First step to resolving balance problems

Balance issues are common and have a variety of causes. In today’s post I want to offer a piece of the solution that can make a big difference, even though there may be other causes that are also playing a role.


Stretches to improve balance

What are some of the common causes of balance issues?

  • inner ear problems
  • vision problems
  • low blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • migraines
  • hip, knee, ankle, foot pain
  • some medications
  • leg muscles are too tight

And frequently these problems are stacked on top of each other, so one may need to unpack the problem one bit at a time. So, update your glasses, check your medications with your doctor, seek treatment for your leg pain – do what is possible for you.

Falls are no fun and can take a long time to come back from, so it is also worth taking the time to fall-proof your home.

  • Take away the throw rugs and other tripping hazards.
  • Put in the stability bars in the bathroom and wherever else you may need them.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathroom and maybe kitchen.
  • Arrange the furniture so the walkways are straight.
  • Make sure your home is well-lit.
  • Keep a flashlight near the bed at night.
  • Use the handrails on stairs.

No matter what your balance problem, there is something you can do starting right now that can make a difference over time. You can stretch your legs. The more range of motion you have in your ankles, knees and hips, the further you can spread apart your legs, the easier it is to catch yourself to prevent falls. You need to have slack in your leg muscles to be able to recover from being pushed off balance.

If the stretches hurt, back off to the point they don’t. If you can’t find a pain-free way, the stretch is not for you. Listen to your body – it will tell you what you can handle and what you can’t.

Please do keep the comments coming below! If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

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Copyright 2017 Vreni Gurd

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What controls your health more – your genes or your emotions?

So, is it nature or nurture that has the biggest impact on our health? This question has been around for a very long time, and I had always thought it was a combination of both.

At some point in my schooling I was taught that the genes are in the nucleus of the cell, and the nucleus runs the cell, sort of like the brain runs the body. Remove the brain, kill the person. Remove the nucleus, kill the cell? Nope!

According to biologist Bruce Lipton, if one removes the nucleus containing all the genetic material from the cell, the cell continues to function perfectly as if nothing has happened. The cell does not need the genes to function – clearly the genes are not operating the cell at all!

This interesting fact leads to 2 questions: a) if the genes do not run the cell, what is the purpose of the genes? b) What part of the cell is the control- centre for cell operations if it is not the nucleus?

The answer to the first question is that the genes provide the blueprint for the body. The architectural design. The “how to build” manual, so the proteins can refer to it to make the spare parts of the body that need to be replaced.

Is the blueprint going to alter how the body works? Sure, in a way. The blueprint for a Mac truck is very different from the blueprint for a Ferrari – both vehicles can work well, but they have different attributes, the truck being able to handle rugged terrain, and the ferrari being a speed machine. One vehicle is more likely than the other to be damaged in a fender-bender.

Assuming two vehicles coming off the assembly line are the same, would the health and life of the vehicle be different depending on how the vehicles were treated? Of course! A young hothead that runs the car hard, skidding around corners, slamming on the breaks, flooring the gas, and doesn’t maintain it well would have a vehicle that would not last as long as someone that drove it “gently” and maintained it well.

The blueprint provides only the design of the cells of the body. It does not control how those cells are “used” by the person running the body.

Now to answer the second question – if the genes do not run the cell, what does? The cell membrane (the skin of the cell). The cell membrane is the interface between the soup outside the cell, and the machinery inside that runs the cell.

The cell membranes contain receptors for all kinds of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters etc, and depending on what is in the chemical soup outside the cell, different receptors will be activated to run a program inside the cell.

So, if you are having a stressful day, your body will secrete the stress chemicals, like adrenalin, cortisol etc., into the bloodstream, which will trigger the cell receptors that bind with cortisol & adrenalin to run the “stress program” inside the cell.

What happens in the cell would be different depending on whether the cortisol receptor is on the membrane of a muscle cell, bone cell or a bladder cell, but each cell would run its “stress program”.

If you are feeling love, gratitude, appreciation, capable, confident, anything is possible, the chemicals released into the blood stream are entirely different from the chemicals released if feeling stressed because of self-doubt, fear, unhappiness, worry, guilt, lack of money.

Therefore completely different receptors would be triggered on the cell membranes, causing different chemical reactions within the cell. So how the gene blueprint is expressed is determined by which receptors are triggered.

The good news is that for the most part we are not total victims of our genes. The genes create the hardware, but we do have a fair bit of control over the software, and by doing what we can to control the environment that our cells live in, we can improve their health.

Eating healthy, drinking adequate water, exercising regularly, getting good sleep in a dark room, and being mindful of what we focus our thoughts on, all play key roles in determining what chemicals are floating around in our body environment, and therefore what our cells will respond to.

Our emotional health is one of the most important factors in determining our overall health, but here is the thing. We tend to think the same thoughts every day, which means we feel the same emotions every day – we have thought habits which drive emotional habits. Which then drives our cells in the same way. Much of those thought habits and belief systems were programmed into our subconscious mind or “habit brain” before the age of 8.

