Verda Vivo

Verda Vivo means “Green Life” in the universal language of Esperanto.

Book Review: Shift Your Habit March 7, 2010

I recently received a review copy of the book, Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet. It will be available for sale on March 9. The author, Elizabeth Rogers, an environmental consultant, is also the co-author of the New York Times best seller, “The Green Book”.

The book is packed with practical and easy ways to reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time. The book is organized into categories, such as home and garden, kids, pets, work, travel and transportation as well as holidays and celebrations. Each shift is explained in terms of what habit you can shift, how much money you can save, the impact to the planet and how it’s good for you too. If you adopted all of the shifts in the book, an average family of four with a pet would save $48,000. That should make anyone sit up and take notice! The shifts that the author proposes are easy to do and inexpensive. It all adds up!

Since I am a cleaning fanatic, I was very excited to see the easy to use chart of homemade cleaners, including everything from glass and toilet cleaners to wood furniture polish and fabric softener. My copy of the book is already looking well-loved as I have picked it up numerous times to read and re-read sections as I continue to shift my own habits and paradigms. You can pre-order Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet today at Amazon.


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12 Food Additives to Avoid July 16, 2009

Potato Chips

Thanks to Jean Wiess, regular contributor to MSN Health & Fitness, for compiling the following list of food additives that should be avoided. Seven of the twelve additives have been linked to an increased risk in cancer.

The best way to avoid these food additives is to avoid packaged foods and make it yourself. Prepared foods provide Questionable Convenience at best. They are more costly and do not provide significant time savings for the money. In addition, you could be exposing yourself and your family to these beauties:

  1. Sodium nitrite * – Commonly added to bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef to stabilize the red color and add flavor. Sodium nitrite is used primarily in fatty, salty foods. Without nitrite, hot dogs and bacon would look gray. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?
  2. BHA & BHT * –  Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are antioxidants used to preserve common household foods by preventing them from oxidizing. Both keep fats and oils from going rancid and are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration still permits BHA to be used in foods. This synthetic chemical can be replaced by safer chemicals (e.g., vitamin E), safer processes (e.g., packing foods under nitrogen instead of air), or can simply be left out (many brands of oily foods, such as potato chips, don’t use any antioxidant).
  3. Propyl gallate * – Prevents fats and oils from spoiling and is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. This additive is sometimes found in meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum.
  4. Monosodium glutamate – An amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and restaurant food. It is commonly associated with Asian foods and flavorings. The use of MSG allows companies to reduce the amount of real ingredients in their foods, such as chicken in chicken soup. Ingredients listed as “hydrolyzed soy protein” and “autolyzed yeast” may also contain MSG. Causes headaches and nausea in some people, and animal studies link it to damaging nerve cells in the brains of infant mice.
  5. Trans fats – Trans fats are created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil. These “partially hydrogenated oils” are used most often for deep-frying food, and in baked goods. Margarine and vegetable shortening may also be made with partially hydrogenated oil. Manufacturers have modified processed products to reduce trans fats. Restaurants, particularly fast food chains, still serve foods loaded with trans fats. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, and Red Lobster are some of the large chains that have largely eliminated trans fat or soon will. Trans fats are believed to increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  6. Aspartame * – Additive found in low-calorie desserts, gelatins, drink mixes, and soft drinks. Also known by the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal. Controversial since it was initially approved by the FDA in 1974. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest “lifelong consumption of aspartame probably increases the risk of cancer. People—especially young children—should not consume foods and beverages sweetened with aspartame”.
  7. Acesulfame-K * – Artificial sweetener found in soft drinks, baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends that people avoid use of acesulfame-K due to lack of testing concerns.
  8. Food colorings (Blue, Red, Green, Yellow) *Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, are considered low risk but have been linked to cancer in mice. Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats. Green 3, added to candy and beverages, though rarely used, has been linked to bladder cancer. Studies have linked the widely used yellow 6—added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy—to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. Artificial food color is also suspected of causing increased hyperactivity in children.
  9. Olestra - A synthetic fat that blocks absorption of fat in your digestive system. It also blocks the absorption of vitamins while in your system. Olestra enables manufacturers to offer greasy-feeling low-fat snacks, but consumers would be better off with baked snacks, which are safe and just as low in calories. Found in some brands of potato chips. Be prepared to wear a diaper if you eat a whole bag.
  10. Potassium bromate * – Additive to increase volume in white flour, breads, and rolls. Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States.
  11. White sugar – Too much sugar leads to problems with weight control, tooth decay and blood sugar levels in diabetics. It also replaces good nutrition.
  12. Sodium chloride (salt) – Excessive amounts of salt can affect cardiovascular function, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

* Linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Resources:

  1. Center for Science in the Public Interest: Food Additives
  2. Mercola.com: 12 Food Additives to Remove From Your Diet
  3. MSN Health & Fitness: 12 Food Additives to Avoid
  4. WebMD: The Truth About 7 Common Food Additives

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The Big Bread Lie June 22, 2009

Filed under: food,health — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Oats, barley, and some products made from cereal
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I just looked at the bread I have in my pantry and realize I have white bread in disguise. Try as hard as I might, I still get tricked.

After watching the video The Big Bread Lie, The Whole Truth, Nutrition by Natalie, I discovered how I’d been duped.

Natalie’s Bread buzzwords:

  1. Whole grain white – White bread that’s been dyed brown or contains a small percentage of wheat flour. This is white bread in disguise.
  2. 7-grain, 9-grain, 12-grain – This can mean the grains you see sprinkled on top of the loaf of bread, not the flour the bread is made with.
  3. Made with whole grain – The majority is white flour, the rest is whole grain flour. The percentage of white flour may be 95%. Unless the label says 100%, it’s not worth choosing.
  4. Good source of whole grain – This claim is meaningless.
  5. Wheat flour - This means the bread is made from 75% white flour, 25% wheat flour.

Regardless of the marketing claims on the bread packaging, the first ingredient list should be 100% whole grain, such as wheat, rye, oat.

I’m no bread baker but if i get ambitious, I’ll try the Amazingly easy, incredible bread on Cheap Like Me. I think she’s got a winner!

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Questionable Convenience March 30, 2009

Filed under: food,green,home — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
Gala (apple)
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I admit it, at times I’ve been a sucker for convenience products. Not as often these days but there’s always room for improvement. For example, I eschew bagged greens and vegetables, preferring to wash and prepare my own, make my own croutons and salad dressings and use vinegar and water to clean my ceramic tile floors. However, I dislike baking so I buy whole grain bread at the market. My most notable baking disaster occurred when I attempted to make a pie crust. After much huffing and puffing, kneading and flour-adding, the dough still stuck to the counter, the rolling pin and my hands. I finally grabbed the entire wad of dough in a fury and threw it up in the air in a mighty heave – where it stuck – to the ceiling. My baking days were over in that instant.

How do convenience products compare to homemade? As part of a research project sponsored by the Arizona Republic, Linda Vaughan, chair of Arizona State University’s Department of Nutrition, and student researchers purchased both raw ingredients and prepared foods to see how they stacked up. By comparing the extra cost of ready-to-eat food to the time it took to make the same thing from raw ingredients, they could determine what buyers are actually paying for the preparation.Vaughan’s group determined that the consumer was paying the equivalent of $80 per hour for the convenience of buying shredded cheese, $75 per hour for sliced gala apples, and nearly $50 per hour for pre-cut celery. Never mind the packaging that can’t be recycled.

The study also found that “convenient” doesn’t always mean “time-saving”. A frozen teriyaki dinner took 20 minutes to prepare while a teriyaki dinner made from scratch took 30 minutes to prepare. Vaughan also found that the quality of prepared meals was usually low and typically high in fat and sodium content. So the frozen teriyaki dinner tastes like oily, salty cardboard and is less nutritious. Sounds like a deal to save 10 minutes, no?

