceptive Marketing Campaign
Splenda--Here We Go Again
Beware of Splenda's Latest Marketing Ploy
12 Questions You Need to Have Answered Before You Eat Splenda

View Source

Killer Coke

Yeah, so everyone I know drinks it. In Texas, we call it Coke. Doesn't matter if its Dr.Pepper (a texas fav), actual Coke, Mountain Dew... you name it, it's just called "Coke". Growing up in Alaska, it was called "Pop" and I still chuckle when someone from my family asks if I would like a "pop" with my meal. Whatever it's called, it is not the nectar of the Gods that some addicts will claim. In actuality is it from the Devil himself and it is slowly killing you.

Below are 10 reasons to quit drinking it NOW:

#1 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Dehydration
Drinking soda with caffeine and sugar causes your body to become dehydrated. Caffeine is a diuretic and causes an increase in urine volume. When you drink a caffeinated soda to quench your thirst, you will actually become thirstier.

#2 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: High Calorie
Regular soda pop is high in calories. A can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is 100% of the daily recommended value for adults. An 8 ounce can of soda has around 100-200 calories. Not only are the calories from soda pop empty of any nutritional value, they also deplete your body of vital minerals.

#3 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Caffeine Addiction
Caffeine addiction and withdrawal has been recognized as a medical disorder. A study at Johns Hopkins University revealed a few interesting facts about caffeine. "Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."

#4 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Acid
Whether you drink diet or regular soda, the amount of acid in these drinks is enough to wear away at the enamel of your teeth over time. Teeth with weakened enamel are more sensitive and more susceptible to decay. In tests done on the acidity levels of soda, soda was found to have a pH of 2.5. To put that into perspective, consider that battery acid has a pH of 1 and pure water has a pH level of 7.

#5 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Save Money
Soda may be pretty inexpensive when compared with fruit juice and milk. You can purchase 12, 8 ounce cans for around $4. However, a person who drinks just 2 cans of soda a day, will pay $206 over the course of a year to keep her soda habit going. If there is more than one soda drinker in the house, or she drinks more than 2 cans a day, that yearly total could quickly double or triple!

#6Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Lose Weight
Of course "regular" sodas would not help you reach your weight loss goals, but certainly diet soda can be a useful tool in weight management, right? The word "Diet" is right there in the name, after all. Wrong! Researches at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that diet sodas put a person at a higher risk of becoming overweight. According to their research, "artificial sweeteners can interfere with the body's natural ability to regulate calorie intake. This could mean people who consume artificially sweetened items are more likely to overindulge."

#7 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Artificial Sweetener Issues
Often the subject of urban legend, artificial sweeteners have been accused of everything from causing headaches to multiple sclerosis and even death. Most artificial sweeteners have over 20 years of research behind them, proving their safety for most individuals. However, consumption of artificial sweeteners may make some people crave more sweet things which will in turn create more cravings for people who are trying to avoid sweet foods for health reasons.

Don't even get me started on this topic...this is definitely another blog for another time. Stay tuned.

#8 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Mineral Depletion
You may have heard of a recent study that showed women who drink cola everyday have a lower bone mineral density. One of the reasons for this could be that most colas contain phosphoric acid and caffeine which drain calcium out of the bones. Also, because caffeine is a diuretic and increases urine volume, more minerals are leaving the body before having a chance to be absorbed and put to use.

#9 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Less Chance for Diabetes
While no research has definitively shown that soda pop causes diabetes, the daily consumption of soda pop does create other problems that could lead to diabetes: specifically weight gain. However, according to a researcher from Children's Hospital Boston, the fact remains "when sugar enters the bloodstream quickly, the pancreas has to secrete large amounts of insulin for the body to process it. Some scientists believe that the unceasing demands that a soda habit places on the pancreas may ultimately leave it unable to keep up with the body's need for insulin. Also, insulin itself becomes less effective at processing sugar; both conditions contribute to the risk of developing diabetes."

