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The Incredible Edible Egg… Yolk

As a vegetarian, there are two nutrients that I’m highly conscious of, and those are protein and B12.  It’s often hard to get these nutrients on a vegetarian/vegan diet, and so when I find good sources of them, it’s like edible gold.  And actually, there is edible gold… that is, the golden, delicious, protein & nutrient packed egg.  The majority of the nutrients are actually found in the yolk, that precious nugget the American Heart Association has deemed the dietary devil, which is why I get so upset when people tout the great benefits of egg whites.  Egg whites are literally nothing without their creamy counterpart; like R2-D2 and C-3P0, the golden one is necessary to translate the benefits of the other into something humans can use.  (Who says you can’t learn anything from Star Wars?)

Eggs are one of nature’s best sources of protein, with 6 grams per egg, and they are one of the few foods that contain the entire spectrum of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.  There are 22 amino acids needed to make a complete, bioavailable protein.  Animal products contain complete proteins while vegetables and grains have only incomplete proteins, which is why eggs and dairy porducts are so important for any vegetarian (and why veganism is so harmful to your health).  However, Mother Earth made eggs with yolks for a reason, so when you only eat the whites, you are missing out on half the total protein content and half the amino acids, leaving only incomplete, unusable proteins.  Protein is not only essential to many bodily functions, but it also boosts your metabolism, giving you more energy and helping you stay fuller longer.

These delicious golden jems are also chock-full of a dozen other nutrients, including many B vitamins (including B12), iron, choline (good for brain health), lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants that help prevent macular degeneration), and fat soluble vitamins like A & D.  Plus, that’s where most of the flavor is, and who wants to give that up?  Especially when trying new eggs, like duck or quail!

Now, I know what most of you are thinking: But the cholesterol!  I wish I had Lierre Keith here to explain cholesterol to you, because her book The Vegetarian Myth is truly an amazing resource on the nutritional dangers of vegetarianism, as well as a great dietary myth-buster.  But here is a short summary of her explanation of cholesterol:

Cholesterol is, of course, the bulwark that the nutritional vegetarians will stand behind.  The Lipid Hypothesis – the theory that ingested fat causes heart disease – is the stone tablet that the Prophets of Nutrition have brought down from the mountain.  We have been shown the one, true way: cholesterol is the demon of the age, the dietary Black Plague, a judgment from an angry God, condemning those who stray into the Valley of Animal Products with disease…

Yes, it all began when researchers fed protein and cholesterol to rabbits and their blood cholesterol shot up…  Which is about what you’d expect when you take an herbivore designed for cellulose and stuff her full of fat and protein…  When these experiments are done on carnivores – cats, dogs, foxes – no damage results.

Remember that 80 percent of the cholesterol in your blood was made by your body.  Only 20 percent was put there by your food choices.  Your body knows where it wants that cholesterol level…  If you eat more cholesterol, it will produce less.  A meta analysis of one hundred sixty seven – yes, that’s 167 – cholesterol-feeding experiments found that raising dietary cholesterol had a negligible effect on blood cholesterol, and no link to CHD (coronary heart disease) risk.

She goes on to prove her point with graphs, studies, and more of her endlessly amusing wit.   And many others agree with her, including the World Health Organization’s MONICA (MONitor Trends in CArdiovascular Diseases) Project, the largest investigation into diet and cardiovascular disease ever.  After surveying 10 million people from 21 countries over 10 years, the study showed absolutely no correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease.  A 2006 study from the University of Connecticut came to similar conclusions; it showed that while eggs do slightly raise cholesterol levels, they tend to increase levels of good cholesterol (high-denstiy lipoproteins, HDLs) and increase the size of bad cholesterol molecules (low-density lipoproteins, LDLs), making it harder for them to enter artery walls and cause damage.  Christine Greene, lead researcher of the study, claims that the data indicates “that most people’s bodies handle the cholesterol from eggs in a way that is least likely to harm the heart.”

This is because cholesterol is actually a necessary nutrient; it is present in every cell in your body, for it is responsible for making cell walls waterproof, building hormones, and rebuilding damaged cells.  Big Pharma doesn’t tell you this because it wants you to continue to blindly choke down your 3+ cholesterol pills a day.  When in fact, all you have to do is make breakfast.

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Breathe Easy, Friends

“Between two lungs it was released
the breathe that passed from you to me
that flew between us as we slept
that slipped from your mouth into mine it crept.”

