Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Insomnia relief: Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4 Week Program

Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of:


Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health
by Michael Breus, Ph.D., DUTTON an imprint of Penguin Group Inc., New York, 2006, ISBN 0525949798, HC, 326 p.

Surely all of us, at one time or another, have gone a few rounds with insomnia. When you've had trouble sleeping, you drag yourself out of bed in the morning feeling all achy and exhausted, just as if you had been in the ring battling an opponent all night. In his book Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, Dr. Breus coaches you on all the effective ways to overcome insomnia – ways that many of us would never even think of! – and put it down for the count. I found his book expertly written in a conversational and friendly style with suggestions and instructions that are easy to understand and follow.

Part I of the book is called "Quick-Fix Sleep Solutions" and includes the first four chapters. You know what a bad night's sleep is, but what exactly is a good night's sleep? In chapter one, Dr. Breus explains enough about the science of sleep to give you a good foundation for understanding how and why a good night's sleep is necessary to feeling good and looking younger. Chapter two introduces you to the "Three Most Troublesome Culprits in Disordered Sleep…and How to Conquer Them." (If you guessed that caffeine is one of the three, you're right; however, the third culprit might surprise you!) The discussion in chapter three is about the people in your life – your partner, children, and business associates – and how you can manage the disruptions in sleep they may cause. Chapter four is "The Extreme (but Easy!) Bedroom Makeover" and is one of my favorite chapters. In it you learn how to make small changes in the bedroom that add up to a big difference, enabling you to improve your quality of sleep!

"Part II: From Waistlines to Face Lines: You Are What You Sleep" includes chapters five, six, and seven. Did you know that a poor night's sleep can undermine your diet, exercise, or combination weight-loss program? The first chapter in part two discusses how the body chemistry behind a good night's sleep can not only enhance your weight-loss, but acts as a "cosmetic medicine" that empowers your cells to rejuvenate and reverse the damage caused by age, stress, environment, and other factors. Chapter six talks about the important role played by quality sleep in the areas of exercise and sex, and how the right kind of sleep can not only perk up your love life, it can enhance those intimate moments with your partner. If you have ever thought that a nap in the afternoon was a good idea, chapter seven will show you how right you are, and Dr Breus explores different types of naps to help you choose the one that will deliver just the right amount of rest and energy without adversely impacting your sleep that night.

Part III launches the remarkable four-week program, "28 Nights to Sound Sleep Forever" developed by Dr. Breus. Chapter eight takes you step-by-step through the first week of his comprehensive and detailed program to improve your rejuvenating, regenerating sleep. He leads you through a series of small changes from scheduling sleep time to relaxation techniques while you keep a Sleep Diary to record your reactions. Evaluation is the keyword for chapter nine; here you will take the second week to review your Sleep Diary entries from the previous chapter so that you may evaluate the effectiveness of each change, and try some new techniques if you need to. You also receive friendly reminders that help you to stay on track. Weeks three and four of the program comprise chapter ten; here you finalize and follow your personalized sleep program by combining and practicing all the bedtime routine, relaxation, and other techniques that worked well for you.

"The Sleep Aid Industry" is the topic of Part IV of the book. Dr Breus answers a few common questions concerning sleep-aid supplements and pharmaceuticals. As a holistic practitioner myself, I especially value this information about the hazards of using medications or other "quick fix" techniques in attempting to attain quality, restful sleep. To close, The Sleep Doctor offers some excellent guidelines to follow in order to reap the benefits of a completely natural night's sleep for business and vacation travelers, and people who work evening or night shifts.

The two appendices at the end of the book include a reminder list in outline format along with Sleep Diary charts, and a list of additional resources.

I am delighted to have this book in my toolkit to recommend to stress-management clients as well as to other holistic practitioners. You can learn more about Dr. Breus and his book Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, by visiting his website www.soundsleepsolutions.com . You will find many articles about a variety of sleep problems, and you may also subscribe to his free "Sleep eNewzzzletter!" You should also visit "The Insomnia Blog" http://www.theinsomniablog.com/ where you may find not only great posts to read, but you can listen to several podcasts of Dr. Breus sharing his expertise in order to help you to overcome your sleep problems!

Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kids' Stress and What To Do About It


This is an article reprinted from Tweens and Teens News. More than ever before, our children are getting stressed out which can lead to some very unhealthy, and often self-destructive, behaviors. Here is an article about what kids themselves say they are feeling and how they need your support as a parent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Handling Stress
What you should know about your kids’ coping skills.

PARENTGUIDE News March 2006

Compared with what adults face, it might seem like kids don’t have that much to stress about. But kids have their own concerns— and kids’ stresses can be just as overwhelming, particularly if they don’t have effective coping strategies.

The latest KidsHealth® KidsPoll explored what kids stress about the most, how they cope with these feelings, and what they want their parents to do about it.

The poll showed that kids are dealing with their stresses in both healthy and unhealthy ways, and while they may not say so, they want their parents to reach out and help them cope with their feelings.

Results of the Poll
We asked kids to tell us what things cause them the most stress. Kids said that they were stressed out the most by: grades, school and homework (36 percent); family (32 percent); and friends, peers, gossip and teasing (21 percent).

These are the coping strategies kids said they use the most (they could give more than one response):

•52 percent play or do something active
•44 percent listen to music
•42 percent watch TV or play a video game
•30 percent talk to a friend
•29 percent try not to think about it
•28 percent try to work things out
•26 percent eat something
•23 percent lose their temper
•22 percent talk to a parent
•11 percent cry

About 25 percent of the kids we surveyed said that when they are upset, they take it out on themselves, either by banging their heads against something, hitting or biting themselves, or doing something else to hurt themselves. These kids were also more likely to have other unhealthy coping strategies, such as eating, losing their tempers and keeping problems to themselves.

The idea that kids would do things to try to harm themselves may be shocking to parents. But for some kids, feelings of stress, frustration, helplessness, hurt or anger can be overwhelming. And without a way to express or release their feelings, a kid may feel like a volcano ready to erupt— or at least let off steam.

Sometimes, kids blame themselves when things go wrong. They might feel ashamed, embarrassed or angry at themselves for the role they played in the situation. Hurting themselves may be a way to express the stress and blame themselves at the same time.

The poll also revealed important news for parents. Though talking to parents ranked eighth on the list of most popular coping methods, 75 percent of the kids surveyed said they want and need their parents’ help in times of trouble. When they’re stressed, they’d like their parents to talk with them, help them solve the problem, try to cheer them up or just spend time together.

What Parents Can Do
You may not be able to prevent your child from feeling frustrated, sad or angry, but you can provide the tools your child needs to cope with these emotions.

