- Created on 14 October 2013
From Mother Nature Network's Starre Vartan:
Most of us view our hair as separate from the rest of our body, but like our nails, hair is an extension (pun intended) of our body that can give us clues as to our overall health. Herein, four hair signs that something may be amiss.
If you once had thick, lustrous hair that turned fine and limp, first look to see what you've been doing to your hair lately. Have you been swimming a lot in chlorinated water? Did you dye your hair recently? These things, among others, can cause your hair to lose its luster. But limp, dry hair may also be a sign of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones, causing your metabolism to slow down. Other signs of hypothyroidism can be sudden weight gain, unexplained fatigue, and being cold all the time. If you suspect hypothyroidism to be the culprit, talk to your doctor about testing your thyroid levels. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you can often take medication to supplement your hormone levels.
A lot of people have dandruff that is easily treated with an anti-dandruff shampoo, but if your dandruff is starting to turn into thick scaly patches, it could be a sign that you have psoriasis, an autoimmune disease in which the skin goes into overdrive, speeding up the process of skin cell turnover. If you have another autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease, it ups the chance that you'll get psoriasis, so be especially wary if you have another autoimmune condition.
The average person loses about 100 hairs a day (by the looks of my hairbrush at the end of a day, I'd say my average is closer to two or three hundred). This hair loss is normal and doesn't make your hair feel any thinner. But if your hair starts to feel markedly thinner or your hair starts to come out in clumps, it may a sign that something is up (or in this case, out). Sometimes hair loss can be attributed to a recent stressor, such as a divorce or job loss. In other cases, hair loss can also be another sign of hypothyroidism or a sign of a hormonal imbalance relating to PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. Still, there are also a few medications, including some birth control pills and antidepressants, which can cause hair loss as a side effect.
Yes, hair loss can be related to several things, so in this case, it's best to talk to your doctor about all your symptoms. Also, if you suspect your meds to be the culprit, talk to your doc about an alternative before stopping your medication altogether.
Finally, another sign of a more serious problem could be dry, brittle hair that breaks easily. Your hair is made up a protein called keratin, and if you're not getting enough protein in your diet, it could weaken your hair. This could also be another telltale sign of a thyroid issue, so be sure to check with your doc if this is the case.
- Created on 11 October 2013
While it may seem like the organic food movement became popular over the past two decades, it is actually a much older concept. Everyone ate organic fruits and veggies before World War II, because all crops were organic. It was after that when many farmers started "conventionally" growing crops: spraying them with new, synthetic pesticides and chemicals to reduce weeds, insects and rodents. Now many of us enter the produce section with some confusion, as we are offered every fruit and veggie grown in two very different ways.
What's the Difference Between Conventional and Organic Foods?
Conventional foods differ from organics in several ways, including the use of chemical versus natural fertilizers (i.e., compost) to feed soil and plants. Conventional farmers also use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds, while organic farmers use environmentally generated plant-killing compounds. Therefore, organic produce has significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce.
The USDA organic regulations also ban the use of food additives, processing aids, and fortifying agents found in conventional foods, like artificial sweeteners and coloring, preservatives and monosodium glutamate.
Global organic food sales have skyrocketed from a total of $1 billion in 1990 to $29 billion by 2011. However, those numbers only represent about 4.2 percent of all food sold in the U.S. during this time period. And as more and more people buy organic foods for their health benefits, these foods often get a bad rap for higher costs.
In the conversation over benefit vs. price, some studies reveal doubt around organic foods truly having significantly higher nutritional benefits than conventional foods. Despite the skeptics, there is a rising agreement in the scientific community that small amounts of pesticides and other chemicals have negative effects on health. Pregnant women and mothers should especially be aware because studies show fetuses and young children may be more negatively affected by harmful exposure to low levels of pesticides.
When deciding which foods to buy organic, potatoes are a must. Most conventionally-grown have one of the highest pesticide contents among fruits and veggies. The USDA discovered 81 percent of potatoes tested in 2006 contained pesticides even after being washed and peeled.
When animals are conventionally raised, they are fed growth hormones and medications to fight disease and speed growth, which inevitably end up in our hamburgers and our bodies. The hormones push cows' estrogen and testosterone levels unnaturally high. In turn, those hormones can possibly have strong effects on our natural body processes. The European Union actually banned all hormones in beef. On the other hand, organic farmers try to match the natural behavior of animals and permit access to the outdoors. To reduce diseases, organic farmers take measures like rotational grazing, clean housing, and organic balanced diets with no animal by products.
To increase the quantity of milk produced, cows raised conventionally are given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), which is banned in the European Union and Canada, among others. While there is no solid scientific evidence rBGH can harm us, it may benefit us to drink milk free of rBGH given the American Cancer Society has determined the potential harm to humans is inconclusive and rBGH can cause adverse health effects in cows.
Apple peel is one of this popular tree fruit's healthiest parts, offering phytochemicals that can reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, the peel is where pesticides accumulate, putting apples at the top of the organic foods priority list.
Do you wonder why the conventional strawberries sometimes appear a bit brighter in color than their organic counterparts? It's because some of them are enhanced with a substance containing the contaminant fungicide captan. Plus, conventional strawberries with the most pesticides are often the imported ones because pesticide restrictions are not always the same in other countries.
6) Kale and Spinach
While spinach and kale offer many nutrients with very low calories, they are often sprayed with more than 20 kinds of pesticides before being tossed in our salads and cooked in our omelets. A USDA study found 58 pesticide residues are usually contained in spinach.
