Grab Bag Hormone Detective:
Buy beef in the meat department of your local supermarket and you stand a ⅔ chance of picking up some extra hormones while you’re at it. That’s the percentage of cattle that is raised in this country with a generous dose of hormones administered to boost their growth rate.
Is this for your benefit?
Ummm… no. It’s to increase the return on investment by rendering more pounds on each animal, increasing the profit margin for the cattle farmers, or the yield per cow for the dairy farmers.
The possible side effects of hormone-laden meat is controversial. A number of sources maintain there is no harmful effect from consuming meat treated with hormones – the FDA says the levels of hormones in meat treated with hormones during their lifetime is “within normal range” (I ask….what exactly would be a “normal range” for hormones in meat?).
It’s true that the amounts of hormones ingested are fairly small…. but how much, and how often, is too much? A number of doctors and scientists believe there may be a correlation in some people between consuming hormone-treated meat and an increased risk of reproductive system cancers, such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate.
SO… if you had a choice, right in front of you, between meat with or without hormones, I’m guessing you would choose the meat without. How about if it cost a little more than the hormone-fed beef? Can you put a price on the risk potential for a possible cancer connection?
Here are three tips from Dr. Andrew Weil to avoid hormones in our food:
- Know which animals are likely to contain these unwanted hormones. Currently cattle and sheep are the only animals allowed to have growth hormones added. The USDA does not permit the use of hormones in hogs; chickens, turkeys and other fowl; or venison.
- Read labels carefully. Look for the words “no hormones administered” on packaging, which indicates these chemicals were not used in raising the animals.
- Use meat alternatives if synthetic, hormone-free animal products are cost-prohibitive. You can substitute vegetable protein for meats (beans, legumes and mushrooms are hearty vegetarian options that work well as meat substitutes); or use faux meat, such as products made from whole soy that duplicate the texture and appearance of meats.
Grab Bag Breath Boost #1:
We live in a world in which we were not designed to exist. Our anthropological problem solving skills are based on (physical) fight or (physical) flight when we are faced with worrisome or dangerous situations; intruders on our turf by an outsider, attacks by saber-toothed tigers, or hunting more frequently due to lack of food.
So how does this rudimentary system handle divorce, a low bank balance, problems with your boss, kids in trouble, a missed plane…??
The inability to fight or flee yields us stewing in a chemical soup of ancestral design, and that creates a stress on the entire system unless those chemicals can be used up or flushed out.
Exercise is an important key to that chemical-clearing, but it’s not always convenient to get up and run around the office when your big project tanks.
A great strategy is this breath technique:
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count ofeight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
Yet another thanks to DrWeil.com for this.
Grab Bag Abode Apps Abound:
Homeownership is fantastic… until things get out of control and overwhelming. Here are 4 apps that will keep homeowners on top of home maintenance, give mobile access to new design and remodel ideas, and landscaping decisions:
For both iPhone and Android, this is the best-rated home maintenance tracker I found. As most professionals will tell you, a little maintenance goes a long way to avoid bigger problems. This app reminds you of those tasks. They say it will:
* Customize your home maintenance schedule.
* Simplify your to do list.
* Recommend easy preventative strategies to save you money.
* Explain how to do it yourself.
* Advise you on seasonal essentials.
* Refer you to expert pros.
For iPhone and iPad users, this app rocks the houzz. If you want to just a little “freshen up” in a room, explore new ideas for the garden, get inspiration for a remodel or a whole new house, Houzz is a must-see. I profiled the Houzz website a few weeks ago, and the app let’s you take your ideas and collections with you to hunt for home goodies out in the wild.
Here’s the iPad app in action:
• My Measures and Dimensions
Available for iPhone and Android. So many times I could have used THIS one in the past. I just bought ($2.99) and downloaded it. Really highly rated. It lets you take a picture and add dimensions right on the photo.
Here it is in action:
• iScape Free
For iPhone/iPad users you can get your virtual hands in the virtual soil for free… if you really love it you can upgrade to the full version, on sale right now for $3.99
See it in action here:
Grab Bag Fishy Fix:
Fishy fix for many things, and maybe…. the “blues”?
Omega 3 fatty acids (found in highest quantities in flaxseed and salmon) have been shown for some time to positively impact triglyceride levels, heart rate, blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Other studies are suggesting benefits for rheumatoid arthritis, immune function, and some aspects of cancer.
But…. what I find really interesting today is a recent report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that LOW levels of Omega-3 DHA have been associated with a higher rate of…. suicide.
Among men, risk of suicide death was 62% greater with low serum DHA status.
Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid concentrated in the brain, may increase suicide risk, according to this study.
This was a retrospective case-control study of 1600 United States military personnel, including 800 who had committed suicide and 800 healthy counterparts, showing that all participants had low omega-3 levels. However, the suicide risk was 62% greatest in those with the lowest levels of DHA.
The neurological implications of Omega-3s is being widely studied, and they may be an important piece in the complicated puzzle of how our brain and nervous system function optimally.
I hope you take some Omega-3’s every day, for a variety of reasons. It’s one of only 3 supplements I take each day (Vitamin D and Curcumin being the other 2). My choice (and this is not a suggestion for everyone, just what I have settled on for me) is Krill Oil, 1 gram each morning, sometimes adding another gram in the evening (just when I feel like it… no method). Under most circumstances I would say stay under 3 grams per day, unless directed by a physician…. higher levels (over 3 grams per day) of Omega-3s have been associated with increased risk of bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke in some individuals.
Grab Bag Brain Game:
This is addicting….. read the rules below and get started.
Grab Bag Funny Stuff:
Ten thoughts on life, as only Will Rogers could phrase them:
First– Eventually you reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.
Second– The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting for.
Third– Some people try to turn back to odometers. Not me, I want people to know “why” I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.
Fourth– When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think Algebra.
Fifth– You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Sixth– I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.
Seventh– One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.
Eighth– One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.
Ninth– Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.
Tenth– Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.