Friday, May 30, 2008

Understanding the Benefits of Organic Food

Organic food is a safer alternative than conventional food for one very basic and obvious reasons: they are pesticide free. Pesticide residue like DDT and hexachlorobenzine on fruits and vegetables enter the human body when consumed and are particularly more harmful to children. Health risks involved with consuming these pesticides range from immune and nervous system problems, to Parkinson’s disease, decreased reproductive ability, tremors, depression, dermatitis, nausea, convulsions, diarrhea and even poor memory. If that isn’t enough, Belgian researchers found that breast cancer in women increases six to nine times for those with pesticides in their bloodstream.
Clinical nutritionist and editor of Organic Food News Quarterly, Shane Heaton says the nutrient value in organic food is also much higher. “Official food composition tables, including data compiled by the US Department of Agriculture, reveal that since the 1940s the mineral levels in fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy have declined substantially in conventional foods. Combine this with earlier (pre-ripened) picking, longer storage, and more processing of crops, and it's not surprising that we may be getting fewer nutrients in our food than we were 60 years ago.”He added that organic crops “contain higher levels of trace minerals, vitamin C and antioxidant phytonutrients.” Nutrition specialist Virginia Worthington backs this up. She reviewed 41 studies on organic vs. non-organic foods and concluded that fruits, vegetables and grains contain “27 percent more vitamin C, 21.1 percent more iron, 29.3 percent more magnesium and 13.6 percent more phosphorus.”cows
Organic meat is another consideration but be aware that not all products marketed as organic actually are. Organic meat producer Kenneth Solway states on his website at that "Organic standards regulate an animal from the state of its mother prior to birth, through feeding and housing practices, right to the abattoir and packaging. Many say these regulations are too strict. By being so forceful, these rules have, until recently, made truly certifiable organic meats basically unavailable, playing right into the hands of those who capitalize on fraudulent claims."
According to one organic meat company, livestock must be fed 100 percent organic food that contains no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides or fertilizers. As well, the feed cannot be genetically modified or contain animal bi-products. The animals themselves must be free of growth hormones, steroids and antibiotics. That means if an animal gets sick, it cannot be used to provide organic meat. The animals must also be treated humanly and an independent organic certification body must visit to ensure a farmer has met all of the standards.
However, Solway said that some areas like Ontario have no organic body especially to oversee abattoirs, so the process the meat goes through after it leaves the farm is not supervised.
He noted that consumers must realize that meat can be easily contaminated, so certain steps must be taken to avoid that. Marketers who state that their meat products are “chemical-free” or “hormone-free” are not being honest. However, he added that organic meat producers do use organic feed and the resulting meat is very low in these substances compared to other meats.

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Nursing Homes: What to look For

The first thing to know about nursing homes is that there are good ones, mediocre ones and downright bad ones! It is up to you to find one that is suitable for yourself or a loved one. Your first step is to make a list of nursing homes that are conveniently located so you and others can visit easily. If you are located in the United States, you may need to choose only those that are covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
Your next step will be to visit the homes on your list and stay at each one for a couple of hours minimum. While there speak with not only staff members, but also existing residents. You should also speak with your family doctor as he may have information that is valuable. Look around the nursing home. Is the home clean and fresh smelling? Do residents seem happy, clean and well cared for? Do staff members look clean and happy? What kind of meals are served and can the home provide a suitable diet plan? Are meal choices offered? Are snacks provided between meals?
You should ask questions about patient safety such as how many people each staff member is assigned to and whether wheelchairs and other aids are readily available. Are rooms private and secure enough? Are they kept clean and orderly? How do staff members handle residents? Take note if staff seem impatient or take time with the residents. Do they help them with personal care? Are there adequate handrails and grab bars? When a call bell goes off, does a staff member respond right away? How are meds distributed?
Is the nursing home associated with a particular hospital and does the home have a plan to assist patients in case of an emergency? How do they treat bedsores and how do they deal with residents who have behavioral problems? Do they ever use restraints? How often are residents changed if they have an incontinence problem? Have there ever been any influenza, food poisoning or other serious outbreaks within the facility? Ask to see a recent state or provincial inspection report. Also ask about staff turnover, as most people will not continue working at a home where residents are being mistreated.
You should also ask if any activities are offered in which residents can take part and are any outings arranged to get the residents outside for some fresh air or a short shopping trip? Is there a secure outside area where residents can sit? What kinds of activities are held for special occasions like birthdays and holidays like Christmas and Easter? Also find out the visiting hours and if family members are allowed access to most areas. Overall, is the nursing home a peaceful place where you or a loved one could actually feel comfortable and at home?
If you get the feeling that you might not be told the truth about all or any of these things, schedule an impromptu second visit.

