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Energy drinks such as Red Bull, V and Mother have been the centre of attention this week with the Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations calling for a NSW-wide school ban on the beverages and asking retailers to dob in students who make multiple purchases.
The drinks – loaded with sugar and caffeine – are being blamed for loud and unruly behaviour by children in class.
The term ‘energy drink’ has fooled many people into thinking of these beverages as healthy, while nothing could be further from the truth.
One dietitian commenting on the issue this week likened drinking a can of ‘energy’ drink to consuming a strong cup of coffee with six sugars plus a number of other stimulants!
It’s hard to imagine that any sane parent would want their children drinking it. To make matters worse, some children are reportedly drinking up to four cans a day while going without breakfast or lunch.
If this is the case, then something definitely needs to be done. But is it right to try palming off the responsibility to retailers? Small retailers are generally flat out just running their businesses, and it hardly seems fair to ask checkout operators to take up duty as spies.
Perhaps the solution lies in the better education of parents on the dangers of these drinks, or should we be looking at banning their sale to under 18-year-olds (like cigarettes and alcohol)?
At the very least, manufacturers could be required to put very obvious health warnings on their products so that people are aware of just what they are buying.
The front of the Red Bull can, for example, has ‘ENERGY DRINK’ in large writing in the centre, while below, in smaller but still easily legible writing are the words ‘With Taurine. Vitalizes Body and Mind.’ Sounds pretty good, or at least harmless.
To find any hint that the drink may not be the best thing for you, you have to turn to the back of the can and find the warnings squeezed in with a lot other information in smaller text.
After advice that Red Bull increases performances, concentration, reaction speed, etc., etc., comes the warning: CONTAINS CAFFEINE. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN, PREGNANT OR LACTATING WOMEN OR CAFFEINE SENSITIVE PERSONS.
Even further down is the wording: USAGE: 2 CANS MAX. DAILY.
Unfortunately, I cannot see many busy mums turning to the back of the can to plough their way through all the information.
In contrast, a large warning on the front of a can would at least give people reason to pause.
What do you think? Is there a problem with ‘energy’ drinks and what should be done about it? Tell us below.
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Forget the headachesby Roger French
We have long realised, in natural health circles, the importance of a healthy diet in the prevention of migraines and headaches, and it appears that others may be starting to catch on.
Back in a 2004 I wrote about the importance of zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C and bioflavonoids in the prevention of migraines. Now, a clinical trial by Griffith University researchers has shown that folate (B9) and vitamin B help to significantly reduce frequency, severity and disability of the disorder.
Griffith’s Genomics Research Centre (GRC) Director Professor Lyn Griffiths said that more than 50 long-term migraine sufferers were provided vitamin B supplements and folic acid for a six month period.
"Results showed a drastic improvement in headache frequency, pain severity and associated disability for those treated," Professor Griffiths said.
As Professor Griffiths points out, a migraine attack is a devastating disorder that causes severe headache with associated nausea and vomiting. It affects approximately 12 per cent of the Australian population.
According to the Professor, the success of the trial, which was supported by the Brain Foundation, Janssens and Blackmores, has shown that safe, inexpensive vitamin supplements can treat migraine patients.
While this is certainly preferable to taking drugs to deaden the pain, an even better course of action would be to prevent migraines occurring in the first place. This starts with nutrition.
Years ago, a registered nurse commented that, if everyone lived mainly on fresh fruit and vegetables and avoided excessive fat, there would be no migraine.
If certain foods are found to trigger headaches, they should be avoided. Especially avoid the most taxing foods on the liver – fatty foods, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, refined sugar, excessive natural sugar (as in honey, maple syrup and dried fruits) and food additives.
Some foods are tonic to the liver. They include lemon juice (always dilute abundantly with water), grapefruit, beetroot, celery, cabbage, dandelion and globe artichoke.Minerals and vitamins particularly needed by the liver include zinc, vitamin B6 and other B vitamins, vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Foods high in zinc include nuts (especially Brazil and cashew), legumes, seeds, whole grains, eggs and spinach. The same foods, along with green leafy vegetables and brewer’s yeast, are also high in B vitamins generally. Vitamin C is abundant in fresh, uncooked vegetables and fruits, while vitamin E is high in wheatgerm (it must be fresh), soy beans, sunflower seeds, nuts and egg yolk.
There is much more that we can do for ourselves to help prevent or relieve migraines and other headaches. For more detailed information on their causes, prevention and treatment, read our article How To Prevent Migraine and Other Headaches in New Vegetarian and Natural Health, Autumn 2004.
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A sinister threat or nothing to fear?by Roger French
It’s unbelievable! With all the hype surrounding swine flu, there has not been a single mention of one of the key factors in disease, the condition of the human body.
This missing equation, the hysteria surrounding swine flu, plus the suspicious origin of the new virus are all areas that need to be looked at closely.
Let’s remember, in the early days of hysteria in April, Mexico reported 165 people having died of the disease, but when proper tests were conducted, the true figure was only 16.
