How to Maximize Your Gardening for Better Overall Health and Wellness

How to Maximize Your Gardening for Better Overall Health and Wellness

We all know gardening can be good for us when it comes to the beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables that are produced. But gardening is also good for the mind, body, and soul. It’s a great form of exercise and has mental health benefits galore. In fact, many addiction rehabilitation centers feature gardens, since having a hobby, exercising, and spending time outdoors are all beneficial to recovery, and gardening naturally blends all three.

Maybe you think gardening would be a great source of physical and mental exercise for you, but you've never been sure how to get started. Or maybe you’re not in a position to have your own garden yet. Chances are that there are local resources that would be more than happy to help.

Volunteering at a local botanical garden is one way to get your hands dirty and become familiar with gardening in general. For anyone who lacks experience, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about gardening and help your community, both of which equate to a boost in your mental well-being.

Of course, having a garden of your own is another way to boost your health. Getting outside and working in your own backyard is a great way to get a workout, improve your mental health, and make sure you and your family have delicious, healthy food to consume for most of the year (or the whole year if you brush up on preservation techniques!). While any efforts you make in the garden are worthwhile, there are some ways to maximize your gardening strategies for better overall health and wellness.

DOZENS of Food Crops Treated with Pre-Harvest Roundup (it’s not just wheat!)

DOZENS of Food Crops Treated with Pre-Harvest Roundup (it’s not just wheat!)

Originally posted by The Healthy Home Economist

Pre-harvest application of herbicides as a (toxic) drying agent on wheat is an established practice on many conventional farms. The method was first suggested as early as 1980, becoming routine in North America over the past 15 years or so. Use is also widespread in the UK.

Applying herbicides like Roundup 7-10 days before harvest is viewed as especially helpful for wheat that ripens unevenly, a common occurrence. It is also considered a helpful tool to initiate an earlier harvest when weather conditions threaten plant viability. Other benefits are earlier ripening for earlier replanting and reducing the green material in the field. This puts less strain on farm machinery during harvest.

Farmers euphemistically call the practice “desiccation”. When used during wheat harvest, it can result in slightly greater yield by triggering plants to release more seeds.

The result? Most non-organic wheat in North America is now contaminated with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and similar herbicides.

WHO: Glyphosate a Probable Carcinogen

A March 2015 report by the World Health Organization identified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Several EU countries have banned it as a result with more in the works. However, in North America, glyphosate use shockingly continues to remain a popular farming tool.

And, as it turns out, use of Roundup as a drying agent on wheat prior to harvest is just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of other food crops are subjected to glyphosate dousing prior to harvest as well.

Choose Quality, Forget Quantity

Choose Quality, Forget Quantity

New book: Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?
March 22, 2018
https://www.facebook.com/drmarkhyman/videos/1934654239898649/
By Dr. Mark Hyman

If you missed my Facebook Live video on Monday, you might be interested to find out that weight loss is not simply a math equation based on energy in and energy out. Yet, the mantra of the government and food industry is that people should just eat less, choose a “balanced diet,” and exercise more. I’m here to tell you that this does not work. If it did, we’d all just eat less, exercise more, and be fit and healthy for life. How’s that working out for everyone?

The truth is that the quality of what you eat is FAR more important than how much you eat. 

The body is not a closed system, it’s dynamic and it’s responsive to the quality of the calories you’re eating—the type of information that you’re fueling your body with. Eating poor quality food is like talking to your body over a bad connection, it simply can’t understand how to use that information.

A recent study in JAMA comparing different types of diets found that as long as participants focused on the quality of their food, they did not have to worry about quantity. Isn’t that nice to hear? If you’re eating wholesome foods in their most natural forms you don’t need to count calories, your body understands the information it’s being given and how to use it properly. 

Another myth in the nutrition world is that fat makes you fat, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A crossover trial from Dr. David Ludwig and his Harvard colleagues looked at individual reactions to different kinds of diets. When participants ate a high-fat diet with low-starch content they burned 300 more calories a day than when they ate a high-carb diet with the exact same amount of calories! And, eating a high-fat diet led to beneficial improvements in cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and markers of inflammation. Your body needs fat to function and find its ideal weight, you just have to choose the right kinds. 

The composition of your food matters; Wonder Bread and broccoli are not the same kinds of carbs; likewise, soybean oil and coconut oil are totally different kinds of fats. Your body is smart, it knows the difference, and it knows which of these are supplying quality information and which are toxic, leading to weight gain.

So here’s how to feed your body with the right information. 

  1. Eat a diet with a very low glycemic load – low in sugar, flour, and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.
  2. Eat mostly vegetables and some fruit. The deeper the colors, the more variety, the better. This provides a high phytonutrient content protective against most diseases.
  3. Eat a diet that is low in pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones and no or low in GMO foods.
  4. Stay away from chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners, and other “Franken Chemicals” that you would never have in your pantry.
  5. Eat quality fats—omega-3 fats for all! Eat plenty of olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
  6. Make sure you’re getting enough protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis, especially in the elderly.
  7. Choose foods that are ideally organic, local, and fresh. Grass-fed or sustainably raised meats are also the best option if you consume animal protein.

In my latest book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? I focus on what kinds of foods you should include in your diet, and which ones you should ditch for good. I make it easy to learn how to eat foods with the best information for your cells, so you can lose weight, gain energy, and increase your mental clarity.

If you’re ready to stop counting calories and find a healthy weight through real, wholesome foods, check out my Facebook Live video and pick up a copy of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? on Amazon today.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD

How to Wash Vegetables and Fruits to Remove Pesticides

How to Wash Vegetables and Fruits to Remove Pesticides

Get proven tips on how to wash vegetables and how to wash fruits so you can protect your health and your family.

Almost everyone should be eating more fruits and vegetables. You know that. But do you know why it’s important to wash your produce before eating it?

In our modern world, almost no food is 100% free of pesticides. Surprisingly, even organic produce may contain some pesticide residues.

Washing produce is important to prevent foodborne illness and substantially reduce your exposure to pesticides.

To reduce your pesticide exposure, the conventional advice is to choose organic food when you can, especially for the foods most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. And then, to wash your fruits and veggies before eating or cooking with them.

But, what foods are the most important to buy organic? And what is the best way to wash your produce to remove pesticides?

Science has given us answers. And we’ll share them with you. We want to help you make the best use of your time and money and to ensure the food you eat and serve is as safe as possible.

Is Climate Change Turning Our Vegetables into Junk Food?

Is Climate Change Turning Our Vegetables into Junk Food?

(Original Post by BulletProof)

Vegetables have fewer nutrients than ever and that could be because of increases in atmospheric CO2, according to an article by Politico. Along with the depletion of essential nutrients, crops’ sugar levels are rising, making our veggies the least nutrient-dense in history. Here’s how climate change could be affecting our crops.

Main takeaways from the article

  • Vitamin, mineral, and protein content of the plants we eat has dropped significantly over the past 50 years.[1] This is due to breeding for higher yields, and increased CO2, both of which speed up plant growth, as well as depleted soil nutrients.[2]
  • Our air recently hit 400 ppm CO2, and is predicted to hit 550 in the next century. That’s twice the amount of CO2 in the air than before the industrial revolution.
  • CO2 is a necessary ingredient for photosynthesis. When there’s too much, plants grow faster by packing on sugars and carbohydrates, at the expense of protein and other nutrients.
  • In a high-CO2 environment, plants in the C3 category (nearly all the plants we eat) showed decreases in protein and important minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.[3]
  • This could change the way certain foods impact your performance, even if you’re following a nutrient dense, low carbohydrate diet.
  • Losses in plant nutrition affect our entire food chain: cows eat plants, and we eat cows.
  • If we’re getting fewer nutrients from our food, it’s important to understand how to protect our bodies with the proper supplements.

“Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze said. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history?[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.” – Researcher Irakli Loladze

What do fewer nutrients mean for you?

The plants you eat simply aren’t as nutrient-dense as they used to be. And as CO2 levels continue (unfortunately) to rise, it’s more important than ever to supplement accordingly.

This doesn’t mean you can make up for an empty diet of cookies and croissants by taking a handful of supplements. Getting an abundance of nutrient-dense fats, proteins, vegetables, and herbs is still the best path to feeling great and staving off the symptoms of aging. (Yes, you still have to eat your vegetables!)

