A full night's sleep is not a luxury — it's a basic necessity for healthy hormone balance. Once you dip below seven hours a night, you are increasing your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression, and obesity. Some researchers believe that slow-wave sleep — the deep, dreamless sleep that you ideally sink into about three or four times a night — may actually regulate your metabolism. Sleep researcher break down sleep into five stages. Stage 4 slow-wave sleep, which begins about an hour after we fall asleep, is when we release our greatest pulses of growth hormone, the hormone that prompts the body to burn stored fat. When we're young, we spend about 20 percent of our time asleep in slow-wave stages 3 and 4. But as we get older, we may only spend about 10 or even 5 percent there. Sadly, just two nights of bad sleep will cut your satiety hormone leptin by 20 percent and increase your hunger hormone ghrelin by 30 percent. That one-two punch makes you much more likely to snack on high-carb treats, which couldn't come at a worse time for your insulin levels. In a recent study, University of Chicago researchers found that just three nights of poor sleep made the bodies of young, healthy test subjects 25 percent less sensitive to insulin. This level of insulin resistance is comparable to that brought on by carrying 20 to 30 extra pounds. In order to block fat-storage hormones and allow the full release of fat-burning hormones, you need to get at least seven hours of sleep a night!
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By Michelle Martin
Didn’t get a pay raise this year? Benefits were cut? What if your job offered you a garden plot, some seeds, and a smattering of coworkers to accompany your planting and weeding during the lunch hour — and let you reap part of the bounty when it popped out from the ground?
A New York Times article pointed out an emerging trend in the business world: company gardens. From corporations such as Google and PepsiCo to small businesses, employees are joining forces to grow food on the company grounds. The produce eventually goes home with employees who helped hoe and weed, ends up at a food bank, or serves a company purpose (such as providing food for Google’s café). Sometimes companies start these projects to foster a sense of community or simply to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for everyone. Sometimes employees request and commandeer the gardens themselves.
Of course, the quality of the gardens varies quite a bit. Google’s garden is part of a complete food system including a Manager of Culinary Horticulture, who oversees the gardens. Meanwhile, PepsiCo’s garden, roughly the size of two tennis courts, dropped from more than 200 volunteer employees to 75 over the course of the year, and by mid-May few had even seeded their plots. Sometimes the initial morale drops as projects continue piling up on workers’ desks. And occasionally enthusiastic would-be-gardeners simply lose interest.
Our own editors, Shelley and Heidi, started a company garden for garden-willing employees of Ogden Publishers, which produces MOTHER EARTH NEWS. The gardeners started planning early about what design and plants everyone wanted. These employees agreed that the garden should be pretty, fun, colorful and full of edibles, and they used an approach called edible landscaping in which useful fruit and vegetable plants are beautifully arranged. (For more, check out our upcoming article on edible landscaping in our October/November 2010 issue.) Every day with suitable weather, all willing workers join together throughout the lunch hour to weed and water. So far, they have harvested lettuce, radishes, zucchini, peppers, herbs and even a few tomatoes!
A University of Essex study found that even five minutes a day of outdoor activity can substantially boost mood and self-esteem. Thus, maybe that half hour you or your employees spend tending the sprouts in the sunshine will become an investment in positivity that fuels healthy office interaction. Office gardeners also say that working alongside both superiors and inferiors has an equalizing effect on the corporate pecking order. “It takes the politics out of the job,” said Sheila Golden, a senior manager at PepsiCo, to the New York Times. “Everybody is on the same level in the garden.”
At the very least, a company-hosted community garden offers an easy and hands-on way for everyone to gain more awareness of healthy and sustainable choices. Gardens can also offer practical knowledge on how to produce one’s own food.
Plus: if you ever forget your lunch, just step outside for free nibbles! elements from the top bar.
Buy fragrance made from organic essential oils instead of name-brand perfume made from synthetic fragrance. You'll save $30 or more per ounce.
Essential oils made from organically grown herbs or flowers are free from the harmful chemicals used on conventionally raised flora, as well as from phthalates, which are associated with synthetic perfumes and fragrances. Certain phthalates are suspected carcinogens and can lead to hormonal and reproductive system disorders.
Invest in laser hair removal instead of waxing and save $1,500 to $2,500 for 10 years of hair removal treatment.