The World Health Organisation has reported the global toll now stands at 95 (89 in Mexico), with 13,398 people in 48 countries.
In most cases, the virus is having only mild effects. Infection does not produce disease in truly healthy people, so those of us who follow reasonably healthy lifestyles and are in good health may have little or nothing to fear.
Yet none of the disease ‘experts’ have mentioned individual health as a factor in the risk of disease and death, despite the ton of evidence that it is paramount.
Unfortunately, public warnings and sensational media coverage are arousing mass fear. Australia’s politicians are doing no better. In telling us not to panic, they are in reality telling us to panic. All of this may simply be governments preparing us for draconian measures to combat a pandemic, including mandatory vaccinations.
But for people in not-so-good shape, the drugs or vaccines may do more harm than good, as has so often been the case in disease events past and present.
Not surprisingly, a lot of informed people are asking whether there might be something sinister behind this new virus.
One is Patricia Bohackyj, a contact for Vaccination Information Serving Australia (www.visainfo.org.au), who explains how a bird flu pandemic was almost set off by a drug company – and which could be a parallel case to the present situation.
Others are pointing to growing evidence linking factory farming with the swine flu, seeing a giant pig factory farm run by an American multinational corporation in Veracruz, Mexico as the most likely culprit.
An online petition by Avaaz.org calling for investigation and regulation of factory farms received more than 200,000 signatures in just six days and the organisers are now hoping to boost this number by at least another 50,000. If you would like to add your name to the petition go to http://www.avaaz.org/en/swine_flu_pandemic/98.php?cl_taf_sign=acd1e93cafc0032a88e9144ed9a4b065
The truth is we may never know whether this new virus – of a kind that researchers have never seen before – has evolved naturally or has been synthesised and released for some sinister purpose. We do know that it will make some companies very rich.
One bright note in this whole affair was the stance taken by Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at the Australian National University’s school of clinical medicine.
In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29th May, Prof. Collignon swept aside all the hysteria surrounding swine flu by pointing out that it lacked one of the two essential characteristics needed to cause the kind of disaster seen in influenza pandemics in the past - i.e. it is not hyper-virulent.
I have looked at this whole issue in more detail in the Winter issue of our magazine, Natural Health and Vegetarian Life, due out in early June.
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A depressing pictureby Donna Gersbach
On top of clinical trials suggesting that anti-depressant drugs are no more effective than a placebo, comes a new study linking depressive symptoms and the use of anti-depressant drugs to cardiac events in women.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that women with more severe depressive symptoms or those who reported taking antidepressants were at higher risk for sudden cardiac death and fatal coronary heart disease.
In particular, women with clinical depression were more than twice as likely to experience sudden cardiac death. This risk was associated more strongly with antidepressant use than with depressive symptoms.
A team led by William Whang, M.D., of the cardiology division at Columbia University Medical Centre, found that much of the relationship between depressive symptoms and cardiac events was mediated by cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.
Dr. Whang and his colleagues studied 63,469 women from the Nurses Health Study who had no evidence of prior heart disease or stroke during follow-up between 1992 and 2004. Self-reported symptoms of depression and use of antidepressant medication were used as measures of depression. To best identify those with clinical depression, researchers specifically examined women with the most severe symptoms defined by a validated 5-point mental health index score or regular antidepressant use.
According to Dr. Whang, at present the benefits of appropriately prescribed antidepressants outweigh the risk of sudden cardiac death. He pointed out, however, that the relationship between antidepressant medicines and sudden cardiac death merits further investigation to determine whether antidepressant medications directly increase the risk for heart rhythm disorders.
"We can’t say antidepressant medications were the cause of higher risk of sudden cardiac death. It may well be that use of antidepressants is a marker for worse depression,” Dr. Whang said.
“Our data raise more questions about the mechanisms by which depression is associated with arrhythmia and cardiac death.
“Overall, the study findings reinforce the need for patients with depression to be monitored closely for risk factors for coronary heart disease, since management of these risk factors can reduce the risk for mortality from coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death.
"It’s important for women with depression to be aware of the possible association between depression and heart disease, and work with their health care providers to manage their risk for coronary heart disease," he said.
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How to beat arthritisby Roger French
With one is six Australians now affected by arthritis, it is long past time for the medical fraternity to place greater emphasis on nutrition as a means of reducing this ‘lifestyle’ disease.
According to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, arthritis affects about 3.3 million Australians, including more than one-third of people aged 65 or over and more than half of those aged 85 years or over.
Conventional treatment has failed and sufferers are often told that there is no cure, yet there is room for optimism for those prepared to adopt a natural health approach.
It has been observed by many natural therapists that nutrition is a primary factor in recovery from arthritis. Other possible factors that my require attention include stress, ongoing anger, ongoing resentment, deep-seated negative emotions and joint overload.