Convenience food goes one step further when “quick-cooking” morphs into “instant”. The author of  The High Cost of Convenience Foods – Case 1 compares instant oatmeal packets to quick cooking oatmeal. Since the oatmeal cooks for the same amount of time, the convenience is that you don’t actually have to measure the oatmeal. You pay twice as much for this convenience.  The High Cost of Convenience – Case 2 compares ravioli in a microwaveable bowl to its counterpart in the original can. Again, cooking time is the same but buying the ravioli in a microwaveable bowl saves you the trouble of getting a bowl out of your cupboard. For this luxury, you pay 70% more.

Nearly eighty cents of each dollar Americans spend for food goes to pay for marketing services – processing, packaging, transportation, storage, advertising, etc. All of these costs are associated with making our food convenient – getting it into the most convenient form and package, getting it to the most convenient location, at the most convenient time, and convincing us to buy it. So, we pay far more for the convenience of our food than we pay for the food itself. In fact, we pay more to those who “package and advertise” our food than we pay to the farmers who produce it. So by far the greatest part of the total cost of food is the cost of convenience. (John E. Ikerd,  Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri)

Think about it the next time you reach for a food that comes prepackaged. What price are you paying for the convenience of having someone else pre-measure, pre-cut, pre-shred, pre-pour, pre-slice, or pre-season your food? Keep that $80 an hour you save in your own account. You’ll need it to pay your taxes.

Resources:

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New American Farmers Need New American Consumers March 6, 2009

Filed under: food,health — Daryl Laux @ 6:00 am
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An agricultural scientist records corn (maize)...
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My family was in the potato farming business as long as I could remember as a child. In order to create an outlet for our potatoes, our family built their own potato chip factory on the farm. It was a family business that grew; big enough to merge with another company and change the name from Warner Potato Chips to Treat by Warner. Finally Beatrice Foods, with brands like Butterball, Dannon, and Hunt’s, bought the factory and contracted to buy our potatoes. Within a year, the plant was shut down and the contracts were gone. The land could have easily been converted to housing during the housing boom, considering the location (Suffolk County, Long Island, New York). However, one of the brothers reinvented the farm as a wholesale nursery, more than doubling the size of the original farm. While my uncle doesn’t grow food, it’s still a family farm.

Other farmers are not so fortunate. Thousands of farmers have gone out of business; many sold their land to pay their debts. We’ve all seen housing developments spring up on fertile farm land. The number of farms in the United States dropped from more than six million in the 1930s to about two million by end of the century.

“…the largest 10% of U.S. farms now account for more than two-thirds of the total value of production and more than 40% of total U.S. production sold under contract arrangements with the agribusiness corporations that control agricultural processing and distribution (MacDonald and Korb 2008). Non-farm corporations own only a small portion of U.S. farms and farmland, but their span of control, achieved through various contractual arrangements, is quickly approaching one-half of U.S. agriculture.” (John E. Ikerd,  Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri)

The food in your supermarket or fast-food “restaurant” is food that is the most profitable, not necessarily food that is the safest or highest in quality. The market provides food in relation to ability to pay, not nutritional value. Hence the paradox of poor people who are over-fed but under-nourished. The industrialization of agriculture has created a system where corporations make the decisions and the profit. Farm laborers and food industry workers are among the lowest paid workers in the U.S. And when corporations deem U.S. labor costs too high, they rely on cheap imports from low-wage countries such as Mexico, India, and China. Are we now a nation which can no longer feed itself?

“Food is not a commodity like others. We should go back to a policy of maximum food self-sufficiency. It is crazy for us to think we can develop countries around the world without increasing their ability to feed themselves.” - Former US President Bill Clinton, Speech at United Nations World Food Day, October 16, 2008

That, in my opinion includes us. So, what can you do? Support local farmers and farming, farmers markets and CSA’s. Support farmers who grow grass-fed beef. Local Harvest is an excellent resource. Prepare your own food from scratch rather than buying highly processed, prepared foods. Organizations such as Slow Food, chefs collaborative, help to promote the “locavore” movement. Try 100 Mile Diet for tips and resources. And if you’re fortunate to have enough to share, do that too.

