Saturday, March 17, 2012

You Are What You Eat? A Note on Genetically Modified Foods

We have so often heard the quote, "You are what you eat."

Technically speaking, this isn't true - if we eat an apple, we don't turn into an apple. But, in some regards it is true. If we only eat doughnuts, then we will most likely gain weight around our midsection. If we eat only fruits and vegetables, we become very thin and healthy like a fruit or vegetable.

Many people have also heard about the Doctrine of Signatures for plants and foods. Kidney beans are good for our kidneys because they are shaped like a kidney. Walnuts are good for our brain because they look like  our brain. The food that we eat definitely leaves its print in our body and provides nourishment (especially for the parts it promises with the doctrine of signatures).

Knowing this, what do you think about a food that has been genetically modified so that it can no longer reproduce itself? It no longer has any seeds. It is infertile.

These genetically modified foods are common in our world today. We so often think "The seeds in this watermelon are so annoying. I have to keep spitting them out while I'm eating." Because of this, watermelons have been modified by removing their seeds. Cucumbers in the market rarely have seeds either, since this common food has been genetically modified too.  Do you know what foods you are eating that have been genetically modified?

Probably not.  Labelling of genetically modified foods/organisms (GMOs) is NOT required in the United States or Canada. You don't really have a choice whether or not you want to eat them.

Knowing this, what do you think GMO foods do to your body? Have you seen the dramatic increase in the number of women who are trying to conceive unsuccessfully? Studies have linked GMO foods to the increasing rates of infertility (which can be found by clicking here).

It is so important to inform everyone you know about genetically modified foods. The big claim of these companies is that they are saving the world by providing it with crops that can withstand anything. The very sad part is that, because of the genetic modification and outrageous use of herbicides/pesticides, and the depleted soil, we are being starved in a different way. Genetically modified crops are usually grown on fields that are totally deficient in minerals, and so toxic that nothing else can grow. And, if they're not totally deficient in minerals, they are sprayed with glyphosates (aka ROUND UP), which totally bind all minerals so no "weeds" can grow. Farmers must then purchase their seeds from a GMO manufacturer (aka Monsanto). These companies (Monsanto) have gotten smart - the seeds won't 'activate' or grow until they have been sprayed with Round-Up. Farmers are not only forced to purchase the seeds, but they must purchase the activator too, which is a highly toxic compound found to cause serious health complaints in humans.

Genetically modified organisms are not saviours to starving people. In fact, in many countries that have a high population of starving humans, genetically modified crops are abundant. Well, they used to be at least - when the farmers could actually afford to buy the seed and herbicides/pesticides every year. The farmers in these countries are now starving too. They cannot plant any other crops in the fields that have been sprayed. Nothing will grow.

Some countries have banned GMOs altogether, while others have banned certain products or limited the distribution in their country. Hungary has totally banned and burned all GMO crops and seeds, while other countries have banned certain GMO crops.

In the U.S., we are certainly behind in health consciousness. In 2011, the United States ranked 37th in life expectancy. That means there are 36 countries that live longer than we do, despite the fact that we spend more money per capita than any other nation. This is shocking.

What you can do now to better your health: avoid GMO foods as much as possible. The top foods to avoid are:

  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Sugar (made from sugar beets - which is the majority of all sugar)
  • Canola
  • Aspartame (artificial sweetener in DIET products - manufactured with the aid of genetically modified E. coli bacteria)
  • Papaya 
  • And now, farm raised salmon
In the U.S., over 90% of all canola grown is GM Roundup Ready canola, as is about 90% of soybeans, and about 70% of all corn and cotton. These crops also cross-pollinate with other crops that haven't been genetically modified and create something else entirely. Something that nature hasn't designed itself.

It can be very difficult to eliminate these foods at first, especially since I probably just named about 95% of your diet. But, I promise, you will feel better without these foods. If you are struggling with infertility please make an effort to stop eating these foods. If you know someone who is, pass this information along.

There are many petitions out there that you can sign about GMO crops. Many states in the U.S. are trying to pass a law that all GMO foods are labelled (as well as other countries worldwide). Other states are trying to ban GMOs altogether. If you would like to become better informed, there are many beautiful documentaries out there. Life According to Monsanto, The Future of Food, and One Man One Cow One Planet all have an incredible amount of information on GMOs. There are so many resources and books out there too. Inform yourself.

Since we are what we eat, I surely don't want to become a genetically modified organism. I was made in the "image and likeness of God" and that is not as a genetically modified being.


Svea Lynn is a traditional Naturopath, classical homeopath and holistic doula. Her private doula practice can be found here. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Let Nature Be Your Band-Aid

by Allison Brooks

Healthcare costs have risen exponentially in many parts of the world. While the leading cause of death in the United States used to be an infectious disease, it has been replaced by heart disease, cancer, and other 'lifestyle' diseases. While heart disease and cancer may be caused by genetic or environmental factors in an individual's life, these diseases are often the result of poor diets combined with a sedentary lifestyle. While many people choose to medicate these self-induced diseases with a combination of pharmaceuticals, it's often possible to achieve better health through lifestyle changes and natural medicine.

Most modern medicines are derived from nature. For example, the chemotherapy drug Taxol originates from a type of pine tree. Penicillin was originally derived from microorganisms found in the soil. While nature can often provide a variety of treatments, it's important to talk to a doctor before making any healthcare decisions.

High blood pressure can be treated with a combination of fish oil, magnesium, and hawthorn extract. While many people take antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft for depression, it's often possible alleviate depressive symptoms through the use of St John's Wort. St John's Wort works as a natural selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and can be very effective at alleviating depression and anxiety.

Many other health ailments like insomnia can be treated with natural substances. Most medications designed to treat insomnia carry the risk of addiction, and may have serious side effects. There are many natural alternatives that allow one to achieve restfulness in a healthy way. Theanine, lemon balm, relora, and melatonin can be very effective at improving sleep quality and restfulness.

It's also possible to achieve weight loss through the proper use of natural supplements. There are many natural substances that can be extremely effective when combined with diet and exercise. Yohimbe is often used as a natural stimulant to help boost energy and lower appetite. It's also possible to increase one's metabolism through the use of green tea extract, and other natural antioxidants. These natural alternatives are ten times better than the leading weight-loss drug called, amphetamine sulfate, which can cause heart palpitations, an increase in blood pressure, and other serious cardiovascular problems.

While natural supplements can be valuable in improving one's health, supplements should be combined with a healthy lifestyle to achieve maximum longevity and overall health; this is why many integrative health facilities are adopting natural therapies to complement conventional treatments.

 Allison Brooks is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Anthropology and has continued her research to work towards a complete ethnography. She mainly focuses on the effects of biomedicalization on different cultures, but also branches off into other fields of anthropology.

Allison's new blog can be found by clicking here