Steps Toward Good Mental Health

Maintaining good mental health allows you to enjoy life, spend time with family and friends, and perhaps even continue working to a ripe old age. But how can you be sure that you will remain mentally fit?
According to a study in the United Kingdom, consuming saturated fats and sugars, additives and trans-fats can prevent the brain from functioning properly. This can lead to attention/hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and even schizophrenia. To help your brain, make sure you eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and whole grains. If you want to sharpen your mind eat foods with omega 3 fats, such as fish, nuts, seeds and some eggs. There is also a drink called Salba OlĂ© that contains 1200 mg of omega 3 fats per 8 ounce serving. You might also try a daily omega 3 supplement to ensure your brain receives the nutrients it needs to maintain proper functioning.
Keeping mentally healthy also means reducing stress, which can cause headaches, digestive problems, heart palpitations and at its worst – depression. Sit down and write a list of all the situations and/or people in your life that cause you such high anxiety. Then work toward eliminating them from your life. Of course, there are some situations such as a job or people like your aunt Mildred who just drive you bonkers. If you can’t eliminate a particular situation, try deep breathing or daily meditation to bring your stress level down. If it is a person you can’t turn away, keep your association with them to a minimum.
Good mental health also involves maintaining a positive outlook on life. Yes, this can be difficult at times. However, when you find yourself thinking negatively, immediately replace that thought with something positive. Learn to lighten up about things too. Life is short and there is no point in worrying about things that might never happen. And if they do, then you deal with them. By worrying, you can make yourself sick and lose sleep. Worrying can even shorten your life. Let go and don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say. Is it really that important? Also take time out for you! Light some candles, put on some soothing relaxation music and run a hot bubblebath.
Another issue when it comes to mental health and aging is memory. You run into someone you haven’t seen in a while and just can’t remember his or her name. You’re talking about something and in the middle of your sentence you lose your train of thought. Remember that it happens to everyone and it’s not something to worry about. For some interesting memory tricks go to the Aging With Creativity site.
Finally, you may not realize it but physical exercise has psychological benefits that can ward off depression, as well as increase oxygen flow to the brain. Just five minutes of aerobic exercise can also reduce stress and tension.

Get Educated on the Medications You Take

Isn’t it easy to take a pill for what ails you? Instant relief can be just one tablet or capsule away. How wonderful is that? Maybe, not a great as you think. You need to educate yourself on what those medications actually do to your body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported that adverse drug effects and deaths related to them have more than doubled in the last 10 years. By adverse effects, it means anything from birth defects to disability, hospitalization or the need for other life-saving intervention.
The report states that “people 65 and older account for 12.6% of the total U.S. population” and “accounted for 33.6% of the reported adverse drug effects.” The list of potentially hazardous drugs is extensive. It includes the narcotic pain relievers Oxycodone and Morphine, the duragesic Fentanyl and the anti-psychotic medications Clozapine and Resperidone. Even Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is on the list. To see the complete list, see the article on the Aging With Creativity web site.
You also need to know how the drugs you take interact with each other. If you take six or more medications a day, you have an 80 percent chance of a drug-related health problem. This includes both prescription and non-prescription medications. Mixing drugs can have many outcomes, from making a particular drug less effective to causing a serious health issue. For example, some anti-depressants interfere with blood pressure-lowering medications. You will find a link to a list of the top 10 drug interactions on the Aging With Creativity site.
Also be careful about what natural herbs and vitamins you take along with your medications. Ginseng can increase blood pressure. When taken with Coumadin, a blood-thinner, it can cause bleeding episodes.
Whenever your doctor recommends a new medication for you, make sure you discuss how it will interact with what you’re already taking. You can also talk with your pharmacist. As well, read all labels on any medications you purchase and any of the accompanying material provided by your pharmacy. Be aware of what side effects may result from taking any medication. It is up to you to decide if the risks are worth the benefits.

