Tag Archives: health

Top 10 GMO Foods to Avoid

Too busy this week to come up with some original material, this article from truththeory.com caught my eye. This is for all of us foodies out there that want to avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs). Notice one corporation keeps popping up on the list. I consider Monsanto to be one of the most evil corporations in the world, and I don’t use the word “evil” lightly.

Article by Elizabeth Renter

Genetically modified foods have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environmental, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. It’s important to note that steering clear from these foods completely may be difficult, and you should merely try finding other sources than your big chain grocer. If produce is certified USDA-organic, it’s non-GMO (or supposed to be!) Also, seek out local farmers and booths at farmer’s markets where you can be ensured the crops aren’t GMO. Even better, if you are so inclined: Start organic gardening and grow them yourself. Until then, here are the top 10 worst GMO foods for your “do not eat” GMO foods list.

Top 10 Worst GMO Foods for Your GMO Foods List

1Corn: This is a no-brainer. If you’ve watched any food documentary, you know corn is highly modified. “As many as half of all U.S. farms growing corn for Monsanto are using genetically modified corn,” and much of it is intended for human consumption. Monsanto’s GMO corn has been tied to numerous health issues, including weight gain and organ disruption.

2. Soy: Found in tofu, vegetarian products, soybean oil, soy flour, and numerous other products, soy is also modified to resist herbicides. As of now, biotech giant Monsanto still has a tight grasp on the soybean market, with approximately 90 percent of soy being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate was sprayed on soybeans alone

3. Sugar: According to NaturalNews, genetically-modified sugar beets were introduced to the U.S. market in 2009. Like others, they’ve been modified by Monsanto to resist herbicides. Monsanto has even had USDA and court-related issues with the planting of it’s sugarbeets, being ordered to remove seeds from the soil due to illegal approval.

4. Aspartame: Aspartame is a toxic additive used in numerous food products, and should be avoided for numerous reasons, including the fact that it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

5. Papayas: This one may come as a surprise to all of you tropical-fruit lovers. GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Though they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union, they are welcome with open arms in the U.S. and Canada.

6. Canola: One of the most chemically altered foods in the U.S. diet, canola oil is obtained from rapeseed through a series of chemical actions.

7. Cotton: Found in cotton oil, cotton originating in India and China in particular has serious risks.

8. Dairy: Your dairy products contain growth hormones, with as many as one-fifth of all dairy cows in America are pumped with these hormones. In fact, Monasnto’s health-hazardous rBGH has been banned in 27 countries, but is still in most US cows. If you must drink milk, buy organic.

9. and 10. Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Closely related, these two squash varieties are modified to resist viruses.

The dangers of some of these foods are well-known. The Bt toxin being used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. But perhaps more frightening are the risks that are still unknown.

With little regulation and safety tests performed by the companies doing the genetic modifications themselves, we have no way of knowing for certain what risks these lab-created foods pose to us outside of what we already know.

The best advice: steer clear of them altogether.

Additional Sources:



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Some Emails You Just Don’t Ever Want to Receive

Yes, I am now unmistakably middle-aged and no longer just in my early fifties. And I am generally okay with that, except when my body doesn’t do what I want it to do, of course. But NO ONE at such a delicate transitional stage wants to receive an email like this:

Now I’ve been getting junk from AARP ever since I turned 50. But Betty White? She just celebrated her 90th. This advertisement kind of sends the message: “Hey, no use denying you’re now in the long slippy slide towards getting really old. But hey, Betty White is still going strong!”

But, this is just me talking. Perhaps you are getting to that special coming-of-middle-age time of your life and have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to join AARP. Well, just for you, I have made the picture above into a link so that will take you to the “join” page.

Because I care.

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The Hand Problem: 3 Years Later and the Effects of Stress on Healing

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since I really buggered up my right hand. I have a chronic condition called Ulnar nerve impingement. Essentially, it means that somewhere along Ulnar nerve (see picture), there is something that is putting pressure on it. The Ulnar nerve is the only nerve in the body that is unprotected by muscular-skeletal infrastructure.

I just happen to have one that is shorter than most people, so all it takes is a little pressure to aggravate things. Typically, it presents as aching, numbness, or tingling in the ring and little finger as well as the back part of the wrist and the “funny bone” in the elbow. I had an MRI and found that there is a little bit of compression in the Cubital Tunnel, which is that little notch on the inside part of the elbow (i.e. toward your body). But overall, I have found that the biggest culprit is inflammation anywhere along the path.

