Rosemary is a great brain food and memory enhancer

The herb Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis in Latin, is often used to complement a number of food dishes. It is a native of Mediterranean regions, and was often mentioned and used in ancient Greek and Roman times as a memory enhancer and as a treatment for certain forms of limb paralysis, it is also mentioned by William Shakespeare in one of his most famous plays, Hamlet. Because of the shrubs’ water holding qualities, it can be easily grown in semi arid climates, and is commonly found in countries like Cyprus, Greece, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel.

Rosemary is a perennial shrub that resembles pine or fir branches in both appearance and taste. It contains an ingredient known as Carnosic Acid which helps to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals, and as a result helps to protect against strokes and neurodegeneration which can bring on conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Studies made in neuroscience journals show that the carnosic acid found in rosemary helps to protect brain cells from damage caused by free radicals.

RosemaryRosemary is also considered to be helpful in preventing breast cancer by blocking an overabundance of estrogen hormone, found to cause breast cancer. Women who have breast cancer are often given carnosic acid to help lower estrogen levels. Due to its strong, evergreen-like odor, rosemary can also be used to rid persons of head lice.

From a nutrient standpoint, rosemary is high in iron, calcium, and vitamin B6.

Consuming too much rosemary, however, can be detrimental, and large quantities should not be eaten by women who are breast feeding, or by those who may be allergic to it. As some people are also allergic to rosemary, it should never be consumed by those who may be allergic to it, as it can result in severe symptoms such as vomiting, spasms, coma, and even death.

Despite any potential health hazards, the benefits of rosemary make it a plant of many uses, especially in the kitchen, where its pine-like taste goes great with both meat and fish dishes, as well as vegetables such as sweet potatoes. It also adds a zest to breakfast omelets.

Picture by Wikimedia

Plastic nursing bottles may be health hazards

Plastic nursing bottles are now being seen to have similar health hazards to infants and young children as plastic drinking water bottles are to older persons. Studies made by U.S. and other laboratories are linking chemicals found in the plastic material in nursing bottles to be instrumental in causing various forms of cancer later in life, including breast and prostate cancer. In addition, these chemicals, including some known as BPA or Bisphenol-A may also affect a child’s reproduction capabilities later in life.

Baby bottleBPA is defined as an organic compound containing two phenol functioning groups which have a semblance to estrogen hormone. BPA is an important ingredient in the polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins used to make the strong, shatter-proof plastic bottles that people rely on to heat up baby formula. The plastic material in itself is relatively safe when only water or juices at room temperature are poured inside. The problem arises when the formula is heated to a high temperature prior to being given to a baby; as well as when the bottle is washed at a high temperature, as in an automatic dishwasher. The heating process causes the chemicals in the plastic to be released into the fluid inside the bottle which then enter the child’s body and bloodstream. The chemical reactions are similar to what occurs to water inside plastic water bottles which are exposed to high temperatures (when left in a car, etc.)

Warnings of the possible dangers of BPA chemical reactions in infant feeding bottles are now being issued by U.S. government agencies such as the National Toxicology Program. Their findings indicate that these chemical reactions may cause harm to humans, especially children, and result in problems such as early puberty, reproductive problems and even neurological problems.

BPA is found in a number of plastic containers as well as in the coatings often used in a number of soft drink products. Although tests are still being conducted, the main concern is that continuous exposure to BPA could result in a chronic toxicity which will result in the aforementioned health problems.

Plastic infant feeding bottles have been in use for decades, and mothers rely on them to nourish their babies. The dangers of chemical toxicity are now becoming more publicized, and some countries, including Canada, are planning to declare that Bisphenol-A is a toxic substance. Some American states, including California, are also considering the banning of products containing BPA.

As for an alternative to BPA, perhaps the old adage that “breast is best” is in the end the best and safest infant feeding method.

Overdosing on vitamins and food supplements

Literally millions of people in North America, the U.K. and other western countries are taking daily vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as nutritional supplements containing vitamins. This phenomenon is not new, and many large companies producing these products are not only very rich but getting richer by feeding on the “hype” that people are receiving concerning the need for these supplements, which often cost hundreds of dollars per month.

Both family physicians and professional nutritionists are now agreeing that too many vitamin supplements are not only non-effective, but may actually be damaging to a person’s health. In an article that came out in the New York Times a few years ago, prominent research physicians, such as Dr. Annette Dickson, president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, noted that more than 70% of all Americans take some kind of vitamin supplement which come in many forms; including fortified cereal, bread products, and other types of food. When combined with a ‘super fortified’ multi-vitamin product, the result, according to these health experts, can not only accomplish little or nothing towards maintaining good health, but can also be a cause of serious and often fatal health problems.

A few types of vitamins that people appear to be overtaking include Vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin C, for example, is often recommended to be taken in high daily doses to either prevent or reduce the symptoms of a common cold. What usually happens, according to these doctors, is that the excess vitamin C is simply excreted by the person’s urine. Other vitamins, particularly those such as vitamin A and E, are stored in organs like the liver and can even result in conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

Many take vitamin D supplements, often found in fortified milk and other dairy products, due to not being outdoors enough to let their bodies synthesize it. It has been pointed out however as people grow older, their skin looses the ability to synthesize this vitamin, and taking supplements containing vitamin D do not help to manufacture it.