•Notice out loud. Tell your child when you notice something he or she might be feeling. (“It seems like you still feel mad about what happened at the playground, huh?”) This shouldn’t sound like an accusation (as in: “OK, what happened now? Are you still mad about that?”) or make a child feel put on the spot. It’s just a casual observation revealing that you’re interested in hearing more about your child’s concern.

•Listen to your child. Ask your child to tell you what’s wrong. Listen attentively and calmly— with interest, patience, openness and caring. Avoid any urge to judge, blame, lecture or tell your child what he or she should have done instead. The idea is to let your child’s concerns (and feelings) be heard. Encourage your child to tell the whole story by asking questions like “And then what happened?” and to keep going with “What else happened?” and “Ummm-hmmm.” Take your time. And let your child take his or her time, too.

•Comment briefly on the feelings you think your child was experiencing as you listen to the story. For example, you might say something like: “That must have been upsetting,” or “No wonder you felt mad when they wouldn’t let you in the game,” or “That must have felt unfair to you.” Doing this shows that you understand what your child felt, why he or she felt that way and that you care. Feeling understood and listened to helps your child feel connected to you, and that is especially important in times of stress.

•Put a label on it. Many kids do not yet have words for their feelings. If your child seems angry or frustrated, use those feeling words to help your child learn to identify the emotions by name. That will help put feelings into words so they can be expressed and communicated more easily, which helps your child develop emotional awareness— the ability to recognize his or her own emotional state. A child who is able to recognize and identify emotions is less likely to reach the behavioral boiling point where strong emotions get demonstrated through behaviors rather than communicated with words.

•Help your child think of things to do. Suggest activities your child can do to feel better now and to solve the problem at hand. Encourage your child to think of a couple of ideas. You can get the brainstorm started if necessary, but don’t do all the work. Your child’s active participation will build confidence. Support your child’s good ideas and add to them as needed. Ask, “How do you think this will work?” Sometimes talking and listening is all that’s needed to help a child’s frustrations begin to melt away. Other times the thing to do is to change the subject and move on to something more positive and relaxing. Don’t give the problem more attention than it deserves.

•Just be there. Sometimes kids don’t feel like talking about what’s bothering them. It’s a good idea to respect that, give your child space, and still make it clear that you’ll be there when he or she feels like talking. Even when kids don’t feel like talking, they usually don’t want parents to leave them alone. So if you notice your child seems to be down in the dumps, stressed or having a bad day— but doesn’t feel like talking— initiate something you can do together. Take a walk, watch a movie, shoot some hoops or bake some cookies.

•Be patient. As a parent, it hurts to see your child unhappy or worried. But try to resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping your child, slowly but surely, grow into a good problem-solver— a kid who knows how to roll with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed and bounce back to try again. By learning healthy coping strategies, your child can manage whatever stresses come in the future.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Food Pharmacy: Food or Nutrients

The last Living Stress-Free ~ Naturally! post was about the Ecosystem of YOU. Today, I was surfing the internet looking for something interesting to write about as a Friday Food Pharmacy article, and what I found could not have been more perfectly timed: I have excerpts from an article that shows how your food is an ecosystem, too.


Trying to control your diet and nutrition by separating the nutrients from the food is not only a bad idea, it can actually create illness.

Before I quote from the article, though, I would like you to consider food labels. Yes, they're good at telling us the things we should know, but there are also so many loopholes in how chemicals are reported and regulated that many things we should know, and deserve to know, and that any ethical company would not hide (or even use!) are not included on the label! Labels are great – they really are – but they also put a lot of stress on people to become kitchen chemists and by osmosis perhaps suddenly understand the levels and interactions of vitamins, minerals, fats, cholesterols that, quite frankly, the scientists themselves have not yet straightened out.

Here's how I read a label, and you might like to give this a try: If the words "high fructose corn syrup" appear all together in a row, the product goes back on the shelf. If there is any word I can't pronounce, the product goes back on the shelf. If the words "virtually the same as" are associated with the product, it goes back on the shelf. I don't care how big and bold the letters "LOW FAT" may be on the box, if sugar is ingredient number one, two, or three, the product goes back on the shelf. I often debate over the word "enriched" and often put those products back on the shelf, too.

I would rather eat food than nutrients, and you will understand what I mean by that after you read the article. I'm pretty sure that you will agree, food is better to reduce stress, and for general health and wellness, than are nutrients!

Below are excerpts from the article; at the end of the post is the link to the complete article. Please read it…it's long, but worth every moment of your time!


Which would you rather eat?

















Food!


















Nutrients!

If only as much time were spent putting good, wholesome ingredients into the food as the thought that goes into the label, we would all be healthier!


Unhappy Meals

by Michael Pollan

January 28, 2007, New York Times Magazine.

FROM FOODS TO NUTRIENTS

It was in the 1980s that food began disappearing from the American supermarket, gradually to be replaced by “nutrients,” which are not the same thing. Where once the familiar names of recognizable comestibles — things like eggs or breakfast cereal or cookies — claimed pride of place on the brightly colored packages crowding the aisles, now new terms like “fiber” and “cholesterol” and “saturated fat” rose to large-type prominence. More important than mere foods, the presence or absence of these invisible substances was now generally believed to confer health benefits on their eaters. Foods by comparison were coarse, old-fashioned and decidedly unscientific things — who could say what was in them, really? But nutrients — those chemical compounds and minerals in foods that nutritionists have deemed important to health — gleamed with the promise of scientific certainty; eat more of the right ones, fewer of the wrong, and you would live longer and avoid chronic diseases.

No single event marked the shift from eating food to eating nutrients, though in retrospect a little-noticed political dust-up in Washington in 1977 seems to have helped propel American food culture down this dimly lighted path. Responding to an alarming increase in chronic diseases linked to diet — including heart disease, cancer and diabetes — a Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, headed by George McGovern, held hearings on the problem and prepared what by all rights should have been an uncontroversial document called “Dietary Goals for the United States.” The committee learned that while rates of coronary heart disease had soared in America since World War II, other cultures that consumed traditional diets based largely on plants had strikingly low rates of chronic disease. Epidemiologists also had observed that in America during the war years, when meat and dairy products were strictly rationed, the rate of heart disease temporarily plummeted.

Naïvely putting two and two together, the committee drafted a straightforward set of dietary guidelines calling on Americans to cut down on red meat and dairy products. Within weeks a firestorm, emanating from the red-meat and dairy industries, engulfed the committee, and Senator McGovern (who had a great many cattle ranchers among his South Dakota constituents) was forced to beat a retreat. The committee’s recommendations were hastily rewritten. Plain talk about food — the committee had advised Americans to actually “reduce consumption of meat” — was replaced by artful compromise: “Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake.”

