Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
News to click before you sneak out of the office for the weekend.
Funny, we remember it was only a year ago that the government was emphatically denying any mad cow problems in the U.S. Then, the Alberta beef contamination scare hit. (And about a million conspiracy theories.) Next, we witnessed a spate of food poisoning incidents in everything from spinach to peanut butter. Surely something is going on, because now this protocol is scheduled to begin. Dare we say…progress?
Burger suppliers are in a twist because they don’t want inspectors dropping by unannounced – they like the current system of self-policing and occasional inspector
wink-winks check-ins. Well, yeah, who wouldn’t? Strangely, even consumer advocacy groups are taking issue with this new risk-based protocol (they say it’s all happening too fast). We’re starting to think it’s not the cows who are mad.
We’ve been bringing you news on trans fat for several months now, Apples, and here’s the latest from the fryer:
NYC, Philly, and L.A., plus an entire state – Massachusetts – are working to ban trans fats. Fabulous. (Well, actually, Los Angeles is merely reminding everyone they never ate trans fat to begin with.) But we digress.
There’s a growing problem with the trans fat furor, and it highlights a problematic issue with Americans and our health efforts. We tend to gravitate to “super” foods, “miracle”nutrients and “perfect” new diets, rather than following a generally healthy diet of moderation. By the same token, we ridicule, ban and boycott newly-discovered unhealthy foods and ingredients with a level of collective loathing only outdone by our feelings about garden slugs.
To wit: we’re now banning trans fats, but eating the same old garbage. It’s taken about three seconds for restaurants and food companies to create reasonable fat substitutes for trans fat. Notice, no one is getting rid of the French fries, potato chips and pastries; we’re just using a different fat. Trans fat may be going the way of skinny jeans, but the same old fattening, sugary junk is still lining shelves and spilling out of drive-through windows everywhere.
“Trans fat-free chips” may sound great, because we know trans fat is bad, but that doesn’t make the chips any healthier to eat.
Women and Depression
Though recent studies have confirmed that just as many men suffer from depression as women (they’re just less likely to seek help), depression manifests in different ways depending on gender. One possibility: depressed women may self-medicate with alcohol more intensely than men. It’s difficult for scientists to pinpoint, because it’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. Does depression cause alcoholism or does alcoholism cause depression? Or are they simply manifestations of a single root health issue?
(Christy Thompson photo)
A completely unscientific observation from Sara and Jen: it does appear that women’s television shows are featuring heavy drinking more frequently than ever. Sex in the City was well-known for its endless cocktails – hey, it made Cosmopolitans famous. But shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Men in Trees and others feature stressed-out young women pounding shots whenever they’re upset (didn’t it used to be ice cream?). Scientists do say that when it comes to drinking, women are “keeping up” with men in increasing numbers.
What do you think, Apples?
Web it out:
Vegan Lunch Box turned us on to this great article about the difference between soda and fruit juice (the answer: not much). The article isn’t brand-spanking-new, but since the unethical bloodsuckers over at Capri Sun and Sunny D are still raking in the cash, it could use a little clickativity. Spread the word, Apples.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
We’re going to preface today’s mix with a quick mention of the hot headlines. Yes, in the UK, Viagra is going OTC for Valentine’s Day. Yes, once again, Spain has a problem with skinny models (eat some paella, already). And yes, HPV vaccines for children are still causing a big ruckus.
Now that we got that out of the way, there were also some really important discoveries reported today, and they’re not even boring. They’re just not about Kate Moss. They’re about you!
Here’s the best of it, because you probably won’t see it on the news tonight:
1) Yes, but what causes diabetes?
Huge news: scientists have identified four genes which predispose people to developing type-2 diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus, also known as the scourge of modern society, also known as unnecessary in the majority of cases).
Mark believes adamantly in fighting diabetes through lifestyle choices. So many cases of diabetes can be prevented or mitigated with healthier choices – it’s truly a tragedy that this epidemic is striking so many (particularly children) because exercise and healthier eating habits, among other factors, can undo much of the current problem. Most cases of diabetes (about 3/4) are not type 1, but type 2. Though type 2 can’t always be prevented, diabetics who take appropriate healthy measures almost always see their symptoms relieved – even eliminated.
(There’s also a tragic socioeconomic dimension to diabetes – the lack of access to quality food, good medical care and education all contribute. We’d like to see a charity that helps educate disadvantaged families about inexpensive healthy food options and preventive health measures and provides solutions. Do you know of one?)
What this study reveals is not that there is a genetic cause for type 2 – rather, with 70% accuracy, scientists can determine who is likely to develop type 2. This has huge implications for preventive treatment. How great would it be to take a test that determines if you happen to be at a higher risk for diabetes? If so, people could take proactive lifestyle measures to avoid the disease. Read about it.
