I don’t usually say “this is an article you’ll really want to pay attention to,” because of course, I think they are all important! But this is article is one you need to read all the way through (and consider passing on to your family and friends). Regardless of what you do about it, it’s important for you to know what a new ten year long research study has confirmed so that you can make informed decisions about your — and your loved ones’ — health.

When we talked about pesticides and produce recently, one topic we did not cover in great detail was Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs also known as Genetically Engineered or GE foods. Big biotech corporations such as Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta have been claiming that GE food is safe and completely harmless to consume.

Through their lobbying efforts, these corporations have been able to persuade the regulating agencies that no labeling is required, because they know that many consumers would opt not to purchase them if they knew.

Now despite their persistent claims that these foods are safe, a ten year study out of Europe has shown conclusively that GMOs and GE foods are not harmless: they cause damage to the digestive system and our ability to digest proteins, change the micro- structure of our intestines, alter our immune systems and cause us to eat more, gain weight — and retain the weight – than would occur with a non GE diet.

The study, which was led by a team out of Norway, but also included collaboration with researchers in Ireland, Austria, Hungary, Australia and Turkey, looked at genetically engineered corn, corn-based products, as well as animals that were fed a diet of GE grain, which is common farming practice today. The study concluded that animals that were fed a GE grain diet ate more, got fatter faster and retained the weight than those who didn’t eat genetically modified feed.

The study looked at rats, mice, pigs and salmon and found the same effect across all species. The study suggests that GE foods transfer their effects and so humans who consume the animals that have been fed the GE grain would also experience weight gain and weight retention (while consumers who eat non-GMO animals would not).

If you are finding the pounds creeping on and you are eating conventionally-farmed animal protein, you may want to consider changing to organic or more importantly, grass fed animal meat. Grass fed is the only meat we eat in our house and has been for awhile: not because of weight gain concerns, though this new information is definitely helpful to know; and not even because it tastes so much better; but primarily because of the other health concerns from eating animals who have been fed a genetically modified grain diet.

When the researchers compared animals that had been fed a GE diet to those who had been fed non-GE grains, they found that in addition to being fatter and eating more, the GE fed animals had enlarged organs, and differences in their livers, kidneys, pancreas, genitals and more. They also confirmed previous studies that demonstrated changes to the intestines of the GMO fed animals; the GMO fed animals had a different micro-structure in their intestines and an inhibited ability to digest proteins. Proper digestion of proteins is necessary for many biological functions, including the production of amino acids necessary for cell growth and function.

To understand what causes these changes, we need to know how the genetic modification works. In order to make the crops resistant to herbicides so that toxic sprays like Roundup can be used on the crop without damaging it, as well as to make the crops resistant to the pests that can eat and damage the crop and its yield, insecticides and herbicide-resistant sequences are inserted within the DNA of the plant. The DNA is thereby altered to include these new foreign chemicals and toxins within its gene sequences.

One of the insecticides implanted within the gene series is a toxic protein from the Bacteria Bt, or bacillus thuriengensis. This toxin breaks open the stomachs of the insects that try to eat it and kills them. While biotech companies, and the EPA, have insisted Bt only kills the insects that eat the crop and has no impact on the humans or animals that eat it, this ten year study concludes that that is not the case.

Biotech companies have long claimed that the Bt-toxin would be destroyed in the human digestive system and would not bind or interact with intestinal walls. The researchers, however, stated otherwise: “A frequent claim has been that new genes introduced in GM foods are harmless since all genes are broken up in the intestines. But our findings show that genes can be transferred through the intestinal wall into the blood; they have been found in the blood, muscle tissue and liver in sufficiently large segments to be identified… The biological impact of this gene transfer is unknown.”

A previous study from Quebec already confirmed that the Bt-toxin is present in the blood. Sherbrooke University Hospital found Bt-toxin present in the blood of 93% of pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies and 67% of non-pregnant women. So we already know that the conclusion of this new study — that Bt can be transferred through the intestinal wall into the blood — is true.

But remember how Bt works? It is designed to break open the stomach of the insect. In addition to passing through the intestinal wall into the blood, could it be damaging our digestive tracts, causing tiny rips or tears? Could undigested foods and toxins be transferred into the blood from our digestive tracts? If that were the case, then we would be seeing increases in gastrointestinal concerns, food allergies, and autoimmune diseases since the introduction of Bt in the mid 90s. Which is the case. (I don’t know about you, but I have wondered why there are now so many kids with serious allergies when I grew up never knowing anyone with a potentially fatal food allergy!)

In addition, the blood brain barrier that prevents harmful toxins from penetrating the brain, which we spoke about in last week’s newsletter when we talked about the neurotoxin diacetyl’s ability to penetrate it, is not developed in a newborn. So the Bt-toxin we are finding in the blood would be able to penetrate the brain and cause learning disorders or cognitive impairment. (Some research is now underway looking at the potential connection to autism). We already saw that Bt was present in the umbilical cord blood of infants, so it’s not a question of if, but rather, to what extent and impact.