I initially traumatized it via strenuous outdoor work. First, several years ago when I split a cord of maple, then five years ago when I pulled out shrubs to make way for building a new deck. And finally, three years ago when I pressure-washed and stained our new deck. The first two times, I recovered somewhat quickly. The last time, it took over a year to recover from the worst of the symptoms. I had to take a six-month leave from work and eventually was terminated (by mutual agreement).

I am happy to say that, most days, I live symptom free. Ironically, the hand is acting up today, possibly because I’m thinking about it, or because I spent most of yesterday doing computer consulting.

I have always wondered why it took so long to recover the third time. Without any other information, I assumed it was because I had a pretty intense project at work that required putting in long hours on the computer for several weeks right after the injury. The best therapy for this type of condition is rest, and I didn’t get any.

But the more I learn about the brain and the body, I realize there is more to this story. Not only did my project require long hours, but I was under the gun. So, it was both long hours and high stress. By this point, I was miserable in my job, doing work I didn’t like for a micromanaging boss that–how do I put this nicely–was indifferent about how to best utilize my creative strengths–in other words, I was a cog in the machine. If I don’t have at least some creative freedom in my work, I wither.

When the body encounters stress, a hormone called cortisol is released. A little is okay. But chronic stress leaves cortisol levels elevated and  causes, among other things, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, decreased bone density, and decrease in muscle tissue. The “inflammatory response” gets stuck.

It’s clear to me now why it took so long for me to heal. I was a stressed out mess!! That’s why rest was the best medicine along with therapies to address the inflammation.

Here are some articles you can read to learn more about the effects of chronic cortisol:


If you are developing chronic Ulnar nerve issues, the very best advice I can give you is do whatever you can to reduce your stress. If you are in a high-pressure job like I was, especially if it also involves a lot of repetitive motion, stop immediately! Use all your sick time or take a vacation. You need to unplug and let your body decompress so it can start the healing process. And be sure to take whatever supplements are helpful for healing and reducing inflammation.

You can read my other blog posts about my journey here:

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I Love PCC!

Yes, I am rather fond of our local natural food chain, Puget Consumer Co-Op. I believe they are the best in the country. I went there for lunch the other day after my workout. They always have a nice variety in their soup bar. The one in Kirkland is the second store they opened and is one of my faves. I wrote about this elsewhere, but there are certain places that just enhance my mood. Just look at the magazine rack! There have to be a few publications in there that review wellness-related music. I need to send them a copy of Passage and see if they’ll review it.

Can you think of any magazines about wellness, health, mind/body, spirituality, etc. that review relaxation music? If so, I would love to hear your suggestions. Namaste! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) :-)

The Houghton (Kirkland) store.

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Need a Hand?

I do. Like most, I rely on my hands to make a living. So, not only do I need a hand, I need a hand that works. Unfortunately, due to shorter than normal Ulnar nerves that can easily get aggravated, I can become incapacitated like I was yesterday. I was happy and proud to have a highly productive day on Wednesday, getting most of my to-do list done. But somewhere along the way I overdid it and yesterday I paid the price.

The most effective way of recovery for me is rest. Stay off the computer, off the piano, no yard work or any other activity which involves gripping and holding onto something–a rake, a paint brush, a bicycle handlebar, etc.

Beyond that, there are various therapies. One important one I discovered when trying acupuncture (which in itself does not help me) is a Chinese herbal patch. The acupuncturist turned me on to these, and every few months or so, I buy some more from her. It is a naturopathic anti-inflammatory hot/cold treatment and it helps open up the nerve path. When I have a flare up, I cut a patch in half, put on half over the Ulnar nerve path on my wrist (see picture) and the other at the top off my shoulder.

These are distributed by a place called Qualiherb.

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The weather is holding!! Yay!! While it lasts I’m continuing to hit the local Tolt Pipeline Trail to get my walk/run in. I wish I could do it daily, but it’s more like 4x a week. It used to take me close to an hour to walk two inclines, a mild and a steep one, great to get the heart rate up. Now it only takes about 40 minutes if I walk it and 25-30 minutes if I include 2-3 short intervals of running.

Here’s the view heading up the large hill. It’s about a 30% grade. Funny how it looks flat in the picture. And below is the view from the top of the large hill with a view of the smaller hill.

I have heard from multiple sources about how beneficial exercise is for mood. I can attest to this. I always feel more positive energy and optimism after a good trail walk. It’s pretty warm out this morning, upper 50s. It’s time to hit it.