Peaches, while juicy and delicious, are high on the list of tree fruits for being the most susceptible to pesticide residue, and usually contain levels above the legal limits. Contaminants in peaches are fungicides captan and iprodione, which have been linked to cancer.
Going Organic Can Help Our Planet
Production of conventional foods may cost the planet a whole lot more than a few extra bucks at the grocery store. Overtime, pesticides and herbicides used in the harvest of conventional foods contaminate groundwater, promote erosion, and destroy soil structures. Plus, they can threaten the U.S. food supply by contributing to "colony collapse disorder," or the mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees.
Conventional Produce Is Better Than None
While it is beneficial to our health and planet to buy organic foods as much as possible, it can be hard to dole out the extra cash, especially during slower economic times. If it is just not in the budget, don't fret. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocating for policies to both individual and global health, created a list of produce called the "Clean 15," which are your safest choices. They have the smallest pesticide load and the safest conventional foods to consume. Some of the foods include mushrooms, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.
Remember, it is important to keep plenty of fruits and veggies as part of a balanced diet, and not to sacrifice the benefits of eating fruits and veggies for the risk of pesticide exposure. Focus on going organic when it fits into your life, especially focusing on the foods you eat most often and high-pesticide foods, including BuiltLean's top seven.
- Created on 10 October 2013
This photo provided by HHS shows the main landing web page for HealthCare.gov. (AP Photo / HHS)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government's new health insurance marketplaces are drawing lots of rotten tomatoes in early reviews, but people are at least checking them out.
Seven percent of Americans report that somebody in their household has tried to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges, according to an AP-GfK poll.
While that's a small percentage, it could represent more than 20 million people.
Three-fourths of those who tried to sign up reported problems, though, and that's reflected in the underwhelming reviews.
Overall, just 7 percent of Americans say the rollout of the health exchanges has gone well. Far more deem it a flop.
George Spinner, 60, a retired government worker from Ruther Glen, Va., said he managed to create an online account and password before he got stuck.
"It kept telling me there was an error," he said.
Reynol Rodriguez, a computer technician from San Antonio, said he was able to do some comparison shopping online but computer glitches kept him from signing up.
"I was very much looking forward to it," said Rodriguez, 51. "That's what this country needs — affordable health care."
Rodriguez pledged to keep trying — just what President Barack Obama has been recommending to those who've run into trouble.
Count Janice Brown, a semiretired travel agent from Prather, Calif., among those who had a positive experience.
After some initial trouble on the website, she got through to a help line and downloaded an application to buy a plan for $1,500 a month for herself and her husband. That's $1,000 less than her current private plan.
"I'm thrilled," said Brown, 61. "The coverage is better. It's fantastic."
Among those who've actually tested out the system, three-quarters of those polled said they've experienced problems trying to sign up. Only about 1 in 10 succeeded in buying health insurance.
Overall, the poll found, 40 percent of Americans said the launch of the insurance markets hasn't gone well, 20 percent said it's gone somewhat well and 30 percent didn't know what to say. Just 7 percent said the launch had gone "very well" or "somewhat well."
Even among those who support the president's health care overhaul law, just 19 percent think the rollout has gone extremely well or very well. Forty percent say it's gone somewhat well, and 18 percent think not too well or not well at all.
The survey offers an early snapshot on use of the new health insurance exchanges set up by states and the federal government under Obama's Affordable Care Act. Thirty-six states are using the federal government's site, HealthCare.gov, which the Obama administration says has had millions of unique visitors. The administration has declined to release enrollment statistics, saying that will be done monthly.
White House senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness said the administration is working around the clock "to improve the consumer experience," and she stressed that the poll was taken just six days into a six-month campaign to educate people about their options.
She added, "The overwhelming attention from millions of Americans checking out HealthCare.gov during the first few days is a good testament to the interest of Americans in new affordable health options."
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 7 million uninsured people will gain coverage through the online insurance marketplaces next year, but the role of the markets is actually much bigger than that.
They were intended to be a 21st century portal to coverage for people who do not have access to health insurance on the job. And that includes insured people as well as the uninsured.
There are three big groups of potential customers for the markets: uninsured middle-class people who now will be able to get government-subsidized private coverage; people who currently purchase their own individual policies and are looking for better deals; and low-income people who will be steered by the marketplace to an expanded version of Medicaid in states that agree to expand that safety net program.
The Census estimates that about 48 million Americans lacked coverage in 2012, or more than 15 percent of the population.
Starting next year, the law requires virtually all Americans to have insurance or face a tax penalty after a coverage gap of three months.
Opinions are sharply divided on the overall framework of the law: 28 percent of Americans support it, 38 percent are opposed, and 32 percent don't have an opinion either way, the poll found. When asked specifically whether the government should be able to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine, only about 3 in 10 Americans agreed, and 68 percent were opposed.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 3-7 using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,227 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents. For results among the 76 respondents who attempted to use health insurance markets, the margin of error is plus or minus 13.5 percentage points.
- Created on 09 October 2013
Dr. Abhin Singala, a specialist at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in the Chicago suburb of Joliet, said he's treating three people who took "krokodil," a cheap heroin knockoff from Russia known to cause such extreme gangrene and abscesses that a user's muscles, tendons and bones can become exposed.
Singla said according to the Sun-Times.