So what can we do to protect ourselves and more importantly, future generations? While the study confirms that Genetically Modified Organisms are not harmless as has been claimed, they aren’t likely to go away because the money involved is simply too great. As of now in the US, there are no laws requiring labeling of GMOs (and certainly not inform you if an animal protein you purchase has eaten them). But we are not powerless to take action. We can take political action and we can also vote with our wallets.

To vote with your wallet, choose organic and grass fed proteins. Look for wild caught fish as well, as salmon and other farm raised species are often fed GE foods. Some fruits and vegetables are labeled as genetically modified and you can find this by looking at the 5 digit PLU code sticker on them. Any number beginning with an 8 means it is genetically modified. But not all are labeled so when possible, buy organic and when buying corn, always look for organic.

To be heard politically, speak out about the right to know what is in our food. California now has a proposed amendment that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods. While the biotech companies have very deep pockets and won’t make passage easy, voting Yes on 37 in CA will be a huge step forward. Success in California can set the stage for additional states to follow and send a clear message to the regulatory agencies that we care about our food and have a right to know what we are eating.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at www.IngerPols.com

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


We all want to look and feel our best and stay healthy, vibrant and full of energy but it can be hard when our days are packed full and we are under stress trying to get everything done. There may be little time to work out or we may be thrown off of our daily eating habits by changes in routine. Then when we are not at our best, we are confronted with temptations at gatherings, given food gifts by family and friends, or find ourselves eating out more than we normally do.

As we count down to 2014, there is often so much is packed into the remaining weeks of the year. This makes it even harder to stay on track if you are trying to lose weight or simply hoping to maintain your current weight through the holiday season.

Even if weight is not a concern, it can be a challenge to eat healthy and maintain high energy levels and to avoid feeling tired or run down and vulnerable to seasonal colds and flus at this time of year. So in this newsletter, I want to share a few of my own strategies for surviving holiday stress and avoiding excess weight gain along with my favorite fat-blasting express workout. Let’s get right to that and then we’ll tackle the holiday strategies.

In last week’s newsletter, we learned about the three different kinds of exercise and why they are all important to your health. (We also talked about something you can do to get the benefit of a workout even if you can’t work out.) While a healthy fit body needs cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility training, the research shows that if time is tight or push comes to shove as they say, and you can only do one, the biggest impact can be gained through cardiovascular exercise.

Going one step further, the biggest impact to be gained if you are going to do cardiovascular exercise is through a form of exercise known as high intensity interval training, during which small bouts of work are so intense that they leave you breathless or out of air. When this happens, the body cannot get the energy it requires from oxygen and so to keep working, it must find energy elsewhere and so it goes into the fat stores in order to generate what it needs.

Many studies have shown that shorter amounts of high intensity work can yield results similar to longer more sustained exercise efforts. So when you don’t have time for an hour class or a good long run, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for half the workout benefit; you can create a 30 minute workout that does as much or more as your hour long routine.

If you have 30 minutes, start by warming up with dynamic movements. These are motions that are fluid and get the muscles to move, the best way to loosen muscles and prepare for work. For example, if you are going to run or power walk, warming up by walking gently or lightly jogging is better than doing a stretch where you hold your muscle in one position.

High knees (lifting your knees up and down in an exaggerated marching motion), going onto your toes and then rolling back onto your heels and back again or other such movements would also be appropriate. Sitting or lying down in a stretch or grabbing your foot with your hand while standing, for example, are not the best means of warming up the muscles: save that for after your workout as a cool down.

Once you are warm and ready to work, the goal of this super intense fat and calorie blasting workout is to work as hard as you can for one minute, hopefully squeezing all your air out of your lungs until you are out of breath. (You don’t need to go the whole minute; if you run out of air at 42 seconds or 53 seconds, you are done!) But continue until you lose your air or you have pushed as hard as you can for 60 seconds and then go into recovery mode and focus on deep breaths and water for 2 minutes. Repeat nine more times until you have done a set of ten: one minute of intense effort followed by two minutes of recovery for each one.

Even though you will only be working 10 minutes of the 30, research shows that this super intense workout will blast fat (assuming you are able to get to the point of breathlessness) and calories and give you comparable benefits to a longer workout at a more sustained lower intensity pace. But don’t kid yourself: this is a very intense, very difficult workout! And it is only meant for those already active and engaged in a fitness regime. (Check with your doctor to be sure.)

The challenge – and it is a big challenge — is to push yourself hard 10 times in a row, so if you are the type that likes/needs someone pushing you, pair up with a friend or ask someone to talk you through and “coach” you while you take it on. You can work out side by side even if you are on different machines or doing a different exercise and swap one-minute intervals pushing each other.

The good news is that you can do this on a treadmill, a stationary bike, an elliptical machine, a rowing machine or most any piece of gym equipment you have at home or find at a gym. You can also do it in a pool, dancing in your living room, or outside doing your favorite exercise if it’s not too cold where you live.

If you are not fit or experienced enough to take this work out on, or if you are pressed for time and only have 20 minutes, you can modify this to a slightly easier but still powerful workout by reducing the intervals to 30 seconds and following each burst with 90 seconds of recovery. A set of 10 will take you 20 minutes and still yield great rewards. It’s the intensity of the intervals that matters: they have to be all out, hard and at least some of them have to be breathless. (The more the better!)