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7 Reasons Not to Drink Bottled Water March 3, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 27:  Bottle of Pepsi's Aquafina...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Still drinking bottled water? Here are 7 reasons not to:

  1. Money - For the $2 you spend on a liter of bottled water you can get about 1,000 gallons of tap water. (EPA – Drinking Water Costs and Federal Funding)
  2. Contaminants - Testing of 10 brands of bottled water revealed a wide range of pollutants, including not only disinfection byproducts, but also common urban wastewater pollutants like caffeine and pharmaceuticals (Tylenol); heavy metals and minerals including arsenic and radioactive isotopes; fertilizer residue (nitrate and ammonia); and a broad range of other, tentatively identified industrial chemicals used as solvents, plasticizers, viscosity decreasing agents, and propellants. (Environmental Working Group – Bottled Water contains disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication)
  3. Regulation and Safety – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water.  The EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water has issued extensive regulations on the production, distribution and quality of drinking water, including regulations on source water protection, operation of drinking water systems, contaminant levels and reporting requirements. The FDA regulates bottled water as a food. Under current FDA regulations, consumers are not receiving uniform quality and purity from bottled water. (Environmental Working Group – FDA should adopt EPA tap water health goals as enforceable limits for bottled water)
  4. Garbage - Where do all those empty plastic bottles go? About 86 percent of empty plastic water bottles in the United States land in the garbage instead of being recycled. That amounts to about two million tons of PET plastic bottles piling up in U.S. landfills each year. (TakeBacktheTap.org – Bottled Water)
  5. Oil - Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil last year – enough fuel for more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year – and generated more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. (Think Outside the Bottle)
  6. Taste - People say they drink bottled water because it tastes better than tap. However, in blind taste tests, people can’t tell the difference. In fact, one taster in a 20/20 taste test said Evian “…tasted like toilet water”. That sounds pretty dee-lish. (ABC News – Is Bottled Water Better than Tap?)
  7. Water privatization - In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is either Pepsi’s Aquafina (13 percent of the market) or Coke’s Dasani (11 percent of the market). Both brands are bottled, purified municipal water. Water bottlers deplete aquifers and other groundwater sources, and harm local economies by paying too little for the water it takes. Contracts often also give preference to water bottlers over the town’s ratepayers because the company can draw the maximum amount of water it wants, regardless of drought or water shortage. We need to address the question, is water a basic human right or a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace? How much do you think your food is going to cost when farmers have to pay private corporations for water to grow crops? (Sierra Club – Corporate Water Privatization)

Watch: A World Without Water

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Reason #15 Not to Drink Soda February 26, 2009

Filed under: food,health — Daryl Laux @ 6:12 am
Mountain dew can
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Last week I wrote a post called 14 Reasons Not to Drink Soda. If that didn’t convince you to give up your soda habit, here’s a link to an article about Mountain Dew Soda that might convince you – Mountain Dew Addiction Helps Rot Central Appalachins’ Teeth.

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30 Ways to Save on Food February 24, 2009

Filed under: food,home — Daryl Laux @ 2:36 pm
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Example of an American grocery store aisle.
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According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American family of four spends $8,513 per year on food – that’s $709 per month. Need some help starving your wallet instead of your stomach? Here are some suggestions, whether you eat in or out.