Boomers need to Safeguard their Identity

Guest Article By Stan Tjaden

The last thing you want to deal with at any age is identity theft. Yet, for older Americans, this is a growing problem. There are many reasons why this demographic group is targeted and just as many ways for seniors to protect themselves.

Senior citizens make ideal targets for identity theft for several reasons. Senior citizens tend to have greater cash reserves and disposable income than their younger counterparts. They also tend to have better credit. With major purchases such as a house often in the past, seniors are less likely to check their credit ratings. They are also less likely to engage in identity theft prevention measures. Senior citizens who use the Internet may be particularly vulnerable as they are often not as savvy with computers as the younger generation. It is also believed that senior citizen identity theft is underreported because many seniors are unaware the theft has occurred or are ashamed to report it.

Despite these vulnerabilities, there are many steps that you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. Monitor your credit reports annually by requesting a free report from, the official site for obtaining the free yearly report guaranteed by law. On a monthly basis monitor your bank statements and credit card statements. Check for purchases you never made and other discrepancies.

Protect your personal information. Shred documents containing your social security number, credit card number or other sensitive information. Be careful with Medicare cards, which include your social security number. It is best to carry the original only when visiting a health care provider for the first time. Otherwise, it is a good idea to only carry a photocopy with social security information blacked out – at least the last four digits.

Finally, it is important to protect yourself online. Only give out your personal information on secure websites (they will start with “https” and a padlock symbol will display on your web browser). Avoid opening emails from strangers and never click on a link in an email you were not expecting, even if the email seems to be from the IRS, your bank or Paypal. Keep your virus protection software up to date and use complex passwords with letters, numbers and symbols when possible. All of these steps will help you to avoid becoming the next senior victim of identity theft.

Boomers should maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Hey Boomers! Do you find yourself feeling sluggish, unmotivated and perhaps even putting on weight? What have you been doing wrong and how can you reverse this downward trend?
The good news is that with a little creative thinking there is plenty you can do and it all boils down to your lifestyle. Do you sit a lot – perhaps watch television or read? Do you stay up late at night due to insomnia? Obviously, you need to become more active. However, when the aches and pains of our latter years begin to set in, this can be a real problem.
However, there are other things you can do to get your metabolism going, such as eating five or six small meals each day, instead of three with supper overloading you. Don’t skip meals as this has the reverse effect of slowing down your metabolism, especially breakfast and whenever possible, eat organic. Get an immediate jump-start on your metabolism by eating a good breakfast. Have healthy snacks throughout the day like fruit, vegetables, yogurt and nuts. And drink plenty of water instead of calorie filled sodas and fruit drinks as well to keep you hydrated and feeling full. Some researchers claim that eating spicy food helps you lose calories.
You can also boost your metabolism in the morning with some light exercise or stretching. Take a 15-minute walk or if you’re able, run or do aerobics to run off those calories your body has stored overnight. If you get the chance later in the day, do it again. At the same time, you must know your limits. According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (March 2008) people 65 and older who jog may be at risk of developing blood clots. Make sure you see your doctor and have a complete checkup before beginning any strenuous exercise regime.
Another way to promote healthy living is to get enough sleep. Have you ever wonder why you get the munchies late at night? Research has shown that being sleep deprived reduces your appetite-suppressing hormone called Leptin.
Aside from sleeping, eating properly and exercising, a healthy lifestyle means not smoking. Cigarettes contain hundreds of dangerous chemicals that can harm every organ of your body. The Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention states that “438,000 deaths, or nearly 1 of every 5 deaths each year in the United States” is caused by smoking. Of those deaths, cancer leads the way followed by chronic obstructive lung disease. Smoking also reduces circulation by narrowing the blood vessels, which leads to the development of peripheral vascular disease. As well, post-menopausal women who smoke generally have lower bone density.
Another issue when it comes to healthy living is drinking alcohol. When it is over-consumed, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, not to mention the many other mental and emotional effects. As with everything in life, drinking in moderation should not be a problem unless you already have a health issue that is adversely affected by alcohol. If you take regular medications, drinking alcohol can be a dangerous mix.
At the same time, many studies have been done on the actual health benefits of red wine. Researchers now believe that one or two drinks a day can lower your risk of heart attack by between 30 and 50 percent. The reason is that red wine raises your good HDL cholesterol and prevents the bad LDL cholesterol from forming.