Breathing: it’s the first thing we do when we enter this world, the one thing we are born knowing how to do.  It’s the single most important action any of us will ever take, though so many people take it for granted.  But for people with asthma, breath doesn’t always come so easily.  And the feeling of your lungs begging for air is nothing less than terrifying.

I used to have a pretty serious problem with my asthma, and when I was young it was so bad that I had a nebulizer that I had to use almost daily in addition to a rescue inhaler.  I was hospitalized several times for it, and between the hospital meds and the home meds, I don’t even want to think about what kind of poisons I pumped in to my body daily.  I don’t even remember most of them (though I do know my mother was smart enough to keep me off steroids) except for my last inhaler, which I used from high school until this past year: Albuterol.

Albuterol is a bronchodilator, not a steroid, though it performs the same task of relaxing the bronchial muscles during an asthma attack.  While it doesn’t come with quite as serious side effects, it does present certain risks.  Immediate side effects include headache, dizziness, quickened or erratic heartbeat, nausea, sore throat, dry mouth, muscle pain or weakness, and diarrhea – all of which I remember vividly and dreaded each time I had an asthma attack.  Long term side effects include long-lasting muscle tremors, nervousness, high blood pressure, and low potassium (which can cause confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, and muscle weakness).  The worst for me were the heart palpitations and muscle tremors.  I still have a problem with leg cramps at night, and I’m starting to wonder if that is a result of almost 20 years of constant inhaler use.

Steroids are much worse, and I thank the powers that be everyday that my mother had the sense to keep them away from me.  The risk of adverse effects is much higher in children, and even short term use may cause mood swings and increased hunger; steroids also decrease immune function, especially against the virus that causes chickenpox.  Long term use of steroids can lead to a rounded face, insatiable hunger, insomnia, depression or mood swings, heartburn and indigestion, increased bruising, osteoporosis and stunted growth in children, increased risk of diabetes, and increased risk of cataracts.  With so many natural -and safer – options available, it seems ridiculous to me that anyone would choose steroids for asthma treatment, especially for a child.

If you want to research your specific asthma medication, check out Drugs.com’s list of asthma meds.

My doctor always told me that the best medicine for controlling asthma is exercise, and I wholeheartedly believe that.  Lungs, like any muscle, can be strengthened with proper exercise, so any kind of aerobic workout – swimming, jogging, Zumba, etc. – is ideal for asthmatics.  Switching to natural, safer cleaners can also make a difference, as many household cleaners are full of pretty awful chemicals that can exacerbate asthma symptoms.  There are also a lot of herbs that support respiratory health, including mullein, lobelia, comfrey, boswellia, and slippery elm bark, to name a few.  (For a more complete list of herbal remedies, check out DHerbs or the University of MD Medical Center.)  While I don’t completely trust New Chapter now that they’re owned by Proctor & Gamble, their line of mushroom LifeShield supplements used to be one of the most effective natural treatement options, and their LifeShield Breathe is definitely worth a shot – if you’re willing to give your money to P&G, that is.

When I made the decision to throw out my prescription inhaler, i debated for a while over which natural route to take.  Herbal supplements, while effective, are expensive, and I have a hard time remembering to take vitamins everyday.  I believe I’m in pretty good overall health anyway – I eat well and I bike 8 miles to and from work everyday – so I decided to skip straight to a rescue inhaler.  I use my inhaler once every month or two at most, usually because of pet allergies or cold weather.  But the inability to catch your breath is frightening enough that I cannot go without an inhaler.  From what I could find while doing my research, there is no holistic inhaler besides a few homeopathic sprays.  There are, however, many aromatherapy inhalers, a topic I’m not extremely knowledgeable in but definitely curious about.  I did some research, and I found that there are a number of essential oils that can ease asthma symptoms.  The ones that came up most often were lavendar, eucaplyptus, pine or cedarwood, mint, and sage.  (More inclusive lists can be found on DHerbs and AltMD.)  At the natural food store where I used to work, we carried a brand called Aromabar, and I used the testers frequently for everything from a stuffy nose to a headache, always with good results.  They are a little pricey, so I looked around online for a cheaper option and stumbled upon Earth Solutions.  While their packaging is a little funky looking (I think they have five-year-olds draw their labels…) their Breathe Easy aromatherapy inhaler has all the top herbs for asthma relief: eucalyptus, peppermint, pine, lavendar, cedarwood, and helichrysum (part of the sunflower family).  And it works!  After a major puppy-induced sneeze attack the other night, I was unable to catch my breath, and a few minutes of deep breathing with the inhaler under my nose eased my lungs significantly.