The paraffin wax used for hair removal is derived from petroleum, which is a nonrenewable resource, while the electricity used during laser treatment is roughly equivalent to that of a standard light bulb. And it's a change that lasts. Laser treatment can achieve permanent hair removal, whereas waxing must be done every five to six weeks.
Ditch disposable razors or refillable blades replaced weekly, and buy a rechargeable or plug-in electric razor instead. You can save a total of about $80 a year, or roughly the cost of a decent electric razor.
You'll help the planet by cutting your use of: 1,000 gallons of water (no need to run the hot water when you have an electric razor), 150 pounds of carbon dioxide from water heating energy and about 5 pounds of waste (razors, packaging and shaving cream containers). You'll save time too! Shaving with an electric razor tends to be much quicker than shaving with a disposable one.
Buy nail polish free of dibutyl phthalates and toluene instead of standard brand-name polish made with standard toxins. Nail polishes are among the most dangerous cosmetics. Toluene is linked to cancer, and both toluene and dibutyl phthalates are associated with developmental toxicity. You'll save up at least $10 a year, but the real savings are ecological. Fewer toxic chemicals means reduced risk of damage to wildlife, fish and ecosystems.
Buy bars of soap instead of a plastic bottle of body wash and save up to $50 per year for a family of four and reduce waste. Bars of soap are usually minimally packaged in recyclable paper or cardboard, whereas body wash almost always comes in a plastic bottle.
Don't Count Sheets
Choose 300-count sheets instead of 600-count or higher. High thread count claims may be inflated or manufactured with thinner, lower-quality threads. Sheets made from Egyptian cotton or American-grown pima cotton are the best, regardless of thread count. They have the longest fibers, which mean they'll last the longest, and they'll save you about $100 per sheet set depending on brand and size.
Longer-lasting sheets, by definition, need to be replaced less frequently. Growing cotton requires energy, water, land and large quantities of agrochemicals. Processing, sewing and transport (most cotton items are made overseas) involve additional energy and resources. How is this good for you? If you're not buying super-expensive sheets, you're staying away from luxury linen departments—which can be major money suckers.
Even though things may look a bit bare (I prefer to think of it as "minimalist"), you can cut your energy consumption significantly—and save up to $90 in electricity costs, as well as the costs of bulb replacement—by disabling half of the bulbs in multibulb light fixtures.
You will conserve an estimated 875 kilowatt-hours of energy by eliminating 10 60-watt bulbs that are normally on for an average of four hours per day. But be sure to leave enough illumination so that your eyes aren't strained.
Feed Each Other
Share a meal with your date and save $25 or more each time out. You will either prevent food from being wasted or avoid the burden of carting home an oversize foam to-go box that will inevitably be crammed into an undersize trashcan.
It's not only about being good. You'll also save room for dessert! Plus, what's less romantic than the car stinking of garlic the next morning because you forgot to take in the leftovers?
Joy to the Soy
Buy soy candles instead of paraffin wax candles. You can save $10 for equivalent burn time. And soy wax burns cleanly, emitting 90 percent less pollution than paraffin wax candles, which are made from petroleum and are as dirty as diesel exhaust. Soy is a renewable resource, whereas paraffin is nonrenewable, made from crude oil. Another benefit is improved indoor air quality and reduced exposure to the 11 carcinogenic compounds associated with paraffin wax candle soot.
Allergies got you down? Look for local Bee pollen if you can't find that local honey will work too. Start with small daily doses and work up. Why it works~Local Bees collect pollen from local plants so when you ingest the local pollen or honey you slowly build a resistance to the pollens and minimises the reaction in your body. Great places to look for this Farmers Markets or Natural food markets like Natures Pantry.
5 Nutrient/ Supplement Tips Here are some quick tips based upon recent studies conducted and published in major medical/ nutritional journals:
The glycemic index or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.
Carbs that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI.
Carbs that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI.
Carbohydrates with a low GI (0-55) help you feel fuller, have more energy, and can lead to weight loss and reduced risk of diabetes.
In short, it’s about the quality of the carbohydrates – not the quantity.
High = GI of 70+ (Avoid). Medium = GI of 55 to 69. Low = GI of 0 to 54.
Generally speaking, use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran.
Use breads with whole grains, stone-ground flour or sour dough.
Use Basamati or Doongara rice.
Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat.
Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables and eat as many FREE Carbs as you like.
Enjoy pasta, noodles, quinoa and eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing.