The problem with low nutrients and higher carbohydrates

We know diets heavy in carbohydrates cause chronic diseases and inflammation, so what does it mean if our food system starts to shift that way from the very ground up? There’s still a long way to go before most plants produce unhealthy amounts of sugars, but shifts in global staples such as rice, wheat and corn (while already in the Bulletproof red zone) could contribute to our obesity epidemic.

While westernized diets have no problem accessing nutrients, plants are a crucial source of protein and minerals in the developing world. Studies investigating the impact of rising CO2 on crop nutrition show that by 2050, 150 million people could be at risk of protein deficiency,[4] and 138 million at risk of zinc deficiency,[5] a crucial mineral for maternal and infant health. Without access to supplementation, our fading crops could have huge global health implications. Your vegetables aren’t junk food just yet, but these studies highlight yet another way climate change can impact our future and the lives of our children. Plants will always support a high quality, nutrient-dense diet, and with proper supplementation, keep you feeling and performing your best.

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15637215
[2] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.110...
[3] https://elifesciences.org/articles/02245
[4] https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/EHP41/
[5] http://environment.harvard.edu/sites/default...

Five Things You Can Do Now to Prepare a Safer Yard for Spring

By Clara Beaufort

It may be way too chilly to spend an afternoon outdoors now, but you can bet that warmer weather is just around the corner. Before it gets here, there are several small projects you can tinker with to make sure that your lawn, deck and driveway are all in good condition to ensure the safety of your family and pets.

Here are five things you can do to prepare a safer yard for spring.

1. Clear Out Your Lawn

As the last remnants of snow melt away, you should start assessing the damage done by winter’s fury. There’s no telling what may have ended up in your lawn over the past few months. Loose branches, rocks and any trash should be cleared out before your child or pet ever steps foot outside to play. You should also be cautious of any kinds of holes in your yard and fill them in to avoid someone tripping and twisting an ankle.

Your grass will be pretty beat up from winter’s harsh cold. However, you can help accelerate its seasonal comeback by racking away any old leaves and overgrowth. Pre-aerating your lawn will stimulate growth and ensure your child and dog will enjoy a soft, lush lawn to run around in.

2. Inspect Your Trees, Plants, and Shrubs

Once you’ve taken care of the lawn, you should set your eyes on the shrubs, plants and overhanging trees in your yard. Now is a great time to check on the state of your trees. The lack of greenery allows you to inspect the limbs and see if any larger branches are split, or breaking off. Trimming and removing these dangers now, prevents them from happening months from now when your children or animals may be at risk.

Even if all of your trees’ limbs seem sturdy enough, now would also be a good time to trim your trees and keep its growth in check. Your shrubs and other plants could also use a manicure, so don’t stop with just your overhanging plants. Clean up the edges on bushes and clear away any plants that show signs of not surviving the winter.

3. Prep the Playground Area

If your children enjoy having a play area in the backyard, you should inspect it for signs of wear and tear. Wooden structures eventually wear down over time, and the cold can cause splintering. Smooth down any surfaces, and go ahead and give a good cleaning of any plastic surfaces. Make sure that any swings, slides, or other structures are firmly anchored into the ground, and finally, you should cover the entire area surround these structures with 10 inches of mulch or soft woodchips. This will provide an extra cushion in case your child falls down.

4. Repair Your Deck, Patio, and Fencing   

While you’re inspecting the integrity of your child’s play area, you should also look over any decks, stairs, and railings around your property. Tighten anything that feels loose, such as rails and steps. Take a fine grit sandpaper and smooth over any wooden surfaces that regularly come into contact with hands or feet. Splinters are never fun, and can lead to a possibly serious infection if not treated soon enough.

5. Patch Up Concrete Pathways

Finally, you’ll want to check for any cracks in your concrete driveway, or walkways leading up to and around your home. If the crack is less than a half-inch, filling it in with concrete grout should do the trick. Larger splits in the pavement might call for caulking or patching up. It’s important to take care of these problem areas now, before a family member trips and scrape’s something on the hard pavement.

Nothing is more important than the safety of your family, and every family deserves to have fun, relaxing and safe experience outdoors. Spring isn’t far away. Make sure you check off all of these tasks before warmer weather comes around and your children and pets head outside to play.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com