Getting well from arthritis in its early stages is straightforward in principle, and is practicable provided the person is willing to make changes in their eating habits and to find ways of dealing with stress, etc.
Recovery in advanced stages is slower, but is still possible in many cases, as long as the tissues of the joint have not been destroyed.
Studies have found that all-plant (vegan) diets produce low blood fats and cholesterol, lean physiques and decreased risk of certain degenerative diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. The Californian researchers who conducted a 1999 study concluded that "A vegan diet has documented clinical efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis.
"Surprisingly, they found that an unnecessarily high intake of amino acids (building blocks of protein) in the combinations found in animal proteins may prove to be as serious a risk factor for degenerative diseases as is excessive fat intake. Plant proteins tend to have different combinations of amino acids, which is yet another reason for the benefits of a plant-based diet.
To reduce the acidic toxaemia in order to facilitate self-healing, it is necessary to reduce the acid-forming extent of the diet. This is done by increasing the amount of alkali-forming foods to between three-quarters and four-fifths of total food intake (by weight), which means for the average-sized adult three-quarters to one kilogram daily of green, yellow and red vegetables and fresh fruits.
Correspondingly reduce the intake of acid-forming foods, which are most other kinds of foods. Aim towards a vegetarian diet (which may need careful monitoring for a heavy meat eater of many years), but be sure to maintain a balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat in the normal diet.
There needs to be avoidance of salt and refined sugar in the diet, and no alcohol which inhibits circulation.If foods of the Solanum family aggravate symptoms, omit them initially.
Naturopaths have found the enzyme, bromelain, abundant in pineapples, to be helpful. It is important to select ripe fruit.
For more detailed information, including a Daily Meal Plan, and an Acid-Forming and Alkali-Forming Foods Chart, read my article, Arthritis and Rheumatism: The way to drug-free recovery (NVNH, Spring 2006).
For help in achieving a balanced diet, you can also read our Natural Health Dietary Guidelines, which were spelled out in the Autumn 2004 issue of NVNH.
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So, you’re having a baby!by Roger French
For anyone planning on getting pregnant, or who is already pregnant, the foremost concern is having a healthy baby.
But if you want to give your baby the best start in life, don’t make the mistake of relying on an obstetrician or another medical practitioner to ensure this, warns naturopath and counselor, Robyn Chuter.
In an article in our quarterly magazine, New Vegetarian and Natural Life (now Natural Health and Vegetarian Life), Robyn points out that obstetricians are trained primarily to identify and intervene in abnormal developments in pregnancy and birth, rather than to facilitate healthy pregnancy and normal labour.
“Health care is self-care – it’s up to you to inform yourself and make the necessary changes in your habits of living, before and during pregnancy, if you want the best chance of enjoying this special time and setting your baby up for a healthy childhood,” she said.
In her guidelines for preparation for pregnancy both partners are advised to:
Check their zinc levels.
Avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine.
Have regular exercise.
Have regular and moderate sun exposure.
Drink plenty of filtered water.
Cultivate habits of nutritional excellence.
In addition, males need to avoid over-heating of the genital region, and females coming off the oral contraceptive pill need to pay particular attention to replenishing their nutrients.
Robyn’s extensive Head-Start to Health article: Nutrition Before and During Pregnancy also includes detailed advice on dealing with morning sickness, eating patterns, including the Pregnant Woman’s Daily Diet Dozen, a detailed list of required nutrients and the role they play, as well as exercise requirements.
The full article is contained in the Autumn 2006 issue of New Vegetarian and Natural life, and copies are available from the Natural Health Society at a cost of just $4.50 for members or $5 for non-members (including postage) via our website or by phoning our office on 02 4721 5068.
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Enjoy Christmas – and recover later!by Roger French
Are you worried about feeling a bit stodgy and literally ‘fed up’ after Xmas?
While most of us over-indulge during the festive season, the good news from the Natural Health Society of Australia is that it’s simple to regain that feeling of vitality after the event.
Occasionally departing from our normal healthy eating and drinking habits need not cause problems.
Everyone can use natural health guidelines to enjoy the best of both worlds to a degree, and still have excellent health. On the other hand, abusing or bingeing on food and drink can be destructive.
The golden rule is: It’s not what we do five percent of the time that determines our health; it’s what we do 95 percent of the time that counts.
On Christmas Day, we can either choose the most wholesome items on offer, or just have a bit of fun, in moderation, with whatever everyone else is enjoying. Personally, I like the latter idea!
Once the Christmas festivities are over, it’s easy to decongest the system.
For a day or two, eat nothing heavy – that is, no significant amount of fat, carbohydrate or protein, and just have fresh fruit, or fruit and vegetable salads, or only fruit juices.
Nothing could be easier. After the indulgences of Christmas Day, most people don’t want to eat more heavy food anyway, and the recovery can be surprising.
Fruits must be in season and ones that the person enjoys. In summer, suitable fruits are watermelon, rockmelon, peaches, apricots, nectarines, grapes, cherries, pawpaws, mangoes, bananas (fully ripe), pineapple and custard apples.
