The Worst “Natural” Food Ingredients

Natural isn’t always as natural as you would hope.

It’s a nice idea, and it’s a line that has been used to justify steroids and plenty of other things. If you saw belladonna or poison ivy on your menu, would you think oh that sounds natural and good? Would you eat it? Probably not. It’s natural, isn’t it? That’s not the only thing you should consider. When it comes to foods, chances are you’re not going to see things like belladonna or arsenic (in some wild foods) on the menu. However, what you will see is some food additives and other things that aren’t actually so natural or good for you.

  1. Carrageenan

    It sounds weird as is, and you could take this to mean it’s some kind of fruit from a far away land that is super good for you. It is derived from seaweed technically, meaning you could consider it natural. However, it has actually been connected to inflammation, which is often connected to various issues such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and more.

    This ingredient is commonly found in various dairy products for the most part.

  2. Caramel coloring

    Okay, so coloring in general is probably bad. It’s artificial in nature. When it comes to caramel coloring, which turns it brown, it’s caramelized sugar traditionally speaking. When it’s in yoru soda though, it’s not exactly the same. It actually ends up using sugar heated with amonium compounds, which uses the cancer causing by-product 4-MI. This can be found in various sodas across the country, and the best move may be to avoid soda altogether (which has been connected to various other issues anyway).

  3. Palm Oil

    Palm oil has become the go to replacement for your partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This was after the FDA required trans-fat labeling rules on processed foods. They used this to get around the efforts to improve public health and awareness. There have been some studies that show that palm oil could be as bad for your heart as trans fats. Obviously, the heart damaging issues are a significant problem, butit is also responsible for a lot of deforestation.

    Palm oil is typically found in crackers, cookies, baked goods in general, etc. If you want to avoid this, try using safflower oil or sunflower oil, which are both healthier.

  4. Evaporated Cane Juice

    It sounds natural, sugar cane, right? It is without question refined white sugar according to naturopathic physician Andrew Weil MD. The problem is that it’s not really juice, rather dried crystals that is there after raw sugar cane has been boiled. They then go through more processing, which makes this devoid of any of the vitamins and minerals it may have originally had. The FDA has proposed not to allow them to use the word juice, because it is obviously misleading. Only time will tell on this one though.

  5. Fruit Juice Concentrate

    On this one, you would really think that it would be pretty obvious. Fruit juice concentrate has to come from fruits….or does it? No, it doesn’t. They are commonly made up of sweeteners, and they have plenty of empty calories according to the Harvard School of Public Health. This has been linked to heart problems to start.

    So try actual fruit. It’s really that simple. There are plenty of fruits with natural sugars that are extremely good for you, and they also have plenty of healthy fiber, vitamins, and healthy antioxidants.

  6. High Fructose Corn Syrup

    Despite all of the commercials, this is not a good thing. High fructose corn syrup has little to no actual nutritional value. It can be added to everything that has been processed unfortunately, and it can lead to some major issues with obesity. Mercury could even be hiding in this particular ingredient. Don’t be fooled on this one. Just avoid.

Baby Can’t Open Mouth Since Birth

It’s a desperate and odd situation and one that a family has been battling with no end in sight. It’s a medical mystery with a 10 month old who has never been able to open his mouth. Baby Wyatt, as he has become known, has suffered from odd lockjaw since he was born. His parents have taken him to various specialists trying to resolve the problem, but they can’t figure out the problem.

The Scotts have accordingly created a website for this, They are hoping that this has happened before and somebody will recognize it, or some doctor will figure it out. Of course, I’m sure they’ve explored basic viruses and other disease that might normally cause lockjaw.

When born, doctors were of course alarmed. They were afraid that he would not be able to breath at the very least, and he ended up in the hospital for 3 months in Ottawa, Canada. They have since called emergency services 6 times when he choked and could not open his mouth. One time, they had to administer CPR while his bloody nose spilled out of his mouth another time.