Life After Retirement: Starting A Business

By Guest Writer Stan Tjaden

Many of us are looking forward to retirement – that time where we can leave the rat race for good, sleep late and do what we want – all while still collecting a check. It sounds like the epilogue to the American Dream, a suitable ending to a fairytale life. However, things rarely work out quite that way.
Pensions and Social Security don’t seem to pay enough or we find that retirement leaves us with a little too much time on our hands. If you seem to have more month than money or just seem to be at a loss as to how to spend your time, and you aren’t quite ready to leave the race just yet, consider looking into the possibility of starting your own business.
Re-entering the workforce after retirement is growing increasingly popular. In 2005, U.S. labor force participation by men and women aged 55 and older was 70 percent, up from 64 percent in 1970. It has been suggested that those who work well past retirement age can expect to live longer lives with fewer health issues than those who do not. So while the benefits may be financial, working past retirement can also have physical benefits as well.
So how do you decide what your new career or business is going to be? Well, it might be better to keep things simple. Start with your interests. Like baking? Think about starting a home based business specializing in baked goods. Love to garden? Offer your services as a landscape consultant. Also, look into the possibility of owning a local franchise. Or consider purchasing the business of someone else who is retiring.
If you decide to go forth with starting your own business, try to keep your start-up costs at a minimum. Even if you have a substantial life savings, it would be unwise to risk huge amounts of it until you know your business is being successful. To keep from feeling overwhelmed, limit your work hours at first. These are still your retirement years and you should be allowed to enjoy them!
Older entrepreneurs are rewriting the book on retirement. There are no rules, just fun! If you are looking for renewed purpose, starting your own business may be just the answer you are seeking.

Boomers need to Maintain an Active Social Life

Often as we get older, family members move on with their lives and might even move away to follow a particular career path. Friends seem to fall away as well, with some of them moving, going into retirement communities, traveling or simply being too ill to socialize.
It is important to be social with others at any age. However, once one’s career comes to an end, previous co-workers tend to go their way as well. Many seniors find themselves with a lot more private time at home and although this can be a nice change, it can also lead to serious problems. If the highlight of your day is watching sports or a soap opera on television, you’re headed for trouble!Being alone for extended periods of time with no social interaction other than the odd family get-together can lead to not just loneliness, but also deep depression, which can then lead to coping activities like drinking alcohol and in the worst case scenario – suicide. Another downside to being alone too long is that when you do go out, you will likely have trouble coping with certain social situations.
Socializing is an important part of life and should not be overlooked. Just because you might be over 50, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy the company of others at a local club for people your age. Harvard researchers conducted a 13-year study on nearly 3,000 seniors and found that even such social activities as attending church or playing bingo, helped people not only cope but also to lead happier lives. Studies have shown that social activities reduce stress. Having friends makes one feel valuable and even needed.
As well, a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that social contacts stimulate the mind. Overall, continuing to be social with others will keep you healthier both mentally and physically, which in turn will add years to your life.
No one is suggesting that you go out dancing, if you don’t feel able but you can still meet friends for lunch, a little shopping and/or a movie. Call up a friend for a chat or just get out in the fresh air and take a nature walk together. You may also want to consider joining in with social activities at your local church or with an organization of interest to you, such as one on the arts, writing or other subject. If you are more active, you could join a bowling team or swim at a local recreation center. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you before you find yourself in front of your computer or television for too long. And remember that going grocery shopping doesn’t count as an afternoon out!