Restaurants

  1. Eat out less. Cook meals at home instead of dining out. Search for recipes on sites like Epicurious and Real Simple.
  2. Eat less. Restaurants frequently serve enormous portions. Either split an entree and get two salads or split it and take half home for tomorrow’s lunch.
  3. Eat out at lunch instead of dinner. That way you’ll get lunch-menu prices for dinner-quality entrees.
  4. Take advantage of restaurant promotions. These are often designed to tempt diners to dine on their ‘off’ days. Look for “early bird” specials on weekdays.
  5. Eat from the bar menu. For example, The Palomino Restaurant in Seattle has a great happy hour with half price appetizers.
  6. Join a Restaurant loyalty club. A few to try: Restaurants Unlimited, Hard Rock Cafe, O’Charley’s, Palm Restaurants, Pat & Oscar’s Restaurant or Red Lobster.
  7. Bring your lunch to work. Make your own lunch for $2 a day versus $6 a day at a deli.
  8. Don’t cheap out on the tip. If you can’t afford to tip appropriately, you can’t afford to eat out.
  9. Skip the drinks. Drink water instead. Or, choose drinks with free refills. If you like a glass of wine with dinner, have a glass of house wine and then switch to water. The markup on wine and alcohol is 100% or more. Check to see if you can bring your own bottle of wine. The restaurant may charge an uncorking fee but it will be cheaper than buying one of their bottles.
  10. Try restaurant coupons. Restaurant.com and RetailMeNot.com are two to try.

Grocery Store

  1. Clip coupons for items you normally use.
  2. Sign up for a grocery store club card. If you have more than one, try Just One Club Card to consolidate your cards into one. If you object to signing up for a club card, try entering (XXX) 867-5309 as your phone number (source: Reddit).  The number is from the Tommy Tutone hit Jenny (867-5309).
  3. Shop with a list and shop less often to to reduce impulse purchases.
  4. Shop without children – if you can. Children have ‘pester power’ when they want something.
  5. Buy store brands. Store-brand products in grocery stores are often made by the same manufacturers as the brand-name items.
  6. Comparison-shop by unit price and save. Never mind the sale price stickers. Always look at the unit price to get the best deals.
  7. Invest in a good latte machine and make your own. A $4.00 latte costs $120 per month or $1,400 a year. Or kick the caffeine habit.
  8. Drink water. Too many calories are consumed by drinking sodas, fruit juices, and assorted flavored drinks. You’ll save the calories and money. Plus there’s no container to worry about. I’m assuming you’re not drinking bottled water. If you drink bottled water, stop it. You’re wasting your money. If you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water or don’t like the taste, invest in a water filter.
  9. Eat less meat. You don’t have to be a vegetarian – just have meatless meals several times a week.
  10. Cook it yourself. When you buy convenience foods – frozen entrees, microwavable snacks, you’re paying someone else to cook for you. The food is more expensive and less healthy than food you make yourself.
  11. Plan meals for the week and buy accordingly. I don’t throw food away because I buy what I need and use it.
  12. Wash your own. When you buy bagged lettuce, spinach and other greens, you’re paying someone else $2.00 to  wash it and tear it into pieces. The same goes for pre-cut vegetables. It takes minutes to do it yourself. Get a salad spinner – my favorite is OXO’s Good Grips Salad Spinner. If you don’t have time during the week, shop and prepare your veggies on the weekend for the upcoming week.
  13. Buy in bulk. If it’s an item I know I will use within a reasonable period of time, I’ll buy more when it goes on sale.
  14. Buy seedless grapes and berries when they’re on sale and freeze them. They’re better for you than popsicles on a hot day. And tastier too.
  15. Stock up when it’s on sale. I buy 4 family packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they’re on sale for $1.67 instead of paying $4.99 a pound. I broil the chicken all at once and freeze the cooked chicken.
  16. Shop farmers markets. You’ll get fresher food, eliminate the middleman and save.
  17. Shop the top and bottom shelves. Items placed at eye level are usually the most popular and the most expensive.
  18. Don’t buy single servings. They’re expensive and wasteful. Buy a larger size and make your own single servings.
  19. Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Blueberries in the middle of winter are incredibly expensive. You’re paying for the travel costs to bring them to market. Eat what’s in season for a well-rounded diet.
  20. Save on wine, beer, spirits and more. Try BevMo for your beverage needs. You can order online for store pickup to save shipping charges if you have a Beverages & More store nearby. Plus their 5 cent sales are great deals.