2) Drool, no extra charge
Those Mediterranean homeys just don’t stop. First, it’s olive oil. Then it’s wine. Next it’s antioxidants. Then fish. Now, scientists think the naps are why Italians, Greeks and other Southern European nations have lower rates of heart disease. If companies can’t or won’t provide health care and daycare, we’re not sure if you should hold out hope for nap time, but it sounds pretty healthy!
3) The power of intention
Everyone’s in a big hot fuss over The Secret these days. Bend your mind a little further: here’s some fascinating brain news, just out today, about the power of intention. Muy interesante!
4) We are really, really fat
74% of Americans are overweight. This creates huge (yeah, yeah) economic and social burdens. Not to mention it makes us live in sheer misery. Who feels sexy, has energy or wants to enjoy activities (or can, for that matter) when one’s very body is an encumbrance? The emotional, mental and social tolls are staggering. Just let it sink in for a minute.
- Ever felt embarrassed in a bathing suit?
- Felt pressure to look a certain way?
- Had a hard time running up a flight of stairs?
- Needed medication to address health problems that are a result of excess weight?
- Wished you had more sexual stamina and drive?
- Felt drained, tired and stressed?
- Suffered from anxiety, insomnia, restless legs, sleep apnea?
- Felt bad about yourself?
These are all problems that have a solution. Truly, they do. Isn’t that great news? Best of all, the solutions are free. They are easy to learn about and implement. You’ve probably heard the opposite – but it doesn’t take trainers, money, gyms and expensive food to be healthy and maintain a good weight. Those things are nice, and they help, but they aren’t necessary. An overhaul is great, but just four or five consistently-applied changes can radically change your health.
We want people to be healthy and happy. We don’t want to be in the top 10 fat countries, which we are. Who is fatter? Well, hardly anyone, but Kuwait and Samoa are slightly bigger. Slightly. We’re Americans, dammit! We have money, optimism, and we invented the internet (sorry, Al), which is loaded with health help. Plus, we have great teeth. Why are we so unhealthy and overweight? That doesn’t sound like something America should be leading in, does it?
You can’t change everyone, but you do have the power to change your own health. If you’re someone who needs to and wants to, we hope you’ll take heart and begin the steps necessary to do it. Have faith! There is a whole world of support online – free. Stick around. Learn. Act. Make the first click.
“Soon we’ll be away from here, step on the gas and wipe that tear away. One sweet dream came true today.” – The Beatles
From one choice a new life is born.
Are you ruthlessly committed to enjoying yourself?
At first glance, this can sound selfish and counter-intuitive – even shallow. But I believe that total commitment to enjoyment is the best way to love yourself and others. What does this mean?
It’s not about possessing material goods, and certainly not about instant gratification (in fact, instant gratification is often the exact opposite of true enjoyment and self-love).
Committing to enjoyment means having gratitude – even (or especially) for your flaws and shortcomings, your mistakes, and the things you feel are missing from your life. True gratitude for life – your life – frees you from needing things, from needing approval, from needing control. True gratitude is pure, simple, and joyous.
Committing to enjoyment means steadfast obedience to your inner voice – your heart or instinct. We all know the satisfaction and peace that comes from the times you do listen to your intuition – why not commit to this 100% of the time? How many painful mistakes and personal tangles could have been avoided if you’d simply been true to yourself? Commit to what philosopher Marcus Aurelius referred to as “fidelity to self”. This can seem selfish at times, but by being faithful to your own heart, your actions will be a blessing to others, rather than a cause of misunderstanding or pain.
Ruthless commitment to enjoying yourself – what an idea. If you can commit to pure and genuine participation in your life – because you know it in your heart to be the right thing for you – you can turn your world upside down. Commitment to yourself means commitment to your purpose. The beautiful side effect is that those in your life actually benefit when you commit. When you sacrifice things you know you shouldn’t, and do things your heart isn’t really into, not only do you harm yourself – ultimately, you harm others, too.
Be gentle with your soul by being tough with it – commit to true enjoyment.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
Regulation and health care dominate the news today. Today’s bites are more fun – and by the time they figure everything out, you’ll be healthy anyway.
1) You’ve got to be kidding!
Here’s an example of inane spin from mainstream medical reporting. It’s also a handy lesson in debunking ridiculous studies. It’s worth scrolling to the last 4 paragraphs of this article to see why drug-pushing doctors shouldn’t be quite so quick to pat themselves on the back. (Also: blood pressure problems go away entirely with daily exercise, avoidance of processed foods, and stress management. And we still have the highest rate of heart disease anywhere. So let’s work on that!)