A subtle change in emphasis, you might say, but a world of difference just the same. First, the stark message to “eat less” of a particular food has been deep-sixed; don’t look for it ever again in any official U.S. dietary pronouncement. Second, notice how distinctions between entities as different as fish and beef and chicken have collapsed; those three venerable foods, each representing an entirely different taxonomic class, are now lumped together as delivery systems for a single nutrient. Notice too how the new language exonerates the foods themselves; now the culprit is an obscure, invisible, tasteless — and politically unconnected — substance that may or may not lurk in them called “saturated fat.”

THE RISE OF NUTRITIONISM

The first thing to understand about nutritionism — I first encountered the term in the work of an Australian sociologist of science named Gyorgy Scrinis — is that it is not quite the same as nutrition. As the “ism” suggests, it is not a scientific subject but an ideology. Ideologies are ways of organizing large swaths of life and experience under a set of shared but unexamined assumptions. This quality makes an ideology particularly hard to see, at least while it’s exerting its hold on your culture. A reigning ideology is a little like the weather, all pervasive and virtually inescapable. Still, we can try.

In the case of nutritionism, the widely shared but unexamined assumption is that the key to understanding food is indeed the nutrient. From this basic premise flow several others. Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to the scientists (and to the journalists through whom the scientists speak) to explain the hidden reality of foods to us. To enter a world in which you dine on unseen nutrients, you need lots of expert help.

But expert help to do what, exactly? This brings us to another unexamined assumption: that the whole point of eating is to maintain and promote bodily health. Hippocrates’s famous injunction to “let food be thy medicine” is ritually invoked to support this notion. I’ll leave the premise alone for now, except to point out that it is not shared by all cultures and that the experience of these other cultures suggests that, paradoxically, viewing food as being about things other than bodily health — like pleasure, say, or socializing — makes people no less healthy; indeed, there’s some reason to believe that it may make them more healthy. This is what we usually have in mind when we speak of the “French paradox” — the fact that a population that eats all sorts of unhealthful nutrients is in many ways healthier than we Americans are. So there is at least a question as to whether nutritionism is actually any good for you.

Another potentially serious weakness of nutritionist ideology is that it has trouble discerning qualitative distinctions between foods. So fish, beef and chicken through the nutritionists’ lens become mere delivery systems for varying quantities of fats and proteins and whatever other nutrients are on their scope. Similarly, any qualitative distinctions between processed foods and whole foods disappear when your focus is on quantifying the nutrients they contain (or, more precisely, the known nutrients).

This is a great boon for manufacturers of processed food, and it helps explain why they have been so happy to get with the nutritionism program. In the years following McGovern’s capitulation and the 1982 National Academy report, the food industry set about re-engineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and less of the bad, and by the late ’80s a golden era of food science was upon us. The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern had been established, and every few years since then a new oat bran has taken its turn under the marketing lights. (Here comes omega-3!)

Of course it’s also a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.

EAT RIGHT, GET FATTER

So nutritionism is good for business. But is it good for us? You might think that a national fixation on nutrients would lead to measurable improvements in the public health. But for that to happen, the underlying nutritional science, as well as the policy recommendations (and the journalism) based on that science, would have to be sound. This has seldom been the case.

Consider what happened immediately after the 1977 “Dietary Goals” — McGovern’s masterpiece of politico-nutritionist compromise. In the wake of the panel’s recommendation that we cut down on saturated fat, a recommendation seconded by the 1982 National Academy report on cancer, Americans did indeed change their diets, endeavoring for a quarter-century to do what they had been told. Well, kind of. The industrial food supply was promptly reformulated to reflect the official advice, giving us low-fat pork, low-fat Snackwell’s and all the low-fat pasta and high-fructose (yet low-fat!) corn syrup we could consume. Which turned out to be quite a lot. Oddly, America got really fat on its new low-fat diet — indeed, many date the current obesity and diabetes epidemic to the late 1970s, when Americans began binging on carbohydrates, ostensibly as a way to avoid the evils of fat.

…while it is true that Americans post-1977 did begin binging on carbs, and that fat as a percentage of total calories in the American diet declined, we never did in fact cut down on our consumption of fat. Meat consumption actually climbed. We just heaped a bunch more carbs onto our plates, obscuring perhaps, but not replacing, the expanding chunk of animal protein squatting in the center.

How did that happen? I would submit that the ideology of nutritionism deserves as much of the blame as the carbohydrates themselves do — that and human nature. By framing dietary advice in terms of good and bad nutrients, and by burying the recommendation that we should eat less of any particular food, it was easy for the take-home message of the 1977 and 1982 dietary guidelines to be simplified as follows: Eat more low-fat foods. And that is what we did. We’re always happy to receive a dispensation to eat more of something (with the possible exception of oat bran), and one of the things nutritionism reliably gives us is some such dispensation: low-fat cookies then, low-carb beer now. It’s hard to imagine the low-fat craze taking off as it did if McGovern’s original food-based recommendations had stood: eat fewer meat and dairy products. For how do you get from that stark counsel to the idea that another case of Snackwell’s is just what the doctor ordered?

BAD SCIENCE

But if nutritionism leads to a kind of false consciousness in the mind of the eater, the ideology can just as easily mislead the scientist. Most nutritional science involves studying one nutrient at a time, an approach that even nutritionists who do it will tell you is deeply flawed. “The problem with nutrient-by-nutrient nutrition science,” points out Marion Nestle, the New York University nutritionist, “is that it takes the nutrient out of the context of food, the food out of the context of diet and the diet out of the context of lifestyle.”

If nutritional scientists know this, why do they do it anyway? Because a nutrient bias is built into the way science is done: scientists need individual variables they can isolate. Yet even the simplest food is a hopelessly complex thing to study, a virtual wilderness of chemical compounds, many of which exist in complex and dynamic relation to one another, and all of which together are in the process of changing from one state to another. So if you’re a nutritional scientist, you do the only thing you can do, given the tools at your disposal: break the thing down into its component parts and study those one by one, even if that means ignoring complex interactions and contexts, as well as the fact that the whole may be more than, or just different from, the sum of its parts. This is what we mean by reductionist science.