The condition, officially known as congenital trismus, is rare. It’s generally caused by a fused joint or extra band of tissue. However, according to MRI’s and CT’s, Wyatt’s are normal. Doctors cannot find any logical reason for it.

Experts have said that there may be a muscle problem, but they would need to put him to sleep and do a muscle biopsy to find out. The problem is that they can’t control his airways without being able to open his mouth. He can’t control his saliva as well as a baby, and of course, not being able to open his mouth, he can’t use that if it becomes too full.

The Scott’s daughter has recently started kindergarten, and with her bringing plenty of bugs home, Wyatt also gets sick and chokes.

Doctors have already tried to use botox to relax his jaw muscles to open his mouth a little bit, but it is not truly a solution that has worked. The Scotts have received numerous emails since they launched their site, generally from well wishers and of course, ideas have popped up. Hopefully, this will be the trick to finding out what is wrong.

Why Illegal Abortions are Dangerous

While conservative politicians are looking to illegalize abortions in the US, there are other countries who are dealing with the extreme consequences of that kind of movement. Women who don’t want kids are abandoning their kids (yes, I know we already do here too), and more importantly, there are women so desperate not to have kids, they are willing to go in for illegal abortions with questionable doctors and clinics. There were times in American history where people did this, and in some cases, we forget, because it has become something of a relic of the past.

In Brazil, there are over a million estimated abortions performed every year, and almost all of them are illegal. There are some who go to questionable clinics and doctors who may not even be doctors while others do it in their own homes. They sometimes obtain illegal drugs through the black market. In Brazil’s system, the woman may be reported to the police, but the hospital will treat her if there are issues with an incomplete abortion. Most importantly though, that does not stop women from trying.

Struggles of young women who panic in various situations rum the gamut. They may simply not be prepared. Other times, they may be afraid of family reactions, and in many cases, they research at home abortions online, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The people involved in providing services are often sketchy, and a lot of the options look, even to the untrained eye, quite dangerous.

There are some who consider telling the police they were raped. Abortion is legal when you are raped in Brazil, which is something some Republican politicians would like to outlaw. At that point, they actually have to report the rape to police and undergo examinations. Naturally, they take the risk of reporting the wrong date if they are using rape as an excuse, and the police may very well arrest them if that is reported.

For many of these women, it’s not necessarily the abortion process that’s scary, but rather the fear of being arrested, the fear of being stuck with a baby, the fear of what their families will think. Of course, in this highly Catholic country, it is also often drilled into their heads that abortion is murder, creating a certain guilt. At the same point though, in some cases, it is the right thing for them. It is simply better if they can ultimately get the right medical services and support.

As one girl who went through this process said, I don’t think it was a life. I think it was a bunch of cells that were becoming a life. It’s not as terrible as people say it is. I am sure that I chose the right decision.

In some cases, there are better options than others, and some will have supportive families, friends, and boyfriends who will help them through a process to for example find a way to get a legal abortion. Ideally, if they are going to, they should be in the right hospital, and this is a law that clearly should be overturned. The problem is those who don’t. The issue is for those girls who don’t have any support, those girls who are truly doing it on their own, and this includes those girls who may have been raped, but they are afraid that no one will believe them and the police will arrest them, even though they’re being honest.

After the abortion, one woman received a letter telling her how much her abortion had cost. That came to a total of 150 reais or $75 US. Illegal clinics, on the other hand, charge 1000 reais. As you might imagine, it’s not uncommon for women who see themselves as being saved by this to recommend that other women actually cry rape to get an abortion.

Healthy Groceries On A Budget

After realizing that I had multiplied the money I used to spend on groceries in college, it was a serious reality check. Where are these hundreds of dollars going, and more importantly, how do I get it under control? I’m pretty sure that going unhealthy to ramen noodles and mac and cheese isn’t a good idea, but what is?