As you do it more and more, (you can do this once a week when you are pressed on time, or make it your regular routine and do it 2-3 times a week in place of your traditional workout), you will be able to reduce the recovery time in between each push and either squeeze in a few more intervals or get your workout done a few minutes sooner. If you only have 10 minutes, do 5 intense intervals and you’ll still receive the benefits of a much longer workout: something is always better than nothing and in this case, ten minutes really gets you a lot.

If you only have 5 minutes, don’t let that be an excuse for not working out. Do a series of 8 intervals of 20 seconds each, with 10 seconds in between. It will be super hard, but it will boost your metabolism, burn calories during (and long after you work), reduce stress and give you energy. Five minutes is all it takes!

That’s tip number one for managing weight and staying healthy and full of energy this holiday season: try to squeeze a workout in, even if you are short on time. In addition to burning calories and fat, you will feel so much better, have more energy, less stress and you will boost your metabolism (and your immune system) to help compensate for any less healthy eating choices.

Now let’s focus on a few more strategies for surviving holiday celebrations. The first is something that may seem obvious but we often fail to do and that is to eat before the party. You don’t have to have a full meal, but never arrive at a gathering hungry!

Often when we know we are going to a party and that we will be tempted, we eat less during the day, thinking that by eating less we have balanced out the extra calories we’ll take in later. But actually, you will eat much more at the party because you’ll arrive hungry and all of your senses will be stimulated by the goodies; before you know it, you’ll have consumed much more than you planned.

So eat a good lunch and/or have a late afternoon snack. One woman in my indoor cycling class shared that she has a bowl of oatmeal before she goes out. Filling and satisfying, she’ll be less tempted by junk food and can then pick and choose a few indulgences that she’ll really enjoy.

Drink water before you leave and make a plan that every time you have a drink that is not water, you also get a glass of water too. Drink the water first before you enjoy your cocktail.

Don’t let anyone guilt you into eating, whether it’s because they really want you to try their dip or because they want to sabotage your eating along with theirs. Be gracious, but say you had a late lunch or smile and say you are resting in between rounds. Make your own decisions about what and when to eat.

Consider bringing a healthy treat to the party so at least you know there will be one thing there you can nosh on without guilt. (I find it’s better not to ask first: just bring it! But be kind to the host/hostess and make sure it’s plated appropriately and is ready to serve so that it causes no troubles.) Veggies and hummus, guacamole and pita crisps are good examples.

It probably needs to saying that veggies are a great party option but you need to be careful of the dips that often contain excess calories and chemicals. Think Italian when it comes to toppings: red is better than white and avoid creamy dips and dressings.

Look for protein such as shrimp, salmon or chicken to fill you up and balance out the carbs you’re taking in through food and drink.

Choose a few treats that you will really truly enjoy and enlist a friend, co-worker or your partner to help you help you pass on the rest, especially if they are being passed. It’s so easy to take one of everything that goes by: make sure it’s something you’ll really enjoy and savor and if not, decline. Consider deciding to only take one plate from the food station and choose wisely.

If possible, decide in advance on what you will splurge on and what you will pass on. Everyone has a favorite party food: allow yourself to indulge in a bit of that but pass on the other stuff. If you know in advance what that food is, you can use a trick that researchers discovered resulted in significantly less indulging: visualize yourself eating it before the party.

It may sound strange, but a study divided participants into two groups. One group was asked to visualize themselves slowly eating a popular candy. They were to take their time and imagine eating the candy one at a time until they had eaten 30+ candies. The other group did nothing.

When the researchers brought them into the room all together, they put bowls of the candy on the table and monitored the consumption of them. They found the group that visualized eating them prior ate significantly less than the other group. The brain can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is perceived, so the brain felt it had already had candy and really didn’t need any more.

So before you head out or while you’re in the car, imagine eating chips and dip or whatever it is and use all your senses to enjoy the experience. The study didn’t say why it had to be 30 something or if there is a minimum number of repetitions that is necessary, so just repeat it over and over again, at least a couple dozen times and see what happens! I tried it recently and it worked! I imagined eating my favorite indulgence slowly, savoring it for a couple minutes on my way to a gathering and when I saw it there when I arrived, I was not tempted by it.

The strategies I’ve shared are simple and easy and you probably already knew them: there are no magic bullets. It’s really about choosing the ones that will work best for you and seem the most manageable and then deciding to use them and following through.

Lastly, if you do go overboard and overindulge, don’t beat yourself up about it: let it go! Often times we feel like we already blew it so why not just keep going and deal with it in January. But tomorrow is a new day and one bad day does not a whole season make! If you are the type that has trouble letting yourself off the hook, then give yourself a “punishment” to serve. For example, 15 minutes on the treadmill or a fast walk outside when you get up the next morning and then let it go.

Every little bit helps and each small decision makes a difference. Take as many little positive steps as you can: try to get a workout in, drink more water, get some extra sleep, take whole food multivitamin supplements, and do your best to take care of yourself each and every day, during the holidays and beyond. Little choices will lead to big results over time.

To your wellness and health:  your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You.

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art

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