What having a Spiritual Life can mean to You

It seems that human being have an innate desire to believe in something, whether that be a specific religious teaching, a particular view on life or just faith in one’s self. This innate feeling must match your own personally held beliefs or it just won’t work for you. For instance, if you do not believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose to heaven after three days, it would be impossible for you to embrace Christianity or if you do not believe that Buddha was a messenger from God, you probably won’t believe his teaching either. The secret to spiritual joy is to find the path that feels right for you.
It is safe to say that the majority of people believe in some universal truths, such as ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ and ‘though shall not kill.” Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it. Well, in reality it is. We simply need to live as if we are all brothers and sisters in this world – one big family. And yes, even families have members that are less desirable than others and some that you might need to avoid entirely for your own safety and piece of mind. But other than that, we are ONE and we need to act like it!
The secret to living a spiritual life is by having a pure heart and only good intentions toward everyone around you. But how do you accomplish that? It sounds like a pretty tall order, doesn’t it? Well, you need to understand that we are all spiritual beings having a physical experience. In other words, you must truly care about others and practice ‘unconditional love.” This of course can be difficult when some people seem to purposely get in your way or try to upset you. However, it takes a great deal of understanding to realize that we are all on our own spiritual path. Some are on an easier path than others with wealth, health and happiness being their lot. Others are not so fortunate and may be suffering financially, have health problems or be going through depression. It makes no difference.
We need to love each other regardless and that includes those of different beliefs, race, color or creed. Some of you are likely thinking, “Well, how do I love a particular set of people who do nothing but cause violence and death?” Good question. The answer lies again in understanding that even those people are on their own path. That does not mean we condone their behavior. It does mean that we show compassion when possible and send them positive, healing energy. Is there truly evil in this world? That’s a question for God, a supreme being or the universe at large. All we can do is attempt to contain it so no one gets hurt, which entails putting certain restrictions in place, because they don’t seem to understand how to truly live a spiritual life. However, you do and because of that, you benefit the most.
How do you benefit? If you are truly spiritual, you hold no anger, grudges, guilt or inner pain of any kind toward or against others. Most people now realize that those kinds of negative feelings can actually cause physical, emotional and mental ill health. You benefit through better relations with your family, friends and co-workers. You benefit because you feel a connection to all living things, which gives you a greater sense of who you are and how you fit into the scheme of things. You will feel an inner peace that can’t be bought for any price.

Boomers Should Keep their Body Healthy

There are a number of things Boomers can do to keep their bodies healthy, from eating the right foods to taking vitamin and minerals, as well as exercising regularly.

One of the most important things you can do to remain healthy is to eat foods that nourish your body rather than just fill you up or satisfy an emotional problem. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation has approved the new Canada Food Guide, which assures that you get your daily requirements of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. By following the guidelines, you will be healthier, have more vitality and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

First of all, make sure you eat fruits and vegetables every day. Be creative! Choose colors, such as green broccoli, asparagus and lettuce, and orange carrots and sweet potatoes. Eating bread can add extra weight, unless you opt for 100 percent whole wheat or grain that contains fiber, minerals and vitamins. Choose brown and wild rice over white and add some oatmeal to your meal planning as well. The guide recommends eating fish twice a week but watch out for those high in mercury. And if you like it, add soy products to replace some meat. Otherwise, stick to shellfish, poultry and lean cuts of beef.

Instead of homogenized milk, opt for low fat and/or soy beverages. Also when purchasing drinks choose 100 percent fruit and/or vegetable juice. Use unsaturated oil, such as canola, soybean and olive. Consume no more than 2-3 tbsp. (30-45 ml) of unsaturated fat a day. Saturated fats raise the bad LDL cholesterol and lower the good HDL, which can lead to high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack and stroke.

Body Mass Index or BMI for adults is a tool that indicates your weight status measuring weight with height. Check it out Here!