There are pretty good staples if you stay on the outside perimeter of the grocery store in general that can work. The question is just, if you need to budget especially, what foods should you be buying to stay healthy?

  1. Rolled Oats

    Rolled oats are among the best grocery staples you can buy if you want to stay healthy while simultaneously controlling your budget. They are cheap, they fill you up, and they are also nutritious. Quinoa has been hyped up of course, but rolled oats are cheaper and more filling with a lower calorie count, higher fiber, and more vitamins and minerals to boot. In a way, I think that the health market is paid to promote the more expensive health foods, or maybe they just think you won’t believe them if the foods are actually cheap.

    Rolled oats can be eaten on their own. They can be combined with fruits. They can even be put into smoothies for a variety of uses that you may find very effective, and not at all boring.

  2. Sweet Potatoes

    Sweet potatoes are incredibly healthy, and they are pretty tasty too. Sweet potatoes can be extremely filling while being low on the glycemic index and high in vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are even high in fiber for healthy digestion. Sweet potatoes generally come at about 88 cents a pop to $1 a pound at the very most, which isn’t half bad.

  3. Lentils

    Beans have gotten all the hype. Try lentils next time you’re shopping. They are legumes, and one of the easiest to digest. You don’t have to soak them like other lentils, and they actually have more iron and protein than meat in each serving. By choosing healthier lentils instead of meat for your protein, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, potentially lose weight, and you get something that is also low on the glycemic index. And you save money, especially when compared to meat.

  4. Frozen Peas

    Peas are so easy to get frozen. They stay good for longer, and you can cook them into various forms. Add a little salt, and you get a very basic dish. You can grind them into soup, and all around, they are also pretty filling, especially for being as cheap. They can be used in your salads, and they are also extremely filling. Stick some in your green smoothie, and you’re ready to go.

  5. Eggs

    Eggs are a great source of protein, and you can cook them in multiple ways and into multiple recipes. They are relatively inexpensive, and you can even buy in bulk at stores like Costco for example. They are full of healthy omega fatty acids in some cases, and they also have plenty of healthy vitamins. If you want to spend more on organic, free range eggs, etc, you can. However, I would keep in mind that they actually have no regulations that guarantee that the organic eggs you pay more for are any different than regular eggs.

  6. Leafy Greens

    I can get a few large heads of romaine lettuce for about $4. It could easily last me the whole week in various food recipes. Other leafy greens like spinach, collards, kale, mustard, and turnip greens can also be cheap, filling, and useful in various forms.

  7. Bananas

    Bananas really get you going. They have plenty of potassium, vitamins, minerals, fiber, they can go just about anywhere, and they are easier in many ways than berries to include in certain things. They go great with your cereal if you haven’t heard. They could easily round off your breakfast, and yes, they are cheap.

How To Handle Food Cravings

A craving is a powerful desire that that can drive us to eat things that we possibly shouldn’t. Some of us find that our cravings are more healthy, but ultimately, they aren’t actually telling you what you need or what your body needs. In most cases, cravings tend to disrupt our diet plans.

Cravings for salads, carrots, fruits, and lean proteins are rare at best, and if you get them, yay for you. Usually, you face cravings for cake, cookies, fatty foods, comfort foods, and other junk food which triggers you to fight excess weight and sometimes even health problems. Yes, things like chocolate give us a little mood boost and make us feel good, but are they really worth it?

There are evolutionary bases for these cravings. We have hormones known as Ghrelin which can help us or hurt us when it comes to healthy dieting and maintaining a healthy weight. Ghrelin for example, when in the right doses in our bodies, can help us to stop at just one piece of cake. In 2013, a major study showed that ghrelin levels were associated with a typical rise and fall pattern with a relatively boring and healthy meal. However, these hormone levels spiked when eating a sugary or fatty food. This is even after the participants are full. Scientists call this hedonic food consumption.

