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Listen, I know you didn’t want to hear about this today, but I’m not spending hours writing about the world’s most hated subject so that you can go and ignore it.

Now that I have your attention, let me explain this post. This is the personal reason that I took a look at exercise today and decided that I am going to research how it works and post about it next.

Let me get excited! Just a little. Maybe a lot!

I started an exercise program a few weeks ago: Jillian Michael‘s 30-Day Shred. I’m not doing it to lose weight, because if I did I’d be sick. I’m doing it to build muscle and get into the habit of daily exercise.  For three weeks (minus the weekends), I’ve been dragging my weights to the TV every morning at 7:00 and doing jumping-jacks for 25 minutes. Well, not just jumping jacks; squat-and-presses, crunches, jumping-jacks, “static-lunge-with-a-bicep-curl”s, crunches, jumping-jacks, jump-rope, crunches, jumping-jacks, uh… jumping-jacks.

My childhood fear was that Mom would tell me to go in the backyard and do jumping-jacks. The first day Jillian said jumping-jacks, my stomach turned.

Anyways…

The first three days were the hardest. I could barely get through the workout. After the workout, I’d go for a 1-hour walk outside and felt like my legs were going to give out and I’d have to drag myself home. My arms, shoulders, and stomach burned, and I panted while going up a very small, gradual hill. But it was a good pain; it felt awesome! From the fourth day on, it got gradually easier – I could barely touch my toes (because of the pain in the muscle) but the burn wasn’t as much. During the first week, my arms, quads and hamstrings hurt the most; during the second, my arms and calves,  and this week nothing hurts except during the half hour right after the workout.

It’s a 20 minute workout, split into a warm up and three circuits. In each circuit, Jillian has two minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio, and one minute of abs. As of this week, the warm up and first circuit are the hard parts. The second and third seem so short that they’re barely existent. Out of the circuits, the abs are my favorite. If I had to pick a favorite exercise out of each, it would be chest flyes, butt-kicks, and reverse crunches (this is probably because they’re the easiest).

If I had flexed my arm three weeks ago, you’d barely see the muscle move. This week, I can stand in front of the mirror and see that little bump pop up when I flex. I can press it and hit something solid. My legs aren’t made of jello, and I have two tiny little muscles right under my rib-cage that are promising to grow if I keep going.

I’m thrilled! I’ve done something huge! Something voluntary! And I’m going to keep doing it, because I feel fantastic!

You feel like you can do anything when you accomplish something.

A New Goal

 If anyone out there reads this blog (other than my family and friends), I would like to apologize for making you wait so long for a new post. My reason for leaving was partially because I wasn’t enjoying writing or the subject of health. The more important reason, though, was because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t enjoying it. I stopped writing for about a month to make room for self-examination and a paradigm shift.

The goal when I started this blog was to tell other members of my generation about what they eat and to educate other teens on health – a goal which I have realized was wrong. It’s ok to share what I’ve learned, but I have no right to pretend I am more intelligent or higher-ranking than others, or to shatter the realities in which people live.

It’s not fun to get onto a podium and shout about information that you gather for that purpose. For one thing, it’s just information – tasteless, bland, boring facts that people forget about in a week. Boring for the reader, and boring for the writer.

Another reason that you have to lie to convince yourself that you are in a position to lecture or lead… and once a lie is discovered, pain follows. Realizing that that’s what I was doing was kind of awesome, because it reminded me (here comes the geek) of my favorite Marvel villain, Loki, standing before a crowd of kneeling people.

 For the same reason it was also pretty sad and distasteful. I love this character, but that’s not who I want to be.

I enjoy researching. I am fascinated by the subjects of health, food, and the human body, and I always have been. But I wasn’t researching and writing for enjoyment; I was researching and writing to teach people what they don’t know. To paraphrase: I was writing with the assumption that they don’t know and alternatively, I do know.

So now I understand why I didn’t enjoy blogging, and I recognize that I was doing something right (writing information) with wrong intentions (make you learn it). If I can’t enjoy doing something that isn’t particularly necessary, than I have two options: to stop doing it, or to make it enjoyable. I don’t like to quit (it’s not healthy), so I am going to go with the latter.

The New Goal

The old goal, like I said, was to try to teach others. The new goal is to stick with teaching myself.  The new goal is also to write down the ‘just plain stuff’ that crowds my head all day.

So, dear unknown and possibly nonexistent reader, this is health and food and facts and a bit of my life and thoughts. Have fun.

My Garden

I started a garden this year for the very first time; I read up on how to grow the different plants that I wanted to try growing, and then I took a chance and tried it.

During May, I pulled all of the 3 years or so of weeds out, and a neighbor graciously offered to till it up for me. With two bags of starter soil turned into the garden plot, I started planting during the last week of May.