Changing thought-habits and unconscious beliefs that are holding us back in our lives is a big challenge. How many times have you read a book that inspired you to want to change some aspect of your life, but you somehow couldn’t implement what you learned even though you wanted to? Bottom line is it is our unconscious (habit) mind that runs our lives.

One of the best ways to rewrite the unconscious mind is to create new rituals and do them daily until they are a habit. A daily practice of gratitude, love and appreciation, where you really feel the emotion of gratitude and love is a great place to start. Feeling the emotion is the key to changing the biochemistry. The thought alone will not do it.

Using a biofeedback system like those provided at Heartmath can help.

Psych K is another method to reprogram the unconscious mind. For more info on that, click here. If you want to watch Dr. Bruce Lipton’s lecture on the biology of belief, click here.

Please help me out? I want to get a better idea how I can help you – please complete this short survey. It would take less than 2 minutes, and I would be most grateful! Movement and Wellness Survey. Thank you in advance!

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Lipton, Bruce Biology of Belief Lecture Youtube published April 16, 2012

Williams, Rob The Psychology of Change Youtube published July 20, 2011

Copyright 2017 Vreni Gurd

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Light and charged water provide our bodies with energy

It is common knowledge that are body is 75+ percent water, and yet we don’t really know what the purpose of all that water is, except for being the solvent for all the solutes (proteins, fatty acids, hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients, minerals etc.)

Research by Gerald Pollack from the University of Washington in Seattle is now suggesting that water is far more complex than we have ever believed, and may be providing our bodies with another energy system – another driving force that moves fluids through our bodies.

I think this topic is fascinating, and has implications for a big change in our understanding of our basic physiology, as well as provides opportunities for technical applications in daily life.

Watch Gerald Pollack explain his science here. For those that prefer to read, I will summarize below.

When you are out in a boat, have you sometimes you noticed droplets of water sitting on top of the surface of the lake? How does that happen? Why don’t those drops immediately merge with the lake? Have you ever tried floating a coin or paperclip on the surface of some water? Possible, and somewhat amazing, no?

“Oh, that is just surface tension”, one would say. Right? Well, actually we now know there is more to it than that. We all know that water has 3 phases – solid (ice), liquid, and gas (steam). According to Pollack, there is a 4th phase of water – a gel phase between the liquid and the solid, and this is the phase of water that explains a lot of phenomena that has been largely a mystery.

When water contacts a water-loving surface (hydrophilic), the water molecules split, with the negative ions lining up next to the hydrophilic material, and the positive ions being pushed further away from the material. The negative ions rearrange themselves in such a way as to create a gel-like honeycomb lattice changing their molecular structure from H2O to H3O2.

The interesting thing about this negatively charged water is that it pushes everything else out into the positive water. The negatively charged lattice excludes everything including particles, contaminants, bacteria, even salt. Pollack calls this negatively-charged water, exclusion zone water, or EZ water for short.

Because the water is now divided into a negative zone and a positive zone, we essentially have a battery. If you put an electrode into each zone of the water, you can run an electrical device.

But what charges the water? Light. Pollack found that the more light was shining on the water, the more EZ water layers were created. He found that infrared light was particularly effective at increasing the layers of the negative-ion lattice.

This concept may explain how some biological processes in our bodies work. For example, red blood cells are commonly thicker than the capillaries (smallest blood vessels) that they have to go through. Is the pumping action of our heart really strong enough to squish these cells through the narrow tubes? Seems unlikely. So how is this possible?.

Pollack found that when he put a hydrophilic straw in the water and shone light onto the water, there was a constant non-ending flow of water and the particles it carried, through the tube. The charged water in our vessels may provide the energy to propel the red blood cells through the capillaries.

According to Pollack, the water inside the cells are negatively charged due to the many proteins they contain having hydrophilic walls, which creates EZ water, forcing the positively charged water outside the cells (extracellular fluid).

Mitochondrial cells are known as the powerhouses of the muscles as they provide energy for muscle contraction. Their structure contains many membranes, which would create a significant amount of EZ water, possibly increasing the energy production within the cells.

When we consider any biological process that involves a molecule sitting in water, we perhaps should now look at it with the understanding of all of the components involved: the molecule, the negatively charged EZ water, the positively charged water, and the effect of light. As Pollack says, perhaps we now need to reconsider many biological processes with this new understanding.

The take-away is that we are solar beings. Like plants, we are able to convert light into energy, and we also use this energy system to run some of the biochemical processes of the body.

It does make sense to me that if we can improve the body’s ability to use this energy system, we might feel much better. So, what might we do?

Certainly if we are dehydrated, EZ water would be depleted, and generally we don’t feel as good as we could. So drink up! There is anecdotal evidence that infrared light / saunas greatly increase people’s energy levels. Juicing raw greens like wheat grass is thought to be very healthy. Is it that we are consuming the plant’s EZ water that is also contributing to the health benefits?

At the very least, I think I will shine a light on my Britta pitcher – can’t hurt, might help …

Enjoy your Sunday!