In between meals, drink pure water, or herb teas, according to thirst
.Just remember, in some cases, a person may feel worse before he or she feels better.
This is not a reason for alarm, but a sign that detoxification is proceeding. The person should soon feel better. However, if feeling severely worse, or not better in a day or two, see a practitioner.
One final word of advice, being too rigid on special occasions like Christmas can lose you friends!
This can do more harm than good, as human company is another important aspect of health and well-being.
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Snack Out Of It!by Roger French
Surprise, surprise! Scientists are now telling us that despite our best intentions to eat something healthy, many of us often end up choosing sugary snacks instead.
Dutch researchers asked 585 participants to pick between four snacks: an apple, a banana, a candy bar and a molasses waffle.
About half of the participants indicated they would choose the apple or banana. Not too bad a result on the surface, but a lot of those would-be healthy eaters failed to stick to their guns.
In fact, when presented with the actual snacks a week later, 27% of those who had said they’d pick a healthy one switched to the candy bar or waffle.
On the reverse side, more than 90% of those who had initially made an unhealthy choice stuck with it.
The researchers figure that while we are in control of our intentions, our actual choices are often made impulsively, even unconsciously.
Obviously, if we don’t feel the need to snack, we won’t be tempted.
As I noted in my article How to Lose Weight Naturally in the Winter 2008 edition of Natural Health and Vegetarian Life, some obese people tend to tuck in more in response to the aroma and sight of food.
True hunger is regulated by blood sugar level, blood amino-acid level and fibre. When blood sugar level is low, we experience hunger. Similarly with low levels of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, so that a low-protein diet or poor protein digestion can create food cravings.
Fibre makes us feel full because it demands chewing which mixes saliva with the food, causing the fibre to swell in the stomach and increase the volume of food.
False hunger is usually the result of external factors that operate on the emotions.
If you find that you are overeating because it is difficult to stop eating at the end of a meal, try limiting yourself to one course only per meal.
What makes it easy to eat on and on, is to change from one dish to another, such as from a main course to a dessert to a confection.
If you limit yourself to a main course only, even if you have a second helping of the main course, you will be surprised how much less you eat in total, while feeling completely satisfied.
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Put kids firstby Roger French
It’s hard to imagine anything more important than the health and well-being of our children, yet we continue to put them at risk through additives found in many everyday foods.
While the UK is phasing out six artificial colours that scientists have found may cause hyperactivity in children, Australian authorities have yet to take any action.
The UK move, which will result in the six colours being removed from all foods by the end of 2009, follows scientists likening the detrimental effects of the colours to those of lead on children’s development.
Why, we can rightly ask, aren’t Australian kids being protected?
The colours to come under fire are Tartrazine (102), Quinoline Yellow (104), Sunset Yellow (110), Carmoisine (122), Ponceau Red (124) and Allura Red (129). Their detrimental effects, as listed below, are frightening:
Tartrazine: Linked to hyperactivity, skin rashes, migraine, asthma, behavioural problems. Thyroid problems and chromosomal damage in animal studies. Banned in Norway and Austria.
Quinoline Yellow: Suspected carcinogen, linked to hyperactivity, skin rashes, asthma. Banned in USA, Norway – previously banned in Australia.
Sunset Yellow: Suspected carcinogen, allergies, hyperactivity, stomach upsets, skin rashes, asthma. Kidney tumours and chromosomal damage in animal studies. Banned in Norway.
Carmoisine: Suspected carcinogen, mutagen, skin rashes, oedema, hyperactivity, asthma. Banned in Sweden, USA, Austria and Norway.
Ponceau Red: Suspected carcinogen, asthma, hyperactivity. Banned in USA and Norway.
Allura Red: Suspected carcinogen, skin rashes, asthma, hyperactivity. Banner in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Norway.
These colours are found throughout our everyday foods, such as fruit juices, cordials, muesli bars, dried fruit snacks, biscuits, custards and yoghurts, and are also used extensively in soft drink, ice cream and confectionery products.
In the wake of the new information coming from the UK, the Kids First Campaign has been launched in Australia to demand that Australia’s Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) ban the six colours from our food.
You can add your weight to the campaign by signing the online petition at www.additivealert.com.au.
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What are we doing to our children? #1by Donna Gersbach
‘Money before children’ would appear to be the creed of the broadcasting industry, with Australia’s communications watchdog going against parents’ calls for a ban on junk food advertising on television.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced it will not be recommending any general restrictions be imposed on food and beverage advertising to children.
Instead, ACMA chairman Chris Chapman has encouraged industry to “recognise the strong community concern in this area and consider how it can adequately address this concern without additional regulation being imposed”.
Although finding there was a relationship between advertising and food and beverage preferences among children, ACMA considered there was insufficient evidence to support a link with obesity levels.
The authority has said it will consider reviewing its position if evidence of an identifiably stronger association between advertising and obesity and the benefits of food and beverage advertising restrictions becomes available.