Satisfying cravings is different than a binge. Cravings can lead to binges, but they don’t have to. A binge is when you step over that level where you may very well feel out of control. Both cravings and binges can be emotionally based in nature. Emotional eating often flies under the name of stress eating. Emotional eating is not eating because you need food, but rather because you are trying to soothe yourself and address feelings of emptiness or other problems specifically with food.

Likewise, some people experience another major cause of cravings and related binges. Sometimes, we just get bored, and we fill our time with eating.

When it comes to diets, even the most disciplined dieters may hit a roadblock. When you are always denying yourself what you really like and sticking to rabbit food 24/7, you are more likely to break. On the other hand, there are those who fix this simple problem by simply taking a cheat day on a regular basis. I don’t mean pigging out all day on cheetos and cake. Generally, this is just on meal, still keeping things in moderation.

Finally, there are those who end up binging simply because they are hungry. Yes, this happens. We are actually hungry, and we make bad decisions on what to meet that hunger with. We can easily satisfy our hunger with healthier foods, but for whatever reason, we choose not to.

There are definitely things that you can do. In many cases, it’s a matter of reminding yourself why you’re eating healthier while also surrounding yourself with healthy food choices. Sometimes, when you only have healthy choices as opposed to that chocolate bar hiding in the cupboard, it’s a simple decision. You won’t go out of your way to find unhealthy foods that are not readily available.

Does More Belly Fat Hurt Your Brain?

Nobody wants that belly fat pooch that covers up the washboard abs you’ve been working so hard for, but at the same point, most of us don’t necessarily think of all of the other things that belly fat can do. Of course, there is the fact that belly fat can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer among other things. However, it may be that your belly fat is also causing issues when it comes to your brain power and maintenance.

A recent study published called Abdominal Obesity and Lower Gray Matter Volume finds that Our findings also provide some evidence that the inverse association between abdominal obesity and brain volume is particularly prominent for GMV, and that it is not mediated by vascular brain injury.

I know, it sounds like a lot of nonsense, science speak. What does it actually mean? In short, there is some debate about the facts, but overweight people are likely to experience inflammation associated with excessive fat cells, leading to insulin resistance, dysregulation of fat-derived hormones like leptin, and this may cause brain damage that you may or may not notice until you are older.

So what do you do? In short, you should make sure to be healthy. Eat healthier, cut calories, exercise on a regular basis, and see if you can focus on good fats instead of bad fats to fight the battle of the bulge. The biggest thing is to stick to a diet that you can work with. The worst thing you could do to yourself is to go to an extreme diet that will just lead to yo yo dieting effects.

Why You Should Sit Less

I was walking through my office the other day when I saw an individual who had literally raised his entire desk. He had a keyboard holder, and he was standing. There are plenty of people around the office who actually keep wireless headsets and walk around during work. I’m one of them, but he was definitely more serious about standing up than the rest of us. There are some people who also use treadmills at their work station, but that depends on the person.

The problem is not sitting in and of itself. However, there are many who say that sitting for an extended period of time can actually take your metabolism to a halt while also causing reduced blood flow among other things. In fact, a recent study published in Runner’s World looked at children and prolonged sitting. Does it really matter for kids? After all, they have much higher natural metabolism.

According to the study, even among children (with their higher metabolisms), getting up from time to time instead of just sitting around actually reduced markers of cardiometabolic risk. This was not measured by the total amount of time sitting, just the frequency of breaks. Kids are often expected to sit in class for extended periods. However, if kids have just 4 30 minute activity breaks during 8 hours, they are much better off than a child who sits for 6 hours with no breaks. The same is even more true for adults. If you stand up and exercise from time to time, you are much more likely not to face the potentially bad effects of sitting for too long. This is regardless of the total amount of time spent sitting.

There are various techniques that have been introduced to make sure that you stand more or exercise more throughout your workday. Some recommend a simple metric of making sure you stand and move 5 minute for every 25 minutes you’re sitting down. Just keep your body moving on a fairly regular basis, and you should be fine.


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