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Pollack, Gerald H. The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor Ebner & Sons, Seattle, 2013

Pollack, Gerald H. Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life: A New Unifying Approach to Cell Function Ebner & Sons, Seattle, 2001.

Copyright 2017 Vreni Gurd

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Glyphosate (Round Up herbicide) in your Cheerios

Maybe you have used Round Up on your lawn, as it is a very common herbicide sold at Home Depot and other stores for home use. I imagine it is very effective.

Round-Up, otherwise known as glyphosate, is the most common herbicide used in North America, invented by and put onto the market by Monsanto. What they did is a truly brilliant for their bottom line.

Why, you ask? Monsanto is famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) for marketing genetically modified seed, particularly GMO Round-Up Ready canola, soy and corn. How they modified the seed was to make it resistant to their brand of herbicide, Round-Up or glyphosate.

So, they market their GMO seed, and also sell Round Up Ready herbicide, which kills everything but the plants that contain the modified genes.

Monsanto makes money on their GMO seed, and they make money on their herbicide. A perfect marriage. Personally, I don’t have a problem with businesses making money on their inventions – I admire innovation and find it amazing how much our world has changed even in the last 10 years.

But here is the thing. Glyphosate has been recently classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer branch, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

It is being sprayed on corn, canola, soy, cotton, sugar beet and alfalfa GM crops in greater and greater quantities, because as the years go by, the weeds that it is supposed to kill are becoming more and more resistant to the herbicide, and it takes more and more Round Up to do the job.

Round Up is also regularly sprayed on other crops such as wheat and oats just before harvest, a process called desiccation. By killing the crop first it allows the grains to dry down faster after harvest.

Consequently, glyphosate residue is everywhere in the food supply, as most of us eat wheat, soy, oats and canola every day in processed foods, such as breakfast cereals, cookies, cookies, and products containing canola or soybean oil. It is also found in animals that have been fed GM Round-Up ready grains.

Unintended consequences of spraying Round-Up Ready herbicide, include wind carrying the spray to other crops, run-off into water-ways harming stream life and birds, and although glyphosate is not really a pesticide, it does seem to impact the spatial-tracking ability of bees, making it harder for them to find their way back to their hives. Our bees are struggling enough without this added problem!

It is said that the poison is in the dosage, and the amounts of glyphosate in the foods is small. But we now know that often lower doses of a toxin disrupt endocrine function more than higher doses.

According to the University of California San Francisco, 93% of the population has glyphosate in their urine, and children have larger amounts than adults. With a steady daily drip of glyphosate entering our systems, it can’t be surprising that it may play a role in throwing off our hormones.

I have only scratched the surface of the issues around glyphosate and Round-Up herbicide. Research is pointing to the inert ingredients in the herbicide causing human cell death, and glyphosate may be implicated in the much larger rates of gluten and other food allergy in children, to highlight a couple of others that you may wish to research.

So, what can we do? Although probably almost impossible to eliminate glyphosate exposure altogether, there is a lot we can do to dramatically decrease the amounts we are exposed to. Choosing organic would make the biggest difference, as by definition organic crops are not sprayed with toxic herbicides like Round Up.

Read packaging labels carefully, and avoid conventional foods that contain canola, soy, corn, wheat and oats. And obviously, don’t spray the stuff in your own yard!

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Balbuena MS Effects of sublethal doses of glyphosate on honeybee navigation. J Exp Biol. 2015 Sep;218(Pt 17):2799-805. doi: 10.1242/jeb.117291.

Benbrook CM Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. Environ Sci Eur. 2016;28(1):3.

Chou C. Quaker Oats on list of tainted oatmeals in FDA inspection The China Post May 27, 2016.

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Contamination Found in Popular American Foods Nov. 2016.

Ecowatch Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested May 29, 2016.

Gammon, Crystal Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells Scientific American Online June 23, 2009.

International Agency for Research on CancerIARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides World Health Organization, March 20, 2015

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Contamination Found in Popular American Foods Nov. 2016.

Ecowatch Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested May 29, 2016.

Gammon, Crystal Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells Scientific American Online June 23, 2009.

Samsel A, Seneff S Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies Surg Neurol Int. 2015; 6: 45.

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2017


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Happy 2017 and floating downstream …

As I was lying relaxing in the comfort of my bed this morning, I had a realization. A realization that seemed simple enough, yet somehow profound, and one that I was surprised I had not previously fully understood.

And as the beginning of a new year is often associated with New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I would share it with you, as maybe you will find it helpful too.

I realized that whenever we are experiencing a negative feeling, we are actually coming from a place of lack. Usually we feel a negative feeling because we perceive a lack of something – money, health, thinness, time, a relationship, worthiness, confidence, security – whatever that lack is. We want something to be different than it is.

Because we are viewing our situation from the position of lack, we are pushing against and thinking more about what we don’t want – lack of money, sickness, being overweight, loneliness, overwhelm, self-doubt etc. – which is exactly what makes us feel bad.