In keeping with parents groups and other concerned health bodies, the Natural Health Society has long been calling for a ban on the advertising of junk food to children.
The fact that ACMA’s own research has found a link between advertising and children’s preferences and requests, should in itself be grounds for a ban.
The ACMA findings, contained in its long-awaited review into children’s television standards, only go as far as recommending greater control on the use of celebrity and character endorsements.
The continuing lack of action on junk food advertising is impossible to understand in light of Australia’s growing obesity levels, particularly amongst children.
One top children’s hospital, Westmead in western Sydney, has now taken the unprecedented step of appointing a specialist to treat childhood obesity.
As part of the treatment, the specialist will be encouraging families to adopt a healthier lifestyle, with more healthy eating and more physical activity.
While such a move is to be applauded, measures like this can only be hampered by the continuing bombardment of our children with junk food advertising.
Find out more on the recommendations contained in the Draft Children’s Television Standards 2008 at http://www.acma.gov.au/webwr/_assets/main/lib310132/draft_cts_2008.pdf
You can also make your own submission up to October 17, 2008 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, submissions can be sent by mail to:
CTS Project Manager
Content Monitoring and Review Section
Australian Communications and Media Authority
PO Box Q500
Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230
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Put on those dancing shoesby Donna Gersbach
Forget about looking for a memory pill, if you want brain power later in life and lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, think about increasing your level of mental activity.
This could be anything from dancing to traveling to learning a new language, according to researchers at the University of NSW.
Dr Michael Valenzuela said his research team’s findings mean that people can help themselves rather than rely on drug companies that are trying to find a pharmaceutical target to prevent the shrinkage of the hippocampus – a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s.
The research revealed that people who have been more mentally active over their lives have a larger hippocampus and, critically, that it shrinks at half the rate of those who have lower mental activity.
This is the first time that researchers have compared participants’ brains over a period of time in relation to mental activity patterns, adding weight to previous work which shows that complex mental activity helps prevent dementia.
“This also helps throw some light on why there has been this consistent link between mental activity and lower dementia risk,” Dr Valenzuela said.
“Our prior research shows the risk for dementia is quite malleable, even into late life,” he added“It is vital that everyone is involved in cognitive, social and physical activities in late life such as dancing, tai chi, sailing, travelling and learning a new language, for example.
”To find out more about what you can do to help prevent Alzheimers, read our detailed article published in the Summer 07/08 issue of Natural Health and Vegetarian Life, Alzheimers Disease: Solutions are emerging – prevention is possible.
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What's in your mouth?by Roger French
With GM canola to be grown in our country for the first time this year, many Australians are understandably worried about exactly what they will be putting into their mouths when they grab their food from the supermarket shelf. (See Natural Health and Vegetarian Life Autumn 2008 articles GM Foods - The New ’Cane Toad’ and GM Foods - The Scientist’s View.
Although canola is used in a huge range of everyday foods, under current laws, it won’t be labelled as GM.
But we can at least find some peace of mind through the True Food Guide, an initiative of Greenpeace.
This free guide lists those companies who have given a written assurance that they do not use genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in the food chain, and those who have not.
Despite the presence of labelling laws on GE ingredients in some other countries, no such laws exist in Australia, meaning we have lost the right to know exactly what we are eating.
The True Food Guide is, therefore, a real saviour as we continue with the fight against the introduction of GE crops. In the Guide, Greenpeace has rated common brands based on written responses to a series of questions in July 2003.
The ratings are more stringent than Australian labelling laws as they reflect the use of highly processed GE derived ingredients as well as GE stockfeed.
The guide can be used to compile your own personal shopping list, and encourages individuals to contact those companies who have not given any assurances about the GE status and call on them to go GE free.
Greenpeace is also the force behind the ‘Chefs Charter’ which opposes the recent introduction of GM canola in NSW and Victoria, and calls for thorough labeling of all food products containing GM ingredients.
Among the many high profile signatories are Bill Granger, Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander, Kylie Kwong, Justin North, Sean Moran, Margaret Fulton, Dure Dara, Neil Perry and Holly Davis.
To get your copy of the True Food Guide and to find out more about Greenpeace’s GE initiatives visit the True Food Network.
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Get rid of the junkby Roger French
How many more children will join the growing ranks of the obese before government decides to clamp down on the proliferation of junk food advertising?
Leading childhood obesity experts have now joined the long list of campaigners, including the Natural Health Society, calling on federal, state and local governments to take steps to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to children.
Louise Baur, Professor of the Discipline of Paediatrics & Child Health at the University of Sydney and Consultant Paediatrician at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, says that parents are struggling to be heard over the bombardment of marketing aimed at their children.
"Every week, in my weight management clinics at the hospital, I see parents who are trying their very hardest to look after the health of their kids" says Professor Baur."