Scientific reductionism is an undeniably powerful tool, but it can mislead us too, especially when applied to something as complex as, on the one side, a food, and on the other, a human eater. It encourages us to take a mechanistic view of that transaction: put in this nutrient; get out that physiological result. Yet people differ in important ways. Some populations can metabolize sugars better than others; depending on your evolutionary heritage, you may or may not be able to digest the lactose in milk. The specific ecology of your intestines helps determine how efficiently you digest what you eat, so that the same input of 100 calories may yield more or less energy depending on the proportion of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes living in your gut. There is nothing very machinelike about the human eater, and so to think of food as simply fuel is wrong.

Also, people don’t eat nutrients, they eat foods, and foods can behave very differently than the nutrients they contain. Researchers have long believed, based on epidemiological comparisons of different populations, that a diet high in fruits and vegetables confers some protection against cancer. So naturally they ask, What nutrients in those plant foods are responsible for that effect? One hypothesis is that the antioxidants in fresh produce — compounds like beta carotene, lycopene, vitamin E, etc. — are the X factor. It makes good sense: these molecules (which plants produce to protect themselves from the highly reactive oxygen atoms produced in photosynthesis) vanquish the free radicals in our bodies, which can damage DNA and initiate cancers. At least that’s how it seems to work in the test tube. Yet as soon as you remove these useful molecules from the context of the whole foods they’re found in, as we’ve done in creating antioxidant supplements, they don’t work at all. Indeed, in the case of beta carotene ingested as a supplement, scientists have discovered that it actually increases the risk of certain cancers. Big oops.

Click here to read the full article Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Ecosystem of YOU!

Too many people today still believe that there is a separation of the spirit/mind/emotions – all those invisible parts of you – and your physical body.

Many are familiar with this as Cartesian philosophy, the interpretation of the separation of mind and body, and the mechanistic interpretation of physical nature.


Rene Descartes in 1641 published his Meditations on First Philosophy in which he says: "And finally we should conclude from all this, that those things which we conceive clearly and distinctly as being diverse substances, as we regard mind and body to be, are really substances essentially distinct one from the other; and this is the conclusion of the Sixth Meditation. This is further confirmed in this same Meditation by the fact that we cannot conceive of body excepting in so far as it is divisible, while the mind cannot be conceived of excepting as indivisible. For we are not able to conceive of the half of a mind as we can do of the smallest of all bodies; so that we see that not only are their natures different but even in some respects contrary to one another."

From the Sixth Meditation, "proof" of the separation of mind and body: "For, as a matter of fact, when I consider the mind, that is to say, myself inasmuch as I am only a thinking thing, I cannot distinguish in myself any parts, but apprehend myself to be clearly one and entire; and although the whole mind seems to be united to the whole body, yet if a foot, or an arm, or some other part, is separated from my body, I am aware that nothing has been taken away from my mind. And the faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be properly speaking said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in willing and in feeling and understanding. But it is quite otherwise with corporeal or extended objects, for there is not one of these imaginable by me which my mind cannot easily divide into parts, and which consequently I do not recognise as being divisible; this would be sufficient to teach me that the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.

Furthermore, "I notice, also, that the nature of body is such that none of its parts can be moved by another part a little way off which cannot also be moved in the same way by each one of the parts which are between the two, although this more remote part does not act at all. As, for example, in the cord ABCD [which is in tension] if we pull the last part D, the first part A will not be moved in any way differently from what would be the case if one of the intervening parts B or C were pulled, and the last part D were to remain unmoved."

(Personally, I think Descartes was seriously misunderstood. If you read his entire Philosophy carefully, he writes more about the illusory nature of the physical world. His discussion is very Buddhist in nature, and he seems very interested in the power of the mind to perceive reality beyond the physical senses. )

Of course, we now know that everything in the universe is connected by vibration, every vibration is like a pebble dropped into a pond that reaches out in all directions to affect everything else, and that even though we can't see or feel the liver vibrating when the heart beats, we know that it does.

It is well past time to put Descartes and his Philosophy back on the bookshelf and embrace (or re-embrace) our holistic nature.



I propose the
Ecosystem of YOU
.





Very simply, an ecosystem is "a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment." Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.I like this definition, too: "an ecological community together with its environment, functioning as a unit." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Even the staunchest of Cartesian supporters must admit that a person's insomnia (usually a mental dis-ease caused by stress) can adversely affect not only memory, concentration, and reasoning functions, but muscular function, diet which in turn affects digestion, and cause anxiety and depression. The medications given for that insomnia may cause lightheadedness, low blood pressure, nausea, even cause damage to liver, kidneys, or respiratory system. (Not to mention, many sleep-aid drugs are very addictive.)

Does that not sound like an "interaction of a community of organisms" to you?

If, as Descartes proposed, we are merely machines, how is it that we ever become addicted to anything? How is it that chronic, excessive worry causes ulcers? How is it that organ transplant recipients must take medications for the rest of their lives so their bodies won't reject the donated organs? Why can't we just pop in a new liver, kidney, or lung and have done with it just like we replace a filter, water pump, or catalytic converter in an automobile?

Because people are not machines.

You are a living, breathing, every-part-of-you-affects-every-other-part Ecosystem!

If you worry, your digestive system can rebel; if you are feeling grief or loneliness, lung function can be impaired; chronic anger and resentment damages the liver. Likewise, illness in one of your organs can cause mental and emotional upset, worry about the future, anxiety over bills and the cost of medications.

A long time ago, I read about a small study done among heart-attach patients. Each person was asked why they had a heart attack. Do you think the answers ranged from "lack of exercise" to "poor diet" to "high cholesterol" to "blocked arteries"?

No. Every single person responded with a mental or emotional reason for his or her heart attack: I was lonely; my wife/husband died; there was too much stress in my life; I was worried about……

Get the picture?

The Ecosystem of YOU needs your support: Every time you eat nutritious, healthy food free from chemicals, you are doing something good for your personal ecosystem. Every time you go for a ten-minute walk, you are doing something good for your personal ecosystem. Every time you meditate, sleep well, drink clean water, feel gratitude for what you have, smile at a stranger, love your neighbor, love yourself…..you are doing something good for your personal ecosystem.

One of the best things you can do support your ecosystem is to eliminate stress using holistic methods. Stress, both mental and emotional, has become the most physically damaging disease in the U. S. To counteract stress, the use of prescription drugs that cause damaging side effects is growing by leaps and bounds, causing even more stress, more illness, and more costly medical treatments.

Every time you use a non-holistic method, you are damaging the Ecosystem that is YOU. There are times when pharmaceuticals must be used, but whenever possible, drugs should be a last resort after giving human-friendly holistic methods a fair trial and time to become fully effective. In the long run, holistic treatments are safer, and bring long lasting (often permanent) relief from your spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical illnesses.