So, thanks again to the power of Mother Earth, I’ve removed one more of Big Pharma’s toxic thorns from my body.  And I hope that, through a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle, and the healing power of herbs, others can do the same.  Breath is simply too important to put in the hands of anyone but your Mother!

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Give Thanks, Get Thanks

Most Americans spent at least a little time yesterday looking inward, thinking about what they are most thankful for in their lives.  As a nation, we are incredibly blessed, though for those of us who live paycheck to paycheck (or worse), it may be hard to remember that.  A very dear friend of mine introduced me to the idea of “paying forward,” and what better time to put that idea into action than Thanksgiving?

My friend is a very giving person, and she gave me a wonderful engagement present: a gift card to Kiva.  This organization allows you to help others in need through a process called microfinance, loans that come in smaller amounts for those who are too poor to qualify for large loans.  Kiva allows you to give small donations to people requesting microloans for their personal or entrepreneurial needs.  And these are not hand-outs that can be taken advantage of like food stamps or welfare checks, these are indeed loans that will be paid back, which I find encouraging both to myself and the recipient.  It’s a wonderful way to pay it forward, for you can browse the loans, read their stories, and pick which person or group you want to support.  I decided to support two of the things I care most about: organic farming and women in need.  Here are the two loans I donated toward:

Chuku K from Liberia
Chuku, 30, is a university student. She is single and lives at West Point. For the past three years, she has been operating a beauty parlor where she sells fashion dresses. She loves to do this business because it keeps her busy and she can interact with people every day.

Because of the quality materials that she sells, she makes a profit. She first started in this business by selling at the table market. A challenge she faces is the competition on the market. With the profit generated from the business, she will buy more goods and pay her educational expenses.  She has requested a loan to purchase more fashion dresses for the business.  Her dream is to become an international business woman.

Nyamhuu from Mongolia
Mr. Nyamhuu is 36 years old and lives with his wife and 2 children in a house in the Sukhbaatar district of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. His 32-year-old wife, Tsetsegmaa, works with him in their cattle farm. His 2 children, Damdinsharav and Avirmed, ages 6 and 3, stay home with their grandparents during the day. He started his business of cattle farming and producing and selling organic dairy products in 2008. He has been producing and providing organic dairy products to local customers, and he is famous in the area for his organic dairy products. He is preparing for the harsh Mongolian winter by purchasing forage for his cattle to keep the dairy product production going during the winter. He is requesting 6,000,000 MNT to purchase bulk forage to feed his cattle during the harsh cold winter of Mongolia. He is a hardworking and optimistic person.

If either of these stories moved you at all, or if you just need some good karma in your life, try paying forward on Kiva.  And remember, it’s a loan, not a hand-out, so once you enter the cycle of giving, you will get back to give again.

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Humans Have a Right to Not Make More Humans

UN Says Access to Contraception A Human Right

When a friend posted this link on Facebook, I had to share it.  The campaign and election period provoked a lot of discussion about women’s rights, most of it negative, disheartening, and downright offensive.  It’s comforting to know that at least one governmental organization, even if it’s not our own, believes in our rights.  Though the statement is not legally binding and will not influence any current policies, it is a statement of hope, an acknowledgement of injustice, and a step toward equality

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To Strive, to Seek, to Find, and Not to Yield

A lot of disappointing decisions were made last week, and one of the most disheartening was the failure of California’s Prop 37, the GMO labeling bill.   It just goes to show you how powerful Big Ag really is, and how far they’ll go to keep Americans in the dark about the foods they’re serving our families.  (NaturalNews claims that Prop 37 lost to voter fraud; as of Friday 11/9, over 3 million California votes still had not been counted, and yet Prop 37 was declared a failure early Tuesday night.)  While this legal battle was lost, the war is still on, and you can still fight for your right to be healthy.  Here (again) is a list of the companies that supported Prop 37:

While some of these companies are owned by larger, less ethical companies, these are some of the brands to look for if you’re avoiding GMOs.  Also look for the Non-GMO Project seal, because any product they endorse has gone through a rigorous and continual testing process.  Sadly, there still are no national guidelines for GMO ingredients, and so the Non-GMO project is the closest thing we have to a USDA seal.  So don’t give up, fellow health seekers!  This was a huge setback for the organic food movement, but the war is definitely not yet over.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-Tennyson