2) Fiber Beats Breast Cancer
Common sense, but now more studies are proving this. We’re laughing at the dietary recommendations of this article, however. Who is going to eat four slices of bread and four other grain servings in a single day? Someone who will get diabetes, that’s who. Notice the broccoli serving suggestion – are they joking? Eating 5 servings of vegetables in a day will eliminate the need for all that sugar. Fiber is king, but grains aren’t the best source – especially bread and cereals. Beans are better, since they’re less processed. The recommendations are just wacky – two tablespoons of broccoli is not even an ounce! 4 ounces of broccoli (the equivalent of your fist) yields more fiber than ten slices of bread. Honestly, people!
3) Bust a bad mood now!
Here’s how. We love the idea of an emergency bad mood kit! Kick that bad mood to the curb where it belongs.
The Top 10 Ways to Beat Stress…this week!
Thanks to all Apples who participated in last week’s how-to-beat-stress contest. Our winner, junior Apple Sandra W., had some excellent suggestions we’re adding to today’s 10 (and a free month’s supply of all-natural stress-busting Proloftin is on the way, Sandra!).
Thanks to the rest of you for the additional good tips! Here they are:
10. Choose your friends wisely.
This is possibly the most important thing you can do to manage stress in your life. It’s often overlooked, too. Choosing your relationships from a proactive, positive mindset is critical to your well-being. We all have people who “drain” us or bring negative situations or thoughts into our lives. And sometimes it’s hard to admit this – and even harder to take action. As much as you can, let these people go. Sometimes it’s not immediately possible to weed them all out, but over time, work to surround yourself with good, kind people who offer you true love, true support, and true reciprocity. Life’s too short to short-change yourself in the joy department. Really.
9. Get exercise – and get grounded.
Daily exercise regulates the delicate balance of hormones in your body. It’s the best way to relieve stress, tension and anxiety – plus it’s great for your body. Even better, exercise that literally gets you grounded (walking, hiking, or running) gives you an additional mental boost. Exercise doesn’t have to be lengthy or intense. A daily walk is the most natural and effective workout for both your mind and your body.
8. Listen to uplifting music.
Sound is very important. Think about the sounds you encounter and surround yourself with every day – and take steps to limit stressful sounds and noises like traffic, yelling, negative television news, and jarring music. Listen to music that makes you happy.
Swimming is a wonderful stress-reliever, and it’s gentle on your joints, too.
Stretching loosens muscle tension, releases nerve “kinks”, massages your internal organs, helps flush toxins and just makes you feel great! Try to stretch gently for a few minutes every day. Hint: never stretch until it hurts.
5. Surround yourself with pleasant objects and belongings.
We’re not talking about expensive items or materialistic pursuits. But surrounding yourself with personal mementos, cherished objects and pleasant things to touch and look at – both at home and at work – does wonders for your sense of well-being. These things needn’t be pricey, just special to you. The same goes for clutter and objects you don’t like – toss them out and make room for things that make you happy.
4. Pray or meditate.
Calm yourself and renew your spirits with 5 to 20 minutes daily spent in quiet introspection. Whether you prefer to think through your day, think about your loved ones, or think about nothing at all, meditative activities literally reset brain waves and restore a sense of peace and serenity. Don’t neglect the need to “chill out” for a few minutes every day. Even better, get consistent about the time of day you spend with yourself; your brain will become accustomed to it and your body will get even more out of the sessions.
3. Express yourself.
Whether through music, singing, dance, art, sports or cooking, find ways to express yourself several times a week. Even sketching daydreams or tackling a minor project can be therapeutic. Whatever gets you in the moment is a wonderful energy booster and tension reliever. Many times, activities that involve your hands or require some movement do a better job of relieving chaotic and pent-up emotions than hours spent thinking about such feelings.
Some people call it heart math. Some call it soul breathing. Whatever you want to call it, try this out: take 5 or 10 deep breaths now and again. Concentrate on filling your entire body with air, then release it slowly. Imagine that you are made of mesh and the breath is entering and exiting gently through the mesh. You’ll be amazed at how good this feels.
Art: Deep Breath by Melanie Weidner.
1. Find an organization method that works for you.
Successful people often spend an entire day each week simply organizing their tasks, goals and thoughts. Even an hour a week can make a big difference in your stress level and your feeling of control. Whether you like to keep things organized with a notepad or a Blackberry, find a method, a time of the week, and a length of time that works for you. Even if you don’t accomplish everything, you’ll feel better just knowing you’re at the helm. (And remember not to give yourself too many tasks. Most people give themselves about twice as much as they can realistically expect to accomplish. Remember that many tasks actually involve several smaller tasks.)
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