By now, everyone has heard the alarming childhood obesity statistics. Parents are much better informed about healthy eating, and are trying to teach their children good nutritional habits. But how can they compete with slick, multi-million dollar marketing campaigns?”
She dismisses suggestions that advertising doesn’t play a significant role in the diets of children.
"Advertising does influence what kids want and therefore what parents buy - of course it does. Companies wouldn’t spend millions on it if it didn’t!"
Professor Baur points not only to television advertising, but to a range of marketing strategies from sponsorship of kids’ sporting events to "endorsements" of products by popular cartoon characters.
She says that all levels of government have a role to play in supporting parents by introducing measures to restrict these marketing practices - and she isn’t alone.
The World Federation of Consumer Organisations, Consumers International, has released a new International Code on Marketing of Food and non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children, which is supported by the International Obesity Taskforce.
The Code calls for new government regulations to protect children and parents from the pressures of junk food marketing practices.
"This isn’t about being the "fun police", banning chocolate or soft drinks, or outlawing all forms of advertising" she says.
"All we are asking is for some balance. Limiting the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks will give parents a better chance to teach their kids about responsible, healthy eating. We want to give children back to their parents. And that’s going to lead to happier families and healthier kids."
To find out more about joining the fight against junk food advertising, click here.
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A recipe for disasterby Roger French
The endless diet of bad news we are served up on television, on radio and in newspapers is enough to get anybody down, but many people create their own recipe for disaster through their food choices.
Depression is a rising problem especially in older people and young people . It can have the tragic consequence of suicide.
What needs to remembered is that brain function depends on blood supply, which depends on what it gains from the intestine, which depends on what is put in the mouth!
Keeping in mind the following information will help to yoy to keep the blues away.
Essential for avoiding depression are zinc, selenium, manganese, calcium, copper, iron, chromium and sodium.
Chromium helps regulate blood sugar and is adversely affected by eating lot of sugar.
Lithium, a trace mineral, helps depression. It is found in sea vegetables, including kelp.
Magnesium is a mood stabiliser.
Zinc and vitamin B6 have been found to be low in depressive patients. To be absorbed, zinc needs tryptophan and B6. Vitamin B is in bananas, avocadoes, watermelon and potatoes.
Selenium is a major antioxidant protecting the brain. Alcohol depletes selenium, while a rich source of selenium and zinc is Brazil nuts - just 2 per day is sufficient.
A deficiency of Vitamin B12 is associated with depression, confusion and memory loss. It also causes low homocysteine which blocks synthesis of serotonin, a ‘feel-good’ brain chemical.
Elderly people and people on vegetarian diets are most likely to be deficient. Studies have shown that 5% of psychiatric patients are deficient in B12.
The most common vitamin deficiency, folic acid is required to lower homocysteine. Sources are legumes, nuts, seeds, egg yolk, green vegetables and avocado.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
These are essential for brain function, with a lack leading to depression, mood swings, lower IQ and ADD. The processed modern diet supplies a lot of omega-6 fatty acids and very little omega-3, which is rich in fish oil and flax oil, and also in canola oil and walnuts.
The brain requires ‘neurotransmitters’ – about 50 of them – to enable nerve messages, including thoughts and feelings, to move from nerve cell to nerve cell. The key one is serotonin which affects influences mood and memory. The more we have, the better we feel. This depends on 3 amino acids – tryptophan, tyrosine and phenalanine. Tryptophan also requires carbohydrate to form serotonin, which may be why when people are feeling down, they crave sugar. Tryptophan is found in the protein foods – fish, eggs, cheese, (cooked) dried beans including soya beans and peanut butter, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and nuts.
FREE RADICAL DAMAGE CAUSES BRAIN AGEING
Free radicals cause ageing which causes less serotonin which causes more depression. It is important to protect brain with antioxidants – C, E, carotenes, co-Q10, ginkgo biloba, glutathione and lipoic acid (found in potatoes, carrots, beetroot, spinach, sweet potato and red meats . Excellent foods for the brain are the dark blue, purple and red fruits and veges. Carotenes better absorbed when taken with olive oil or flax oil. Lycopene in tomatoes is a valuable carotene for brain function, especially mental acuity in old age.
High histamine can lead to depression, and a blood test can assess histamine status. Dr Carl Pfeiffer discovered that, in this case, folic acid can make the person feel worse. Meat contains amino acids that tend to increase histamine levels, so the diet for these people is low protein, high complex carbohydrates with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is anti-histamine, so take supplements of C as well as zinc, manganese and B6. Methionine also helps to detoxify histamine, so ensure plenty of folic acid.
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It’s all in the brainby Roger French
In the spiralling ‘epidemic’ of mental illness, there is hot debate about how to deal with it, but no one is asking why people’s brains are malfunctioning.
Treating illness while ignoring the underlying causes is always futile.
A mountain of studies make the range of possible causes clear enough. As with the use of illegal drugs, nutrition can cause brain chaos.
Brain function depends on the blood supply which depends on what is picked up from the intestine, which, in turn, depends on what we put in our mouths.