As I was going about my daily business today I observed something. You see I choose to walk most places I go because I believe you have two legs so use them. Unless it is necessary why not? We live in a small town and it's take a short amount of time to get most any place here. People now days however look at you with pity or think it's funny to see a person walking any place. They can't fathom why a person would choose to walk. I have even heard of judges looking down on those who don't have cars if they have children. Now I understand to some degree however in a small community really is there a need? I remember as a young girl walking or ridding in my bike EVERYWERE! What is wrong with that? If their is an emergency your going to call 911 anyway right? And how many people in America or the world don't have car? ALOT! Some choose not to and some just can't afford them. Can we really blame them for making smart environmental, Health and financial choices? I believe as Americans we have gotten lazy! It may take longer to get to your destination but the pay off will be big in the end really! There a so many reasons walking makes sense like, saving money on gas, saving wear and tear on your car, better for the environment, plus good old fashioned exercise. So why not walk the next time you have to go to the post office or the store for only a few items and the next time you see a person walking or ridding a bike don't look at them with pity but look at them as wise unless they are weighed down with a ton of stuff or look like they are suffering then offer to help.
The new office is really coming along! I can't wait to fully get it open but if you don't mind a little craziness then make an appointment or stop on by. We will be having an open house very soon and are excited about the things to come. We have a few display cases out stocked with product and the consultation area is almost finished. Also soon to come a meditation/aromatherapy room so keep watch. We have a small library of books and DVDs that is growing.
This Summer Tomato blog offers many eye-opening facts on the sugar content of common foods.
"Refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup are considered by many experts to be the biggest contributors to obesity and poor health in Western civilization.
In her book What To Eat, Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU, suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else."
Here is a partial list of the foods Summer Tomato posted:
Sources: Summer Tomato March 25, 2010
Princeton University recently released study findings that correlated high-fructose corn syrup consumption with higher weight gain than the consumption of table sugar. This isn’t the first time high-fructose corn syrup has gotten bad press—take, for example, the documentary King Corn—yet it’s still a primary ingredient in many foods and beverages. The use of high-fructose corn syrup persists because it’s a cheaper alternative to sugar, in spite of its detrimental effects on the environment and on human health.
The United States is the world’s largest corn grower, and as a result, corn is cheap in the United States. Sugar, on the other hand, needs to be imported into the United States, which along with government trade restrictions, raises its price. Not surprisingly, many food and beverage manufacturers have opted for the less expensive sweetener, corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup also has the advantage of keeping foods fresh, moist and chewy for longer periods of time.
While high-fructose corn syrup is easy on the wallet, it takes a large toll on health. For some time, the jury was still out on whether consuming large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup could lead to weight gain and obesity, or whether it was just that diets high in the sweetener also tended to be high in fat and calories. The Princeton study, however, demonstrated that rats fed high-fructose corn syrup gained a considerable amount more weight than rats fed table sugar, even though both groups of rats consumed the same amount of calories overall. In the past, samples of brand-name foods and beverages with the sweetener have tested positive for mercury, which itself is toxic.
The production of corn isn’t healthy on the environment, either. While all crops require energy and water to grow and then transport, the huge amounts of corn grown in the country make corn’s footprint especially large. Corn also uses more pesticides and fertilizers and causes more soil erosion than other crops. Many of these problems would be considerably reduced with organic growing practices, but most corn in the United States is non-organic.
Cutting back on sweeteners of all types is best for human and environmental health. Sugar, while better than corn syrup, has health risks and also negative environmental effects, especially since it needs to be transported long distances from tropical climates in which it grows. Organic, too, is better than non-organic in the case of sugar. Agave grows in deserts, so it also needs to travel a bit before it reaches store shelves for most of us, though it does travel shorter distances than sugar. If you do need a little sweetener, the most eco-friendly options are locally produced organic honey and real maple syrup from the northeastern United States.
How do we get the especially dangerous high-fructose corn syrup out of what we eat and drink? Read food labels. Scale back on the amount of processed foods you eat. Choose products that don’t use high-fructose corn syrup over products that use it. If we buy less foods and drinks that contain the sweetener, manufacturers will have no choice but to nix corn syrup from their products.
Angella M. Trout CNC, RA
As a Nutritional Consultant and Lifestyle Coach I am passionate about teaching others about total balance in health and spirit. As a real life person with real life struggles.