And if we make a habit of pushing against what we don’t want, we are directing our energy in the wrong direction. Solutions to problems do not come from dwelling on the problem and agonizing about how awful the problem is.

Nobody enjoys feeling bad, so what if we were to turn our thoughts to what makes us feel good? Whenever we catch ourselves in that feeling of lack, immediately focus our thoughts to what we are grateful for instead, until the feelings of gratitude, blessing, and happiness bubble up.

Inspiration that solves problems tends to happen when we are in a happy place. And life is generally better when we are feeling happy.

So, if you are one to make New Year’s Resolutions, think about the feelings you are associating with your goals. Feelings of sacrifice? Does sacrifice feel good? No. Probably won’t work. Discipline is an external thing you are imposing on yourself, and the negative feeling will likely eventually slow progress. No point fighting upstream.

Can you find a way to look at your Resolutions from a downstream perspective? What can you do that is fun, that will take you in the direction of your resolution? For example, if you want to improve your physical fitness, maybe spending time outside going for a walk and chatting with a friend each day would be a great way to start. Or get and love a dog, who will need daily walking.

May your 2017 be filled with peace, joy and happiness, and may your life flow softly and gently downstream in the direction you want to go.

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Copyright Vreni Gurd 2017

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Reducing our stress with our thoughts and feelings

Control your thoughts, feel better, and that lowers your stress!

I imagine I am not the only one that agrees with Stuart Mclean when in one of his Vinyl Cafe stories he describes life as a speeding train.

A train that starts at the town of New Years, whips through Valentine’s Day, pauses briefly at Spring Break, takes forever through Income-Tax Season and Final Exam Jitters, speeds far too quickly through Summer Vacation to get to Back-To-School Shopping, winds through Halloween and Thanksgiving to rush like the bullet train through Holiday Preparations, and Parties to arrive at Christmas, Hanukkah or Ramadan (or whatever celebratory town I missed …)

And just when one thinks the trip is finally over and one is about the step off the train, one discovers the train has been yanked all the way back to New Years and the crazy trip starts all over again. And then combine the train ride with the ebb and flow of health, relationships and money, and we find ourselves stuck in a huge swirling stress-bucket. And stress has very negative consequences for our health.

Maybe it is not possible to slow the train down, but what can we do to stop the stress of the daily grind from impacting us and find more daily peace? This past year I have been experimenting with a different approach, and I think it is helping.

Firstly, I have been trying to stop the negative self-talk. It is amazing how I am my own worst enemy! I am sure you have heard it said that if someone else talked to you as harshly as you talk to yourself, you would fire them as your friend. Yet somehow it is okay to bully ourselves? This one is tough – I catch myself being mean to me fairly often still, but when I notice, I am now gentle with myself. I tell myself that it doesn’t have to be done this instant, that I am learning and I will get better, that there is only so much time in a day …

Secondly, when I am experiencing negative feelings like depression, anger, or frustration, I try to talk myself into a more positive-feeling place. My goal is to not allow myself to stay in the negative feeling for very long, as I don’t want those feelings to turn into a mood, or into a personality! Sometimes I can accomplish this in a few minutes, usually by distracting myself and thinking about another topic that makes me happy.

Other times this can be very difficult, as usually there is a story attached to those feelings. Since it is often next to impossible to detach an entrenched story from a feeling, the easiest option is to diffuse the story enough to get to feel better. Maybe not to joy and happiness, but it might be possible to talk oneself from depression to anger. Or from overwhelm to disappointment.

Any relief from the negative feeling even if it is to another feeling that is less negative, is moving downstream towards a happier place.

I am not talking about “positive thinking”, as the thought must ring true, or at least feel better. Saying “I am rich”, when you actually feel poor will make you feel worse, not better. Yet acknowledging that there are many opportunities out there and you just haven’t found the right fit yet, may be a more downstream thought.

One of my wisest friends, Mary Ann Gillies, told me that the best approach is to allow oneself to feel the feelings while ignoring the story. If parents made a concerted effort to avoid attaching a story to an incident with their children, their children would grow up with less self-doubt, less fear, more self-confidence, more optimism, and more self-empowerment.

As she puts it, “Think of kids who fall down and bump their knee. It hurts, they cry and if the parent acknowledges the hurt but doesn’t add a story to it by saying “You always fall down, you klutz.”, or “You poor baby – you need to move more carefully so you don’t get hurt”, the kid gets up, stops crying and in short time has forgotten all about the bump and the fear or anger or whatever feeling it generated in addition to the physical pain.”

The bottom line is that our thoughts and our feelings are inextricably linked, and since our feelings determine which neurotransmitters, hormones or peptides are created, our feelings largely determine our health status.

Our mind is the only place we are truly free. No matter what is going on in our lives, it is possible to imagine anything we want with our mind. We can let our minds drift to worst case scenario thoughts, doubt thoughts, generally negative thoughts, or we can actively shift our thoughts to solutions, to fun, to our dreams, thereby infusing ourselves with good feelings, which will improve our happiness and our health.