#10 Reason to Quit Drinking Soda Pop: Soda Replaces Healthier Drinks
In the 1950's, children drank 3 cups of milk for every cup of sweet drink. Today that statistic is flipped: children drink 3 cups of sweet drink for every cup of milk. One of the biggest problems with soda is it acts as a replacement drink for healthier options. Less amounts of milk in the average diet could account for the lower bone density and higher occurrence of osteoporosis in men, women and children.

No, I didn't come up with these on my own. View Source

Related articles:
Is Drinking Soda Pop Harming Our Kids?
Don't Drink Your Calories-Soda Pop is Mankind's Worst Ever Discovery
Some Scientists Believe Soda Pop May Cause Cirrhosis of the Liver and Parkinson's
Soda: Not Just Dangerous for Children!

Plastics rundown

Below is a quick rundown of the different plastics that are out there to help you better know what to avoid and what to look for:

Different types of plastic

Polyethylene - Containers for water, soft drinks, cleaners and detergents are made of it. There is high density and low density polyethylene. High density is an opaque plastic used for all kinds of bottles and some plastic bags, while low density polyethylene is used in grocery store bags, most plastic wraps and some bottles.

Polyvinyl chloride - It is used for various kinds of jars, bottles for cleaning fluids, some plastic squeeze bottles, and cling wrap. During manufacturing polyvinyl chloride (called PVC or vinyl), toxic chemicals such as Dioxin are released. Workers making PVC have a greater than average risk of liver cancer. When incinerated, PVC releases toxic airborne pollutants. These chemicals can then accumulate in meat and dairy products.

Polystyrene - Styrofoam food trays, egg cartons, disposable cups and plates, opaque plastic cutlery and take-out containers are made of polystyrene (PS). Styrene can leach from PS plastics. Studies on workers with long term exposure show that styrene can be toxic to the brain and nervous system. Animal studies also show adverse effects on various body organs.

Polypropylene - It is a cloudy plastic used for food containers, straws, yogurt cups, and baby bottles.

Polycarbonate - It is used heavily in baby bottles and sippy cups, water bottles, clear plastic cutlery and food can liners. It was chosen for baby bottles because it is transparent, hard, and shatterproof. Polycarbonate is made from Bisphenol A (BPA). In a study, released in 2008, it was shown that BPA, a synthetic sex-hormone that mimics estrogen, leaches out of baby bottles when they are heated. The leached amounts of BPA were similar to amounts or doses that were harmful in animal studies. The animals had changes in gender-specific behavior, altered immune function, decreased testosterone, impaired learning and they were also hyperactive and more aggressive.

How to be safe
Because plastics are so widespread, many plastic break-down products and toxic chemicals from plastics can be found in the blood and urine of most people. Infants and children are probably at greatest risk for harmful effects.Scientists disagree on the quantities of leached BPA that is safe. The European Food Safety Authority, for example, argues that rat and mice retain BPA much longer in their bloodstream than humans do. Humans eliminate BPA quickly in their urine. Large controlled studies are needed to definitely show that BPA is harmful in people. These kinds of studies may never be done because it is unethical to expose human beings to a potentially toxic chemical.

This is what you can do to eliminate or reduce BPA and other toxic chemicals from leaching into food:

Don't heat polycarbonate plastic containers. To find out if plastic is polycarbonate, look at the bottom of the container for an imprinted small triangle with the number 7 (a few newer non-polycarbonate plastics also have a 7).

Use plastic food containers made from polyethylene or polypropylene. They don't leach BPA. Imprinted bottom triangles have the numbers 1, 2, 4, or 5.Don't use cling wrap in the microwave.

Don't put plastic food containers or baby bottles in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand.Throw out old plastic containers. As plastic containers age, they release more chemicals.

Don't use scratched-up plastic containers. Again, damaged plastics may leak more chemicals.

Use glass or ceramic containers for heating in the microwave. Or better yet, don't use a microwave period. Who wants the molecular structure of their food changed by radiation?