THE TRUTH ABOUT CELLULITE – KRYPTONITE TO MODERN PEOPLE?

WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT:

  • Is cellulite a taboo theme?
  • Society and the demands/expectations to be perfect.
  • What exactly is cellulite? Illness, skin disorder or a cosmetic problem?
  • Cellulite as a symptom of underlying disorders – microcirculation problems or degenerative changes of the connective tissue.
  • Microcirculation problems – symptoms, when to see a doctor?
  • Degenerative changes of the connective tissue – what is it and what are the symptoms?
  • Is fat a connective tissue?
  • Lifestyle and diet changes to battle cellulite.
  • At the end of the day, the most important thing is your own opinion of yourself.

I have a question: if cellulite is such a normal thing on a person’s body, then why are the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and wellness industry bombarding everyone with products that help people get rid of it? It sounds like the biggest hypocrisy – oh, look at your thighs and ass, you have cellulite and here’s a cream/ointment/procedure that could help you GET RID of it ONCE AND FOR ALL! But, don’t worry, you’re beautiful! But, oh my, look at your cellulite!

Sigh.

Many people have cellulite, no matter the body types and percentage of fat in the body. PC aside (God, I hate Political Correctness), people say you’re beautiful, but they stare at your cellulite. Celebrities come to award shows with tons of makeup that hides their cellulite. And, if only one pimple shows – the media zooms in on it and makes it as big as an elephant. And then the same media tells you that you’re beautiful, but advertises a cream that “gets rid of cellulite”.

Gotta love our society.

If cellulite was accepted by our society, it would not be talked down upon, lotioned, creamed, massaged, sucked, lipoed, airbrushed… It would be a generally accepted and ignored part of the human body, like big/small eyes, wide toes, wonky ears, etc.

The hard truth that everyone already knows is that YOU CAN’T GET RID OF CELLULITE. It’s there for life. Reduce appearance, sure, maybe. But don’t think that there’s a magic cream out there, that will help you. Maybe it will firm the place where there’s cellulite, but trust me, the moment you stop using that cream, the firmness is gone.

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Like most things in life – you have to work your ass off to have a good ass.

Just don’t be an ass about it.
And I’m not talking about exercise only, but change of diet and lifestyle as well.

So, you know the drill – let’s dive in and understand what cellulite is. Many people say, if you have cellulite – you’re fat. Not true.

WHAT IS CELLULITE?

The word “fat” brings out so many emotions in people. It gets out frustration, fear, disdain, defensiveness, shame, aggression, maybe apathy, rarely self-confidence. Fat is seen as the enemy, something ugly, something that needs to NOT exist. But, fat is a lot more complex than we think.

Physiologically speaking, it represents a subcutaneous tissue, a component of the skin, a passive storehouse of energy, a necessary part of the human body. When you look at it this way, it’s hard to view it as the bad guy.

But, wait till it turns on you! Harvey Dent style! It becomes a confused super-villain obsessed with duality and confliction between being good and bad.

As a good guy, fat helps us store nutrients, helps us synthesize hormones, keeps us warm. As a bad guy… well, let’s just say it’s a huge trouble maker. Atherosclerosis, obesity, as well as indirectly causing diabetes, endocrine diseases, liver disease, metabolic, endocrine, hormonal and immune system imbalance.

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And on top of all THAT it can also store itself under the skin and causes what is known as cellulite.

Now, can you try and imagine how terrible cellulite must be?

THIS is what society is very much concentrated on!

But, let’s stop ranting. Time to talk cellulite and answer the above question in huge red letters:

What is cellulite? I mean, beside a storage of fat under someone’s skin.

The term cellulite has existed for more than 150 years.

It all started in France and for some reason, I’m not surprised.

The French… They know all the beauty secrets. Maybe.

 

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Cellulite in some literature is described as a skin disorder and in some as a cosmetic problem. Factors that are also linked to cellulite are genetic, hormonal and age. But in more and more literature sources, cellulite is branded as an illness, instead of a superficial condition. This is because, according to WHO, it more and more negatively influences the mental state of men and women. Wonder why… Ever bought a fashion magazine or scrolled the Internet for beauty and fashion ideas (women or men, it doesn’t matter)? Have you seen the photos?

People think they HAVE TO be perfect.

Medically speaking, it is a change in the subcutaneous layer of the skin, which could be fibrous or oedematous. It could be caused by lipodistrophy, oedemetical or fibrosing deviation of the connective tissue. It could also be present because of underlying disorders, such as microcirculation problems or degenerative changes of the connective tissue. (1)

Translation?

Ok.

It means there’s either abnormal distribution of fat in the body, or too much water in between the tissues or cells (interstitial fluid) or a change in the structure of the connective tissue due to a number of different disorders.

Sounds serious, you think.

If we’re talking about microcirculation problems, or degenerative changes of the connective tissue – sure, it could be serious.

How do we know, if we have microcirculation problems or degenerative changes of the connective tissue?

Well, that’s a good question. I’m glad you asked!

First, what is microcirculation?

Do NOT mistake microcirculation with macrocirculation. The second one is the circulation to and from the organs.

Microcirculation is the circulation of the blood in the smallest of blood vessels, the microvessels. These microvessells are the capillaries, venules, arterioles and metarterioles. There’s microcirculation in the lymphatic capillaries, as well as in the collecting ducts.

Capillaries

National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health [Public domain]

The main function of our microcirculation is oxygen and nutrients delivery as well as removal of carbon dioxide (CO2). It also regulates blood flow and tissue perfusion, which means it can affect blood pressure and responses to inflammation, which can also include edema (swelling).

So how do we know, if we have a problem?

Some people don’t experience symptoms at all, but the problem could be there anyway.

  • Swelling, especially of your legs, could be a sign of poor microcirculation.
  • Cold hands and feet.
  • Numbness in your fingers or toes, in your hands or feet, in your arms or legs.
  • The feeling of heavy legs.
  • Skin color changes.
  • Varicose veins (I’ll talk about these in another post).
  • Difficulty concentrating.

All these symptoms are very non – specific and could mean anything. I’ve bolded the more common symptoms. If by any chance, you have any of those symptoms, visit your doctor and have them checked up.

There are number of ways to diagnose problems with microcirculation and also number of ways to treat or control the symptoms. The causes can be different, ranging from blood clots to atherosclerosis to being overweight to simply not exercising at all.

Lifestyle changes help a lot:

  • quitting smoking,
  • losing weight,
  • exercising more,
  • eating a healthy diet (for healthy circulation also include: fruits – tomatoes, pomegranate, berries, citrus fruits, walnuts, fatty fish, spices – ginger, garlic, cinnamon and pepper, leafy greens, beets),
  • staying hydrated,
  • lowering stress exposure – good luck with that one.

OK, what about degenerative changes of the connective tissue?

Hist.Technik

Histological representation of connective tissue. The connective tissue is in blue color.

Rollroboter [CC BY-SA 3.0]

This is a tricky one.

The connective tissue is kinda like a glue. Like a cellular glue. It supports different parts of our body and keeps them in shape. We’re talking about our skin, eyes, heart, etc… It also helps other tissues do their job. It is made of many kinds of proteins.

Fat and cartilage are types of connective tissue.

The skin is the biggest organ of the human body. The skin changes constantly, and it changes because of aging or some pathologies. We’re talking about thinning, drying, wrinkling and uneven pigmentation. That comes mostly with aging. We can also talk about biochemical changes, changes in permeability, vascularization and thermoregulation, response to irritants, immune response, repair capacity and response to injury, and neurosensory perception as well as changes at the genome level. (2) This could come with aging and also from pathological reasons.

So, degenerative changes of the connective tissue could happen of multiple reasons, like aging, connective tissue diseases (multiple diseases are put in this categories, and they could be autoimmune or heritable), diseases that develop because of poor lifestyle or diet choices (example for this would be scurvy – a disease that develops because of a lack of vitamin C, but don’t worry, this disease is now very rare).

Early symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease can be:

  • General feeling of being unwell. This is such a non – specific symptom, I know. But, if it lasts for more than a week – see a doctor.
  • Cold and numb fingers or toes. A bit more specific, but could mean a lot of things. An even more specific symptom would be if the fingers and toes start changing color in response to stress and outside temperature. Like white/discolored → blue →purple. This is called Raynaud Phenomena and is present in all races. You will see patches of skin on your fingers/fingertips that become whit-ish, then blue-ish, then purpl-ish. Doctors can suggest certain tests that would pinpoint the problem. (3) (4) (5)
  • Swelling of fingers and hands.
  • Muscle and joint pain that lasts for days. (6)

There are many other symptoms, so when in doubt – visiting your doctor is a good idea.


Now, let’s talk about lifestyle!

Are you in?

Beautiful!

So, if you’re someone, who is not happy about having a visible cellulite and it bothers you to the point that you wrap yourself in sheets and blankets of clothes, then this post is for you. What the heck should you do?

First and most important: DRINK WATER!

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How much water should we drink?

Well, this depends. Are you a male or a female, an adult, a young person or a child? Do you live in the temperate zone or tropical zone?

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KVDP [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Are you generally a healthy person or you suffer from conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, uncontrolled diabetes…? Are you taking any medications that make your body retain water (like NSAIDs (Non – steroid anti – inflammatory drugs), antidepressants, some opiates, etc…)?

According to WHO, a healthy 70 kg human living in the temperate zone, should consume minimum 3L or 42.9 ml/kg of water for fluid replacement. For a 70 kg healthy person living in the tropical zone, the minimum water intake for fluid replacement should be about 4.1 L/day, or 58.6 mL/kg or more, depending on how much water the body is losing by sweating and other ways (like exercise, strenuous work, etc). (7) Of course, we’re talking about water from drinks and food all together.

Number 2: Lose the sedentary lifestyle.

Meaning: Get active.

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Start exercising.

No need everyday.

Just start.

So hard.

Yes, I know.

This is why we start with a walk around the house or the building we live in. Or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Unless you live on the 200th floor. Then, maybe 2-3 floors on foot and then take the elevator. Yes? No?

Third: Diet.

Oh, THAT!? OMG!

Don’t tell me – I have to stop eating everything! Right?

*And we hear something shatter.

Is that your heart?

Then you ask in anger: What the hell am I supposed to eat?!

Nowadays, the food is processed, sugar is everywhere, sodium as well…

Start with adding better (healthier, unprocessed) food and slowly removing overly processed food.

How?! OMG, don’t tell me I need to eat a stupid salad! I mean you said it yourself: Salad doesn’t always mean healthy!

Relax. All you have to do – is change your whole diet and eat boring tasteless food. See – easy!

I’m kidding! I’m kidding! Don’t lose your shit on me, please!

But – adding more veggies to your diet is crucial. Like bell peppers – they are rich in vitamin C, and vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, which is very important for maintaining the elasticity of our skin.

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If you drink too much coffee, which will help you dehydrate your skin and make your cellulite more visible, you need to drink water and rehydrate. So, no need to quit coffee (I know what it means to you, if you drink it with passion, like I do), but drink water as well.

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Green tea is also a good idea to incorporate into your diet, because of the antioxidants it contains. They slow collagen degradation. Also, it’s good to remember that caffeine (from coffee) and theophylline (which you find in green tea) are both diuretics. They make your body lose water – good for shedding pounds and losing toxins, bad for hydration. So – careful.

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Salmon and other oily fish are tasty and also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are great for maintaining the structure of our cell membranes.

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Spice to improve blood circulation, but too much could affect your stomach and blood pressure. So – careful. Also, cilantro and parsley are great, they detoxify the body and act as diuretics. Not great for dehydrated people, or pregnant women (parsley is dangerous, causes spontaneous abortion – get information at your gyno or doctor about it. For real. No jokes.) or people with heart disease.

Left: Parsley. Right: Cilantro.

Berries – especially Blueberries. Hello, Antioxidants!

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Broccoli, spinach, avocado, green apples and leafy greens – rich in antioxidants, magnesium and vitamin C.

Grapefruit – rich in vitamin C and burns fat like crazy. Boosts metabolism. Avoid if you use statins (substances in anti-cholesterol drugs – specifically atorvastatin, simvastatin and lovastatin). Talk to your doctor about it.

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Watermelon – it’s 90% water. And contains lycopene, which is an antioxidant.

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Avoid:

  • Processed foods (processed meat, pre-made meals – like frozen pizza, canned soups, microwave ready foods, crackers, granola, deli meat, salad dressings, canned pasta sauce and cake mixes are good examples).
  • White – anything (bread, rice, pasta, crackers …). They contain a huge amounts of carbohydrates, which break down to sugar, which… Well, you know what sugar does to you! Switch to whole – wheat or whole – grain.
  • Ketchup, barbeque sauce – loads of sugar in them. Tomato juice or tomato puree is the way to go.
  • Alcohol – One gram of alcohol is 7.1 kcal. Just as an information – 1 g of fat is 9 kcal. If not compensated properly for, alcohol will lead to weight gain. Weight gain leads to fat build up. In women, the fat cells and connective tissue below the surface of the skin are arranged vertically; and in men the tissue has a criss-cross structure. This is why cellulite is more visible in women than in men. A general rule of thumb is – 1 alcoholic drink per day for women and maximum of 2 for men.
  • Soda = Sugar. Enough said.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is your opinion of yourself. Working on yourself – on your health (emotional, physical and psychological) and on your personality, should be a pleasure and an honor. You are unique in this world. There is no one like you. Your personality, your smile… and your cellulite. Male or female, young or old, skinny or fat (and everyone in between) – accept yourself, take responsibility for your life, celebrate your body and your uniqueness. Do better, be better – as Oprah would say. If you don’t – trust me – no one gives a shit. Make sure that you do – about yourself.

REFERENCES:

  1. Leszko M: Cellulite in menopause. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review. 2014. 13,5: 298-304.
  2. Farage MA, Miller KW, Maibach HI: Degenerative Changes in Aging Skin. In: Farage M., Miller K., Maibach H. (eds) Textbook of Aging Skin. 2017. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg Pages: 15-30.
  3. Raynaud Phenomenon. Scleroderma Foundation. 2019. Online source: https://www.scleroderma.org/site/DocServer/Raynaud.pdf;jsessionid=00000000.app363a?docID=322&NONCE_TOKEN=39DE260DDF89D0018A76BA24816B000C\ (13.05.2019).
  4. Agbor VN, Njim T, Aminde LN: Difficulties in diagnosis and treatment of severe secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon in a Cameroonian woman: a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2016. 10:356.
  5. How to treat Raynaud’s Phenomenon with Chinese Medicine? A blog of discussing Chinese medicine & acupuncture from Dr.Tiejun Tang. Online Source: http://chinesemedicinesalon.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-treat-raynauds-phenomenon-with.html (13.05.2019).

  6. Mixed connective tissue disease. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 2018. Online Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mixed-connective-tissue-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20375147 (13.05.2019).
  7. Grandjean A.: Water Requirements, Impinging Factors, and Recommended Intakes. World Health Organization. 2004. Pages 1-27. Online Source: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutwaterrequir.pdf (13.05.2019).
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PLASTIC FUTURE… OUR OCEANS VIOLENTLY SCREAM FOR HELP!

WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT…

  • Unexpected places to find plastics.
  • What’s so damn special about plastic?
  • Why is plastic bad?
  • What kind of material is plastic material?
  • Short history of plastics.
  • How can we manage plastic?
  • What does the future look like?

When you read something in the news like – dead whale has 1000 pieces of plastic in its stomach (1), you start to wonder if this is the beginning of the end of the environment. Or is it the end of the beginning, and we’re already really, really deep in sh… plastic garbage?

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I understand the use of plastic- it’s cheap, it’s light, it can be very cute and colorful and so – it’s practical. How practical are we talking about?

Let’s review the positive sides of plastic:

  • It can be used E V E R Y W H E R E. And I mean – E V E R Y W H E R E. In every industry.
  • It’s cheap and easily replaceable.
  • It can be in any color.
  • It can be recycled.
  • It’s light.
  • It does not shatter.
  • It has been proven that a certain worm and a certain bacteria CAN breakdown non-degradable plastic at a certain rate (HINT: very, very slow).

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So, we’ve seen the good side, let’s have a look at the evil one then:

  • It takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down and 600 years for a fishing line to succumb to the degrading laws of nature.
  • Biodegradable plastic is plastic that degrades at a higher speed than regular plastic. And the market is not very controlled. So you can have a plastic peace that degrades 5 minutes faster than regular plastic and have a stamp on it claiming it to be biodegradable. It’s murky waters at best.
  • Leaching of chemicals into content (BPA, for example – a known endocrine disruptor).
  • Adsorption of substances, leading to foul taste and smell of the content.
  • Last but not least – carbon footprint is through the roof.

But, I know what you’re thinking – EVERY industry has a high carbon footprint.

Even YOU have a high carbon footprint!

*Cough, cough* Excuse me – but I don’t even own a car! Ha!

… And I can already hear you thinking –

wait till you get a job that TELLS you to own a car! Or lends you one for that matter. You’ll end up just like the rest of us.

Yes – I know – Point taken people! We are all in one plastic bucket. Drowning in sh..Plastic.

Speaking of drowning in plastic, have I ever told you that there’s about 4.8 – 12.7 million tons of plastic in the oceans? (2) I’m not joking. There’s 321,003,271 cubic miles (1.332 billion cubic kilometers) of water in the oceans (all together), (3) and every day we find ways to dump something in it.

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WHAT KIND OF MATERIAL IS PLASTIC MATERIAL?

Plastic material is polymeric material that may or may not contain other substances which improve effectiveness and/or reduce costs.

And what is a polymeric material? (you know how much I love to split hairs).

A polymer is a substance made out of macromolecules.

What is a macromolecule?

Well, it’s a very big molecule.

How big? You ask.

Think of two small molecules, for example, terephthalic acid (HOOC—C6H4—COOH) and ethylene glycol (HO—CH2—CH2—OH). Combine them (minus 2 molecules of water) and connect them with a repetition unit (—OC—C6H4—COO—CH2—CH2—O—). You can use the repetition unit as much as you want …

… And voila! – You get a macromolecule.

In this concrete example, you get Polyethylene terephthalate or PET, which is the most common thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family. You find it in fibres for clothes, containers for liquids and foods, etc. Here’s a short sequence:

Picture1

Image Source: Jynto [CC0]

HOW IN THE WORLD DID PLASTIC GET INTO OUR LIVES?

Technically, plastics are nothing new. The first ever natural rubber was used by the Mesopotamians in 1600BC.

Now, I know what you’re gonna say!

Rubber and plastic is not the same, duuh!

Yes, genius, but they are both polymers, and we can safely say that plastics are the evolutionary child of natural materials, such as rubber, nitrocellulose, collagen and galalite.

Of course, we – the Humans, had something to do with this evolution. We played with chemical modification and journeyed into the world of modern plastics. We closed the door and cannot go back, but is that bad?

HOW DO WE MANAGE PLASTIC? THIS IS TO SAY – BESIDE DUMPING IT IN THE OCEANS OR JUST GENERALLY IN NATURE, WHAT DO WE DO WITH IT/TO IT?

Well, one thing is recycling. I don’t know if you know this or not – but recycling of plastic is actually a very hard and challenging deal. Plastic has low density and low value, and combined with one or few technical hurdles, it still represents a central part of many environmental safety and pollution debates.

There are many processes to recycle plastic, but here are the main ones:

  • Thermal depolarization – organic compounds are heated up to really high temperatures in the presence of water, and turned into light crude oil. Here, different waste streams require different cooking ways and coking times, and yield different finished products. But it works like a charm! (4) (5)
  • Heat compression – all plastic, no matter the size, is put together in giant rotating drums, that apply heat to the plastics and convert them to a new plastic material. This method is criticized for its large energy costs. (6)

Thermal depolarization is considered the future of recycling.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?


It’s probably made of plastic. God, I hope not.

But, over 660 species, like seabirds, fish, planktons, etc., are noted to be affected by plastic debris. We eat fish. So, plastic micro/nano particles end up in us as well. To this end, it is very important, to know with high precision, where plastic junk is generated and prioritize those areas for reduction of that shit. I mean plastic. More importantly, the mismanaged plastic waste needs to be reduced!

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Global mismanaged plastic waste (MPW) generation in 2015.

Image Source: PALGRAVE COMMUNICATIONS | (2019) 5:6

Here’s a map of the mismanaged plastic waste generation from 2015. It was posted in an article on January 2019. The scientists in the mentioned article talk about the accumulation of mismanaged plastic waste and how it represents a huge global concern. They wanted to improve the level of detail present in country-level plastic waste generation data, based on population density and affluence. They did a great job, and for the first time, distributions of mismanaged municipal plastic waste generation were published and shown, at an order of 1 km resolution, worldwide from now to 2060. (7)

If it’s business as usual, they say, by 2060 mismanaged plastic waste generation could triple. (7)

Yey, Humanity!

So, what do we do?

We can control how we manage plastic waste. Report mismanage. Educate people. Tell them, that they already eat plastic. Ew.

National and international cooperation is of course vital. This is our Planet. Our Home. There isn’t another one. Yet. And I doubt Elon or NASA will find one tomorrow and transport us there.

I think they need more time.

So, until then – we must reduce plastic waste releases into natural environments.

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Till next time.

REFERENCES:

  1. The Guardian: Environment. Online Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/20/indonesia-dead-whale-had-1000-pieces-of-plastic-in-stomach. (21.04.2019).
  2. Haward M: Plastic Pollution of the World’s Seas and Oceans as a Contemporary Challenge in Ocean Governance. Nature Communications. 2018. (9):667.
  3. National Ocean Service. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. US Department of Commerce. Online Source: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/oceanwater.html. (21.04.2019).
  4. Fox JA, Stacey NT: Process Targeting: An Energy Based Comparison of Waste Plastic Processing Technologies. Energy. 2019. 170: (273-283).
  5. Discover: Science for the Curious. Online Source: http://discovermagazine.com/2003/may/featoil/ (21.04.2019).
  6. Recycle Nation. Heat Compression. Online Source: https://recyclenation.com/green-glossary/heat-compression/ (21.04.2019).
  7. Lebreton L, Andrady A: Future Scenarios of Global Plastic Waste Generation and Disposal. Palgrave Communications. 2019. (5): 6.

BEWARE OF THE SNEAKY DEMON – ENDOCRINE DISRUPTION

SHORT ABSTRACT:

  • Many products including cosmetics, food, food supplements, textile materials, pesticides for protection of crops, animals and people from malicious organisms contain compounds called endocrine disruptors (or EDs).
  • EDs either mimic or partly mimic our hormones, either prevent hormones from binding to their receptors or change the normal homeostasis (work) of our hormones.
  • Results of ED exposure – male and female infertility, thyroid problems, underdeveloped fetuses, miscarriages, babies born with learning difficulties, animals (domestic or wild) born with unnatural aggression or passiveness and all kinds of other disabilities.
  • New ways of testing are possible – such is the in silico testing, where we do computer simulations and calculate the probability that an ED would bind to certain receptors.
  • EDs, don’t act with the receptors in very low concentration like hormones do. They can act in any concentration. The dose – response is nonlinear, which means that a low dose can be more potent than a higher dose for a given response to a certain compound.
  • Scientists through receptor – based toxicology screening can find out if a certain environmental substance has a public health significance.
  • Not all pesticides are EDs and not all EDs are pesticides. EDs can be all sorts of substances. Pesticides can be useful.
  • Should DDT be still used? It is time for precautionary actions that include both use and reduced exposure.
  • Can we have a good, practical, fashionable, tech-diverse lifestyle and at the same time be safe from EDs? Sure we can! Read what you can do to reduce exposure.

We live in an era when healthy, pragmatic and stylish lifestyle is important and a goal to many people. Image, looks, diet and even the way we exercise are judged and scrutinized. Thousands of ads, articles, blog posts and books promote and present all kinds of products and slap our faces with colorful pictures of unattainable perfection.

Marketing is very powerful these days. That’s not a bad thing, if we think of perfect products that deliver what they promise. That is to say – we don’t want any side effects, strange outcomes, lies, misleading or bullshit. But perfection doesn’t exist. What is endlessly promoted to us, and what is pressing us to become, is not the same to what is realistically attainable. Hence – debt, depression, anger, jealousy and general dissatisfaction poisons our existence.

 

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Many products contain compounds that screw with our hormonal system (endocrine system). By products, I mean everything – from medication, cosmetics, food, food supplements to textile materials, pesticides for protection of crops, animals and people from malicious organisms… Those compounds are called endocrine (hormonal) disruptors. They either mimic or partly mimic our hormones, either prevent hormones from binding to their receptors or change the normal work of our hormones. The results – male and female infertility, underdeveloped fetuses, miscarriages, babies born with learning difficulties, animals (domestic or wild) born with unnatural aggression or passiveness and all kinds of other disabilities. Worst of all, endocrine disruptors seem to be everywhere, all industries are using them, households and agriculture. We are surrounded by them and they are in the air, the water and in the soil.

 

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So, is there any good news in sight?

Well, yes and no. This is “sort of” a new age problem that requires a new age solution. I say “sort of”, because the term “endocrine disruption” was first used in the mid ’70s and early ’80s. But, only now we get to do an in-depth research thanks to technology. This doesn’t mean that the research from the 20th century is useless, far from that, it represents a valuable base for the newer ones.

I mentioned good news somewhere, didn’t I?

Good news is that we can prevent the use of these compounds. New ways of testing are possible – such is the in silico testing, where we do computer simulations and calculate the probability that an ED would bind to certain receptors. These tests are cheap, fast and precise.

 

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In vitro studies are done in tubes and in vivo are done in an alive organism or cells. Thanks to social media and the wonders of the Internet, knowledge can be shared and certain problematic substances avoided. This is especially important for babies (plastic bottles), children (toys, plastic cups, bottles, etc) and pregnant women (certain food supplements, plastics, etc).

What is most important and dangerous about some of the EDs, is that they don’t act with the receptors in very low concentration like hormones do. They bind to the same receptors and can act in any concentration. The dose – response is nonlinear, which means that a low dose can be more potent than a higher dose for a given response to a certain compound. (1) But, it gets even more complicated than that. We’re talking about complex mixtures, dose additivity and synergism between the chemicals. (2) Still, this kind of summation is not the only way EDs can interact with endogenous hormone systems to produce adverse effects. (2)

EDs also act on enzymes involved in steroidogenesis, steroid metabolism, and protein/peptide synthesis. They affect intracellular signaling processes and cell proliferation, growth, and death. There are hundreds, if not thousands of papers showing that ED exposures affect expression of genes and proteins in different cells, tissues, and organs.

Recent evidence suggests that some EDs may cause molecular epigenetic changes, including in the germline, which in turn may lead to trans-generational effects of EDs on numerous organ systems. This latter point is important, because it suggests that the legacy of ED exposures may go beyond the individual, and can last even if there is no further exposure, or despite efforts to clean the environment. (2)

 

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But, if the relationship between a hormone and its receptor is highly specific (meaning a certain hormone binds only with a certain receptor), how and why do some of these EDs bind to the same receptors? Shouldn’t their structure be the same? Well, no. Their structure is sometimes similar, sometimes it is not. Most of them are lipophilic substances, but not all. Scientists don’t know yet, why some substances, that are structurally different than certain hormones, have a similar effect as those hormones. They’re evil – that’s one reasonable scientific explanation.

Perhaps, another one is that the hormonal activities of environmental chemicals reside in a functional attribute rather than a structural one. This one is more logical than pure evil, I guess(3)

To see if this theory applies, scientists developed a new way of screening the substances. They called it receptor – based toxicology screening. How this works – they take a little tube and put human cells with a specific receptor/s and then throw in different environmental substances. And then they observe – what binds to the receptor, how it does that, what happens when it does and what is its structure like. Through the results (results like a certain receptor response) they can find out if a certain environmental substance has a public health significance. For example – they can predict toxicities at a certain dose.

This cool method will in no way provide a complete toxicological profile of a chemical, or replace complete animal testing or epidemiology and public health strategies, but it will generate useful, essential information for an important set of toxicological problems in a relatively short time and at relatively small cost. (4)

 

Not all pesticides are EDs and not all EDs are pesticides. EDs can be all sorts of substances.

Pesticides can be useful. Ever heard of malaria and insecticides (in particular DDT)?

I can hear you thinking: yes, they are useful, but are they safe??

Well, there’s no good way to answer this question. No way to please the anti-pesticide and the pro-pesticide communities. It is definitely an ethical issue, though. And one that needs to be resolved.

 

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Let’s take DDT as an example:

Is DDT “good”?

Well, yes if we look at how many lives it has saved.

But, is it safe for people, animals and the environment?

There have been many concerns about its safety, so to claim that it is safe, is indefensible.

Are inhabitants and also people who apply DDT exposed?

Oh, yes they are! And to high levels.

So, should it be used?

Well, in some circumstances, malaria cannot be halted, which is why DDT has to be used. But, now we have the technology, and we have the knowledge of what it is capable to do to the environment and our health (and the wildlife’s health). At the very least, it is time for precautionary actions that include both use and reduced exposure. 

The same precautionary actions can be applied to other pesticides that are a necessary evil, so to speak. They save our crops, they help us feed nations, but they also wind up in our body and some of them cause endocrine disruption. Actions to lower the exposure can save us and our environment from multiple potential health problems caused by endocrine disruption – from obesity and diabetes caused by environmental factors to infertility, nerve damage, cancer and thyroid problems.

 

But let’s go back to lifestyle.

Can we have a good, practical, fashionable, tech-diverse lifestyle, and at the same time be safe from EDs?

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Here’s what we can do:

  1. We can stop buying fast fashion clothes. Not only are these clothes made by women and children who barely make 3$ per day, but also they contain harmful chemicals, such as Nonylphenols, which have estrogen-like activity. After washing the clothes (and hoping they survive the first wash), these chemicals end in our water, where they persist for months. (5)
  2. We can eat organic food as much as possible. If we think about acidic rains, and the fact that the wind transports particles in various modes through different territories, as well as the fact that particles can remain in the atmosphere for up to several weeks and thus be transported thousands of kilometers from source regions, we can conclude that – even organic food is not as clean as a tear. (6) If we further split hairs (my favorite thing to do about anything and everything), because some pesticides have a systemic action, their residues are contained within the entire produce (fruit, veggie, whatever) and not just on the surface. Therefore, peeling and washing the produce is often not enough to prevent exposure to pesticides. (7)
  3. We can limit the usage of plastic. Plastic bottles, plastic utensils, plastic straws, plastic bags when we go shopping, plastic food containers, plastic coffee cups… All of these things can be replaced with a reusable version. Remember, plastic is one of the biggest sources of BPA. Remember that demon? It loves to screw with your brain. (8) Literally. 
  4. We can limit the usage of cans. You may ask how and why are cans connected to EDs? Well, some cans contain Bisphenol-A (yes, BPA again)! It slowly migrates from the inside walls of the cans into the food. Interestingly, this intensifies with the increase of glucose, NaCl and the expiration date. (9) Although, canned food is generally safe, and all the nutrients of the foods are preserved (more or less), if there is a possibility to buy foods preserved in a glass container, it certainly is a better choice.
  5. We can use water filters. Heavy metals and certain EDs can be found in our water system. Buying a simple water filter is a small change, but one that can make a huge difference in the quality of our life.
  6. We can be aware of what cosmetic products we use. This goes especially for shampoos and hair products, but also extends to all cosmetic goods in general. Avoid substances like: bisphenol-A, 4-t-octylphenol, 4-n-octylphenol, and 4-n-nonylphenol. These compounds are toxic and a study has shown that they have ED – properties. (10) More studies have been conducted on these compounds: benzophenone-1 (BP-1); benzophenone-2 (BP-2); 4,4′-dihydroxybenzophenone (4,4′-DHBP); 4-benzylphenol (4-BenzPh); homosalate (HO); octocrylene (OC) and 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC). (11) That’s right – the “everlasting beauty” has a price and the highest one so far is – an in utero exposure to EDs. This is when the baby is exposed to EDs through the mother.

 

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The cosmetic industry slowly becomes more and more responsible about the products it sends to the consumers, but we are all still in the woods. The rise of ethical consumerism in this case helps with this problem, and slowly we all understand that well selected more natural products are better then synthetic ones. BUT THIS DOESN’T MEAN THAT SOME PLANTS DO NOT HAVE ED-PROPERTIES AND THAT ALL SYNTHETIC PRODUCTS HAVE ED – ACTIVITY. This is why the problem of endocrine disruption is so damn complicated. We are surrounded by materials – natural and synthetic and some of them are good and some of them are bad.

How do we know what is what?!

Well, we carefully select what is known to be good and avoid what is known to be bad. We read labels, educate ourselves about substances, follow scientific trends.

 

Now, I’m not trying to say that we should live in a bubble, isolated from everything. I’m just saying – be aware of the endocrine disruption problem, and live as balanced and as healthy as you can.

There are ways to be frugal and healthy. There are products out there that are brilliant and not that expensive. Relatively speaking, you can never have the best or the worst (despite what certain ads suggest). Generally speaking, organic beats processed any day, but that doesn’t mean that organic products are “virgins”.

Like I said, EDs are EVERYWHERE to some extent, present in different concentrations in different places on the Planet. Polluted cities have them more, but unpolluted cities have them also. The wind carries particles and molecules everywhere. So you’ll find “bad” micro(stuff) right in front of your doorstep no matter where you live. You’ll find good stuff too, so don’t worry about it. Much.

Till next time! Now where’s my paper cup of coffee?!

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Gierthy JF: Testing for Endocrine Disruption: How Much is Enough? Toxicological Sciences. 2002. 68. (1): 1–3. 
  2. Gore AC et al.: Executive Summary to EDC-2: The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement on Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. Endocrine Reviews. 2015. 36. (6): 593–602. 
  3. McLachlan JA: Environmental Signaling: What Embryos and Evolution Teach Us About Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. Endocrine Reviews. 2001. 22. (3): 319–341.
  4.  McLachlan JA: Functional Toxicology: A New Approach to Detect Biologically Active Xenobiotics. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1993. 101.(5): 386–387.
  5. Guenther K, Kleist E & Thiele B: Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 2006. 384. (2): 542-546.
  6. Jasper F, Kok EJ, Parteli R, Michaels TI and Karam DB: The physics of wind-blown sand and dust. 2012. Online source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1201.4353.pdf. (29.07.2018)
  7. Pesticides in our Food. Pesticides Action Network UK (PAN UK). Online Source: http://www.pan-uk.org/our-food/ (29.07.2018)
  8. Negri-Cesi P: Bisphenol A Interaction With Brain Development and Functions. Dose-Response. 2015. 13. (2): 1559325815590394. 
  9. Sungur Ş, Köroğlu M, Özkan A: Determinatıon of bisphenol a migrating from canned food and beverages in markets. Food Chemistry. 2014. 142 (1): 87-91. 
  10. Miralles P, Chisvert A & Salvador A: Determination of Phenolic Endocrine Disruptors in Cosmetics by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Letters. 2018. 51. (5): 717-727. 
  11. Lopardo L, Adams D, Cummins A, Kasprzyk-Hordern B: Verifying community-wide exposure to endocrine disruptors in personal care products – In quest for metabolic biomarkers of exposure via in vitro studies and wastewater-based epidemiology. Water Research. 2018. 143 (15): 117-126. 

BEHIND THE SCENES OF FOOD LABELING

SHORT ABSTRACT:

  • What are the differences between the labels organic, “green”, eco, bio and natural?
  • The three main reasons for purchasing organic products are concerns related to health, product quality, and environmental protection.
  • When we are talking about the “organic” labels, we must differentiate between “organic”, “made with organic (specified ingredients)” and “100% organic”.
  • “Green products” differs from organic products in the controlled and limited use of synthesized fertilizer, pesticide, growth regulator, livestock and poultry feed additive and gene engineering technology.
  • The USDA provides guidance on “natural” labeling on meat and poultry, but there is no formal rule. The FDA also does not have a formal rule to ensure the consistent and meaningful use of the “natural” labeling claim. 
  • Eco-Agriculture is an ecological rather than an industrial approach to food and fiber production. It represents a sophisticated system of farming, and offers farmers an alternative to increasing dependence on petrochemical inputs.
  • The Governments’ policy for bio-food production encourages farmers to avoid using synthetic agro-chemicals and move to eco-friendly crop production, pesticide-free production, bio-farming, zero budget/natural farming and permaculture.
  • Permaculture involves integrated farming methods that are based on principles learned from the study of natural ecosystems.
  • Biodynamic farming is a method of organic agriculture, which recognizes farm as a living system, and where one activity affects the other.

 

Is food really just food? Should you eat something because it does or does not have a certificate that is “eco”, or “bio”? And what about “natural” and “organic”? Are these words representing the same thing?

Yesterday I went to a store and what I noticed was that, we are overexposed to commercials that poke our eyes with colorful leaflets of “perfect for your body” food or “100% natural!”Sure.

Customers’ trust is everything these days, after all, the relationship between the industries and customers is mutualistic: the industries feed the customers and the customers feed the industries. It’s never-ending. Labels on foods can easily influence customers’ way of thinking and their choices. But, do they buy a good product?

 

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Choosing the right food to eat is a complicated task. I know how this sounds – if our food source was limited, like in places where there is famine, drought or floods, we would be more grateful for everything in our lives. Still, we are surrounded not by one type of product, but by millions of choices within a type of product.

Take for example – milk; in the nearby store, these choices are available: cow milk, pasteurized milk (full cream, reduced fat, skim milk, calcium enriched, calcium and iron enriched, flavored…), goat milk, sheep milk, organic milk… One big shelf in the store – all reserved for milk. And other products? You’ve been in your nearby store, so you know what I’m talking about!

 

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A research shows that most consumers have difficulty understanding the information provided by both – FOP (front –of – package) and BOP (back – of – package) food labels. (1)

Let’s find out what really hides behind the terms “bio”, “eco”, “natural” and “organic”.

ORGANIC – THE REAL DEAL

 

The three main reasons for purchasing organic products are concerns related to health, product quality, and environmental protection.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an organic label suggests to the consumer that a product was produced using certain production methods. In other words, organic is a process claim rather than a product claim(2)

Organic agriculture is regulated under various laws and certification programs. It is unique, because all synthetic inputs are restricted, and “soil building” crop rotations are administered.

The specific goal of organic agriculture is to strengthen sustainability. But, some negative effects may occur, which means that the production system is not an exclusive method for sustainable farming. The soil and water protection and conservation techniques of sustainable agriculture used to combat erosion, compaction, salinization and other forms of degradation are apparent in organic farming.

Properly managed organic farming reduces or eliminates water pollution and helps save water and soil on the farm (although incorrect use of manure can severely pollute water). A few developed countries urge or sponsor farmers to use organic techniques as means to fight water pollution (e.g. Germany, France).

 

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Organic farmers rely on natural pest controls (e.g. biological control, plants with pest control properties) rather than synthetic pesticides which, when applied wrongly, are known to kill beneficial organisms (e.g. natural parasites of pests, bees, earthworms), cause pest resistance, and often pollute water and land. Reduction in the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates to poison three million people each year, should lead to improved health of farm families. (2)

When we are talking about the “organic” labels, we must differentiate between organic, made with organic (specified ingredients) and 100% organic.

 

  • 100% organic – can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Similarly, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc.—can be labeled “100 percent organic” as well. (3) 
  • Organic label means that a product contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5% of the components may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic and/or nonagricultural products that are on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. (3) This list identifies the synthetic substances that may be used and the non-synthetic (natural) substances that may not be used in organic crop and livestock production. It further identifies a limited number of non-organic substances that may be used in or on processed organic products. (4)
  • Made with organic (specified ingredients) can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 % organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed restrictions regarding the ingredients that form the nonorganic portion. The remaining 30% of ingredients do not have to be certified organic; federal standards ban the use of genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sediment for all ingredients. (3)(5) 

“GREEN” FOOD – ALMOST AS STRICTLY REGULATED AS ORGANIC

 

What about “green” food? According to government classification standards, that type of food is produced without certain pesticides and fertilizers and with biological methods. (2) 

 

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So, “green products” differ from organic products, in the controlled and limited use of synthesized fertilizer, pesticide, growth regulator, livestock and poultry feed additive. The primary driver of demand for “green food” is the lack of confidence in the safety and quality of produce, along with improvement in living standards and the expansion of the middle class. (6) 

NATURAL – FAKE

Next – we jump to the “Natural” category. According to the USDA, the “natural” label can be placed on a product “containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product). The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as – no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)” This label in no way refers to the way an animal was raised, or if the animal was raised without hormones or antibiotics. (7)(8)

 

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This is why the label has to include a statement explaining the meaning of the term “natural” (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”). (8) 

Also, there is no organization behind the label. Each company can determine its own definition for the “natural” labeling claim. There are no standards as well. The USDA provides guidance on “natural” labeling on meat and poultry, but there is no formal rule. The FDA regulates processed food, produce and most fish, but again – the agency does not have a formal rule to ensure the consistent and meaningful use of the “natural” labeling claim. So, the label “natural” is not meaningful at all. (9)

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By Srijankedia [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The label “Natural”, however, must not be confused with the label “Certified Naturally Grown”, which is a whole different ball game. If you see this seal displayed at a farmers’ market, farm stand, or your local farm, it means that the farm’s methods are similar to those of a certified organic farm. The differences in the standards are minor, the main difference is in how those requirements are verified. There are fewer requirements for record-keeping compared with organic certification, since there is no annual review of records by a certification agency.

The bottom line is that the seal signifies that the farmer shares a commitment to farming procedures that build soil health, do not rely on synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, animal drugs, and GMOs, and provide humane living conditions for farm animals. This type of food is yearly inspected by another farmer, a local extension agent, or three of the farm’s customers. (10)

ECO – NOT WHAT YOU THINK

 

Eco-Agriculture is an ecological rather than an industrial approach to food and fiber production. It developed in the 1930s (but the term was first used in 1970 by Charles Walters who was an economist, author, editor, publisher, and founder of Acres Magazine) partly in response to recognized natural phenomena and partly in reaction to the dominance of mechanism and specialization. Today, it represents a sophisticated system of farming, and offers farmers an alternative to increasing dependence on petrochemical inputs. Eco-Agriculture minimizes adverse environmental effects and promotes soil conservation and construction. (11)

 

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Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

Consumers believe that “eco-labeled” products taste better, which, at least in part, may be an effect of the label. However, studies show that there is almost no difference in taste between foods produced by eco-agricultural methods and conventional foods.

In a recent set of experiments, participants were asked to taste two cups of coffee. The cups actually contained identical coffee, although the participants were told that one cup was “eco-friendly” coffee and that the other was not. A systematic taste-preference bias for the eco-friendly alternative was revealed, especially in participants with a generally positive view toward eco-friendly consumer behavior. The participants were also ready to pay more for the “eco-friendly” coffee. Similar findings were achieved with other products, as well. The results point toward the same conclusion: an eco-label tends to enhance the taste sensory evaluation of consumable products. (12)

BIO –MORE COMPLICATED THAN YOU THINK

When we talk about “bio” it usually means that we’re talking about foods that are produced through organic farming.

The word “bio” is thrown everywhere these days. There’s bio-fuel, bio-farming, bio-food, bio-pesticides, bio-dynamic farming….

We’re gonna talk a bit about permaculture and bio-dynamic farming.

Consumers are concerned over the negative impact of agro-chemicals, which is why over the years the demand for safe fruits and vegetables has increased.

The Governments’ policy for bio-food production encourages farmers to avoid using synthetic agro-chemicals and move to eco-friendly crop production, pesticide-free production, bio-farming, zero budget/natural farming and permaculture. 

Permaculture is standing out among the various forms of sustainable farming. It involves integrated farming methods that are based on principles learned from the study of natural ecosystems. It aims to bring food production closer to consumers, restore soil fertility, and cultivate land in such ways, that maximize long term productivity, while minimizing artificial inputs and effort. It depends on small-scale, land and energy-efficient, multi-cropping systems, by which it avoids and reverses problems caused by modern agriculture. Permaculture encourages the cooperative approach, and build communities around food production. It supports healthy and sustainable food habits. (13)

 

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 photo credit: Local Food Initiative Vegetable garden Permaculture via photopin (license)

 

In the 1920s, an Australian philosopher by the name Rudolf Steiner, created the term biodynamic farming. It is a method of organic agriculture, which recognizes farm as a living system and where one activity affects the other. The term “biodynamic” comes from the Greek word bios meaning life and dynamikós meaning power. Hence biodynamic farming means “working with the power that creates and maintains life”.

BD farming has two main characteristics: using certain farming inputs from various herbal, mineral and raw materials processed in complex ways and finally applying them in small and minimal doses on soil and crops; and observation of rhythms in nature which go beyond the most obvious influences of sun, weather and season – we’re talking about lunar, planetary and stellar constellations. (14)

 

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Biodynamic farms aim to become self-sufficient in compost, manure and animal feeds, and additionally, an astronomical calendar is used to determine favorable planting, cultivating and harvesting times. This is how BD farming differs from organic farming.

BD farming includes organic agriculture’s priority on manures and composts and prohibition of the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. The farming practices are learned through experience and from other farmers.

Biodynamic agriculture assumes that the farm is an organism, an independent entity with its own individuality. Integration of crops and livestock, recycling of nutrients, maintenance of soil and the health and well-being of crops and animals are all priorities of BD farming. The farmer, too, is considered as part of the whole. (14)

People need to be aware of where their food comes from. We live fast paced lives, and sometimes, we think it’s impossible to eat healthy or live “green”. It all starts with a shift in consciousness. Although, it is impossible to isolate ourselves from pesticides (which are literally everywhere around us), it is less difficult to choose unprocessed foods, fresh fruits and veggies. Start small, but think big… about health and environment.

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”

~ Herophilus

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Temple, Norman J. et al.: Food labels: A critical assessment. Nutrition. 2014. 30 (3): 257 – 260. 
  2. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Committee on Agriculture, Fifteenth Session, Rome, 25-29 January 1999: Organic Agriculture. Online Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/X0075e.htm (27.04.2018).
  3. USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Agricultural Marketing Service: Organic Labeling Standards. Online Source: https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/organic-labeling-standards (27.04.2018). 
  4.  USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Agricultural Marketing Service: The National List. Online Source: https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/national-list (27.04.2018). 
  5. Consumer Reports: Made With Organic [Specified Ingredients]. Online Source: http://greenerchoices.org/2016/11/16/made-with-organic/ (27.04.2018).
  6. McCarthy B, Liu HB, Chen T: Green Food Consumption in China: Segmentation Based on Attitudes Toward Food Safety. Journal of International Food & Agribusiness Marketing. 2016. 28 (4): 346-362. Online Source: https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/39263/9/39263%20McCarthy%20et%20al%202015.pdf (27.04.2018). 
  7. Online Source: http://www.twinoaksfarm.net/what-do-food-labels-really-mean (27.04.2018).
  8. USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Food Safety and Inspection Service: Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms. Online Source: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms/!ut/p/a1/jZDNCsIwEISfxQcI2doqepSCtFVbRNSYi6ya1kCblCYq-vRaREHxp7unZb5hh6GcMsoVHmWGVmqFeX3z7hqm0HX6PkRJ3xlCGC-mycj3oTfr3IDVDyB2G_q_zAD–aMGD9rVxJ9klJdo90SqVFOWCUtQmZOoDGWp1jtiMBX2TFLcWmL2QtiHkONG5FJllBUCa9eOlPqQ2-r8lIgVVWH-A0vKX-OCc9swdmdeEMUuJN478KHPO_C9sLKYs8t4EIAMW1dofMrM/#14 (27.04.2018).
  9. Consumer Reports: Natural. Online Source: http://greenerchoices.org/2016/11/16/natural-label-review/ (27.04.2018).
  10. Consumer Reports: Certified Naturally Grown. Online Source: http://greenerchoices.org/2017/08/07/certified-naturally-grown/ (27.04.2018). 
  11. Merrill MC: Eco-Agriculture: A Review of its History and Philosophy, Biological Agriculture & Horticulture. 2012. 1. (3): 181-210. 
  12. Sörqvist P, Haga A, Langeborg L, Holmgren MWallinder M, Nöstl A, Seager PB, Marsh JE: The green halo: Mechanisms and limits of the eco-label effect. Food Quality and Preference. 2015. (43): 1-9. Online Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329315000312 (27.04.2018). 
  13. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations): Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020 for the Non-Sugar Sector. 2016. Page: 43. Online Source: http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/mat159356.pdf (27.04.2018).
  14. Nabi A, Dr.Narayan S, Afroza B, Mushtaq F, Mufti S, Ummyiah HM and MM Magray: Biodynamic farming in vegetables. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2017. 6. (6): 212-219. Online Source: http://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2017/vol6issue6/PartD/6-5-383-396.pdf (27.04.2018).

TOP 10 HEALTHY REASONS TO BE MORE PASSIONATE ABOUT TRAVELING

SHORT ABSTRACT:

  • How does travel affect our mental health or our health in general?
  • What exactly is mental health? Mental health involves our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It determines many things, like – how we interact with others, how we make choices, how we handle stress.
  • 10 reasons why traveling is good for us.

 

First, Happy New Year! 

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via GIPHY

A month ago, I went to Munich and then a week after that, I traveled to Florence, Luca and Pisa in Italy. I don’t have to mention that I love traveling, do I? I traveled by train and by bus. I love the conversations I have with people, I love meeting new people, I love observing how people interact with each other and how they are dressed. Don’t worry, I’m not a weirdo. I don’t stalk people or scarily stare at them. But, as a writer, I love observing everything and I love reading.

 

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Can you guess, which one is me? 

 

These two travels made me think: how does travel affect our lives, or more accurate question that popped in my mind was – how does travel affect our mental health? What are its benefits to our health in general?

What exactly is mental health? Mental health involves our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It determines many things, like – how we interact with others, how we make choices, how we handle stress. It also affects our thoughts, feelings and actions. A good mental health does not only mean an absence of depression, anxiety or other psychological issues. A dose of anxiety and feeling blue from time to time is a normal occurrence in life. How we handle those disturbances can tell a lot about our mental well-being. A good mental health means having an appetite for living, to laugh and have fun, to have the ability to deal with stressful situations and bounce back on one’s feet quickly after being knocked down, to have a sense of meaning and purpose in life, to be flexible to change, to know when to work and when to play, to be able to build and maintain relationships, and to have a good dose of self-confidence and self-esteem.

 

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So, the question here would be, can travel boost all those good characteristics? And, I’m not talking about losing your luggage in a foreign airport. It sounds stressful (although, I actually enjoyed solving that problem (long story), my mom did not – again, long story… It happened in Paris… No, wait… It really is a long story. I better save it for another day!)

So, let’s dive in – 10 reasons why traveling is good for us:

1. We learn through travel.

Traveling gives the opportunity to collect useful information about other people’s culture, language, cuisine and traditions. According to a study published in the Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, travel has the potential to create dynamic situations of learning, (1) in which one learns not only about the foreign land, but also a lot about self. In a nutshell, travel can help us learn many things about our own view of the world and of life. Priceless knowledge.

 

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2. Travel improves our social skills.

Humans are social creatures. We communicate in multiple ways multiple times a day. We don’t just communicate face-to-face, but also through phones, radios, videos, etc.. We sometimes communicate even when we don’t realize it, and therefore, even the shiest, introverted person communicates with the world, one way or the other.

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As a solo traveler or as part of a group (friends or tourist agency group) we improve our social skills. We often start with a small talk, and soon find ourselves sharing opinions and learning new information. We observe body language and learn to analyze it. We observe manners and tone and volume of voices. All of this helps us learn a lot of things about ourselves and the people around us.

3. We develop new skills.

This one is especially directed to those people who plan their own journey without using a travel agency. Now, this doesn’t mean that people who travel with travel agencies don’t learn new skills. They probably do. But, when people plan a journey by themselves, they are directly responsible for time management, documents, finances and transportation.

 

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There is no one to show you the way, you have to find it by yourself. There is no one to tell you, that certain places are opened or closed at a particular time, you have to find that out by yourself. In short, solo travelers, or groups of travelers who plan their own journey, are somehow forced to concentrate and think in different ways than tourists who are following a tour guide. To sum things up – we learn how to solve problems on our feet and unlock skills we thought we never had in the first place. How cool is that?!

4. Adventure. 

Sure. We are not all the same. Some people don’t like adventures. (I’m not one of those people). But studies have pointed out that adventures can have direct positive impact on subjective well-being and perceived stress. Benefits of adventures are, according to numerous evaluations, a more positive self-concept and increased self-esteem. (2)

 

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5. Increased creativity.

We are so accustomed to our environment, that even if there is something creative in it, like a building or new appliances, new cars, we might not even recognize their potential. Our lives are busy and happening fast. We don’t have time for noticing things that don’t help us move forward… Or do we? We cannot let the world around us become invisible to us! So, we escape. For a short while. Outside of our comfort zone, we are more concentrated on what’s going on around us. All our senses are heightened and awoken, and when that happens, creativity slowly starts streaming in our brains, until it runs free. When that happens (at least for me), it represents an epitome of freedom and internal piece.

 

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6. Making new friends.

This one goes hand in hand with our social skills. But, when we travel, it is inevitable that we will meet new people. Some of them will be our companions only for a short time (for example while we sit in a train or a bus), and with some people we will just…click. Making friends is not easy. Ironically, in the 21st Century, the time of social media and hyper-communications, many people feel disconnected more than ever. Stepping out of one’s shell is never easy, or comfortable, but you know what they say about the comfort zone – great things never came from there. Not even friendships.

 

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7. Memories!

Traveling gives us moments to remember. I will never forget my trip to Munich and my trip to Italy. Munich and Florence are majestic cities! Love Pisa as well. The architecture, the history behind it, the people, the fun – all of it worth visiting, all of it unforgettable!

 

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8. Increased productivity.

When we travel, our must-does and to-does are muted. In this day and age, we usually work for a minimum of 40 hours per week, and after a while we run out of juice. But instead of sleeping in, going on a journey for a few days, away from everything is not a bad idea, right? It will clear the old thoughts and replace them with new ideas. Excessive working hours can negatively affect sleep quality, and inadequate sleep habits can potentially cause health problems. (3) A study, published in the Journal of Occupational Health, has found that an overtime work is an important factor of cardiovascular disease and obesity. (4) Quality of both – work and life, in these cases, drops and therefore productivity decreases. This is why taking a time off is very important.

 

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9. Bigger self-esteem.

This one is especially true for those people who decide to travel alone. The fact that they have to find a way in and out of any situation by themselves is a big boost to the self-esteem. Solo traveling is often times (at least for me) related to feelings of personal freedom (you go wherever you want, whenever you want), relaxation (nothing better than a single-bed hotel room and a relaxing bath or hot shower without anyone knocking on the door for you to hurry up), and personal discovery – I have learned a lot about myself through solo traveling.

 

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10. Diversity. 

This is my favorite part, so I saved it for last. When we travel we are introduced to greater diversity of population. It’s interesting and amazing to see so many cultures, races and religions living together in one place. Like a garden with beautiful flowers. Someone once said: The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people. I agree.

 

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REFERENCES:

  1. Roberson DN Jr.: Learning While Traveling: The School of Travel. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education. 2018. 22: 14-18.
  2. Mutz M, Müller J: Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Adventures: Results From Two Pilot Studies. Journal of Adolescence. 2016. 49: 105-114.  
  3. Afonso P, Fonseca M, Pires JF: Impact of Working Hours on Sleep and Mental Health. Occupational Medicine. 2017. 67(5): 377–382. 
  4. Kawada T: Long Working Hours and Obesity with Special Reference to Sleep Duration. Journal of Occupational Health. 2014. 56: 399-400.

 

 

 

 

Zeba Juveriya

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