The plants that I’m growing are corn, butternut (or was it spaghetti) squash, carrots, beets, onions, loose leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce. While my Mom was away on a vacation to Victoria, BC, she bought some annual violet seeds from the Butchart Gardens, which I planted in a corner. They are beautiful flowers!

Through June and this month, I have been watering and pulling weeds, and just this week, I got to see the fruit of my labor. The loose leaf lettuce matures quickly, and we made a caesar salad with some of it.

Unfortunately… Although I took a picture of the loose leaf in the garden and the loose leaf in a bowl after I picked it… I forgot to take a picture of the loose leaf caesar salad. So here is the lettuce in the garden, and the lettuce in the salad spinner bowl.

We noticed a few things about the fresh lettuce compared to the grocery store lettuce that I was surprised about. First, the leaves of the assorted loose leaf lettuce were bigger than the spring mix. All of the lettuce was a little more bitter and more tender. Surprisingly, even though the lettuce is more tender, it doesn’t go soggy on sandwiches as fast as store lettuce.

Anyways, it was really exciting to see how well they grew!

The Misconception of Oils

By now, there is no need to discuss margarine – everyone knows that it is synthesized and not good for you. And hopefully there is no need to discuss the fact that butter is a better fat.

But what about oils? Vegetable oils, canola oil, soybean oil – are they as good as the Health Experts say they are? Could vegetable oil be to olive oil as margarine is to butter?

Perhaps it depends on the processing – this video shows cold pressed oils, but if you notice the care that goes into each step, and the fact that the bottles (which are made out of glass) are moved manually to cap them, they are very high-quality and expensive oils. In contrast, this other video is lower-quality oil. At the beginning, they state that canola oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils, more so than olive oil, but when I watched it through, I noticed that the canola seeds are crushed, pressed by a screw with high pressure, extracted again with a wash of solvent, washed with sodium hydroxide, cooled, filtered, bleached, and reheated to get rid of the scent. Now, watch this video on how olive oil is made. Although the olive oil you buy at the supermarket is probably more filtered than this brand, it doesn’t go through solvents, sodium, or bleach.

So, according to video #2, canola oil is healthier than olive oil because it has less saturated fat, and more mono-saturated fat, which apparently helps lower cholesterol. And in fact, cholesterol does not lead to heart disease, and saturated fat does not raise cholesterol.  But even if mono-saturated fat lowered cholesterol and saturated fat raised it, is it really a better deal to have more mono-saturated and less saturated if it has been through three chemicals and super-refined?

Something I would like to call the reader’s attention to, which doesn’t have much to do with oils, is what they do with the pulp after squeezing the oil out. Now that all the nutrients (which were in the oil) have been removed, the pulp is set aside as animal feed. What exactly is wrong with this? Well, the animals which we are eating are themselves consuming flavorless, nutrient-less wood. If you take animal abuse out of the picture altogether, this use of garbage is not beneficial to anyone’s health.

Having read this, what do you think? Are vegetable oils and canola oil the best choice? Did the Health Experts get that right?

The other day I was looking at the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, when I realized that according to the Health Experts, we are supposed to eat more grains and refined carbohydrates than anything else. I was wondering why, and I then remembered a post I did a month or so ago on Type 2 Diabetes. According to my research, grains and refined carbs convert into blood sugar faster than anything else – other than fruit or refined sugar – and a diet with meals heavy in fast-converting foods can cause type two diabetes.

So that aside, how does the Food Guide Pyramid work towards the health of the general public?

The thing is, the Health Experts don’t really explain that.

They do say, however, that the outline they have provided is supposed to keep cholesterol levels and heart disease risk down, by limiting the consumption of fats, oils, and protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy). Cholesterol isn’t bad for you, though, unless it’s from processed foods – from protein, fats (healthy ones such as butter and meat drippings), and oils comes the good cholesterol.

Contrary to the Food Pyramid, processed foods (such as refined grains and bread products) contain bad cholesterol from processing. The fats in dairy and meat were for a long time thought to cause heart disease by inflating cholesterol levels, but the doctors and scientists were wrong, unfortunately – and for several decades. As admitted by a heart surgeon on sott.com - “What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods. … The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.”

That’s a shocking discovery.

So again… how is the USDA Food Pyramid a healthy diet?

 Perhaps this is a better representation of the diet humans need to maintain health:

Why might this be a better guideline?

For one thing, vegetables are more nutritious than breads or cereals – think about it… are there more nutrients in a cup of stir fried vegetables or in two slices of bread? Another reason is that this diet is higher in protein and fat, which your body needs if it is going to build muscle, and it is impossible to overeat meat – you can’t sit down at an all-you-can-eat buffet and have two plates of meat, and you wouldn’t want to. But you could sit down at an all-you-can-eat buffet and eat toast, cereal, rice, cake, etc., and you would want to eat more even if you are full (because your body likes to consume things that turn into sugar quickly).