Please do keep the comments coming on my blog. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

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Gillies, Mary Ann, personal communication, December 2016.

Hicks, Jerry & Esther The Law of Attraction Hay House, 2006.

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2016


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Sitting is the new smoking

First of all, I owe you an apology. I have not been updating this blog or sending out my email newsletter in over a year.

The major reason is that in September of 2014 I started a 6 year program to become an osteopath. The volume of material we are responsible is huge, but I am loving it. And when I am done, I think I will be an amazing therapist. BUT because of that the blog and newsletter fell by the wayside.

I would like to start again to fulfill what I promised you. It won’t be weekly – the next two weekends I am in courses – but I will endeavour to send something at least once or twice a month that hopefully you will find informative and useful. If there are health topics you want me to discuss, please let me know.

Now on to your tip. You probably have already heard that sitting is the new smoking. We now know that sitting for prolonged periods of time is dangerous to our health, making us prone to blood clots, leading to embolisms, heart disease, and stroke. Prolonged sitting even seems to impact blood-sugar regulation, making us more prone to diabetes. Even if we do an hour of exercise a day, it does not erase 8 hours of sitting.

This isn’t great news since our world seems to be designed around sitting, and many of us sit at office jobs all day. So, what do we do? Is there anything that can counteract all that sitting?

The simplest solution is to set an alarm and get up out of your chair at least once every half-hour and walk around for at least 2 minutes. Much more impactful though, would be to get up, then lie all the way down on your yoga mat that is on the floor beside your desk, then stand up again, and repeat that 3 or 4 times. This will bump up the heart rate, and ensure great blood-flow through your entire body. Do this, and it will erase that half hour of sitting.

And the bonus is: if getting down onto and getting up from the floor is NOT easy for you, it will become easy for you, which will mean increased range of motion and strength, and therefore better ability to do many tasks of daily living!

If you live in the Vancouver Lower Mainland, come on out to our free seminar called “The 6 Movements You Should Be Able to Do”. Learn why being able to do these movements increases life enjoyment, test yourself to see how well you can actually do the movements, and learn how to get better at them! Please register at Eventbrite.

Please do keep the comments coming on my blog. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

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Aviroop Biswas et al. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132..

World Health Organization Physical Activity

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2016


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Why the war on small farms is impacting our health

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Are you not as healthy as you might be due to the politics of food? That statement may seem ridiculous, but it might be quite true for many if you are unable to access food you consider to be healthy. And for the American readers here, your food options are about to shrink even further due to politics.

More and more people are rejecting factory farms, conventional mono-crop farming methods and GMO food and are instead seeking to contract directly with farmers that grow the organic produce and raise the pastured meat, poultry, dairy and eggs that they want .

Big Food sees this trend as a threat to their monopoly, and Governments see it as a threat to food safety.

Food is huge business. Everyone needs to eat, and the huge food companies want you to eat their food, so they are doing all the can to stop the growing interest in farm fresh, local food.

Big Food has big pockets and they are influencing governments to pass regulations that will help them thrive.

Provincial and State governments are prosecuting farmers that form food coops and herd shares in order to supply real food to people that want it, under the guise of not having a retail license, and then making it impossible for the farmers to get the license they require. (People want raw milk which the farmer provides, but the farmer is not able to get a license for raw milk for example).

Farmers that are trying to preserve biodiversity are being prosecuted for such things as keeping “feral pigs”, even though this different breed of pig are not actually wild, but are on a farm.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency slaughtered all of Montana Jones' very rare heritage sheep despite lab tests showing her animals did not have scrapie. Autopsies afterwards also verified that her sheep were healthy.

(In an effort to save her sheep against an unjust fate, some other farmers “sheep-napped” them which delayed the slaughter for several months, and currently the suspected sheep-napper farmers are in court for that. I know – hard to believe it is true!)

Over 97% of the population wants GMO food to be labeled, and for years Governments have done nothing about that fact, largely because of the overlap between directors of companies like Monsanto and the US Federal Government. Only now are things beginning to change at the State level.

Big Food is putting millions and millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Proposition 522 in Washington State, that would require food that contains genetically modified ingredients to be labelled. Big Food won in California by a very narrow margin, defeating that State’s effort to label GMO food.

The Big Food campaign suggests that labelling will increase the cost of food, but these same companies supply GMO labelled and GMO-free food to 64 other countries in the world so it would not be that hard for them.

If GMO food is so safe, why are those companies so afraid of letting consumers know what is in the food? Are you okay with being experimented on without your knowledge or consent?

Why is the GMO issue not being discussed regularly by the mainstream media? Why is it that only after the advent of social media that the issue of GMO food-labeling is suddenly on the radar?

Because the companies that supply GMO food have huge budgets, and they are very willing to sue any media outlet that says anything negative. Companies like Monsanto can’t do much about social media however, so it is up to us to spread the word …

Governments are stopping people from growing food in their front yards. They are requiring permits for kids that set up lemonade stands. They are stopping people from having potluck community events.