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Happier Valentine’s Day Without Food Dyes February 12, 2009

Food coloring spreading on a thin water film.
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New Consumer Web Tool Helps You Find Children’s Foods & Candies Without Synthetic Dyes

Approaching Valentine’s Day, consumers are surrounded with candies and processed foods containing synthetic food dyes. Increasingly, these dyes have been found to increase hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. Two new consumer tools from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) help parents make smart choices about foods not containing brain toxins.

“The latest science indicates that even modest amounts of synthetic food dyes can affect learning in children,” said David Wallinga, M.D., Director of IATP’s Food and Health program. “Parents shouldn’t have to be chemists to find healthy food that helps growing brains. We can do better.”

IATP’s web-based Brain Food SelectorTM is a database that helps parents easily find which foods contain synthetic dyes. Parents can search by brand, product type or food dye. IATP’s Smart Guide to Food Dyes describes why synthetic food dyes are used, associated children’s health concerns and things parents can do to avoid them.

Synthetic food dyes, mostly petroleum-derived, are unnecessary. FDA-approved uses for synthetic food dyes include: making foods more fun (e.g., Valentine’s sprinkles or brightly colored candies); coloring for otherwise colorless foods (e.g., lime sherbet); and enhancing natural color. Synthetic food dyes are used in a number of foods such as Fruit Loops and popsicles, but also butter, the skins of fruit and the casings of hot dogs. Synthetic dyes are especially common in foods marketed to children, including candies as well as many foods, dressings, treats, and dipping sauces at fast food outlets.

The industrialization of the food system helps account for the increase in food additives such as food dyes, preservatives and sweeteners. The high degree of food processing, which exposes foods to high temperatures, light, air and moisture, leads to an increased loss of natural color. Post-processing, synthetic dyes are often added to offset the color loss.

During the last three decades, repeated studies have concluded that modest doses of synthetic dyes added to foods can provoke hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. In April 2008, Britain’s Food Standards Agency advised the food industry to voluntarily ban the use of six common synthetic food dyes by 2009.  Some companies now sell two versions of their products: one without synthetic food dyes for the UK, and a U.S. version that includes such dyes.

“The good news is that there are safer alternatives to synthetic food dyes and many food companies are already making the switch,” said Dr. Wallinga. “We need the food industry and U.S. government agencies to catch up with the latest science and start protecting our children. Until then, parents need to be armed with information when they go to the supermarket.”


Resource: Brain Food Selector and the Smart Guide to Food Dyes at: www.iatp.org

Related Post: Food Additives Cause Hyperactive Behavior

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14 Reasons Not to Drink Soda

Soft drinks on shelves in a Woolworths superma...
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You know it’s not healthy – but it’s cheap, convenient and tasty. Plenty of people drink it – 15 billion gallons a year consumed in the United States alone.

Need a reason to stop drinking soda? Here are fourteen:

  1. Extra pounds

    Soda contributes to overweight and obesity. Drinking one can of soda a day can add more than 1 pound of weight gain every month. A single 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. A can of Coca-Cola Classic will take about 30 minutes to walk off. Diet soda?  Forget about it. It is just as likely to cause weight gain as regular, or even more. Plus there’s the added health risks – Artificial Sweeteners – How Sweet Are They? (The Lancet, February 2001)

  2. Liver damage

    Soda damages your liver. There is evidence that consumption of too many soft drinks puts you under increased risk for liver cirrhosis similar to what chronic alcoholics have. The preservative sodium benzoate may be the cause. (The Independent, Britain, May 27, 2007)

  3. Tooth decay

    Soda dissolves tooth enamel. Researches say that soft drinks are responsible for doubling or tripling the incidence of tooth decay. Soda’s acidity is even worse for teeth than the solid sugar found in candy. In tests done on the acidity levels of soda, certain ones were found to have PH levels as low as 2.5. To put that into perspective, battery acid has a pH of 1 and pure water has a pH of 7. You do the math. (Journal of the American Dental Association, 1984:109-241-5)