It is well recognised that sugar in excessive amounts causes hypoglycaemia which can result in hyperactivity, mood swings, anxiety, delinquent behaviour or abuse of alcohol or drugs. Mood swings, for example, characterise bipolar disorder.
Food allergies can cause panic attacks, anxiety, depression, persistent elation, mania, hyperactivity, violent behaviour, delusions, alcoholism and drug addiction.
Numerous minerals are essential for normal brain function, including zinc, selenium, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron and chromium. Deficiencies of these are common in a diet high in processed foods.
Similarly with vitamins; B12 and folic acid are particularly important, and deficiency is common. Antioxidants protect the brain from premature ageing; again, these are deficient in the typical modern diet. Lack of omega-3 fats – as found in fish and flax oils – leads to depression, mood swings and lower cognitive ability. Inadequate intake is widespread.
Alcohol at a level as low as three standard drinks four times a week can result in brain damage, commonly showing up as depression and lower intelligence.
Only when these causes are addressed will there be a significant reduction in mental illness in Australia.
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Creating a stink!by Roger French
Many years ago, when an advertisement for deodorants came up with the slogan, “Even your best friend won’t tell you”, they did a brilliant job of making everybody paranoid about body odour.
And there is no doubt that for some people this is a very genuine problem.
Body odour has two main sources. The first is sweaty clothing. If clothing is not changed for a few days, the sweat it has absorbed can begin to smell. Obviously this will happen much more rapidly in hot weather than in cold. It is easily prevented by washing clothing as required ? as most people do.
The other main source of body odour can be very difficult to deal with. It is odour being released from the skin more or less continuously.
Because the skin is an organ of elimination (sweat is like extremely dilute urine), if the liver and kidneys cannot cope with the body’s eliminative load, some of it is likely to be shed through the skin.
This is the basis of most skin diseases and also persistent body odour – the kind of body odour that is as bad a few hours after showering as it was before showering. It is to prevent this form of body odour that people take deodorants and antiperspirants.
There are a number of reasons for body odour, including a high level of toxic wastes in the system from both food and chemicals. Remember that medications are all chemicals of one form or another.
Excessive waste products from food can occur even with a good diet if there is enough stress. Stress can interfere with all systems in the body, including digestion, assimilation and elimination of metabolic waste products, so stress can contribute to a build-up of waste products – ‘toxaemia’.
Virtually all of us in Western society have toxaemia to a lesser or greater degree. The presence of persistent body odour indicates that the body needs a substantial detox.
The amount of detoxing that can be done at home without professional supervision is relatively limited. A substantial detoxification can be done in safety at a health retreat where the practitioners are appropriately experienced.
The great advantage of a thorough detox is that the inner spring clean revitalises every system in the body. And this can certainly fix body odour.
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Eczema and my Daughter's Storyby Jane
After my daughters 8 week vaccinations she went from a tiny patch of eczema on the insid eof her legs to being coved from head to toe and her shoulders weeping.
I was devastated for her and she was miserable. I set about to find a cure for her.
I found a natrapath and she advise me to put her on a goats milk formula as I had stopped breastfeeding her and then thru the day and night I saturated her skin in a mixture of organic vitamin E Oil, rosehip Oil and Johoba oil. I stopped her vaccinations also.
Within a month her eczema disapperared. When I started on solids I kept her on a wheat and dairy free diet. Now she is 1 year and only tiny patches of eczema on back of legs as I have exposed her to small amounts of wheat and egg yolk only. My daughter is healthy and happy and also asthma free.
I still cannot bring myself to vacinate her and have been told to at least wait until she is 3 years old. I’m not sure what I will do when she turns 3 as I would hate to reverse all the good work.
Will the eczema come back or could I trigger asthma? Maybe she is just not suited to vacinations as she is too sensative.
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Stop fiddling while Rome burnsby Roger French
Recent research that found reducing the protein intake of fruit flies increased longevity provides another chunk of useful knowledge about protein. However, enough is already known on the subject to enable us to act.
Waiting for further research would be fiddling while Rome burns.
The greatest nutritional study ever – the China Study conducted by Professor T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University in the US – found that high protein strongly promotes cancer.
After pre-cancers were initiated by a chemical, they progressed far more rapidly with a diet containing 20% protein in terms of total calories than if the diet contained 5% protein. In fact, animals given a high dose of carcinogen developed substantially less cancer when fed 5% protein than animals fed a low dose of the poison and a high 20% protein.
The people of rural China suffer vastly less cancer than we Westerners. Along with the fact that they don’t eat junk food, Professor Campbell found that 10% of their total calories comes from protein, with only one-tenth of this derived from animal foods. In contrast, the American diet contains protein at the level of 15% of total calories, with four-fifths coming from animal foods. Australian figures will be similar.
The Professor concluded that once cancer was initiated, its development was controlled far more by protein consumption than by the amount of the original carcinogen. Dramatic stuff!