Monday, February 12, 2007

If a Daoist had composed the error messages that appear on a computer screen….


A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
endless others exist

Aborted effort:
Close all that you have.
You ask way too much.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.

The Dao that is seen
Is not the true Dao, until
You bring fresh toner.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire
The network is down.

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.

Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that.

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.


(Submitted by Patrick Pujda, Associate Editor, “Qi Dao” newsletter February-March 2006)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Secret and The Law of Attraction

Average Customer Review: based on 145 reviews.
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1 in DVD


You are the architect of your own life: it is yours to make or to mar.
By the power of thoughts you are building; are you building aright?

Is that the first line from the popular movie "The Secret?" A pearl of wisdom from one of the many sages and teachers Oprah interviewed on tv? Nope, it's the first line from the book The Power of Thought by Henry T. Hamblin whose book on the manifesting power of the mind was published in 1921!

Henry Hamblin wasn't alone in writing about the Law of Attraction and mind power by any means. The power of thought and the power of the mind was a pretty hot topic around the turn of the century…the LAST century, 1900!

One of the most popular books on the manifesting power of thought was As A Man Thinketh by James Allen, published in 1904. In the Forward, he states:

"THIS little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that--

"They themselves are makers of themselves."

by virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness."

(Now, there's a great, holistic way to eliminate stress…use the power of your thoughts to weave it away!)

Mind power was such a popular topic around 1900 that Allen even calls it "the much-written-upon subject." What happened? Why was it largely forgotten for a hundred years?

We will probably never know, but there is certainly no reason not to take advantage of the learning – the new and the old – on the Law Of Attraction available to you now.

Bill Simpson at The Conscious Living Foundation has a spectacular collection of e-books written around the turn of the century on the topic of the power to manifest whatever you put your thoughts and your mind to. From Allen to Wattles, these were the movers and shakers of the Law of Attraction in their time.

Below is a sampling of the titles available for download from the Free Inspirational and Motivational E-Books page at The Conscious Living Foundation. You may search down the page and download each title individually for free, as well as discover other gems of wisdom, or save time and purchase the entire collection (there are so many great titles!) in a few Zip files for a mere $6.00 If you choose to download for free, please consider leaving a donation through PayPal.

Here is a small but representative list of:
Titles, Authors, year published, and available format

As A Man Thinketh, James Allen, 1904, Adobe Acrobat
Secret of Success, William Walker Atkinson, 1907, MS Word
Thought Force In Business and Everyday Life, William Walker Atkinson, 1900, MS Word
Thought Vibration, William Walker Atkinson, 1906, MS Word
Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, Theron Q Dumont, 1913, MS Word
Power of Concentration, Theron Q Dumont, 1918, Adobe Acrobat
The Power of Thought, Henry T. Hamblin, 1921, MS Word
Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill (parts I and II), 1937, Adobe Acrobat
Thoughts Are Things, Prentice Mulford, 1908, MS Word
Science of Getting Rich, Wallace D. Wattles, 1910, MS Word & Adobe Acrobat
Science of Being Well, Wallace D. Wattles, 1910, Adobe Acrobat

For some more modern reading, visit the Law of Attraction page at Living Stress-Free ~ Naturally!'s Amazon store.

I'll leave you with these words to ponder from the first page of Thought Vibration by William Walker Atkinson, 1906:

"The Law of Attraction in the Thought World"

"THE Universe is governed by Law - one great Law. Its manifestations are multiform, but viewed from the Ultimate there is but one Law. We are familiar with some of its manifestations, but are almost totally ignorant of certain others. Still we are learning a little more every day - the veil is being gradually lifted.

"We speak learnedly of the Law of Gravitation, but ignore that equally wonderful manifestation, THE LAW OF ATTRACTION IN THE THOUGHT WORLD. We are familiar with that wonderful manifestation of Law which draws and holds together the atoms of which matter is composed - we recognize the power of the law that attracts bodies to the earth, that holds the circling worlds in their places, but we close our eyes to the mighty law that draws to us the things we desire or fear, that makes or mars our lives.

"When we come to see that Thought is a force - a manifestation of energy - having a magnet-like power of attraction, we will begin to understand the why and wherefore of many things that have heretofore seemed dark to us. There is no study that will so well repay the student for his time and trouble as the study of the workings of this mighty law of the world of Thought - the Law of Attraction."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah's Ark

I had forgotten about this list shared through a newsletter by a friend of mine several years ago. It's a great, inspirational list to read when you're stressed out. Print it out, and carry a copy in your purse or wallet...you'll be glad you did!










1. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
2. Don't miss the boat.
3. Stay fit. When you're old, someone might ask you to do something REALLY big.
4. Don't listen to critics -- do what has to be done.
5. Build on the high ground.
6. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
7. Two heads are better than one.
8. Speed isn't always an advantage. The cheetahs were on board, but so were the snails.
9. When you're stressed, float awhile.
10. Take care of your animals as if they were the last ones on earth.
11. Don't forget that we're all in the same boat.
12. When the doo-doo gets really deep, don't sit there and complain-- shovel!
13. Stay below deck during the storm.
14. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.
15. If you have to start over, have a friend by your side.
16. Remember that the woodpeckers inside can be a bigger threat than the storm outside.
17. No matter how bleak it looks, there's always a rainbow on the other side.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

HPV Vaccine Texas Tyaranny

Speaking of bullies - as my previous post did - here is an entire state being bullied by Big Pharma for Big Bucks. I only pray that twenty years from now we don't have hundreds of thousands of girls who have some other disease caused by a vaccine that has not been properly tested.

And I pray that when sometime in the future, if You (or I) are told You need an expensive drug treatment You don't want or may not be able to afford, You have the option to decline that treatment....but if You don't do something about this now, don't count on having any control or freedom over Your medical treatment in the future.


Commentary by Mike Adams, the creator of this cartoon:

On Friday, Feb. 2, Texas governor Rick Perry issued an executive order that bypassed the will of the people and the entire Texas legislature, mandating the vaccination of young girls with the HPV vaccine sold by Merck -- the same drug company that reportedly gave thousands to Perry's campaign efforts. The vaccine is absolutely worthless as a medical treatment according to top docs in the alternative health field, and in my opinion, the so-called "science" supporting the vaccine as the only prevention for cervical cancer is an outright fraud.

But the story gets even more interesting when you start connecting the dots. A key Merck lobbyist, a man named Mike Toomey, actually served as the governor's chief of staff. In other words, a former top power person for the governor now works for Merck, the drug company that gave money to the campaign of the governor who essentially used dictatorial power to mandate, without any public debate whatsoever, the mass vaccination of young girls with a drug that will earn tens of millions of dollars in profits for Merck. Sound suspicious? It should.

The "dirty money connection" seems obvious to many readers who have been following this story, including one who posted, "Only a man, Rick Perry especially, would sign an executive order, bypassing legislation, to inject girls with chemicals made by one of his contributors even though most parents have never seen sufficient information about this vaccine. Perry should be impeached as a threat to the safety of our children." (See http://blogs.chron.com/texaspolitics/archives/2007/02/lawmakers_resci.html)

The humanitarian cover story

Drug companies are experts at framing their profit pursuits as public health initiatives. "We have to protect the little girls!" they insist, but what's really going on behind closed doors is a far less altruistic push -- the push for profits. Requiring millions of young girls to get these new vaccines just happens to generate enormous profits for Merck. But Merck officials, and even the governor of Texas, would have you believe that has nothing to do with this. Apparently, the fact that Merck will earn obscene profits from this initiative never entered their minds.

Nonsense. If Merck really wants to help these teenage girls, why don't they pledge to give away all their vaccines free of charge? In fact, if they're such a humanitarian organization, why don't they give away all their drugs, and release third world countries from patent protection at the same time? The answer, of course, is because this is all about money, not public health. If Merck was really about "patients first," they should convert to a 501(c)3 non-profit, stop paying their CEOs $10+ million salaries, and give all their drugs away for free as a gift to humankind, shouldn't they?

That will never happen, of course, because it really is about the money. The sick care industry is a for-profit industry, and the more people drug companies can target as being sick today -- or even possibly someday being sick at some future date that "justifies" treatment right now -- the more money they can sock away in the bank. When it comes to money, it seems drug companies will stop at nothing to get more of it, including influencing state officials to mandate vaccine consumption policies that have nothing whatsoever to do with evidence-based medicine or genuine compassion for the health and lives of human beings.

What's happening in Texas right now is a form of medical tyranny, and it's only the beginning of what may prove to be a monumental battle between personal freedoms vs. the corporate-controlled State.

We must stop the medical tyranny

If we let Texas get away with this medical tyranny, forcing all young girls to undergo these HPV vaccinations even against their parents' wishes, more states will follow suit. Merck is right now lobbying hard to pass similar measures in over twenty other states, and if we don't put a stop to the Texas situation, Merck will feel emboldened and likely urge other governors to make the same declarations in their states, calling it a "public health" measure but actually pocketing the profits from massive sales of these vaccines.

What can you do?

I say we fight the tyranny by exposing it. You can take action to spread the word on this issue. POST this cartoon to your website and LINK to our articles on this topic. We give you full permission to reprint this cartoon and forward it to your friends. Expose this medical madness before we all end up prisoners under a system of medical tyranny that turns the bodies of teenage girls into profit centers for Big Pharma! And unlike Merck, we don't care about the intellectual property royalties on this comic. Make as many copies as you want. Print up T-shirts. Add it to your book. Use it as you wish, and you don't owe me a dime. Why? Because I actually do care about my fellow human beings and I'm here to help stop the medical madness sweeping America today.

Speak up now or surrender your health freedoms forever

You see, if we don't stand up to this kind of medical tyranny, it will only get worse. This debate is not merely about one vaccine, it's about surrendering your health freedom to a medical system that is owned and controlled by Big Pharma. Drug companies practically run the FDA, the EPA and even control the FTC (when was the last time the FTC investigated and prosecuted drug company monopolies?). Drug companies influence the DEA to keep their own drugs legal while the exact same "street" drugs are illegal. They own our elected officials, almost all of which accepted at least some money from drug companies in their last election campaign. Drug companies also own the mainstream media by propping up television networks, cable networks, newspapers, magazines and websites with literally billions of dollars in advertising. On top of that, drug companies heavily influence the medical journals and medical schools, and have effectively limited the entire conventional medical industry to a "drugs and surgery" approach to health, practically censoring nutritional knowledge out of existence.

Given this environment, is anyone supposed to believe we will see anything resembling honest debate or genuine science about this HPV vaccine? The entire industry, including drug companies, doctors, medical journals and the mainstream media, is twisting the facts to create the illusion that these vaccines are both safe and effective when, in reality, they are probably neither. Nor are they necessary. Cervical cancer is prevented in a hundred other ways, including adequate sunlight exposure and vitamin D consumption, supplementation with probiotics, adequate intake of selenium and zinc, increased consumption of trace minerals and iodine, regular physical exercise and many other safe, natural, non-patented strategies.

America is being hoodwinked over the HPV vaccine. To call this anything resembling genuine public health policy is an absolute joke. It's really just a grand moneymaking scheme that exploits the bodies of young girls, marketed to look like compassionate health care. Supporters of this policy are shameless, ignorant and devious in framing their nonsensical arguments using carefully-chosen words and phrases that make them seem like they're delivering a cancer cure from God. But in reality, mandatory HPV vaccines are a deal with the devil.

Consider this: With all the drugs being prescribed, all the toxic chemicals being consumed, and all the diseases now ravaging America -- a country with the highest rates of degenerative disease in the world -- does anybody really thing that injecting one more drug is the answer? You'd have to be crazy to think so.

(Link to Original post at NewsTarget.com)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Study: Office Bullies Create Workplace 'Warzone'

This article should be a big heads-up not only for employees who pay in stress and illness and employers who pay in sick-days, but for every parent and teacher who observes a bully and says "Oh, kids will be kids." Those little playground fight-starters grow up to be office bullies, and it is not a pretty picture. In fact, it's pretty ugly, and bullying (being put-down, picked on, and laughed at) is one of the causes leading to teen suicides.


Study: Office Bullies Create Workplace 'Warzone'

Jeanna Bryner

LiveScience Staff Writer
LiveScience.com Tue Oct 31, 2006 5:00 PM ET

The office might be far from the playground, but it’s not off limits to bullies. From a screaming boss to snubbing colleagues, bullies can create a “war zone” in the workplace.

In a recent study, bullied employees likened their experiences to a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance. Understanding the seriousness of workplace bullying and what it feels like to get bullied could help managers put the brakes on the behavior, shown to afflict 25 to 30 percent of employees sometime during their careers.

“Many Americans are familiar with sexual and racial harassment, but not generalized workplace bullying,” said study team member Sarah Tracy of Arizona State University. Bullying can lead to higher company costs including increased employee illness, use of sick days, and medical costs, ultimately affecting productivity, she added.

