Monthly Archives: June 2012
So, summer’s here and with the sun and fun have come the pests. No, not your in-laws, but rather insects and critters that are just as unwelcome in your home and garden. They don’t seem interested in going away any time soon, either. Pest control can be expensive, not to mention toxic to you, your home, and your environment, and even after all the money is spent, you may still be pestered by unwanted, unwelcome guests. (Alright, maybe they are a bit like the in-laws after all.) Have you considered finding organic pest control companies? Pest control professionals understand that we don’t want or need a bunch of harmful chemicals in our lives and are switching to all-natural means of ridding your world of unwanted guests. But before you call the pros, try some of these all-natural, organic pest control remedies first. You might just be surprised at how well they work!
- Spiders – Get rid of spiders without harmful sprays or chemical compounds. First declutter your porch, deck and other outdoor areas. Spiders love to build their webs in cluttery places. Next, mix a tablespoon of peppermint oil with one quart of water. Spray this around anywhere you don’t want spiders. Inside your home, use lemon oil furniture polish on windowsills and door frames to keep the arachnids from coming in. These oils work because spiders basically “smell” with their legs. When the legs touch the oils, the spider doesn’t like it and high tails it elsewhere.
- Aphids and mealy bugs – Have the critters invaded your garden? Are they destroying all your lovely hard work? Try a mixture of one tablespoon of canola oil, a few drops of Ivory soap and a quart of water. Spray this onto your plants from the tops down, then from the bottoms up (to get the underside of the leaves and stems.) Do this in the cool of the evening. The oil and soap combination will smother the insects and make the leaves less tasty, ensuring that they don’t come back for lunch tomorrow.
- Deer – As beautiful, dainty and delicate as they appear, the white tail and other deer that inhabit the woods and fields not far from many of us seem to have a voracious appetite when it comes to our gardens and orchards. The average deer eats 4 to 5 pounds of green stuff every day, and once they discover a ripe salad bar like your garden or veggie patch, they’ll keep coming back to fill their tanks. To save your prized flowers, fruits, and veggies, try spraying them with the following mixture: 1 cup milk, 2 whole eggs, 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 2 tablespoons liquid detergent or soap and 2 gallons (8 litres) of water. Put it in one of those pump handled sprayers and have a go at your garden. It won’t harm you or your plants, and should keep the deer from snacking the night away.
Remember, all home made, organic pest control mixtures will need frequent re-applications after heavy rains, and sometimes after heavy dews. While they might not last as long as the commercial, chemical compounds, they are typically much cheaper to produce and much safer to use. Don’t get pestered by pests this year!
Most of us know by now how “bad” certain habits are for us. Some of our favorite less-than-healthy pastimes include drinking sugary sodas and caffeine laden coffees, using tobacco, keeping our rears firmly in place on the sofa, eating processed foods because we’re pressed for time. So, in an effort to assist those who are reevaluating their New Year’s Resolutions now that we’re six months into the year, here are some better-for-you alternatives for some of our nastier have-to-have-habits.
- Tobacco Use – Smoking can kill you. Chewing tobacco and snuff are no different. But nicotine is one of the worst addictions to break. But did you know that there are non-nicotine choices out there? There’s the “smokeless” cigarette that allows you to wean yourself away from cancer sticks. No more “smoke breaks” for you! And there are also smokeless tobacco alternatives for chewing tobacco enthusiasts, too. You can enjoy a non-tobacco chew or “dip” anytime. And in whatever form you prefer your smokeless tobacco, online resources can hook you up with just the perfect solution to your new, tobacco-free lifestyle.
- Sodas and coffee drinks – Sugary drinks are bad for you. They make you fat, can lead to diabetes, and they rot your teeth away. And that’s just for starters. Then there’s the coffee drinks. Caffeine can add to your stress level and dehydrate you. All the cream and sugar and artificial flavorings–ditto the soda effects. But there are healthier alternatives. For you coffee drinkers, try the decaf, or the half caf. Give low fat or non fat a go, too. The best thing, though, is water. You say you don’t like water? Have you tried flavored waters? You can create all sorts of naturally flavored waters with a pitcher and some fruit. Try my personal favorites–raspberry mint or peach strawberry. Simply place a bits of cleaned fruit or mint leaves in the pitcher and fill it up. In a few hours or overnight, you’ll have cold, refreshing, good for you, good-tasting water!
- Lack of exercise – There’s no quick and easy fix for this one, but there are ways that you can add exercise to your day without too much trouble. Pass on the evening news and enjoy a walk around the block after dinner instead. Or try a new morning routine that has you up and stretching with the sun. Use your treadmill or stationary bike while watching TV. And then there are the old standbys of “instant” exercise–parking at the back of the lot, taking the stairs instead of the lift, and walking the dog, or the kids, around the block several times a day.
- Processed foods – Processed foods contain all sorts of stuff that you shouldn’t consume. They are laden with high amounts of fat, sugar, salt, calories and artificial sweeteners and preservatives. If you’re regularly pressed for time, try once-a-month cooking. It’s kind of like creating your own frozen dinners. You cook up a bunch of meals all at once. Some are cooked completely, while others are prepared to the point of cooking. Then, the meals are frozen. You simply pull out what you want in the morning (or even at dinner time) reheat and voila! A home cooked meal in minutes. Without all the fat, sugar, salt, and “bad for you” ingredients that no one can pronounce. And if you think you don’t have a big enough freezer compartment, you’d be surprised!
You don’t have to be a slave to your bad habits anymore. Take a step. Take another. Soon, you’ll be running free and clear, and those bad habits will be distant memories.
Much of the country experienced a wetter and warmer than usual winter. Now, for the weather man, that might mean just another statistic. For the ski bunnies, that might mean less wintertime fun than they’ve had in a while. For the old farmer’s wife, and for the rest of us as well, that signals a bug-filled summer. Summertime pest control can be a burden any year, but even more so when the pests arrive earlier than usual, and in seemingly greater numbers. You’ll be reaching for the number to your local pest control company before the first of July! Take heart, dear reader, there are things you can do at home to at least alleviate the problem while you anxiously await the arrival of the exterminator.
- Wasp Nest Removal – Wasps are actually helpful insects to have around, especially in a buggy summer, because they prey on smaller insects. However, if the nest is too close to a door or window, or is endangering your outdoor recreation areas, with a little care and a little help from a friend, you can safely remove it, as long as you and your helpful friend are fully prepared and NOT allergic to stings. First, dress the part. Wear long pants, boots, long sleeves, gardener’s gloves, a hat and fashion a net for your face. Using rubber bands, cuff your pants around the outside of your boots and your sleeves tight to your wrists over your gloves. Wait until the cool of the evening. Supply your friend with a box with a tight fitting lid to hold directly under the nest. Cut the stem of the nest quickly with long-handled and strong pruning shears. As soon as the nest hits the box, slam the lid on and secure it with a round or two of heavy tape. Now, either submerge the box in a tub of cold water or place it in the freezer for several hours. Once the wasps are all dead, you can dispose the box, nest and all, in the trash.
- Fleas – Your dog or cat scratching himself silly may be your first indication that you’ve got a flea problem (if you’re like me, though, the fleas will leave your pet alone and infest you instead… sigh). There are several good “home remedies” for fleas that are fairly easy and inexpensive. Sprinkling Borax washing powder on your carpets and then vacuuming it up removes fleas and their eggs from your carpets (some say this works with upholstery as well but I’ve not personally tried it). Bathing your pet in good old fashioned blue dishwashing detergent (no bleach, no “ultra” formula, just the plain old blue stuff) is supposed to cure them of the nasty pests without causing any harm to skin, eyes or ears. And it makes them smell pretty spiffy, too!
- When to call the professionals – Some home pests should be left to the pest control guys. Cockroach extermination, for example, is most effective when done professionally. Wasp nests inside walls, in ceilings, or underground are also best left to the pros. And when the fleas are entrenched in your home, almost nothing homemade or home done will eliminate them all. Don’t hesitate then, just call the pest control company and let them take care of things before the bugs drive you buggy.
I’ll bet when you think of physical fitness programs, you think balls and bats and learning the rules of the game and just how many calories are in a slice of apple and how many points a free throw scores. Maybe rule books and physical education videos of perfect form or new exercises. But I’ll bet you never once thought about belly scooters, or mats, or balance beams, or brightly colored parachutes, or balls made of soft spongy materials, did you? Well then, let me introduce you to the world of preschool PE!
Preschool physical education resembles more of an organized play time, or a fun frolic in the backyard than it does a “real” physical education program. And that’s just what it should look like! Preschoolers learn best through play. Play is the ideal “job” for a preschooler–they learn through play, they develop skills through play, they develop language through play, they even learn about their culture and the proper way to interact with others all through play experiences. So preschool physical activities had better be heavy on the fun or they won’t be effective at all.
That’s where the belly scooters and parachutes come in. Imagine a square of wood or plastic with four casters on the corners that you can sit or lie down on and then race around on! (Oh, how I wish they came in grown up sizes!) Or a brightly colored parachute with hand holds for waving up and down, running under or playing with a ball on top of it. How about balls so soft they don’t hurt when they hit you? Or balance beams that rest on the floor? Or tumbling mats for rocking and rolling? How about games that have you imitating elephants and lions, or creeping tigers and jumping frogs? Moving your body to create the shapes of the letters of the alphabet? Or yoga moves combined into a routine just right for your little body? Sounds like a lot of fun with valuable fitness and physical development mixed in!
Now, I can hear you saying, “But preschoolers are little bundles of energy! They play all the time! Why worry about physical education in preschool?” With childhood obesity on the rise, with 1/3 of the nation’s adult population obese and with so many passive, non-active recreational choices for our children–even preschoolers–to make, why shouldn’t we worry? Computer games now teach preschool skills. There are entire television networks catering to the preschool set. Cereal and fast food companies market directly to the age group with kids’ meals and cool toys. And fewer and fewer parents are apparently physically active enough to set good examples. So, yes, preschool physical fitness should be a concern for all of us. And besides, it’s a lot of fun!
There’s a lot of talk these days about the health and welfare of the next generation of Americans. From too many hours spent playing video games to sugary drinks to schools requiring doctor’s notes for common-sense items like cough drops and sunscreen, it seems the headlines are full of children’s health issues. And many of them have to do with the place most American children spend more time than any other–public school. Just how fit and healthy is your child’s public school?
- Policies and Procedures – Are the policies and procedures regarding in-school health and safety reasonable? Do you even know what they are? This coming school year, actually read all those forms that come home in the first few days to find out just what you, your child, and your school can and can’t do. One first grader was recently suspended for having a “weapon” in her lunchbox. The offender? A plastic knife sent along by her mother to spread peanut butter on apple slices. Two girls were recently sent home from their school’s field day with second-degree sun burns because the school required a doctor’s note for the use of sunscreen. Don’t place your child in danger by not knowing the rules. Also, challenge any rules that seem unreasonable or nonsensical. Challenging a policy that doesn’t make much sense may save controversy and confusion down the road.
- Role models – What sort of role models are being provided for your child in the way of health and safety? PE programs and healthy lunch menus don’t go very far if over half the teachers and staff–the adults your child has to look up to–are out of shape. Some schools now offer teacher wellness programs as well as promoting student health and fitness. If your school doesn’t, find out why not and what can be done to implement one. Start a parent-teacher fitness challenge, or a family-staff program, to get everyone involved. A coordinated school health and fitness commitment could have long-lasting, life-changing implications.
- PE and Health Curriculum – Make sure that what your school is teaching your child is current and correct, and appropriate for his or her age. The food pyramid was recently changed (did you know about that?) but last year’s text books won’t reflect that. New research is coming out all the time about fitness, nutrition, vaccines, you name it–and your school needs to stay on top of the game. Otherwise, your child will be learning outdated information. Also, beware of topics that may be too mature or too sensitive for your student. A recent uproar over the depth and breadth of a 5th grade “sex ed” session in a health class shows that sometimes schools do not take every child’s needs into consideration, and that some parents may be just a bit too trusting of their local schools.
Your children spend more time in school than they do at home (at least during their waking hours) while school is in session. You owe it to them, and to yourself, to be aware and informed of the health and fitness issues of that school. Don’t you agree?
Recently released research findings have some in the fitness world reeling. The Mayo Clinic’s new numbers from early June seem to indicate that endurance runners and other “ultra” athletes may suffer more irregular heart rates and cardio problems than other athletes. Some media outlets even went so far as to tout headlines about running being “bad” for you. And yet, even the researchers can’t be sure of what the research is telling them. Why? Because the numbers aren’t really telling them the whole story.
When it comes to effectively and efficiently reporting a “fact,” statistics can only tell you so much. In the case of the endurance athletes, the numbers aren’t giving up the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is true that the country is facing an obesity epidemic of never-before-seen proportions. It is true that an endurance runner did die while in training. It is also true that the Mayo Clinic’s research indicates that endurance runners may suffer from irregular heart beat and other cardio irregularities in greater numbers than other types of athletes or even other runners. So what aren’t they saying? A lot, if you’re a statistician or a physician or even a sports trainer or runner.
Unlike sports training, where you hone and define a skill set, or strength training designed to hone and define you, endurance training is simply designed to push you to your limit and then past it. There is no need for sprints or speed training, no need for circuits or short breaks. You go for it, and then some. Strength and skill training may be a part of your endurance routine, but your primary goal is to endure; to go as long as you can and then some. What has all this to do with the numbers? Well, it could indicate that there is something unique to the world of ultra-running that causes the cardio troubles in its athletes. Many individuals with low body-weights experience the same types of cardiac irregularities. Does the slimness and lack of body fat in ultra/endurance runners account for their irregular heart rates, too? Is there a certain mindset or diet that’s attributing to the cardiac problems? No one knows for sure. And that’s where the stats, the numbers, are letting us down.
In statistics, there are two factors that must be considered when interpreting numbers–correlation and causality. Correlation shows a relationship: A increases with B at the same rate all the time, for example. Causality shows us what is behind that relationship – C causes A and B to increase. In the case of the endurance runners, the numbers are only showing correlation, not causality. So, while then numbers aren’t lying, they aren’t giving us the entire picture, either.
What’s all this mean for you? Well, if you are interested in ultra-running or endurance training, go for it. But go for it after a visit with your doctor. Go for it with both eyes open and your facts straight. Or at least as straight as the current research will allow.
With the “ObamaCare” case in the U.S. Supreme Court this month, it seems all eyes are on the point where healthcare and the law meet. The highest court in the land, however, is sadly not the only court to have to decide the fate of patients and caregivers. Medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, and both the “right to life” and the “right to die” have all seen their days in court. And for many, it won’t be the last day, either. Let’s look at some of the medical/legal issues making headlines:
- Medical Malpractice - Unfortunately, not everything always go as planned when we visit our doctor, have surgery, or are treated to a stay in hospital. When something does go wrong, if the medical staff or facility can be found at fault, or is believed to be at fault, then you have a case of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice attorneys specialize in these types of cases. The burden on proof is often placed on the patient, meaning that he or she has to prove that the harm or injury caused was directly through some action or lack of action on the part of the medical professionals. Medical malpractice lawyers often have teams of assistants to aid them, and medical malpractice suits can be both lengthy and costly. And there is often no guarantee of a win.
- Personal Injury – Personal injury cases do not typically involve injury or illness suffered while under medical care. Rather, they address illness and injury suffered at the hands of another. If you trip and break your leg at a friend’s party, or slip on an untreated sidewalk, or are served a “bad” burger at a restaurant, you may have a case for a personal injury lawyer to take to court. Of course, you can’t be at fault in any way, or you don’t stand a chance of even having a case to try.
- Wrongful death – When someone dies untimely, whether in or out of medical care, a wrongful death suit may arise. Wrongful death implies that some one, or some group or corporation, is directly responsible for an individual’s death. The cases are often brought by family members seeking justice for what they feel was their loved one’s unnecessary death. Wrongful death suits are heard in civil courts, typically when there was either not enough evidence for a criminal murder/manslaughter charge or when a criminal court has found the individuals believed by the family to be responsible as not guilty of causing the death.
- “Right to life” and “Right to Die” – Both the right to life and the right to die have been hot-button topics in courts and society. The right to life is usually associated with abortion, but it has included cases where parents wanted a better quality of life for their disabled children but have been denied opportunities by healthcare professionals who found the child’s quality of life unimportant when weighed against the costs. The right to die has had several high-profile cases in which family members had to fight to end the life of a loved one who no longer had a quality of life. So called “assisted suicide” cases also brought the right to die to courtrooms. Terminally ill patients often want their deaths to occur in times and manners of their choosing. And naturally, there will be those who do not wish to see them go without a fight. Unfortunately, that fight is typically a legal one where health, well-being, and life meet the law.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about preparedness. It seems it’s now trendy to think like the Boy Scouts and be ready for anything from the end of the world as we know it to a zombie apocalypse. “Prepping” has even made its way to reality television (but what hasn’t these days?) So, let it not be said that we here at Love to Be Healthy aren’t trend watchers and followers! We now present you with our own version of prepping–being prepared for any emergency (well, maybe not a zombie apocalypse) that your family might encounter this summer.
Summer safety preparedness isn’t all emergency medical supplies and life guard classes. You’ll need to think both bigger and smaller, both high-tech and low-tech, if you want to keep your family safe and your home prepared for summertime emergencies. Let’s make some simple lists of things you might want to keep on hand.
- Medical bandages, tape, scissors, and other basic first aid supplies
- Ice packs and cold/hot packs, too
- Antibiotic ointment or cream
- A “tummy settler” for upset stomachs
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprophen
- Allergy relievers
- Eye drops
Really, keeping your first aid kit or medicine cupboard well-stocked with these sorts of supplies year round is good family safety and preparedness. Just make sure you have a well-stocked supply. Summer tends to bring us out of doors. We engage in more physically active activities, which can lead to more injuries. You don’t want to be caught off guard when crisis strikes.
- Water safety equipment – If you have a backyard pool or boat, or frequent a body of water, you’ll want to make sure that each family member has appropriate water safety gear, and that you have water rescue equipment and training close at hand whenever friends and family are escaping summer’s heat by enjoying a dip in the water.
- Sunscreen and sun shades – Sunscreen is a must for everyone out enjoying summer’s bright sunshine. Remember that more than one application is usually advised, even when not engaged in water play or swimming. Providing shade from the bright sun is a good precaution, too. Umbrellas, portable awnings, or more permanent fixtures should be provided near your pool, lake shore or camping site.
- Flashlights, glow sticks or head lamps – Summer’s warm nights often beg for a little after-dark game of tag or a moonlit swim. Just be sure to have plenty of illumination to avoid spills or trips.
- Insect repellent – I know, I know, they’ve gotten a bad rap for all their harmful chemicals. Do your research and whip up some all-natural repellents from essential oils and herbs. They work just about as well, and certainly better than nothing at all!
- Activity-specific equipment – Summer is the perfect time for biking, boating, hiking, fishing, spelunking, and camping. Each activity beings with it its own inherent dangers, and should be accompanied by its own appropriate safety equipment. Safety helmets and life jackets should be inspected for proper fit. Camp fire safety rules should be discussed and practiced. Proper footwear should be worn for each activity. Having the right gear will not only ensure your family’s safety, but will make each and every activity the fun and enjoyable time it was meant to be!
Summer’s sunny weather and lazy days can be a recipe for fun and adventure. Don’t let worries about injury or risks cloud your summer fun. Be prepared. Stay safe. And have a happy, fun, zombie-free summer!
Oxygen keeps us going, but it reacts with everything around us. The rust on iron, the brown on those apple slices, and the patina on a copper coin are all caused by a chemical reaction involving oxygen. This process is known as oxidation.
Considering how much oxygen passes through the human body (about 11,000 liters in a day), what effects does oxidation have on your body?
Oxidation and Cells
The human body is filled with ten to one hundred trillion cells (nobody could know the exact number–besides, everybody is different and our cells are constantly regenerating). Oxidation occurs during normal cellular functions and is responsible for the birth of new cells and the death of old cells. As macabre as that might seem, it’s a necessary part of survival. When you cut your finger, oxidation is what helps heal that cut, replacing the dead skin cells with new cells.
Unfortunately, oxidation isn’t without its drawbacks.
Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress
In the process of metabolizing oxygen, your body turns one to two percent of the resulting cells into free radicals. These are damaged, unstable cells that are missing a single essential molecule, which leads to some forceful attempts at pairing with other cells. In some cases, free radicals are a necessity; your body’s immune system will create free radicals in order to take care of harmful bacteria and viruses.
For the most part, your body can take care of free radicals with antioxidants. The darling of any health food fad, antioxidants work in various ways to neutralize free radicals to prevent them from running amok in your body. A glutathione assay shows that antioxidants are synthesized from amino acids as well as produced from the foods we eat.
Oxidative stress comes from an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. More free radicals and less antioxidants reduces catalase activity and causes an inability to repair damage or detoxify the body.
Effects of Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress has actually been shown in HORAC assays to destroy enzymes and cause cells to age rapidly. Damage from oxidative stress and resulting mutations to cellular DNA have been involved in the development of several serious diseases, exacerbating the symptoms of several others. This includes:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Heart failure
- Sickle cell anemia
- Myocardial infarction
How to Reduce Oxidative Stress
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to reduce oxidative stress: consume foods rich in antioxidants. There are a ton of foods out there that contain necessary antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to neutralize those free radicals. You’re probably already aware of a few common antioxidants, like vitamin C and E and flavonoids.
Oxidative stress is exacerbated by a variety of everyday factors that you can easily avoid. Keep yourself hydrated. Purchase organic foods that don’t use pesticides or herbicides. If you’re a heavy drinker, consider cutting back; if you’re a smoker, quit.