health

Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

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With Thanksgiving coming up soon, how can we make the best choices based on our food?

Conventional turkeys are almost always raised to be big, kept in crowded conditions, treated with antibiotics and growth-boosting hormones, and probably injected with salt solutions and preservatives. These antibiotics and added hormones can be very dangerous to our health in the long run. Additionally, the way some food labels are marketed can be very deceiving when making the right choices.

Meat can be harmful to our health because of the way the animals are kept. They are often raised in pesticide filled areas. These chemicals get into our food and can disrupt our hormone system. Some pesticides such as atrazine can even make male frogs develop female characteristics. So, imagine what they can do to our bodies. They don’t only affect the animals, but also hurt us because when we consume meat they get into our bodies. This is why it is important to buy meat from organic farms. Organic meats come from animals that don't eat GMO feed, antibiotics, or growth hormones.

Another cause for concern is the high amount of hormones the turkeys are given so they will grow larger. Once given to the turkeys, these hormones can get into our bloodstreams when we eat them. The added hormones in combination with other exposures may cause harm, such as early puberty and cancer because your body is given incorrect signals. This can also be avoided by eating organic or by eating Heritage or Heirloom turkeys which are traditionally smaller because they don’t have added growth hormones.

Thirdly, labels such as Sustainable, Natural, and Free Range can be very deciving. Sustainable doesn't have a standard definition so there is no way to know what this actually means in terms of the farmer. Natural is slightly better because it means the turkeys can't be injected with preservatives however added flavors can still be used. Free range is another deceiving label because these turkeys actually get more indoor time instead of outdoor time. To confirm animals get outdoor time, which usually means less antibiotics in turn, look for animal welfare certifications.

In conclusions, knowing where your turkey is from can help change your health for the better. Turkeys, and other animals, are often raised in subpar conditions. When looking for better turkeys, consider buying organic or heritage turkeys and on top of that check for the conditions in which they were raised.

By: Sara Frawley

What's in YOUR Drinking Water?

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We are made of 70% water. So what happens when our main sources of water are polluted with harmful chemicals? Long Island water can be affected by chemical plumes from a variety of sources.

From litter that gets pulled into the oceans, to soaps being poured on the streets, or pesticides used on farms, there is a wide variety of chemicals that can affect us. Long Island water in particular gets its' drinking water from underground water sources called aquifers. Because we get our water from the ground, we are highly susceptible to chemicals that have been dumped on the ground.

The even scarier part is that although the chemicals found in our drinking water have been proven to have harmful effects, they are still allowed to a certain extent. One of these chemicals is chromium-6. This chemical is often a product of industrial processes. It is a cancer causing chemical that can cause reproductive and liver problems from low exposures. It is monitored by the EPA and allowed in low quantities but these low quantities may still be too much. You can be exposed to it by breathing it in, ingesting it through food and water and EVEN THROUGH CONTACT WITH YOUR SKIN. And it is found in 90% of water samples on long island. If we are drinking these chemicals everyday, how safe can they really be?

In very low levels of .02 parts per billion it causes cancer in one out of one million people. And when raised slightly higher to 10 parts per billion it caused cancer in 500 out of a million people. Long Island water has .4 parts per billion on average. And it doesn't just affect Long Island. It has contaminated 200 million people's water sources throughout the US.

So, although your water may be clear, it doesn’t mean there is nothing in there. That is why it is important to avoid daily exposures as much as possible. Instead of stopping drinking tap water all together, you can avoid these chemicals by using effective water filters such as reverse osmosis filters. Because everyone’s water could be polluted with differing amounts of chemicals, you can use sources such as EWG’s national tap water database and water filter guide to help find what filter would be best for you.

By Sara Frawley

Source: https://patch.com/new-york/commack/cancer-causing-chromium-6-found-1-247-1-417-long-island-drinking-water-samples

Resources: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/#.Wav7Xq2ZN-U  

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php#.Wav7k62ZN-U

Poisonous Pregnancy

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It used to be thought that the womb was an impenetrable shield made for protecting babies, however it is actually susceptible to many chemicals that mothers use on a daily basis. In a time where we are exposed to 5,000-30,000 more chemicals than our grandparents, it is very important to be conscious of what these chemicals can do.

We often chose our products because they smell good or are vibrantly colored, however it is important to consider what is actually inside of them- especially because we cover ourselves with them everyday. While it is important to always be aware of what your are exposing yourself to, it is especially important to stay aware when you are pregnant. This is because fetuses are highly sensitive to much smaller amounts of chemicals, as they are at a point in their lives known as a window of susceptibility. So, even though you as a mother may not be facing any adverse reactions or changes, your baby could be.