Food Coops are being raided at gun-point by SWAT teams. It is way over the top! Rawesome Food Coop in California a few years ago is a good example. Federal agents in full army combat gear were pointing their guns at people in tank tops and flip flops running the till. They confiscated the raw milk in the fridge, and jailed the owners. And this despite the fact that raw milk is legal in California, and can be purchased in grocery stores.

Now in the US, FDA is implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will probably result in many of the country's safest farms being put out of business.

For example, in an effort to control salmonella, the new regulations will make it next to impossible for small farmers to have outdoor flocks of chickens, which research shows is far safer than indoor caged chickens.

Funny they are trying to do this in the middle of a chicken salmonella outbreak from Foster Farms, a huge factory farm that has sickened 278 people in 18 States!

The new regulations unfortunately do nothing to address the real problem with respect to food-borne illness – sick animals living in the filth of factory farms. Check out this W5 video exposing the horrific conditions and abuse of factory farms.

Because the animals are held in such crowded, filthy conditions, antibiotics are part of the feed in the futile attempt to keep the animals healthy. The rise of antibiotic resistance that is affecting our hospitals is the direct result. Some believe we are now entering a world where antibiotics will no longer work, and people will once again regularly die of infections.

If the farms that provide the healthy food are out of business, US citizens will have no option but to eat the unhealthy stuff.

Big Agribusiness and Big Food are using the Government “food safety” regulations to control our food. There is a double standard when it comes to food safety – one for the factory farms, and another for the smaller farms trying to produce nutrient-dense food.

So, the question begs. Is this okay with you? Do you care enough about your health and well-being to do something to protect your food supply? Are you willing to help small farmers survive by going out of your way to seek their food out?

Do you shop at farmer’s markets or participate in community-supported -agriculture programs? Do you refuse to buy conventionally-raised food from big agribusiness sold at your grocery store? Are you choosing to spend your money on food now or on medicine that may or may not work later? Is buying cheap food worth the consequence?

What we choose to purchase will have a huge impact on our environment, food supply and the health that our kids and grand-kids will inherit. Please choose wisely.

I look forward to your comments. If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom of the blog post and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips
Improving nutrition by avoiding the grocery store
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John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Industrial Food Animal Production in America Fall 2013

Copyright 2013 Vreni Gurd

To subscribe go to www.wellnesstips.ca

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Standard North American Diet Includes some of the Most Addictive Substances Known to Man

Guest post by Melissa Hathaway

It is no secret that the dietary health problems facing America are beginning to spiral out of control with more people than ever before in history suffering from illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Given the advances in modern medicine and nutritional knowledge, it seems difficult to comprehend how we could be in a situation where we have more medical expertise than ever before, yet have a worsening state of health.

There is a battle going on between the food industry giants and researchers who are trying to highlight the extremely dangerous and addictive additives that are being placed into just about every every pre-packaged and fast food product.

No Legal Protection
The average North American is under the impression that food manufacturers are not putting ‘toxins’ and ‘addictive’ substances into products as there would surely be laws against such things as the government would want to protect the health and wellbeing of the nation.

This is simply not the case, and closer inspection of processed food labels will reveal a whole host of extremely harmful ingredients that have now become standard in our ‘foods’. Here are some details on just a few of the substances commonly found in foods:

Monosodium Glutamate
MSG is present in a whole host of fast foods, chips and crackers, canned foods, and soups. It is a processed chemical additive which is used to enhance flavors, and researchers have discovered that it is a powerful excitotoxin.

These chemicals are responsible for a high level of brain reactivity to the foods being eaten, which is what is partly responsible for their addictive nature. Other bad side effects include possible carcinogenic properties which can have serious health implications if consumed in large quantities over an extended period of time.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS is a chemically produced sweetener that is made using corn starch as the base ingredient. Food companies use it as a cheap way of sweetening foods, without using natural sugars and it is a product that the body is ill equipped to deal with.

These days HFCS is present is the vast majority of processed foods including salad dressings, bread, fruit juice, sauces, cookies, biscuits, cereal, frozen foods, and soft drinks to name just a few.

There are many negative effects on health associated with high fructose corn syrup including increased risk of contracting type 2 diabetes and negative effects on the liver. HFCS is also extremely addictive, with some medical studies concluding that it had addictive qualities comparable to the illegal drug cocaine. It may sound extreme, but the ‘fake sugar’ gives the brain a rush of chemicals and this can become very addictive.

Beating Food Addiction
Food addiction may be a new term to you, but it is well documented in the medical and scientific professions. Just like any drug, the chemicals present in processed foods alter the brains chemistry and cause bodily reactions to its consumption.

Highly altered compounds such as as HFCS can trigger addictive tendencies as the brain enjoys the ‘sugar rush’ that it’s getting, and this can also create addictions to other chemical additives found present in these foods.

People usually associate addiction with smoking, drugs, and alcohol, but one of the biggest addiction problems in the US is actually food addiction.

There are numerous places that people can get help and advice on how to beat food addiction, including many local centers such as one for addiction treatment in Virginia. Centers such as this provide valuable help and guidance for overcoming addiction to food, but the best way to avoid becoming addicted in the first place is to be extremely careful about what chemical additives you consume.

Natural Whole Foods Offer the Answer
By consuming as natural a diet as possible, consisting of large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables and organic produce, you will be limiting the aforementioned addictive chemical additives to a minimum.

Not only will this be beneficial for your short term health and wellbeing, it is also likely to decrease your chances of developing long term diet related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, weight related health problems, and certain types of cancer.

Humans have lived for thousands of years on a natural whole diet, and the correlation between many of today’s most common health issues and the chemical ingredients present in the standard North American diet are clear to see.

If you want to search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related Tips:
Processed food is taking over the supermarket
High fructose corn syrup – the fastest way to fatten up
Our toxic body burden

Adams, Mike Interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock on devastating health effects of MSG, aspartame and excitotoxins Natural News September 27, 2006.

Elliott, Sharon et al. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome Am. J. Clin Nutr. November 2002 vol. 76 no. 5 911-922

Sanchez, Kevin New Research Suggests High Fructose Corn Syrup Triggers Addictive Consumption Similar to Drugs Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2013.

Copyright 2013 Melissa Hathaway

To subscribe go to www.wellnesstips.ca

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Raw milk vs pasteurized – the science

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My farmer was found guilty of contempt of court this week for producing and delivering an illegal “hazardous substance” to me. The substance in question? Elicit drugs? Assault rifles? Anthrax or other deadly agent? No. The hazardous substance they are spending our tax dollars on preventing me from obtaining is raw milk. If my farmer continues to care for and milk my cows for me and give me the milk from my cows, he will be sent to jail.

To me this seems like Orwellian joke. Who is the victim in this milk crime? Is this a crime that deserves a jail sentence? On the one hand Big Brother is trying to protect me from my milk, and on the other, Big Brother refuses to tell me which foods in the grocery store are genetically modified so I can’t protect myself.

I can buy ground beef, take it home and eat it raw but raw milk, which also comes from cows, is so dangerous it can’t be transported across town and given to me.

So, what is the science with respect to raw milk? Is the government’s position warranted? Independent researcher Nadine Ijaz MSc recently presented “Raw Milk: Myths and Evidence” at the BC Center for Disease Control, examining the recent research on raw milk. Please watch her excellent presentation. What follows is a summary of the points Ms. Ijaz makes in her presentation, and I suggest you watch the presentation to hear about each of these points in more detail. Anything in quotes in the summary below is in Ms. Ijaz’s words.

“Myth 1: Raw milk is more digestible for people with lactose intolerance” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.
A surprise to raw milk enthusiasts, but this is a myth. There is no lactase enzyme in fresh milk.

“Myth 2: Enzymes and beneficial bacteria make raw milk more digestible” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.
There are many enzymes and bacteria strains in milk, but at the present time there is no evidence to describe their role in human digestion. “There is some evidence that the non-harmful lactic-acid bacteria may having a function in holding the pathogenic bacteria at bay.”

“Myth 3: Raw milk is known to prevent cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.
Currently there is very little evidence to examine these questions, and “the existing evidence does not substantiate those particular claims.” Those of us that are raw milk enthusiasts need to be careful that we do not spread unsubstantiated claims, as that reduces our credibility.

“Myth 4: Raw milk is a high-risk food” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.
To determine if a food is risky, we need to know the risk per serving, as well as the rates of sickness, hospitalizations and deaths, along with how risky the food is for immunologically susceptible people, like children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) is the international gold standard recognized by Health Canada and the FDA for determining pathogenic risk. QMRA studies characterize the risk of a particular food as low, moderate or high.

Recent QMRA studies for raw milk show that “there is a LOW risk for illness or severe health outcomes or hospitalizations from consuming raw milk” for E-Coli, Listeria, Staphylococcus and Campylobacter. We do not yet have a QMRA for salmonella.

To confirm accuracy of QMRAs, outbreak data is used. There has not been a single confirmed sickness from Listeria from raw milk in the last 40 years. There has not been a single death from raw milk since 1998.

One to 6% of foodborne illnesses are attributed to all dairy, raw and pasteurized combined. An extremely small percentage of illnesses and hospitalizations from food-borne illnesses are attributed to raw milk. The rate of hospitalization from raw milk was significantly lower than that from all other foods.

Green leafy vegetables are the most frequent cause of foodborne illness representing 20 percent of all cases between 1998 and 2008. Yet the government has not named green leafy vegetables a hazardous substance.

“Myth 5: Raw milk has no unique health benefits” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.
There is strong evidence “… that the consumption of unprocessed cow’s milk has indeed a protective effect on the development of asthma and allergies”. Ten studies between 2001 and 2010 suggested a link.

The most recent, 11th study that really affirmed this evidence was the GABRIELA study. It was very large – 8000 school-aged children in Europe were studied. Both blood samples and milk samples were taken, and study showed “… that there was an independent protective effect of raw farm milk on the development of asthma, allergy and hay fever by about half.” That is HUGE! There is a suggestion that some of the whey proteins that are sensitive to heat and would be destroyed in pasteurization might be involved.

We used to think that each vitamin or mineral works in isolation, and as long as they are in the diet, all will be well. Now we know that vitamins do not work in isolation – vitamin D works with magnesium and calcium for example.

Many studies suggest that there are not large differences in nutrients between pasteurized and raw milk. Perhaps it is this synergistic action of the nutrients that might explain why even small nutrient changes can make big differences in how the milk works in our bodies. Vitamin A gets concentrated after pasteurization, whereas vitamins C, B and E are decreased. Perhaps the minor alteration in these ratios have major affects on how they work in our bodies.

The recent large Pasture Cohort Study of 2012, (the 12th study if we are counting) showed that pregnant mothers that drank raw milk had newborns with improved immunity and decreased cow-milk allergy. Infants drinking raw cow milk before the age of one had better immune gene expression. The risk/benefit analysis seems to pertain specifically to some of the most susceptible groups.

“Myth 6: Industrial milk processing is harmless to health” Nadine Ijaz MSc.
There are 4 processes of industrial milk production that milk drinkers may object to – pasteurization, homogenization, vitamin D3 fortification, and grain/sillage/soy feeding practices.

Some people are choosing raw milk in order to opt of the industrial process. This is the primary reason I personally prefer raw. Due to the precautionary principle it is reasonable to do so.

Pasteurization or heat treatment has already been discussed.

Homogenization is the process of putting the milk through a fine screen at high pressures to break up the fat globules so the fat won’t rise to the top. This is done to improve shelf life primarily. “Of all the industrial processes milk undergoes, homogenization results in the most profound difference to the structure of the milk, and it might result in altered health properties.” Michalazki Janual 2006: 424. It affects the fat globule membrane and the organization of the proteins.

It has been hypothesized that homogenization might be the reason that raw milk is protective for asthma and allergy.

Vitamin D3 fortification: A recent 2012 review suggests that vitamin D from the sun is quite different from synthetic vitamin D. There is another study that suggest that kids that are taking vitamin-D3 fortified milk have lower serum ferritin (iron) status. Individuals may use the precautionary principle and opt out of industrial milk for this reason.

Contemporary feeding practices: Consumers are looking for grass-fed milk that have a more beneficial fatty-acid profile with higher omega 3 and CLA content.

“Current evidence does not support:
1) An argument that people should choose raw milk.
2) A suggestion that pregnant women should consume raw farm milk
3) A public health recommendation that parents should give their babies and children raw farm milk.” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.

The current evidence does however, support choice.
“It is scientifically reasonable for people, including pregnant women and parents of young children to choose hygienically produced raw milk over industrially processed milk, whether or not they heat it themselves afterwards. It is not scientifically justifiable to prohibit people, including pregnant women or parents of young children from choosing to seek out an important food which may effectively prevent allergy and asthma.” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.

“So what is the role of public health enforcement?
1) Limitations should be proportional to the risk posed by a given hazard.
2) Enforcement should be consistent across foods.” (salad is far riskier than raw milk but is not deemed a hazardous substance).
3) Balance individual rights with public protection.” Nadine Ijaz, MSc.

In the case of our herd share, none of our milk goes into public commerce, so there is no risk at all to public safety.

We need to focus on minimizing risk to reasonable levels.  No other food has a zero hazard tolerance threshold. It is important to realize that pasteurization is no guarantee that the milk will be risk-free.

The evidence no longer supports raw milk being designated as a health hazard. Instead governments should consider regulation, mitigation and education in light of the existing evidence.

I sincerely hope that Nadine’s presentation gets viewed and shared.  If you know any health reporters that can take on this story, please let them know. 

The war on raw milk and on farmers that are trying to feed a community that wants the food they provide, needs to end. Year after year we hear of farmers being prosecuted and forced out of business for providing food to those that want it. Most recently, Wisconsin is threatening to jail farmer Hershberger despite being acquitted of 3 of 4 charges related to his raw-milk coop.

We as individuals should have the right to determine what we want to eat, whether that involves raw milk, or avoiding GMO food. We need help making this a national conversation. If you can help, please do!

If you want to share this article, scroll to the very bottom of the blog post and click the “share” icon to post on Facebook, Twitter etc. If you want to subscribe or search for other posts by title or by topic, go to www.wellnesstips.ca.

Related tips
Finding quality dairy
Industrial agriculture – what’s the real cost of cheap food?
Raw milk, the health authorities, and the right to choose the food we eat

Ijaz, Nadine Raw Milk: Myths and Evidence” Presentation to the BC Center for Disease Control, May 2013.

Copyright 2013 Vreni Gurd, after consultation with Ms. Nadine Ijaz MSc. for accuracy

To subscribe go to www.wellnesstips.ca

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