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It was time to buy a new set of tires for our SUV and Costco had the best deal around (at over $700, ouch!). It’s been a while since I have gone up and down every aisle in Costco, but I had a couple of hours to kill. I was curious about how much truly healthy food could be found. It was not encouraging.

I found some “wild” smoked Alaska salmon. The back of the package revealed that they catch young salmon in fresh water and then farm raise them. They didn’t use the word “farm” of course, chose “nursery” instead.

They even have organic ground beef. What does that mean? They use organic GMO corn and still grow them in a warehouse? Now if they would have said “grass fed”, now we’d be talkin! They wouldn’t have to bathe the ground beef in ammonia to kill off evil bacteria before sending to market.

One of the aisles was a candy aisle. Why did I walk down that one? Given that I have sworn off sugar (for the most part) I still noticed an enormous bag of gummy bears. 6 pounds!! Can you believe it? I wasn’t even tempted. I am truly rewiring my brain.

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Mood and energy

I admit this will sound a bit like whining, especially in light of the extreme temperatures in the rest of the country, but the summer here in the Pacific Northwest has been downright dreadful. I have lived up here for most of the past 30 years and I don’t remember a year that has had such little sunshine. When August came around, we finally started getting some sun and it seemed that hope had returned. It was short lived. After a few days of awesome weather, things returned to the way they have been the rest of the summer: mostly cloudy or overcast with fleeting sun breaks late in the afternoon. Depressing.

I am someone who depends on sun for mood and the winters here are very difficult to get through, not only because of the bad weather but also because of the short days. So when late spring and summer rolls around, it is essential for the sun to make an appearance. This year is the worst on record and I have been Mr. Grouchy Pants and Sir Buzz Kill lately.

What seems to pull me out of the mood dungeon is walking. There is a trail nearby and I am finding that a 45 to 60 minute walk a day is the only thing that gets me out of my doldrums. I just had the Today show on (a morning ritual) and a lady from Prevention magazine shared some other things that help with mood and energy. You can read the full article from the magazine here, but here is a partial list:

  • People who have a hi-fiber breakfast will experience a 10% reduction in fatigue
  • Keep the caffeine drinks small. Better to have a few small caffeine drinks throughout the day rather than a huge one. Better to drink tea, although I still need my coffee first thing in the morning, (it is a another  one of my rituals).
  • Drink plenty of water – When I don’t get enough, I notice that I get a lethargic light-headed feeling that I mistake for hunger at first, but I now recognize as dehydration.
  • Listen to music while you work. It boosts energy and productivity.
  • Creativity is boosted by having flowers nearby. I also have read that lavender has a calming effect.
I am going to try the flowers thing today after I take my morning walk and cut a few flowers from the neighbor’s yard. (Just kidding.)


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Here’s a healthy snack I discovered when reading the Change Your Brain, Change Your Body book by Dr. Daniel Amen (giving credit where credit is due). Hard boil an egg, discard the egg yolk (full of evil cholesterol and bad fat) and replace it with hummus.

Yes, I would rather go to a bag of tortilla chips. (And yes, I need to stop thinking that way.) But I can’t stop eating from a bag of chips once I start, so I can’t go there. The important thing about a snack is it keeps me eating more frequently, but eating less. And the snacks should be healthy and include some protein. Other snack ideas:

  • Apple and a string-cheese stick
  • Celery with natural peanut butter (think Trader Joes, not Skippy)
  • A Wasa or Ak-Mak cracker (or two) with some tuna or smoked salmon
  • Some baby carrots with a small handful of almonds or walnuts
I would LOVE to hear your suggestions for other healthy snacks. Yes, I’m asking for reader participation.




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Several months ago I responded to one of those public television fund raising drives. Never done that before. The featured content was Dr. Daniel Amen presenting information from his latest book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body”. Think of Dr. Amen as the Dr. Oz of neuroscience. Merrilyn and I are gaining interest in the brain and in neuroscience, so this sort of thing gets our attention.

I started reading the book after putting it off for these many months, as I already had a pretty good idea what to find in its pages. Yep, I need to make some major changes in my nutrition and lifestyle if I am going to get healthier, and I SO need to improve my health. What is intriguing is the author’s assertion that our inability to change behavior, and consequently improve our self care, is not necessarily a willpower issue, but a brain chemistry/activity issue. I am starting to suspect that I have diminished activity in my Pre-Frontal Cortex (or PFC), the part of the brain that is responsible for attention, planning, and followthrough. Hey, I have ADD, so this sort of makes sense.

I have only read the first few chapters. I am sure to have more to share. Later…

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