Also, consuming starches and meats hinders digestion, so with an even amount of meat and vegetables, and less starch (pure starch like flour, mostly, but also starchy vegetables), it is easier to work your meals so that you don’t have to eat meat with starch.

You may have noticed that I did not include fats and oils at the top of the pyramid – the reason? Fats and oils have long been falsely accused as culprits. Some of them are, but the pure natural ones are beneficial to your health. Butter and olive oil are the two main natural oils. Butter comes from milk that has merely been churned. Olives naturally contain a free-flowing oil which is obtained through crushing them. Soybeans, peanuts, canola, and vegetables do not have an easily obtainable oil – they have to be superheated, pressurized, dropped into vats of acid, extruded, and extracted before they yield their low-quality oils.

I am fortunate not to be gluten intolerant or celiac, at least not yet, but my mother is gluten intolerant. After she eats wheat or gluten-containing products, she becomes bloated and exhausted. She has to stay in bed for a couple of days, knocked out by a particle of mass-produced grain. The first time this happened (that I was aware of), it had set off a node in her heart, which made her heart beat  incredibly fast. It was six hours before she gave up and called an ambulance.

She has had micro-surgery, and they burned off that node, but she still has the allergy. The last time she had a reaction, it was fairly mild – caused by a bowl of corn flakes that apparently contained malt extract. She bloated up, and the tiredness wasn’t gone until evening the next day.

I don’t want other people to have to experience what she had to, or what I had to as a daughter watching her mother not be able to function properly.

That is why I am writing this post – there is someone among a group of 33 people who doesn’t understand why they are always tired and bloated, why they have been diagnosed with how many other things, and why pills aren’t working. There is someone out there who knows full well that they are gluten intolerant, but doesn’t understand why a natural protein is wrecking havoc in their body. I am here to explain why.

Gluten is a natural protein, found in many grains. Only two forms of this protein are found in wheat, and these two are the problem.

Gluten has an elastic quality to it, which helps breads rise and hold their shape, and get crumbly and fluffy.

Wheat has been genetically modified and bred to produce mass amounts of gluten – the result being that the food industries can use less wheat (expensive stuff), more filler (cheap stuff), call the filler ‘enriched whole grains’ (marketing catch), and price the bread as they would if they were using all wheat (more money).

In gluten-intolerant people, gluten attacks the lining of their small intestines, making it difficult to absorb critical nutrients and move the food through to the large intestine. As a result, the food must sit in the small intestine for a few hours, rather than the  30 minutes (approx.) that it usually does, and the victim becomes bloated. The body recognizes gluten as a toxin because of that, and immediately starts combating it. Because gluten is very elastic and strong, it takes a long time to cleanse it from the system – explaining the two or three days that it takes to painfully move one bite of wheat through the intestines and out.

I think that gluten would not be harmful if wheat was in its natural, original form. I also think that the longer we eat abnormally large amounts of gluten from genetically modified wheat, the more cases of celiac and gluten intolerance will rise. We may be looking at an epidemic, but then, this is just me.

This is the WonderBread ‘enriched white bread’ nutrition label. As you can see, it contains 130 mg of sodium. It’s interesting that in a food made out of grain, there is no dietary fiber, although the label says there are carbohydrates.

Gluten

More on Gluten

And a little bit more…

Celiac Disease Statistics

Gluten Intolerance - “nearly 1 in 33 people are gluten intolerant. Other more conservative estimates say around 1 in 100.”

Splenda

You may have looked at Splenda and thought, “What?” And it would be understandable, because Splenda is sold as a ‘healthy’ sugar substitute. You hear the logo almost every time you turn on the TV – “Tastes like sugar, made from sugar, but it isn’t sugar!” and of course, because sugar has been made such a culprit, if it tastes like sugar but it isn’t sugar, than it must be healthy.
But what got me researching Splenda was the ‘made from sugar’ part. How can something taste like sugar and be made from it, but not be as bad as sugar, which is what they are implying? It’s hard to take in, and it seemed suspicious.

This is what I found.

Splenda is sugar molecule that has been processed 5 times. In three of those processes, chlorine molecules are attached to the sugar because chlorine heightens the sweetness of it. When it is sweeter, the food industries can add less, and so it is cost efficient. One of the other processes attaches methanol, and the other is an attempt to make it indigestible. But in fact, about 15% of Splenda is digested and may be stored in the fat cells and this may have dangerous side effects in the long run, considering that both methanol and chlorine are poisonous.

Did you know that Splenda is not calorie free?

Every packet of Splenda is over 90% bulking agents – sugar being the most prominent. But because the packets contain only 1 gram of Splenda and only 4 calories, it can be called calorie free, because of a loophole in FDA regulation – “The product can be described as sugar-free if a serving contains less than 5 grams of sugar, and calorie free if a serving is less than 5 calories.” [quote from here].