Many of the chemicals in our personal care products are endocrine disruptors. This means they mimic natural hormones in our body, disrupting our hormone system. Hormones are chemical signals that are sent around our body. Imagine how detrimental this can be to a fetus who is only beginning to develop!? They could be receiving the wrong signals.  

These chemicals are so common because they are often used to scent, color, or preserve a product. If you look at the label on a product you might see many strange words such as triclosan, parabens, sulfates, or  triethanolamine. These are easy to glance over because we don’t hear them everyday. But, we do use them everyday. From deodorant to shampoo, they are easily hidden in many products. Luckily by switching your personal products for more natural products, you can help your health in the long run.

By using natural, paraben free, sulfate free, and fragrance free products, you can help to make the right decisions for you and your child during a time when they are very susceptible. Even if you aren’t pregnant right now, it is important to keep this message in mind because prevention is an easy cure for everyone.

By Sara Frawley

Transgender Frogs

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What would you do if you were a boy that started to grow eggs in your testes? This probably sounds strange, but this is happening to frogs that are exposed to one of the most widely used herbicide, Atrazine.

Pesticides and herbicides are full of chemicals made to kill certain things- whether it be plants or bugs. If they’re able to kill weeds, imagine what they could be doing to us. Pesticides and herbicides can run off from farms into nearby streams and rivers and end up in our water. In fact, you've probably been exposed to this chemical when eating, drinking water, or even playing sports. Atrazine is often used for killing weeds and is even found on turf. It is so widely used in the United States, that it is the most commonly found pesticide found in drinking water.

Atrazine is very harmful because it is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it disrupts the hormones in your body which send signals to your cells. This finding that atrazine can change frogs' genders is so significant because frogs are an indicator species. They indicate the true effects that a chemical can have in high amounts. So if frogs are suddenly growing eggs in their testes, imagine what this could be doing to humans.

In humans, Atrazine causes hormonal disruption, harmful effects on the reproductive system, and is linked to an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer. Also, even though Atrazine is so widely used, recent analysis prove that they are not that significant in maintaining plant growth and would result in less than 1% of yield losses. So, is that extra 1% worth our health?

Clearly, Atrazine causes harmful changes, but luckily it can be easy to avoid. Buying Organic products and supporting local farmers ensures your own health and allows organic farmers to continue farming naturally. Also, you don’t need to buy all your foods organic. Some foods such as EWG's Clean 15, are less susceptible pesticides. Even if you can’t buy everything organic, even the smallest changes can have a great impact.

By Sara Frawley

 

Cautious Carnivore

The happy life of my thirteen year old brother, living on a western diet, filled with hamburgers, ham sandwiches, steaks, and video games. We call him the family carnivore.

So of course when I came home after reading research about how a high fat diet full of red meat is linked to breast cancer, I made sure to tell him- and he wasn’t exactly happy. On top of making him switch his shampoos, I was now telling him to limit his favorite foods. This proved to be an great lesson for me on how important sharing information is. Although he perfectly fit the criteria for greatest risk, due to being in puberty and not being obese despite his diet, he still didn’t want to listen to me. However, after telling him about the research he was slightly more convinced.

A high fat diet with fats from red meat has been shown to cause cancer, especially when combined with the timing of puberty. Puberty is a window of susceptibility where because our body is growing so quickly, we are more susceptible to endocrine disrupting compounds. A high fat diet, for example, contains endocrine disrupting compounds because fats in red meat mimic the natural hormones progesterone and estrogen. These two hormones are produced during, and help control, puberty. A disruption in these hormones can have many harmful effects in the long run, including breast cancer.

Even if you are not gaining a significant amount of weight from the fat, you might not be in the clear. Research has shown that high fat diets are more harmful for people that are NOT obese. So, even if you eat a high fat diet and don’t gain a lot of weight from it, you should still consider limiting the amount of fat from red meat that you consume.

While there may still be important nutrients in red meat, it may be wiser to eat it in moderation. After I shared all this information with my brother, although reluctant, he agreed to lower the amount of red meat he eats. In no way, does this mean a diet, but instead a healthy replacement that anyone can easily make. Simply by replacing red meat with chicken, legumes, nuts, and fish, you can lower your risk for breast cancer significantly and greatly increase your overall health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley