Halloween candy and children: dispelling the myths

halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, kids of all ages are more than ready to trick or treat and bring home a large variety of colorful and sweet stuff – after all, candy has long been an integral part of Halloween.

And while a lot of adults may easily justify their children’s unlimited indulgence in what seems to be several month’s supply of colorful sugary treats (”oh, come on, let kids be kids!”) – you really should know better, because this practice is not as harmless as you  may think – and the way you handle this today may have a huge impact on their health and development in the future.

Halloween is surrounded by myths, superstitions and misconceptions.  But today we are not going to talk about the typical urban legends, like razor blades in candy, or Bloody Mary.  Today we will be talking about other myths – the myths around Halloween candy – which are probably no less scary, when you know and understand the details.

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The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals – Part V (Selenium, Zinc and Iron)

Minerals (selenium, zinc, copper)

(Continued from Parts I, II, III and IV)

SELENIUM

Benefits of Selenium

Selenium supports efficient thyroid hormone synthesis, and protects from oxidative stress.

It is responsible for regulating the delivery of zinc (see below) to zinc enzymes throughout the body for proper zinc metabolism.

Selenium also supports cognitive function, immune system and fertility for both men and women. Studies have confirmed strong positive correlation between selenium and testosterone levels in males (good for both muscle building and sex drive).  On top of that, selenium increases sperm count and enhances sperm quality.

Severe selenium deficiency in adults is pretty rare, though minor deficiency is common and can have some unpleasant effects on our health.

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Quitting Bread: Why Adopt a Grain Free Diet

Grain based products

Most people can’t t even imagine being on a grain free diet.  Any time you find yourself at a bakery, surrounded by beautifully-displayed paper bags of freshly-baked bread, the temptation to buy one is just too strong to resist – especially if you are even a little bit hungry.  Perfectly-looking brown crust that produces unmistakable crunching sound when you squeeze it and that seductive pastry aroma filling up the whole  bakery are enough to make most people succumb to the temptation.

It appears that the love for grains is hardwired in our brains.  Baked, toasted, fried, or grilled – grain and specifically wheat products fall into the category of what most people call “hearty” foods – foods that fill you up and give you a lot of satisfaction.  Those are universally acceptable throughout the world, those are the foods that you never get tired of and that could easily be (and, for many people – are) a daily staple.

In fact, In many cultures and languages, “bread” is synonymous with “food” (think of all the phrases you’ve heard – “the daily bread”, “breadwinner”, “the bread and butter” of something, the job that “puts bread on the table”, etc.) – and that’s understandable.  Grains, flour and bread – the different stages of the same product – have historically been cheap enough to fill people’s bellies and versatile enough to be used in hundreds of different dishes, giving the illusion of variety.

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Nourishing good bacteria to improve health

bad and good bacteria

How bad and good bacteria influence everything in your life

You have 100 trillion bacteria in your gut.  This is 10 times the number of all other cells in all your other tissues combined.

You may not think much of bacteria and, in fact, try to eradicate it when you get a chance (using anti-bacterial sanitizers, soaps and shampoos to clean yourself up and gobbling up antibiotics when you get sick) – the symbiotic relationship of your gut bacteria with the rest of your biology has some people argue that we are nothing more than just vessels and vehicles for bacteria that control what we do, how we eat and how long we live – all as a part of a devious plan to ensure their survival and domination.

While this sounds a bit too much like science fiction, the reality may not be very far from it when you start considering a few facts.  We mostly think of our intestinal flora in the context of digestion problems, gas and stomach pains (and an odd yogurt advertised on TV), but it is so much more than just that.

In fact, your microbiome (gut bacteria) are responsible for a wide variety of functions, such as:

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What is better than donating to find a cure?

Rarely a day goes by, when you don’t get bombarded by multiple calls to action to participate in some sort of an activity that is aimed to beat some sort of a bad disease.  Fundraisers, activities to “create awareness”, sales of various items where the proceeds are donated to research – the world at large seems to be constantly engaged in some grandiose charitable event.  The majority of people think It’s for a good cause – and spend countless hours running, riding, walking, climbing, rowing, shaving, singing and engaging in a lot of other activities to conquer ___________ (insert your disease of choice).

With so much collective effort spent and money raised by countless foundations established with a vaguely-defined mission of beating cancers, heart disease or stroke, we are still not much closer to doing this than, say, 30 years ago. In fact, World Health Organization predicts that the number of new diagnosed cases of cancer is expected to grow 50% by the year 2020.  Diabetes rates more than doubled in the last 20 years and some researchers predict that a whopping 40% of Americans (where the proliferation of this disease is the most serious) will develop type 2 diabetes during their adult lives.   Yet, this is a disease that is almost exclusively dependent on your diet and activity and this risk can be easily managed with a few simple rules.

Isn’t it time to evaluate if we are, maybe, not doing something right?  Are our efforts misdirected?

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