How much protein is too much or too little? Since cancer did not develop up to about 10% protein, this appears to be about right for us. This represents around 50 grams of protein per day for an average adult.
In practical terms, a diet containing plenty of fresh vegetables and moderate amounts of grain foods would include just 100 to 150 grams of protein-rich foods – namely, flesh foods, eggs, cheese, legumes and nuts, with a preference for the plant foods.
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Nutrition the best prescription for ADD and ADHDby Roger French
Three cheers to the doctor who recently braved the wrath of the establishment to issue a warning about the over-prescription of drugs such as Ritalin for the treatment of ADD and ADHD!
Among many warnings about giving children these stimulant drugs, the best I have come across is by a US paediatrician who practised for 55 years before his retirement and eventual death.
He states in a paper (of which we have copies) that he treated thousands of children exhibiting ADD and ADHD with Ritalin and other stimulant drugs before realising that the core of the ADHD problem was nutrition.
Once he began treating ADD and ADHD children with nutrition, the results were that “60 to 80 percent of these children were 70 to 100 percent better and did not need stimulant drugs ...”
In his article, he spells out the steps he would take according to the particular signs and symptoms being exhibited by the child.
The only side-effects of such methods are improvements of other aspects of health.
Yet, as is the case with so many medications, people continue to be taken in by the drug companies, whose deceptions are all too clearly revealed by the former Editor-In-Chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Marcia Angell, in her 2005 book, The Truth About the Drug Companies – How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It.
In her two decades with this journal, Dr Angell watched the drug companies stray from their original mission of developing useful drugs, and instead become vast and highly profitable marketing machines with sometimes dubious products.
We published an interview with Dr Angell in the Autumn 2005 issue of NVNH.
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Bring on the ban!by Roger French
The banning of all advertising of junk foods during children’s television viewing times, as proposed in a current campaign by Choice magazine, could arrest a lot of the damage already being done to our children.
The proof that these ads work is that manufacturers keep paying large amounts of money for them. What children see on TV is very sophisticated and very authoritative to their unsuspecting minds.
Parents (even if they are role models themselves) haven’t a ghost of a chance of neutralising the super-sophisticated persuasion of the professional marketers whose job is to sell products for profit.
This would apply even if children were with their parents all the time, which they’re not.
There is firm evidence that junk foods can cause more than obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
A very high calorie intake causes genetic damage, raising the risk of cancer and other diseases (CSIRO research).
Deep-frying of foods causes oxidation of fat and cholesterol which are then major risk factors for heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Deficiency of antioxidants allows oxidative damage that can lead to artery disease, nerve damage (motor neuron disease and MS), cancer and other diseases.There can also be damage to the brain.
Deficiency of the alkaline minerals, potassium, magnesium and calcium, contributes to acidity of the system. 1996 research found that schoolboys with acidic brains had dramatically lower IQ scores that those with alkaline brains.
A high intake of refined carbohydrates upsets blood sugar levels, leading to hypoglycaemia in which the brain is literally driven crazy by sugar deficiency. As the US paediatrician, the late Dr Lendon H. Smith wrote, the person then operates from the reptilian part of the brain which is selfish, mean and anti-social. The result can be aggressiveness, irritability, tantrums, sleeplessness, poor concentration and delinquent behaviour – which is just what we are seeing.
As Choice points out: Parents are tired of being told it’s all their problem when multimillion dollar advertising campaigns relentlessly market unhealthy food and drinks to their children.
All parents can play their part in the Choice campaign sharing their own families’ experiences of junk food marketing online at www.choice.com.au/fedup.
Save our children (and ourselves). Bring on the ban!
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Australians health at riskby Donna Gersbach
The health of current and future generations of Australians will be put at risk by any decision to allow genetically modified crops to be grown in NSW.
The NSW Government plans to lift the moratorium on genetically modified canola crops next year, ignoring potentially disastrous health consequences already evidenced in other countries.The independent panel which reviewed the GM legislation failed to consider substantial evidence outlining not only the health, but also the economic and environmental consequences of the introduction of GM canola crops.
In the United States alone, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were linked with health problems as far back as 1989. At that time, genetically modified strains of an L-tryptophan food supplement were found to be the cause of symptoms such as severe pain, hair loss, memory loss, muscle weakness and hardening of the skin. In this case, the link was only discovered because of the severity and rapid onset of the symptoms. Unfortunately, in other cases, it may take years to determine the extent of the health consequences of GM foods.
The frightening fact is that in many instances, people may not even know what they are eating! Organic farmers and others not growing genetically engineered crops rightfully feared the inevitable cross-contamination from the pollen of GM crops. Without highly expensive testing, there will be no way to determine the extent of cross contamination, ultimately making it impossible to know what is going into our foodstuffs.
You can find out a lot more about the risks associated with GM foods in the next edition of the Natural Health Society’s own magazine, Natural Health and Vegetarian Life, available in March.
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