Archive for the ‘Health Tidbits’ Category

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Avoid Pesticides on Fruit and Vegetable Skins

A post from Shine.com

10 dirty fruits and veggies

By Ashley Macha 

Are the fruits and vegetables you buy clean enough to eat?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) studied 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to create a list of 49 of the dirtiest and cleanest produce.

So before you hit the grocery store, see how some of your favorite fruits and veggies measured up.

Did one of your favorites make the list? Don’t worry, the EWG recommends purchasing organic or locally grown varieties, which can lower pesticide intake by 80% versus conventionally grown produce.

This stalky vegetable tops the dirty list. Research showed that a single celery stalk had 13 pesticides, while, on the whole, celery contained as many as 67 pesticides.

Chemicals fester on this vegetable as it has no protective skin and its stems cup inward, making it difficult to wash the entire surface of the stalk. It’s not easy to find locally grown celery, so if you like this crunchy veggie, go organic.

Peaches are laced with 67 different chemicals, placing it second on the list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables. They have soft fuzzy skin, a delicate structure, and high susceptibility to most pests, causing them to sprayed more frequently.

This red, juicy fruit has a soft, seedy skin, allowing easier absorption of pesticides. Research showed that strawberries contained 53 pesticides. Try to buy strawberries at a local farmer’s market for a sweet dessert.

Apples are high-maintenance fruit, needing many pesticides to stave off mold, pests, and diseases. The EWG found 47 different kinds of pesticides on apples, and while produce washes can help remove some of the residue, they’re not 100% effective.

Blueberries (domestic)
These antioxidant-rich berries have a thin layer of skin that allows chemicals to more easily contaminate the fruit. Domestic blueberries were loaded with 13 pesticides on a single sample, according to the EWG. Imported blueberries also made the list at No. 14 for the dirtiest produce.

Sweet bell pepper
This crunchy, yet thin-skinned, vegetable is highly susceptible to pesticides. According to the EWG, sweet bell peppers showed traces of 63 types of pesticides. While some pesticides can be washed away, many still remain.

Spinach, kale, collard greens
These leafy green vegetables are on the list, with spinach loaded with 45 different kinds of pesticides and kale 57.

In 2006, Dole recalled bagged baby spinach after multiple E. coli illnesses associated with the vegetable made their way across the country.

Grapes (imported)
These tiny fruit have extremely thin skins, allowing for easy absorption of pesticides. And think twice before buying imported wine. The grapes that go into the wine could be coming from vineyards that use too many pesticides.

Have you ever indulged in a potato skin at your favorite restaurant? You might want to think twice before eating the skin. This spud was highly laced with pesticides—36, according to the EWG—that are needed to prevent pests and diseases.

Cherries, like blueberries, strawberries, and peaches, have a thin coating of skin—often not enough to protect the fruit from harmful pesticides.

Research showed cherries grown in the U.S. had three times the amount of pesticides as imported cherries. Because cherries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that neutralizes carcinogens, it’s worthwhile to buy organic or seek imported ones.zz


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Eating for Happiness

Foods that Promote Happiness

By Dr. Maoshing Ni
Jan 21, 2011

If you’re feeling as blue as the skies above, you will be happy to know that a few spoonfuls of the right foods may turn that frown upside down! Whole foods contain vital nutrients that provide both physical and psychological benefits. Read on to discover which foods contain those mood-boosters to help you smile your way to longevity.






Fun with Folate

Eat folate-rich foods: Leafy greens like kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, bok choy, legumes, sunflower seeds, oranges, melons, beets, and fortified whole grains

Why? Folate, also know as folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for cell division, DNA synthesis, and healthy blood cell production. Research at the University of York and Hull York Medical School has found a link between depression and low levels of folate. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men and women is 400 micrograms and 600 micrograms for pregnant women. To keep you smiling, increase your intake of folate-rich foods. A cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of the RDA of folic acid. Plus, the fiber and protein will satisfy you longer, stabilize blood sugar, and also promote a better mood. Additional bonuses: Folate can also decrease homocysteine, an amino acid that is linked to heart disease. Low levels of folate can cause anemia, while pregnant women must increase their folate levels to prevent fetal neural tube deficiencies. 

Boost Your B6

Eat B6 foods: bananas, chicken breast, garlic, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, sunflower seeds, broccoli, red bell peppers, watermelon, avocados, and potatoes

Why? Vitamin B6 plays a role in red blood cell metabolism, protein metabolism, and synthesis of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. It also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and increases the amount of oxygen carried to your tissues. Low levels can lead to an increase of homocysteine, anemia, headaches, and depression. The RDA for adults from age 19 to 50 is 1.3 mg/day and approximately 1.6 mg for individuals over 50. The next time you’re feeling down, grab a banana and munch your blues away! 

Go Fish!

Eat omega-3-rich foods: fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and herring, flaxseeds, walnuts, and algae

Why? DHA omega-3 essential fatty acid maintains healthy brain function and is vital for fetal brain and eye development. Current research also demonstrates the association between intake of omega-3 fatty acids and depression. A meta-analysis study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that depression was significantly improved in patients with unipolar and bipolar disorders after taking three daily fish capsules for eight weeks. Eat the oily fish listed above — a 3-ounce serving of salmon contains between 1.1 – 1.9 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementing with high quality fish oil capsules may be an alternative if you don’t consume fish on a regular basis. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 can be found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and algae. Toss a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or walnuts into a creamy cup of unsweetened low-fat yogurt for a mega mood boost! 

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

Eat good carbs: whole grains, fruits, vegetables

Why? Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Whole grains, fruits, and veggies supply us with prolonged energy, fiber, and multiple nutrients that our bodies need for optimal health. Good quality carbohydrates can also trigger serotonin synthesis. Recognized as the “happy hormone,” serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that affects our mood and sleep. The next time you feel blue, instead of reaching for that bag of chips or sugary cookies, opt for unrefined, unprocessed carbohydrates that will provide you with sustained energy and an improved mood. Toss that muffin and enjoy a whole grain cracker with a tablespoon of natural nut butter for a delicious and uplifting snack!

You can find many more ways to live to 100 in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. Also, check out my new book Secrets of Longevity 8-Week Program, a journal that offers the best healthy habits to live to 100.

You can find many more ways to live to 100 in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. Also, check out my new book Secrets of Longevity 8-Week Program, a journal that offers the best healthy habits to live to 100.

I hope you eat foods for many long, happy years. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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Too Much of A Good Thing

Fiber One Chocolate Chip bars are delicious, but don’t eat too many. I looked up Chicory Root and found these posts and funny comments. I laughed, because they’re telling the truth.

Creating A Healthy Snack Bar

I was going to try to make some of these bars, because they taste so good. But, I could not locate a store selling Chicory Root as an ingredient. So, I looked it up online to learn more about it, and learned that Chicory Root is the reason these bars make people feel gassy if they eat too many of them. So, I’m just going to try to make a similar yummy bar with honey, chocolate chips, rice crispies, oat meal and a little flour and leave out the gut-wrenching ingredient (Chicory Root! beware!).

The Good Chicory Root Does

It does actually seem that Chicory Root is a good thing, but only in moderation. The claims are that it lowers cholesterol (among other things) and blood sugar. That’s probably because it assists in moving the food right on through so fast it can’t stick around and be absorbed. All things in moderation, I suppose.

Comments About Chicory Root and Fiber One Bars

Here are posts with funny comments on blogs about yummy fiber one bars:

Fiber One Chewy Bars

Fiber One Oats and Chocolate Bar Review

Chicory Root Information

 Here is an interesting page about Chicory Root:

Chicory Root Fiber

Chicory Root Fiber

With more and more people resorting to a high-fiber diet, food products, like, those with chicory root fiber is fast gaining momentum. Read on for more information about chicory root fiber. 



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Deb’s House Concerts

When you are sorrowful look into your heart and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

– Kahlil Gibran

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Deb’s House Concerts

(cross-posted from my new Walking Back Home blog on healthblogs.org)

I’m A Night Person

It’s more normal for me to be awake late at night than early in the morning. I guess I was made that way. From what I’ve been told, I was that way by the time I learned to walk.

Out of Sync With the Rest of the World

I’ve never minded being a night owl. In the past, I’ve thought of it as my time for ‘creative work’. Even now, I tend to write blog posts in the wee hours when I’m not sleeping.

The Magic of Benadryl

I’ve used Benadryl to help me sleep when I’ve needed to go to sleep in order to wake up early the next day (or else risk being up all night and getting no sleep at all). I’ve treated it like a magic pill. But, I read somewhere a few months ago that it can inhibit the ability to remember information, so it’s not a good idea to take it when studying. In the past couple of weeks, I found more information on it that said that when used long-term, it can affect  the brain in ways that look like memory loss or dementia.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it was enough to convince me that I need to stop using it to put me to sleep more than once in a while.

So, I’m Awake … All Night Long

I hope I won’t be awake all night long, but I’m writing this post at 3am, and I’ll be surprised if I’m asleep before 430am. And, I’m supposed to be awake and meeting classmates to study at 10am. We met at 10 am today (yesterday) after I was awake for about three hours in the middle of the night. I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. (I hope I never really know what that feels like.!) It took several tall refills of Panera’s coffee before I felt fully human again. By 8pm, I could barely move, and I fell asleep on the couch for about an hour. Now, I’m up again, and I’m showing no signs of slowing.

Why Does This Happen?

The obvious reason for my insomnia, my best guess, is a mixture of having a ‘night owl’ nature, and working a whole string of overnight shifts recently. I don’t work any set shift. I just work now and then, when they need me. But, when I worked recently, I worked overnight, and I did parts of five nights in a row. So, it should not surprise me that I either cannot fall asleep, or I wake up in the middle of the night.

What Am I Going To Do Now?

What can I do now? How can I go to sleep at any reasonable hour, now that I’m trying to avoid the Benadryl? I still think it’s a great drug and it works wonders. But, if the literature I read is correct, it should only be used infrequently. That takes it away as an easy 3-or-4-times-a-week sleep aid. 😦   (sigh)

Pretending to Sleep Put Me to Sleep (at least one time)

Last night, I was able to go to sleep on my own and quickly. Maybe it was because I was exhausted from working close to 60 hours during the middle of the night. That would be a very good reason. But, I told myself this was the reason. I lay down and closed my eyes and pretended I was asleep. I don’t really know what that means. But, that’s what I told myself I was doing. I decided to pretend to sleep. Maybe it worked. I was asleep in less than one minute!

Sleep Schedules and Physical Health

It seems to be a given that people who work night shifts are physically all out of sorts, or can be easily, because of the messed up sleep cycle. I’ve read that working nights also weakens the immune system, makes people more prone to disease, and shortens the life span. That would not surprise me. I  have no sources to quote, so consider these comments anecdotal and third-party, at best. But, that’s why I’ve not been jumping to work a  night shift in my next job. The shift pay for working nights is sweet, but I’m trying to look down the road and imagine my physical health. Will I be healthier if I work a day shift or if I work a night shift?  I’m guessing days are easier on the body and long-term health.  This exhaustion and insomnia are certainly running me down in the short-term.

March 6, 2010

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Are you depressed?

I totally copied this text from an online ad for an antidepressant.  I’m not advertising the drug, but the links will probably get you back to them anyway.  I just think it’s worthwhile information, and worth considering talking with your doctor if you have these symptoms.

This is how depression may feel…
  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest
  • Emptiness
  • Guilty
  • Worthless
  • Restless
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Hard to concentrate
  • Weight gain
  • Irritable
  • Fatigued
  • Lack of energy
  • Vague aches
  • Vague pains
  • Thoughts of death
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Hard to remember
  • Hard to make decisions
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Waking too early
  • Oversleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Overeating

How do you feel?

Major depressive disorder, also known as depression, affects you and the people around you — the people who mean the most.
This site can help you learn more about depression and the treatment of depression.
Understanding Depression — Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatment
The Impact of Depression — Learn how depression affects you and your loved ones
The Journey to Improvement — Learn steps to take that could help you feel better

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Deb’s House Concerts

efm guitar imageDuck - yellow bath toy

Hospice Last Night

Last night, I went with my sister to visit a friend who is in her last days of life in this world. My sister asked her if she wanted music, and she said yes. So, I took a guitar, and we went to see her.

Psalm 23

We sang Psalm 23 (with music I wrote when I was in the ninth grade). I have sung it for weddings, funerals, church services and people who are dying.  I sang it for my grandmother before she died, my sister’s wedding and my grandfather’s funeral (all a few years ago).

I sang it for church and for the funeral of a woman in our church, by her request before she died, way back when I was in high school. I’ve sung it many times and many places over the years. I don’t know why I’ve never had it arranged for choirs and soloists and sold it through a church music publisher. (I wrote the music only, of course!)

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before  me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou annointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace was my great-grandmother’s favorite song. So, of course, it was my favorite song at some point in my childhood. Later, I liked it less because of the “saved a wretch like me” part, thinking there is too much emphasis on everyone being so horrible rather than people knowing they are greatly loved. But, that line has legitimacy. It was written by a former slave trader in the 1700s, and many people do feel wretched. I like the song other than the word ‘wretch’.

My sister and I sang it slowly, with harmony. It felt like  Appalachian mountain music. I liked it that way, and I thought maybe I’ll start singing it again after all.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers toils and snares we have already come.
‘Tis grace hath brought us safe this far, and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You

We tried to sing the version that we’ve heard sung by the choir all our lives. We were kind of winging it, and we had a little trouble with the various parts and overlapping lines. But, we had the idea.

The Lord Bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and, give you peace.
The Lord lift His countenance upon, and be gracious unto you.

Elementary School Today

This morning, I sang for one first grade class and three fourth grade classes (the fourth graders were all in one room). I was at the school for about two hours. This afternoon, in about an hour, I’ll sing again for the other first grade where I’ve sung three times before. Those kids already know my songs and sing them with me! 🙂

First Grade This Morning

This morning, I sang for one of the first grade classes I sang for awhile back. This is the last week of school. The children are excited and full of energy. I was with them for close to an hour, I think.

I always try to tell them a little bit about the songs. I tell them whatever special  message I intended, and I encourage them to sing along. The first graders are ready to sing at a moment’s notice. They love it.

Fourth Graders … a room full of them

Three classes of fourth graders were all together in a room, having just completed another activity together. There was testing going on in the school, and they needed to stay quiet, so the teachers were happy to have me appear (after singing for the 1st grade) and entertain the kids for a few minutes. I think I probably sang for about 45 minutes for them, too.

Stop Talking So Much! Sing!

I should probably think about how I feel when I’m in the audience, so I can make sure I don’t talk too much between songs. When people go to hear you sing, that’s what they want, songs.

Still Finding My Way

I’m still finding my way with singing for kids. I’m wanting to be sure I have the right songs for the right age group. So, I’m probably doing a little more storytelling and explaining (the history of the songs) than I would normally do.

Over-Explaining the Meaning and the Message

I want to be so careful to be sure these children understand the meaning and the message of the songs. I don’t know why I think I have to explain the lyrics. I grew up with fairy tales filled with archetypal characters, good and evil. And,  there were fables, too, complete with talking animals and lessons at the end of each story. That’s how my songs on the Weird Duck cd are. So, why do I feel like I have to explain them???? (sigh)

It’s Been Good For Me

I used to sing often when I was younger. But, at some point, I backed away from it.  It’s always been hard for me to know where I fit musically. It’s been good for me to start singing again in the past few months, singing for 1st and 4th grade classes (by arrangement with the teachers).  It’s been great having such enthusiastic audiences.

Still Trying to Find My Place Musically

I’ve never been sure who my audience is. I’m still not entirely sure who likes my music.

Lots of people downloaded my songs when they were on eFolkMusic. But, I was never sure who my audience was. I’d still like to figure that out.

Weird Duck Is Fun to Sing

I do know that early elementary school aged children enjoy my Weird Duck songs.  In the class where I’ve been the most in the past few months, those children know the choruses to the songs. They really like Weird Duck, and they sing it with great gusto! 🙂

“You’re so weird,” you tell me all the time.
“You’re so weird,” you tell me all the time.
“You’re  a weird duck. You’re  a weird duck.”
from Weird Duck c.2003 Deborah L. Hord

Informal Market Analysis

I was a little unsure about the age-appropriateness of the songs on the Weird Duck cd (before these recent performances for the children), but I feel confident about it now. How could I have even imagined that fables and fairy tales about animals would not be appropriate for this age group?

I’ve ‘tested’ all the songs on the first graders in the class where I’ve sung so many times. I’ve given them the option of telling me if they don’t like any of the songs. I’ve asked if the songs were too young for them, or too serious, or if they just didn’t like them for some reason. They were enthusiastic about every single song.

Renaming the Weird Duck CD (removing the subtitle)

I’m thinking of removing the subtitle of my Weird Duck cd. It used to say, “Weird Duck – and other animal tales for grown ups.” But, I now think the songs are just right for the children. They’re all about animals: ducks, dogs, a snow goose, a donkey, a teddy bear, a small frightened stray (type of animal unnamed).

Singing for Schools and Birthday Parties

I’m looking forward to developing music programs for children, for schools or birthday parties, by invitation of the teachers and parents. And, I’ll redo the packaging on the cd, so that it’s colorful and attractive and has the words, too. 🙂

mp3 Downloads Online

I used to have my songs available on eFolkMusic. They’re not available there anymore. They moved to a new platform (linux vs windows), and they’re no longer selling the music there. I still am listed there as one of their artists, but the selling of the mp3s has to be done elsewhere.

After the efolkmusic site moved, I did not do anything else. They encouraged us to list our songs with other websites where we could sell mp3 downloads. But I’ve not yet put up my songs anywhere else. I need to focus on that again, and put up mp3s where people can download and build a collection of their favorite songs.

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