  4. Kidney stones and chronic kidney disease

    Colas are well known for their high phosphoric acid content, a substance known to change the urine in a way that promotes kidney stone formation. Research, published in Epidemiology, found that drinking two or more colas a day (whether artificially sweetened or regular) was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease includes conditions that damage and decrease the kidney’s ability to remove toxins and maintain normal fluid balance. (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, August 1992)

  5. Diabetes

    Anything that promotes weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. Drinking soda not only contributes to making people fat, but it also stresses the body’s ability to process sugar. Some scientists suspect this is why the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes has tripled from 6.6 million in 1980 to 23.6 million today. (Journal of the American Medical Association, August 25, 2004)

  6. Heartburn & acid reflux

    Heavy consumption of soda is a strong predictor of heartburn. Carbonated beverages are very acidic. They also deliver a lot of air – in the form of carbon dioxide – which can cause distension of the stomach. And that distension appears to be associated with more reflux. (American College of Chest Physicians journal “Chest”, May 2005)

  7. Osteoporosis

    Soft drinks containing phosphoric acid are linked to osteoporosis (a weakening of the skeletal structure) because they lead to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. Researchers found, that high soda consumption (particularly cola) in children poses a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 2004)

  8. Hypertension (high blood pressure)

    Overconsumption of soda leads to an increase in blood pressure. It doesn’t matter if the soda is regular or diet. Teens, particularly black teens, who drink several soft drinks daily may increase their blood pressure and their risk for developing hypertension. (The Journal of the American Medical Association, November 9, 2005)

  9. Heart disease

    Heavy soda drinkers are more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease. Research shows that drinking more than one soft drink a day is associated with an increased risk of developing the metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms such as central obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol). Having three or more of the symptoms increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.(American Heart Association’s journal “Circulation”, July 31, 2007)

  10. Impaired digestion (gastrointestinal distress)

    Drinking sodas, especially on an empty stomach, can upset the fragile acid-alkaline balance of the stomach and other gastric lining, creating a continuous acid environment. This prolonged acid environment can lead to inflammation of the stomach and duodenal lining. (Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2005 Oct;105(10):1559-1566)

  11. Hyperactivity and Mental Problems

    Teenagers who drink more soda have more mental health difficulties, including hyperactivity and mental distress. In a study conducted in Norway, researchers used questionnaires to survey 5,547 Norwegian 10th graders about their eating and soda-drinking habits, as well as hyperactivity and conduct problems in school, and mental health indicators such as anxiousness, dizziness, hopelessness, panic, sadness, sleeplessness, tension, unhappiness with themselves and a sense that everything is a burden. Teenagers who drank the most soda (an average of four or more glasses a day) scored highest on measures of behavioral difficulties, hyperactivity, mental distress and overall mental health problems. (American Journal of Public Health, October 2006, Vol 96, No. 10)

  12. Caffeine addiction

    Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say when people don’t get their usual dose of caffeine, they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms including headache, fatigue, muscle pain and inability to concentrate.

  13. Water Conservation

    The amount of water required to produce a single liter of soft drink may be only three or four liters, but vast quantities are used to produce the sugar and corn syrup feedstock. UN calculations suggest that more than one third of the world’s population is suffering from water shortages: by 2020 water use is expected to increase by 40 per cent from current levels, and by 2025, according to another UN estimate, two out of three people could be living under conditions of “water stress”. Sourced: Ecologists warn the planet is running short of water

  14. Money

    If the health risks don’t convince you, look at the economics. A person who drinks just 2 cans of soda a day will pay $206 over the course of a year to keep the habit going. If there is more than one soda drinker in the household, that yearly total could quickly double or even triple.

It’s not hard to ditch the soda habit. I started out by making my own iced tea, then switched to filtered water. If plain water doesn’t do it for you, try these alternatives to soda.

Tell me again, why are you still drinking soda?

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