Whether the chlorine and methanol in Splenda poses a threat or not (and I believe it does), we are still dealing with another man-made chemical and chemical process. Anything that has been purposely changed at the molecular or DNA level by chemical processes is not going to be good for us, calories or no calories.

How Splenda is made

More info

Wayyyyy more info

To voluntarily store toxins in the body is to have an early death wish.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

We probably all know that this one is bad by now… what we may not know is why. High fructose corn syrup is one of the major suspects for the growing rates of obesity and diabetes that you see mainly in the US and (surprisingly) Mexico. Yes, statistics say that the US, Mexico, and the UK are the top three most obese countries in the world.

I live in Canada, and thank goodness that we’re number 11.

HFCS is frequently used in place of sugar or honey. It is in yogurt, cereal, granola bars, baked products (including bread), pop and other beverages, canned fruits, and candies of all sorts.

Now, if I take another look at that list… the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that they are all processed foods. So again, the foods that are the problems, and the ones we need to stay away from, are the processed foods – the foods that are made to our convenience.

Before I get to how high fructose corn syrup can cause weight gain, I must first explain something else – the hormone called leptin.

When you have eaten enough, your fat cells release leptin, which tells your brain that you aren’t hungry any more. If you starve yourself on a diet or other, or if you wait until you’re famished before you eat – your leptin levels go down, and your hypothalamus hasn’t sensed any leptin. Then your body tries to stimulate a nerve that runs from your abdomen to your brain, which tells you that you are hungry. You eat, and your leptin levels come back up to tell your brain that you are full.

Now I can explain how HFCS is a factor in increase of obesity.

High fructose corn syrup causes insulin resistance because it is a sugar (and is in fact metabolized faster than other sugars), and insulin resistance in turn causes leptin resistance. When you become leptin resistant, your brain does not detect the release of leptin, even though it was there, so it is continually believing that you are hungry. The result – our vagus nerves tell you that you are hungry all the time, and you continue to gain weight because you are taking in more energy than you need to use. And what happens when we eat more than you burn? We get obese.

Something interesting I discovered when I found out which countries are the most obese (per capita), was that during the rise of obesity (1985-2010), diabetes, and cancer, the amount of food additives used rose as well, along with consumption of processed foods, soft drinks and candy.

*I decided to do part three before part two, Splenda, because I’m still gathering some information.

Ok, scratch hydrogen peroxide. It worked for about a week… then on my next breakout, I used it again for 2 weeks and the acne didn’t get any better. I stopped using it three days ago, and switched to tea tree instead, and the acne has already started to fade.

So, my mistake – hydrogen peroxide isn’t such a great idea for acne.

…But I have been using tea tree oil for years, and it still works!

can get it from a pharmacy or walmart - no perscription

Aspartame

There has been quite a debate between the food industry, FDA, and scientists about whether or not  aspartame poses a threat to the general public. Several scientific studies have shown that it can cause brain tumours, but the doctors will tell people it can’t (similar to the way doctors will tell women to take soy if they are infertile, even though it may cause infertility and menstrual problems). The FDA even avoided allowing the industries to market aspartame for 16 years. It was approved after a new director was put in charge and the old one removed. A while later, the new director left the FDA.

That in itself is shocking evidence against Aspartame.

Now, remember my last post on why people get type 2 diabetes? Remember how certain foods make the pancreas release insulin? Well, aspartame, just like sugar, does the same thing. Only, in this case whether you are diabetic or not, it may still cause damage.

Aspartame is a chemical made up of 3 molecules – aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.
That’s right – aspartame is made out of 10% methanol – poison. Methanol causes damage to our eyes. One can of aspartame-sweetened pop contains about 14 mg of methanol. The maximum amount that we are supposed to consume in a day is 7.8 mg. One can see right away that this is a problem in the long run.

Phenylalanine can be a problem for some people who cannot metabolize it, and besides, is also a neurotoxin. In addition to that, it and aspartic acid may trigger the release of insulin from your pancreas, and if we intake too much aspartame, then starts the cycle of how you get type II diabetes.
Another possible threat is cancer. A scientific study was done in 2010, in which rats were fed aspartame for their entire lives. The results were some uncommon brain tumours, increased cancer risk, and things called carcinomas – spreading tumours.

And one more thing – many people use it because it contains virtually no calories or fats, so then they will lose more weight than if they were just using sugar. This is a common myth, since it triggers the release of insulin, which leads to fats and sugars being stored in cells (and if you are eating too much or not exercising enough, not being burned off) and then you start getting overweight. So contrary to popular belief, sugar is better for us than sugar substitutes. I might even venture to say that honey, molasses, and white sugar are the best forms of sugar to consume, if we will consume it at all.

aspartame side effects

where I got the bulk of information

aspartame in pop and aspartame safety