While it was once thought that taking large amounts of vitamin supplements helped prevent the risk of cardio-vascular conditions, it is now being found that the opposite often takes place. And older people who take increased doses of vitamins A and D to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, usually prescribed as around 1,500 micrograms per tablet or capsule, are actually taking twice as much as what is actually needed, resulting in an even greater risk of having this condition.

Many doctors, however, are still convinced that taking multiple vitamins is essential to maintaining good health. These include Dr. Joann e. Manson, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. Dr. Manson said, however, that taking these vitamins are only recommended if a person has severe diet deficiencies and must augment their diets by taking supplements.

But doctors and nutritionists alike agree that proper nutrition, including eating healthier diets, may reduce or even eliminate the need to take vitamin supplements. This is especially true for people whose diets are high in so called “junk foods”. There is no ‘magic bullet’ to cure an unhealthy diet, most health professionals agree.

Eating Less and Healthier Food Prolongs Your Life

LemonMany people have become advocates of organic and natural foods, knowing that these foods are healthier than those that are commercially processed, vitamin enriched, and laced with antibiotics and other drugs. What many may not realize, however, is that the amount of foods consumed, even whole and natural ones, is even more important for longevity and better health.

Studies recently made in the research departments of some major American universities have found that by consuming 20 to 30% less calories per day, a person may actually add between 10 to 15 additional years to his or her life. Aside from this revelation, it has also been found that even those who consume what some may consider as non-wholesome foods (including “junk foods”) this overall reduction in total calories is still basically the same. Using laboratory rats, and feeding the control group a standard diet, it was found that those given less food actually lived longer, even though they may have been smaller and thinner than the control group.

It’s no secret the people who are overweight have more health problems including cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, and incidents of colon and other cancers, Thinner people are generally healthier and have a more positive mental outlook, which also affects their longevity. Taking these findings into account, this does not mean that people who are “super thin” will live longer. Those suffering from eating disorders, including anorexia are damaging their health by not consuming enough calories.

Types of food consumed, particularly diets with less red meat and dairy products, also help influence longevity, as well as a person’s genealogical makeup. People coming from families with longer life spans are more likely to live longer than those from families with shorter life spans. A diet of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit is much more beneficial that a diet consisting of fatty and starchy foods, including most dairy products.

In many Western countries, including the USA, far too much fatty and starchy foods are consumed as against more wholesome diets of less, but more whole grain and other wholesome foods. Diet is not the only factor however, as daily exercise of at least half an hour will help people maintain more healthier lives. This exercise can include a brisk walk around the block, or even inside a shopping mall. The most crucial factor, according to the aforementioned studies, is that by simply exercising one’s “table muscles” to leave the dinner table before too many calories are consumed will eventually work wonders toward maintaining better health.

All in all, it’s not only the old saying “you are what you eat”, but how much you eat as far as the deciding factor that may add longer and more productive years to your life.

Breast is Best

Breast is BestToday’s modern mother, who divides her time between pursuing her career goals as well as taking care of her family, often regards breast feeding as something out of the archaic past. Many women in today’s society, do not even have their own mothers to turn to on this subject, as even their mother, if not grandmother, has not breastfed any of her children. Clinical studies on the subject of breast feeding are making new ‘discoveries’ on the subject yearly, and are concluding that not only is nursing more healthful and crucial to a child’s physical development, but very important psychologically as well.

Working mothers especially are faced with the ‘dilemma’ of breastfeeding baby once they return to work after maternity leave, which can be anywhere from 3 to 6 months after giving birth. Most workplaces are simply not suited for Mom to bring baby along and feed him or her during the work day. This problem has been more difficult in America than in Israel, where mothers are allowed to leave work early to go home to take care of such matters. Some companies, especially high tech ones who appreciate the contribution that the working mother is giving to the company, provide special sections within the premises for not only breastfeeding, but caring of small children who are cared for by hired nannies while Mom is at her work station.

Relating back to studies made on the benefits of breastfeeding over using formulas such as Similac and other preparations based on cow’s milk and an array of vitamins and minerals, it has been found that the natural vitamins and other substances in mothers’ milk far surpass any commercially made baby formula produced to date. The horrific results of the 2003 ‘baby formula tragedy’ which occurred in Israel, that left 3 infants dead and more than a dozen others incapacitated for life, clearly indicates the results of relying on these preparations instead of what comes naturally. In this instance, the product known as Remedia, lacked the B1 vitamin, or thiamin, which is essential to a baby’s nervous system development. The product, especially manufactured for use for orthodox Jewish mothers, due to complying with strict laws of Kashrus, did not contain milk solids at all; not to mention the omission of the B1 vitamin additive. Mother’s milk has been found to contain the perfect ‘balance’ of fats, nutrients and essential vitamins necessary for a child’s development. While it is true that some babies are either allergic to or cannot digest preparations containing lactose, this problem is much less prevalent with mother’s milk.

Israeli women who either do not have enough of their own milk or for some reason cannot produce their own (known as ‘dry up’) can obtain frozen mothers milk by consulting either their own pediatrician, or by consulting organizations such as the local equivalent of the La Leche League, as well as the “Tipat Halav” (mother and child clinic) in their own Kupat Holim Sick Fund.

Despite everything, including all the stories of all those insecticides, food additives, and even tar and nicotine from cigarettes finding their way into human milk, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the inconveniences and other problems connected to this truly natural way of giving one’s precious baby a good “head start” in life. Regarding cigarettes, its much better not to smoke at all; whether one is breast feeding or not!