Watch the amount of salt you use in cooking, baking and at the table. Try replacing the salt with herbs, garlic or lemon juice whenever possible. Too much salt raises your blood pressure so make sure you consume no more than 1 tsp. (5 ml) per day. Be aware that fast foods, processed meats, canned soup, bottled dressings, ketchup and pickles may also be high in salt and avoid salty snacks like chips and peanuts. Choose such snacks as unsalted nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, fruit or vegetable slices, raisins or plain popcorn. For a brochure on healthy snacks go Here.

Currently, there is a crisis in North America when it comes to weight, with far too many children and adults that are obese. Those who are overweight generally have higher levels of interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and fibrinogen — proteins that can cause inflammation in the heart and congestive heart failure. The obese may also have metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, all of which can lead to chronic illness. If you are obese, it is more important than ever to follow the healthy eating guidelines. You also need to watch your calorie intake and you can get help with that Here.

Take the Calorie Quiz

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients your body needs to remain healthy and stave of disease. For instance, people with too little Vitamin D can get rickets and a lack of calcium can lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis. Knowing what vitamins and minerals are best for your body can make all the difference but it can be confusing because there are so many of them. Fortunately, the National Institute of Health has come up with a fact sheet, which you can access Here.

Once the inside of your body is being well cared for, make sure you protect the outside too. In the United States, skin cancer is diagnosed a million times each year and that statistic is pretty frightening. Most common are basel cell, squamous cell and melanoma cancers, with the latter being the deadliest. Fortunately, that one only makes up 4 percent, but over 75 percent of skin cancers can lead to death. Make sure you use a sunscreen of SPF of 15 or higher as often as possible. Dr. Elizabeth Hale, assistant professor of dermatology at New York University’s School of Medicine says the UV rays of the sun can also cause burns, rashes and even wrinkles, so you should consider wearing clothing that covers your skin and/or a hat as well. And don’t be fooled by the different grades such as SPF 15 and 30. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, the latter does not give you double the protection. SPF 15 filters 93 percent and SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of the sun's UV rays. The trick to better protection is to apply the sunscreen every two hours. Finally, it is important to exercise and/or stretch your body regularly to boost your metabolism and stay limber. This subject will be covered in detail in an upcoming article.

Boomers Can Turn Back the Clock on Aging

Let’s face it. Aging is not all fun and games. However, there are things Boomers can do to turn back the clock a bit so they can can live a happier and more fulfilling life. Let ‘Aging With Creativity’ show you how to get the most out of life after 50, with information, tips, tricks, articles and more.

In 1882, German biologist Dr. August Weismann believed people aged because their bodies and the cells in their bodies were abused and overused. He felt toxins in our diet and in our environment played a significant role. Can you imagine what he’d think today, with so many more additives in our food, chemicals used in processing, chemicals in our homes and high rates of pollution in our air both inside and outside of our homes? He’d probably wonder how we didn’t manage to kill ourselves off quite young.

Dr. Weismann also considered the impact of excessive consumption of fats, sugars, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine on the body. We know that in our present day of consumer over-consumption that people are getting far more of these negative substances. Unfortunately, overdoing it in any of those areas can harm your internal organs, particularly your stomach, liver, kidney and lungs. Aging With Creativity offers advice on how to eat healthy and have a healthy lifestyle as well as information on herbs, minerals, vitamins and supplements.

As you age, you might run into health problems that seem to demand prescription medicine. Do you know what those pills do to your body? Aging With – Health – Creativity offers information on this. Today there are so many natural health products that can be taken as an alternative. However, it’s difficult to know which one might be best for you, let alone how each of them might help you. Aging With Creativity can help you with that too!

Finally, your own attitude toward aging plays a significant role in how fast you age. You need to maintain a healthy and positive outlook on life. While your body will continue to age to some degree at a cellular level, it also knows how to rejuvenate itself. Did you know that six billion new cells are created in the body every day? Our skin is renewed every month and the lining of our stomach about every five days. Wow! That just shows you that it’s never too late to begin taking better care of yourself.