Workplace bullying can include “screaming, cursing, spreading vicious rumors, destroying the target’s property or work product, excessive criticism, and sometimes hitting, slapping, and shoving.” Subtle behaviors, such as silent treatment, disregard of requests and exclusion from meetings, count as bullying.

Bully icons

The scientists interviewed 17 women and 10 men ranging from 26 to 72 years old, who had experienced bullying. Often, people have trouble putting into words their emotions surrounding bully behavior. So the researchers analyzed the metaphors found throughout the participants’ descriptions of bullying.

More than any other metaphor, participants characterized bullying as a contest or battle, with a female religious educator saying, “I have been maimed. … I’ve been character assassinated.” Others expressed feeling “beaten, abused, ripped, broken, scared and eviscerated,” the researchers stated in the upcoming issue of the journal Management Communication Quarterly.

The bullies were described as two-faced actors, narcissistic dictators and devils, leading workers to feel like vulnerable children, slaves and prisoners in these situations. As one employee explained, "I feel like I have 'kick me' tattooed on my forehead."

Bully-proof office

How can you take the bite out of a bully-fied office? “An important first step of changing workplace bullying, is helping people to understand that it's more than just kid stuff,” Tracy told LiveScience.

Early intervention can nip bullying in the bud before it escalates into an established pattern, one resulting in high company costs. The problem is that most bully victims keep their mouths shut, whispering their horrid experiences to close friends rather than higher-ups. The use of metaphors, the researchers suggested, is more subtle and more likely to seep into conversations both public and private.

The scientists will continue examining the prevalence and impact of workplace bullying. In another research project, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Office Management, they found that out of more than 400 U.S. workers surveyed, 25 percent were bullied at work.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Food Pharmacy: Salmon & other Seafood



Today's article was originally going to focus on salmon, but the reprint from the International Food Information Council Foundation on a variety of seafood was too good not to share. However, first I am going to list the subheadings from an article titled "Salmon" from WHFoods (World's Healthiest Foods) and the George Mateljan Foundation. This is an extensive list of the benefits of eating salmon (which I absolutely love!) and some very surprising ones at that: Omega 3 Fatty Acids should be what the doctor orders (instead of Ritalin!) for ADHD children!

These are just the subheadings – click here to read the whole article "Salmon."
Cardiovascular Benefits
Increases Heart Rate Variability-A Measure of Heart Muscle Function

Just Two Servings of Omega-3-rich Fish a Week Can Lower Triglycerides
Protection against Stroke
Eating Fish Daily Provides Substantially More Protection against Heart Attack
Choose Baked or Broiled, but Not Fried Salmon to Reduce Risk of Atrial Fibrillation (Heart Arrhythmia)
Special Cardiovascular Protection for Postmenopausal Women with Diabetes
Omega 3s Help Prevent Obesity and Improve Insulin Response
EPA, an Omega-3 Fat found in Salmon, Reduces Inflammation

Salmon Slashes Prostate Cancer Risk
Reduce Risk of Macular Degeneration

Fend Off Dry Eyes
Protection against Sunburn
Grumpy Teenagers? Salmon May Help Lower Hostility and Protect Hearts
Food for Better Thought
Protection against Alzheimer's
Maintain Your Mental Edge
Cancer-Protection
Lower Your Risk of Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma, and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Salmon and Other Fatty Fish Highly Protective against Kidney Cancer
Fish and Whole Grains Highly Protective against Childhood Asthma
Choose Sockeye Salmon for the Most Vitamin D

Finally, there is a raging debate on whether wild salmon is better, or if the farmed variety is just as good. WHFoods has this to say: "Whenever possible, choose wild rather than farm raised salmon. Research published by the Environmental Working Group (July 30, 2003) indicates that farmed salmon poses a cancer risk because it may be carrying high levels of carcinogenic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs have been banned in the US for use in all but completely closed areas since 1979, but they persist in the environment and end up in animal fat. When farmed salmon from U.S. grocery stores was tested, the farmed salmon, which contains up to twice the fat of wild salmon, was found to contain 16 times the PCBs found in wild salmon, 4 times the levels in beef, and 3.4 times the levels found in other seafood. Other studies done in Canada, Ireland and Britain have produced similar findings. For more on the nutritional differences between wild and farmed raised salmon, please see our article on this topic."


On to today's Feature Article:

Reprinted from the International Food Information Council Foundation, 2006.

Fish & Your Health

There's no doubt that healthful eating habits contribute to a healthy body. It's been known for decades that heart health, weight control, illness prevention and overall body functioning are all affected by what we eat. For women, there's the added importance of eating properly when pregnant or breastfeeding, because another person is depending on you for nourishment.

Say "Yes" To Seafood

Although no single food alone can make a person healthy, eating more seafood is one way that most of us can help improve our diets—and our health. Many of the studies about beneficial omega-3 fatty acids focus on fish as the primary source. Salmon, sardines, tuna and even shellfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acid content, but increasing your consumption of all types of fish and seafood is recommended.

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week in order to reap specific health benefits. The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Women's Health and Nutrition position paper suggests consuming two to three fish meals per week, along with a low-fat diet, for heart health. Although all fish aren't high in omega-3s, they still can contribute important amounts of these fatty acids if they're eaten regularly. The following chart provides a general overview of fish and their omega-3 fat content.

Omega-3 Content of Fish and Shellfish
Amounts are in grams per 3 ounce portion*

Finfish

Catfish, channel, farmed, cooked, dry heat

0.2

Cod, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat

0.1

Flatfish (flounder and sole species), cooked, dry heat

0.4

Pollock, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat

0.5

Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, dry heat

1.8

Salmon, Chinook, cooked, dry heat

1.5

Salmon, Chinook, smoked, (lox), regular

0.4

Salmon, chum, cooked, dry heat

0.7

Salmon, coho, wild, cooked, dry heat

0.9

Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone and liquid

1.4

Salmon, sockeye, canned, drained solids with bone

1.0

Salmon, sockeye, cooked, dry heat

1.0

Tuna, light, canned in water, drained solids

0.2

Tuna, white, canned in water, drained solids

0.7

Tuna, yellowfin, fresh, cooked, dry heat

0.2


Mollusks

Clam, mixed species, cooked, moist heat

0.2

Scallop, mixed species, cooked, dry heat

0.3


Shellfish

Crab, Alaska king, cooked, moist heat

0.4

Crab, Alaska king, imitation, made from surimi

0.5

Crab, blue, cooked, moist heat

0.4

Shrimp, mixed species, cooked, moist heat

0.3

*Cooked without added fat or sauces
Source: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Getting Some Fat, But Not Too Much

Experts agree that a diet based on moderation and variety is essential to good health. In other words, eating some of a wide variety of foods provides more complete nutrition and is more beneficial overall than a diet that relies on just a few foods.

The current edition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends to "know your fats". Recommendations are to limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and / or trans fatty acids and consume most fats from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Diets higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower "bad" cholesterol levels, while saturated fats and trans fats increase "bad" cholesterol levels. Fatty meats and full-fat dairy products (i.e., whole milk and ice cream) are the major sources of saturated fat in the diet. Examples of unsaturated fat sources are fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

Increase Your Omega-3s

Within the polyunsaturated fat category, there are two important subclasses of fatty acids: omega-3s and omega-6s. Vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, and most Americans unknowingly get plenty of them in the diet. On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and shellfish, tofu, flax, nuts and canola and soybean oils, are generally lacking in our diets. Omega-3s appear to have a positive effect on heart rhythm and according to one recent study, may even reduce the incidence of the most common type of stroke. In fact, on the basis of the current research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a qualified health claim for dietary supplements of omega-3 fatty acids relating them to a reduced risk of heart disease. Another intriguing area of research on omega-3 fatty acids pertains to their role in brain and visual function, as some research suggests they may have a role in preventing macular degeneration, a common form of blindness.

Continuing research involves the role of omega-3 fatty acids and the immune system, and suggests a positive influence on rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, kidney disease and cancer, as well as promising research at the National Institutes of Health on depression.

Getting Into The Swim Of It

Adding more fish and seafood to your diet is easy. One helpful tip is simply substitution. Slowly try substituting fish for one or more types of protein, thus establishing a twice-weekly seafood routine. Easy ways to do this include incorporating tuna sandwiches for lunch and sardines for snacks.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start slowly by substituting fish or shellfish for another type of meal each week. Once that is an established part of your eating plan, increase to two seafood meals per week.
  • Salmon and tuna give "burger night" a fresh flavor. Use fresh fish steaks to form patties to grill or broil. Canned tuna or salmon can also be used for burgers or fish "loaf."
  • Try marinating and grilling fish "steaks" such as halibut or salmon for a change of pace. Grilled fish kabobs are also a possibility with firm-fleshed fish.
  • Check your supermarket for a wide variety of marinades and spice mixtures to use with fish. And don't forget that old classic, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.
  • Have a couple of cans of tuna on hand for quick lunch or supper ideas. A tuna salad sandwich or a tuna and noodle casserole can be ready in no time. (Just go easy on the mayonnaise.)
  • Consider a "seafood snack" of tuna or sardines on crackers between meals.
  • Introduce fish and seafood to your children when they are young, so they get into the habit of eating it.
  • Choose broiled, grilled or baked fish more often than fried, which is higher in total fat.

Give Seafood A Place On Your Plate

Seafood is enjoyed by people all over the world. Its excellent nutritional content, good taste, availability and value price make it a staple food for many people. What's more, fish and seafood are frequently featured at cultural and religious celebrations by numerous ethnic groups and tribal nations in various parts of the United States and the world. Explore the many varieties of seafood and expand your collection of fish recipes—you and your family's health will be the better for it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Seafood

Nutritionally, how does fish compare with meat?

Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of protein that are low in fat. A 3-ounce cooked serving of most fish and shellfish provides about 20 grams of protein, or about a third of the average daily recommended protein intake. The protein in fish is of high quality, containing an abundance of essential amino acids, and is very digestible for people of all ages. Seafood is also generally lower in fat and calories than beef, poultry or pork. Seafood is also loaded with minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium (canned fish with soft, edible bones).

Why is seafood a good food choice for pregnant women?

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, seafood makes good nutritional sense. First, it's a good source of low-fat protein—important when you're trying to get the most nutritional value for your extra calories. Second, the type of omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA is thought to be beneficial to the eyes. Scientists have found that women who ate fatty fish while pregnant gave birth to children with better visual development. And, babies of mothers who had significant levels of DHA in their diet while breastfeeding experienced faster-than-normal eyesight development. Preliminary research also suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids—DHA in particular—may help decrease the chance of preterm birth, thus allowing the baby more time for growth and development.

Is seafood safe for pregnant women?

Yes. Seafood, including fish and shellfish, can be an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. Eating a variety of fish and seafood, rather than concentrating on one species, is highly recommended both for safety and nutrition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do, however, recommend that pregnant women and those who may become pregnant avoid certain species of fish (swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel) and limit their consumption of other fish to an average of 12 cooked ounces per week. The reason for this recommendation is that, while nearly all fish contain some trace amounts of methylmercury, an environmental contaminant, large predatory fish such as swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel contain the most. Excess exposure to methylmercury from these species of fish can harm an unborn child's developing nervous system. The revised "What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish" advice also suggests that nursing mothers and young children not eat these particular species of fish.

Can I eat fish that my family and friends catch locally?

Yes. Fishing can be great fun, and for some, cooking up the catch of the day is the best part. For most people, eating locally caught fish is perfectly safe. However, at-risk populations like pregnant women, infants and children should be especially careful. Be sure to check with your local health department to see if there are any fish consumption advisories about fish caught from specific lakes, rivers or streams. Many states have issued fish consumption advisories due to high levels of mercury in local fish and several states have also issued advisories for PCBs. Anglers and their families should consult the local fish consumption advisories. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates mercury in the environment, advises limiting consumption of locally caught freshwater fish to once a week for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant or are breastfeeding, and young children. Other members of your family should also follow the recommendations of your state or local health department regarding how much local fish to eat. This information is sometimes provided when obtaining a fishing license.

What You Need To Know ...

The beauty of eating seafood is that it allows for a greater variety of foods in your diet. It's readily available, relatively inexpensive and provides nutritious protein and beneficial fat, which can ultimately contribute to a healthful diet.

It is important for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to remember that the current FDA advisory on fish consumption provides information on methylmercury. Also, check with the EPA and your local and state departments of health for information on other environmental factors in species caught and harvested in your local areas.

Additional Information

Additional information about the benefits of fish and seafood in a healthful diet and issues relating to seafood safety can be found at the following Web sites.

American Dietetic Association
http://www.eatright.org

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Office of Science & Technology
http://www.epa.gov/ost/fish/

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
http://www.fda.gov

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FDA Consumer Advisory
http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg.html

U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
Seafood Information and Resources
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1.html

Food Products Association
http://fpa-food.org

National Fisheries Institute
http://www.aboutseafood.com

U.S. Tuna Foundation
http://www.tunafacts.com

Produced by:

International Food Information Council Foundation
1100 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 430

Washington, DC 20036

http://ific.org


Related Information: