What Are Cell Phones Doing to Our Brains? – Research and Statistical Studies

How Do Cell Phones Affect our Brain?

Do cell phones make us sick? How do mobile phones affect us?

Can mobile phones make us sick?  What do cell phones do to our bodies and our minds?   Cellular (cell) phones first became widely available in the United States in the 1990’s.   Since that time the use of mobile phone devices has increased dramatically . The widespread use of cell phones has led to cell phone towers being placed in many communities.

Cell phone towers, also called base stations, receive and transmit radio frequency (RF) signals. As of November 2011, there were more than 6 billion subscriptions worldwide for mobile phones. In 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiation on the IARC scale into Group 2B,  which means it is “possibly carcinogenic.” That means that there “could be some risk” of carcinogenicity, and that more long-term, research is needed particularly on heavy use of mobile phones.

man stressed cell phoneWHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
According to Martin Röösli, Environmental Research,  mobile phone users have reported feeling several unspecific symptoms during and after using cell phones.  These symptoms include:

  1. burning and tingling sensations in the skin of the head and extremities
  2. fatigue
  3. sleep disturbances
  4. dizziness
  5. loss of mental attention, reaction times and memory
  6. headaches
  7. malaise
  8. tachycardia (heart palpitations)
  9. nausea
  10. digestive problems.

However, researchers note that all of these symptoms can also be attributed to stress and that current research cannot factor out the effects of stress and the effect of mobile phone radiation.

HOW DO CELL PHONE TOWERS WORK? 
Cell phone base stations may be free-standing towers or mounted on existing structures, such as trees, water tanks, or tall buildings. The antennas need to be high enough so they can cover the area. Base stations are usually from 50-200 feet high.  Cell Phone Towernternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)  noted that exposure to the brain from RF fields from cell phone base stations (mounted on roofs or towers) is less than 1/100th the exposure to the brain from mobile devices such as cell phones.

Cell Phone RisksWHAT DO PUBLIC AGENCIES TELL US?
The  agencies that usually classify cancer-causing exposures (carcinogens) – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have not classified the cancer-causing potential of cell phone towers.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said:

“Radiofrequency emissions from antennas used for cellular and PCS [personal communications service] transmissions result in exposure levels on the ground that are typically thousands of times below safety limits. These safety limits were adopted by the FCC based on the recommendations of expert organizations and endorsed by agencies of the Federal Government responsible for health and safety. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that such towers could constitute a potential health hazard to nearby residents or students.”

In May 2011, WHO, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced it was classifying the electromagnetic fields from cell phones and other sources as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Mobile Phone Brain
The World Health Organization advised the public to adopt safety measures to reduce exposure, like use of hands-free devices or texting.

WHAT DOES RESEARCH TELL US?
Researchers agree that more long-term research is needed to determine the effects of mobile phone usage and the effects of cell phone base stations.

Researchers from a German study conducted by Joachim Schüz and others in 2006, stated:

“In conclusion, no overall increased risk of glioma or meningioma was observed among these cellular phone users; however, for long-term cellular phone users, results need to be confirmed before firm conclusions can be drawn.”

Mobile Phone Radiation

Cell phones can heat the body with radio frequency (RF) radiation.

A 2009 study examined the effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) from a standard GSM cell phone on the cognitive functioning of humans. The study confirmed that longer (slower) response time were needed for a spatial working memory task when the subjects were exposed to RFR from a standard GSM cellular phone.  The phone was placed next to the head of male subjects, and showed that longer duration of exposure to RFR may increase the effects on performance. Right-handed subjects exposed to RFR on the left side of their head on average had significantly longer response times when compared to exposure to the right side and sham-exposure.

CAN LONG-TERM CELL PHONE USE CAUSE BRAIN CANCER?
A Swedish scientific team at the Karolinska Institute led by Stefan Lönn and others, conducted an epidemiological study (2004) that suggested that regular use of a mobile phone over ten or more years was associated with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a type of benign brain tumor. Those who used mobile phones less than ten years did not show an  increased risk.

Reseachers from the Interphone Project, a 2010 thirteen-nation project and the largest study of its kind ever undertaken,  did not find a solid link between mobile phones and brain tumors.

Cell Phone Interphone Study

Interphone Study Statistics

The International Journal of Epidemiology published a combined data analysis from a multinational population-based case-control study of the two most common types of brain tumors, glioma and meningioma, entitled, “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”.  The authors reported the following conclusions:

“Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.”

Researchers who report that there is no substantial evidence that long term exposure to cell phones causes brain cancer,  refer to statistical information and cross comparisons with data from cell phone usage and brain cancer incidence.

Cell Phone Brain Cancer
The graph above clearly shows that as mobile phone usage increased, brain cancer incidence decreased. Therefore, showing that brain cancer is not directly connected to cell phone usage.

However, in 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiation on the IARC scale into Group 2B,  which means it is “possibly carcinogenic.”

HOW CAN WE BE SAFE?
Even though there appears to be no correlation between brain cancer and increased mobile phone usage, mobile, the World Health Organization’s International Agency  and national radiation authorities recognizes long-term use of cell phones as being potentially harmful and having adverse effects.  Safety precautions are recommended.

Cell phone safety

Health  and safety poster from the City of San Francisco provided to consumers under city law

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer  and some national radiation advisory authorities, including those of Austria, France, Germany, and Sweden, have recommended that people take measures to minimize exposure to radiation from cell phone usage. Some examples of the recommendations are:

  • Use hands-free to decrease the radiation to the head.
  • Keep the mobile phone away from the body.
  • Do not use telephone in a car without an external antenna.
  • Use mobile radiation tracking apps to help to limit radiation exposure


REFERENCES

Interphone Study Group (2010). “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”. International Journal of Epidemiology 39 (3): 675–694.

Luria, Roy; Eliyahu, Ilan; Hareuveny, Ronen; Margaliot, Menachem; Meiran, Nachshon (2009). “Cognitive effects of radiation emitted by cellular phones: The influence of exposure side and time”. Bioelectromagnetics 30 (3): 198–204. 

Lönn, Stefan; Ahlbom, Anders; Hall, Per; Feychting, Maria (2004). “Mobile Phone Use and the Risk of Acoustic Neuroma”Epidemiology 15 (6): 653–9.

Röösli, Martin (June 2008). “Radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure and non-specific symptoms of ill health: A systematic review”Environmental Research 107 (2): 277–287.

Schüz, Joachim; Böhler, Eva; Berg, Gabriele; Schlehofer, Brigitte; Hettinger, Iris; Schlaefer, Klaus; Wahrendorf, Jürgen; Kunna-Grass, Katharina et al. (2006). “Cellular Phones, Cordless Phones, and the Risks of Glioma and Meningioma (Interphone Study Group, Germany)”.American Journal of Epidemiology 163 (6): 512–20.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
 Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Why Eat Antioxidants? What Are Antioxidants?

Why are antioxidants  important to our health? Which foods are high in antioxidants and what is the latest antioxidant research telling us?


Are All Antioxidants the Same?
No. An antioxidant is something that inhibits or stops the oxidation process, especially one that is used to change the deterioration of stored foods or food products.  Any chemical compound which has been added to certain foods, natural and synthetic rubbers, gasolines, and other products to retard oxidation is considered an anitoxidant. Antioxidants are also aromatic compounds such as amines, phenols, and aminophenols which are used to prevent the loss of elasticity in rubber and in the gummy deposits found in gasoline.  The preservatives  tocopherol (vitamin E), propyl gallate, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are also antioxidants, which prevent rancidity in fats, oils, and fatty foods, but these are not the antioxidants that we are concerned about.


AntioxidantsWhich Antioxidants are Important?

For health purposes we are interested in antioxidants that stop oxidation caused by free radicals.  The  antioxidants that are important to our health and well-being are substances such as vitamin C or E that remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism.  These types of antioxidants are prized for their amazing ability to fight heart disease, cancer, and aging.  There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can help our bodies, working as antioxidants. In the body, antioxidants such as beta-carotene, other related carotenoids, vitamin C, alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), and selenium and manganese, can help to reduce oxidation caused by free radicals.   They’re joined by glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, and many others.

Which Are the Best Antioxidant Foods?
Everybody has their own ideas of the best antioxidant foods.  The list of top antioxidant foods changes often (remember the excitement over acai fruit?). Surprisingly, many studies show that currently SMALL RED BEANS (they look like tiny kidney beans), sometimes called the Mexican bean, are topping the list, but many foods dark in color are rich in antioxidants. The best way to add a lot of antioxidants into the diet, is eat a large variety of  high antioxidant foods and not focus on only one. You don’t have to have products flown in from Nepal or the Amazon. You can find foods high in antioxidants close to home: pinto beans, blueberries, cranberries, pecans, pomegranate, artichokes, blackberries, raw spinach, prunes, raspberries, red grapes, pecans, Granny Smith apples, black beans and more.  Many antioxidant foods are a rich, dark color, raw, and whole (peeling and seeds included)! And remember, while blueberry pie is tempting, it doesn’t compare with a bowl of fresh blueberries. Living, raw, organic, non-GMO foods are always the best choice over packaged, dried, chemically-treated or frozen foods.


What Does Antioxidant Research  Show?

Results of research studies vary dramatically.  More long-term studies are needed.  A six-year trial, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), published in theNational Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine, in the Archives of Opthamology, found that a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc helped to prevent the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration (but not cataract development) in high-risk patients.  Lutein is a a naturally occurring carotenoid found in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.  It was concluded that lutein may help to protect vision.

Other studies such as the lung cancer study by Omenn and other researchers, concluded that after an average of four years of supplementation, “the combination of beta carotene and vitamin A had no benefit and may have had an adverse effect on the incidence of lung cancer.”    Studies by Hercberg, and others, and Cook, and others, using randomized trials of antioxidant vitamins and supplements, showed insignificant results. The Hercberg study showed lower incidence of cancer in men, but not women.   The Cook study showed no significant effects of antioxidants ascorbic acid, vitamin E, or beta carotene on cardiovascular events among women at high risk for cardiovascular disease.  Beta-carotene was reported in the Physicians’ Health Follow-up Study to be beneficial on cognitive function,  after 18 years of follow-up.

“Existing biological and epidemiologic data, in combination with findings from this randomized trial, indicate that long-term beta carotene supplementation may provide cognitive benefits. The extent of benefits that we found for long-term beta carotene use appeared modest, but the mean differences in cognitive performance we observed were substantially greater compared with those in a trial of donepezil among nondemented subjects”

Results from research studies are inconclusive and conflicting. More research is needed for longer periods of time in order to scientifically determine the benefits of antioxidants.


Is it Good or Not?  What Should we Do?

It is well-known that free radicals contribute to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer,  vision loss, and  Alzheimer’s disease. Even though more research is needed,  abundant evidence suggests that eating whole foods rich in antioxidants and their helper molecules, such as dark berries, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can be of some help to  provide us with  protection against many of these diseases and to combat the effects of aging.

Food Dyes – A Rainbow of Risks

Danger of Food Dyes

Are food dyes, or artificial colorings dangerous? What is being done?

Are Food Dyes or Artificial Coloring Dangerous?

Food dye cereal

Children are eating food dye in candy and cereal.

Yes. Watch out. You know them as food coloring, food dyes, or artificial coloring, but Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Citris Red 2, Red 3, and Red Green 3, are made from petroleum and pose a “rainbow of risks.”

Food Dye Dangers

Graphic Source: Familygonehealthy.com

What Are Some of the Risks? According to the latest research, those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), immune system tumors, brain gliomas, adrenal tumors, bladder tumors, and allergic reactions. In 2008, because of the problem of hyperactivity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of these dyes. A letter was sent to the Honorable Rosa L. DeLauro, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC on June 3, 2008, and to other members of Congress, stating that “The undersigned “physicians and researchers are concerned about the effects of food ingredients, especially food dyes, on children’s behavior, including children with hyperactivity and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and are troubled by federal inaction.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not take action. The letter can be viewed here: Letter to House of Representative and Congress.  The petition can be viewed here:  Citizen Petition to the FDA.

Food dye in Twizzlers

The food dye content in Twizzler twists.

In August 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it planned to initiate rulemaking to regulate 48 benzidene-based dyes under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The act has authority for nonfood uses of these dyes in products such as textiles and inks. The Action Plan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be viewed here. Do Other Countries Also Allow Food Dyes? The British government and European Union have taken actions that are virtually ending the use of dyes throughout Europe. In 2010, CSPI released an extremely comprehensive collection of scientific data discussing metabolism and toxic effects of artificial dyes in their report “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.” A summary can be found here: CSPI Food Dyes Report.

 

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Food Dye

A comparison between USA and UK Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the United States has totally different ingredients than it’s cousin, Kraft Cheesey Pasta in the United Kingdom.   Kraft Cheesey Pasta is made with natural food colorings and no GMO products, whereas the USA produced product is made with petroleum chemical food dyes and GMO foods.

Kraft on Kids Menus

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is being microwaved and served in restaurants. It is listed as an item choice on children’s menus.

Food dyes are found in cheese puffs, colored sugary cereals, and even foods advertised as “healthy,” such as strawberry Nutri-Grain bars, for example, which continue to have:  Natural and Artificial Flavors, Red 40.  However, Nutri-Grain bars in Britain DO NOT contain the dyes and artificial food colorings. Why is this?

Why Does Britain Use Natural Ingredients and the United States Does Not? This photo of Nutrigrain bars was taken in 2010, when Nutri-Grain bars were strikingly different in U.S. compared to Britain.

NutriGrain Britain and US

Why does Britain use natural ingredients and US uses food dyes?

Let’s take a look at strawberry Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars.  As you can see, two different packages are used and different ingredients.  Although, yellow #6 and blue #1 is no longer listed in the United States strawberry flavored Nutri-Grain bars, Nutri-Grain bars (advertised as healthy) in the United States continue to use the RED 40 food dye. Red 40 was listed in the study by CSPI as one of the dyes that has produced harmful and very serious side effects in mice including tumors. You can find the current ingredients here:  Nutri-Grain Product Details.  Today, food dyes are found in many products in the United States. Nutri-Grain and Kraft are not alone.  

Food dye products

Food dye can be found in breakfast cereals, packaged pastries, cupcake frosting, fruit juice drinks, candies, ice cream and much more.

Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  issued a statement in 2008 in response to the Lancet study:

“For many of the assessments there were small but statistically significant differences of measured behaviors in children who consumed the food additives compared with those who did not. In each case increased hyperactive behaviors were associated with consuming the additives. For those comparisons in which no statistically significant differences were found, there was a trend for more hyperactive behaviors associated with the food additive drink in virtually every assessment. Thus, the overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong.

Candy store food dye

Candy store in the United States displaying candies, all containing food dyes.

What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves? It’s important for everyone to take responsibility by checking labels to make sure there is no food dye or food coloring in the product.  We are responsible for making healthy choices.  What do you think about the FDA and food colorings? Do you think food dyes should be banned?

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Resources
Artificial Food Dyes May Cause Cancer, ADHD, Whole Foods Magazine, September 2010 Bateman, B.J.O. Warner, et al (2004) The effect of a double blind, placebo controlled, artifical food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children, Archives of Disease in Childhood 89:506=511

Borzelleca JF, Goldenthal EI, Wazeter FX, Schardein JL, Evaluation of the potential tertogenicity of FD & C Blue No. 2 in rats and rabbits, Food and Chemical Toxicology : an International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association [1987, 25(7):495-497]

CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks, Cancer Hyperactivity, Allergic Reactions, Center for Science in the Public Interest, June 29, 2010 Curran, Laurel, Food Dyes Linked to Cancer, ADHD, Allergies, Food Safety News, July 8, 2010 Food Standards Agency.

Compulsory Warnings on Colours in Food and DrinkLondon: Food Standards Agency; Jul 22, 2010.

Freeman, DW, Food Dyes Linked to Allergies, ADHD and Cancer: Group Calls on US to Outlaw Their Use, CBS News, June 29, 2010

Kobylewsk, S, Jacobson, MF, Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, Center for Science in the Public Interest, June 2010, Washington DC, (pdf)

Lancaster FE, Lawrence JF. Determination of benzidine in the food colours tartrazine and sunset yellow FCF, by reduction and derivatization followed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Food Additives Contaminants,. 1999;16(9):381–390. doi: 10.1080/026520399283867.

Mercola, Dr. Joseph, Are You or Your Family Eating Toxic Food Dyes? February 24, 2011, Mercola.com

Opinion on Risk of cancer caused by textiles and leather goods coloured with azo-dyes expressed at the 7th CSTEE plenary meeting, Brussels, 18 January 1999, Health and Consumers Scientific Committees, European Commission

Peiperl MD, et al. Determination of combined benzidine in FD&C Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow FCF).Food Chem Toxicol. 1995;33(10):829–839. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(95)00051-3. 

Potera, C, Diet and Nutrition: The Artificial Food Dye Blues, Environ Health Perspectives, Oct 2010, 118(10): A426, PMC2957945

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What is Reiki?

WHAT IS REIKI? Reiki (霊気) is a spiritual practice developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui, which since has been adapted by various teachers of diverse traditions. Reiki is also considered a spiritual or meditative type of healing or a form of prayer.   It uses what has been commonly called palm healing or hands on healing as a form of complementary, alternative, or holistic healing. therapy.

What is Reiki?Reiki is also sometimes classified as oriental medicine by some professional medical groups. Reiki practitioners or Reiki Masters use the hands to move energy through the body.  Reiki can also be described as “laying on of hands.” The practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (i.e., reiki) in the form of qi (Japanese: ki) or Chi, through the palms, which brings self-healing and balance. Today there are many branches or styles of Reiki but there are two major traditions, Traditional Japanese Reiki and Western ReikiTraditional Japanese Reiki is normally used to describe a system based on Usui’s original teachings. Western Reiki (西洋レイキ, Seiyō reiki) is a Reiki system that can be accredited to Hawayo Takata.   The teaching of Reiki outside of Japan is commonly divided into three levels:  First Degree – Shoden “初伝”, Second Degree – Okuden “奥伝”, and Third Degree – Shinpiden “神秘伝” or Master level.  In Western Reiki, it is taught that Reiki  the meridian energy lines and seven major chakras on the body are used with the hand positions.

  1. The Crown Chakra
  2. The Third Eye Chakra
  3. The Throat Chakra
  4. The Heart Chakra
  5. The Solar Plexus Chakra
  6. The Sacral Chakra
  7. The Base Root Chakra

WHAT HAPPENS IN A REIKI HEALING SESSION? Generally in a western Reiki healing session the hands are placed just off the body or lightly touching.   Typically, the client is lying down, as in a massage therapy position.   Some Reiki Masters also practice “long-distance” Reiki sessions.  In a Reiki session, the practitioner is said to bring Universal Life Energy to the client.  During the healing session, a client will go into a state of deep relaxation.  During this relaxed state he or she might experience a reduction of pain and sense of peace and well-being.   Those trained in Reiki are referred to as Reiki Masters or Reiki practitioners depending on their level of training.

IS REIKI EFFECTIVE? Current research studies are inconclusive in providing clinical evidence as to the effectiveness of Reiki. It is thought that more research is needed.  However, individual clients and Reiki Masters and practitionerss claim that Reiki can be very effective in healing or providing relief for the following health concerns:

  • asthma
  • paralysis
  • tendonitis
  • inflammation
  • dental pain
  • lupus
  • allergies
  • broken bones
  • stress
  • headaches
  • colds
  • depression
  • flu
  • sunburn
  • insomnia
  • ulcers
  • multiple sclerosis
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • paranoia
  • cuts
  • bruises,  and much more

For more information about Reiki and a wide variety of natural medicine and health and wellness topics, check out our video library at http://www.youtube.com/MBHolistic Best wishes and loving energy from your MBHA health and wellness friends

20 Health Benefits of Chocolate

 

20 Benefits of Chocolate

Is Chocolate Beneficial to Me?
Studies have shown that dark chocolate can be beneficial to our health.  This is not the creamy milk chocolate commonly found in stores and in most commercial candy bars.   Healthy, dark chocolate is nearly black in color, does not have added sugar, and is bitter (for most sweet-seeking eaters) to taste.   It’s no secret that chocolate has lots of fat in it and calories and so does dark chocolate. But first let’s look at it’s good qualities.

Chocolate

The  Theobroma cacao also known as the cacao tree , or cocoa tree, is a small evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae.  It is  native to the deep tropical region of America.  Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree.   Cocoa has long been known for it’s medicinal properties.  It was popular among Aztec and Mayan people.   The oldest known cultivation and use of cacao dates from about 1100 to 1400 BC.  Archaeologists reported finding evidence of Cacao beans being used for food, drink, and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
Cocoa beans
What is the healthy ingredient in dark chocolate?
The Europeans added sugar to the cocoa to create the sweetened chocolate that we know today.  Dark chocolate contains lots of polyphenols, particularly flavanols, high in caffeine, and antioxidants.  Current research studies have shown flavanols to be effective in the following ways:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • lowering cholesterol
  • lifting the mood, curbing depression
  • providing anti-aging effects
  • serving  as a natural stimulant

    Chocolates

In the past the cocoa bean has been used as an elixir in the following ways:

  • to gain weight
  • to stimulate those who are exhausted or feeble
  • to improve digestion and elimination
  • to  stimulate kidneys
  • to improve bowel function.
  • to reduce or alleviate effects of anemia
  • to increase appetite
  • to eliminate mental fatigue
  • to increase breast milk production
  • to aid in the symptoms and discomfort of influenza, tuberculosis fever, gout, kidney stones
  • to increase sexual drive

    Chocolate dipped

Is there anything unhealthy  about dark chocolate?
Yes, chocolate is still high in fat and calories   Let’s first take a look at the fat.  First of all it’s important to note that there are good fats and bad fats.   Good fats are monounsaturated fats.   Not so good fats are   saturated fats.   Saturated fats, like full-fat dairy products and fatty animal proteins, have been shown in past research studies to increase risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and some cancers, including colon cancer.  There is currently a controversy about saturated fats, with recent research contradicting past studies.  More study may be needed.

When choosing fats, a safe choice is to pick unsaturated fat over saturated or trans fat.  Really bad fats are trans fats.  Fried foods, packaged cookies, chips, candy and granola bars, and cooking oils, contain trans fats which can increase bad cholesterol and inflammation, and decrease good cholesterol in the body.


Chocolate factory

It’s a mixed issue with chocolate.
Monounsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids are good fats and helpful to us.  Cocoa butter is mostly monounsaturated and saturated fats, with less polyunsaturated fats. So about one-third of the fat in dark chocolate can be potentially bad for us. The good fats in dark chocolate are Oleic Acid and Stearic acid. Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat. Stearic acid is a saturated fat, but it is neutral to cholesterol.  That is good.

Where People Get their FatsPalmitic acid is also in dark chocolate.   Palmitic acid is the bad fat.  It raises cholesterol and heart disease risk. So that fact is that one-third of the fat is not so good saturated fat, and about two-thirds of the fat is good or neutral saturated fat and good monounsaturated fat in dark chocolate.

Another issue is the caffeine.
Caffeine
is found in the coffee bean and cocoa bean. Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate, because it is more pure, and with less added ingredients. It is generally accepted that caffeine consumption that is kept under 200 mg per day does not result in illness However, intake of caffeine over 200 mg can create digestive problems. Pregnant women should not use high levels of caffeine. Difficulties in conceiving have been linked to regularly taking in 1,000 mg of caffeine per day. Other symptoms such as problems sleeping, nervousness, and rapid heart beat can be associated with high levels of caffeine. Caffeine in high doses has been known to trigger migraine headaches, although when taken in small amounts, it can be used to stop or reduce the effects of a painful migraine and also can be beneficial and helpful in stopping an asthma attack when an inhaler is not available.

Clean Teeth

What about tooth decay?
Surprise! Recent studies are showing chocolate can actually HELP tooth decay!   Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean, the main ingredient of chocolate, stop mouth bacteria and tooth decay.  The milk in the milk chocolate helps to halt plaque. The cocoa bean husk  has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth.  It can fight effectively against dental plaque and other damaging agents.

 

What is the bottom line?
The bottom line is that dark chocolate can be beneficial if eaten in small quantities.  Never overindulge and remember to care for yourself.  Exercise, eat a well balanced diet, do things that make you happy, be persistent with achieving your goals, and get plenty of sleep.   When chocolate is eaten in excess, it can raise cholesterol, increase weight, increase risk of heart failure and heart disease, and trigger anxiety, stress, headache, nervousness, and  cause rapid heart beat.

Use the cocoa bean and chocolate wisely and draw upon the wisdom of our ancestors.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  All photos are copyright free from www.pixabay.com unless otherwise noted.


Disclaimer:
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What is Good Fat?

Good Fat

It is not healthy to eliminate all fat. “Good fat”  is essential to good health.

WHAT IS GOOD FAT?
When it comes to health, not all fats are equal. Reducing some types of fats helps lower the risk of several chronic diseases, but other types of fats are absolutely essential to our body’s heart, nerves, immune system and even our brain function.


Our brain is composed of 60% fat
.

We do not want to eliminate all fat.  The key is eating GOOD FAT.   Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats,  Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, are good fats. They are found primarily in nuts, sea food, and plant oils like canola, peanut and olive oils.

Where People Get their FatsPolyunsaturated fats such as safflower, cottonseed and corn oils,and seafood.  Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, nuts and seeds, such as flax seeds. People following traditional Mediterranean diets that are high in foods containing monounsaturated fats like olive oil, tend to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Of course just because something is labeled “low-fat” doesn’t mean that you can gorge yourself on it and gain no weight.  “Low-fat” foods can be bad for us if not eaten in moderation.

Here are the “good fat” vs “bad fat” basics:

Monounsaturated FatsMONOUNSATURATED FATS  – Monounsaturated fats such as avocados, salmon, almonds, walnuts and flax seed, olive oil can help lower triglyceride levels and decrease inflammation.  Research studies have shown that eating foods that are high in monounsaturated fats may help lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats may also keep “good” HDL cholesterol levels high.

 

POLYUNSATURATED FATS and OMEGA-3, -6 and -9 FATTY ACIDS – Polyunsaturated fats include Omega 3’s,  6’s, and 9’s.   There’s only one omega-3 fatty acid (alpha linolenic acid, abbreviated LNA or ALA) and one omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid, or LA).  Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods from plants like soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed.

Omega 3Omega-6 fatty acids are found mostly in liquid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.  Most people eat too much of omega-6 and not enough of omega-3, so it’s a good plan to focus on eating omega-3’s. Omega-9’s are the most abundant fatty acids of all in nature, and they are not lacking in our diets. They are also not considered essential because our bodies can make omega-9 fatty acids from unsaturated fat already stored in our bodies. Omega-9 is found in animal fat, vegetable oil and olive oil.  Omega 3 can be found in fish, olive oil, nuts, and omega 3 eggs, green beans, mungo,  navy, pinto and kidney beans.

Most nuts have a much higher Omega 6 ratio than Omega 3.  For example, this nutritional  chart from SelfNutritionData, shows the large difference in  omega 6 and omega 3.  Therefore, the best nuts to eat would be walnuts, for  increasing omega 3 in the diet.

  • Macadamias – 60 vs 360  (about 16 times omega 6 to 3)
  • Almonds – 2 vs 3400 (about 1700 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Hazelnuts – 20 vs 2200 (about 110 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Pistachios – 70 vs 3700 (about 52 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Brazil Nuts – 5.1 vs 5800 (about 1,137 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Cashews – 7 vs 2200 (314 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Walnuts – 2500 vs 10,100 (4 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Pine Nuts – 31 vs 9400 (303 times more omega 6 to 3)
  • Pecans – 280 vs 5800 (about 21 times more omega 6 to 3)

Foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Wild Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Trout
  • Fresh tuna

 

SATURATED FATS:   There is currently some controversy about saturated fats. Saturated fats are fats that are turn solid at room temperature.   Over the years, mSaturated Fat Foodsany research studies have shown that saturated fats, like lard,  full-fat dairy products and fatty animal proteins, can increase risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and some cancers, such as colon cancer.  However, recent studies contradict earlier studies.  More research may be needed to determine the long-term effects eating a regular diet high in saturated fats.  It’s generally thought that it is best to limit the amount of saturated fats and replace the saturated fats with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats include:

  • High-fat cuts of lamb, beef, and pork
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Whole-fat milk
  • Whole-fat cream,
  • Whole-fat butter
  • Whole-fat cheese
  • Whole-fat ice cream
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Lard

Saturated Fat Benefits
There are some benefits to saturated fats as listed above.  However, according to recent research from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health   and a report from Harvard School of Public Health, cutting back on saturated fat can be good for health if people replace saturated fat with unsaturated fats.  A diet of all saturated fats can lead to serious health problems.  A balanced diet  rich in vegetables, fruits, and “good fats” is the best plan.

Saturated Fat Chart

Saturated fats are found in many foods and food products.  According to recent research from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health   and a report from Harvard School of Public Health, if people cut back slightly on saturated fats and replace them with more carbohydrates like breads, white rice, potatoes, and sugars, then they will most likely not see any improvement in weight loss or lowered cholesterol.  However if they cut back on saturated fats, and replace saturated fats with “good fats” they will see results.   Eating good fats, like monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats can help to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.  It can also  improves the ratio of total cholesterol to “good” HDL cholesterol.  This can reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating good fats in place of saturated fat can also help to reduce the risk of diabetes.

 

WHAT ARE BAD FATS?


Trans Fat Food
TRANS FATS:  
|Trans fats such as fried foods, packaged cookies, chips, candy, granola bars, and cooking oils, increase bad cholesterol and inflammation, and decrease good cholesterol, increase the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  Foods high in trans fats have little nutritional value.

  • Commercially packaged pastries, cookies, pizza dough, cakes, muffins, waffles, doughnuts, etc.
  • Packaged snack foods (chips, crackers, and popcorn)
  • Margarine in stick form
  • Vegetable shortening
  • All fried foods (fried fish, French fries, fried chicken, tempura, etc.)
  • Candy bars
  • Some commercially packaged granola bars (check for partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Bisquick

 

 

HOW DO WE MAKE A LIFESTYLE CHANGE?

Healthy French FriesIf  restaurant and food manufacturers can switch  to Omega-9 Oils,  they can reduce these bad fats by up to 80% when changing from partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  You can help make a change by alerting people to the research about the harmful (and perhaps deadly) effects of long-term use of trans fats.  The best plan is to eliminate all trans fats completely from the diet (especially fried foods and packaged or commercially baked foods) and to limit saturated fats.  Eat more monounsaturated or polyunsaturated foods rich in omega 3’s, such as flax seeds, walnuts, fish, and canola oil.   Check your labels and shop wisely.

Your label Trans Fat Misleading Labelprobably won’t list, “trans fats,”  or might list trans fats as zero, but if the label lists “partially hydrogenated oils,” this means it contains trans fats, plain and simple.

It’s important to check your labels.  The FDA  gave food producers considerable flexibility  in their labeling, resulting inn labeling which is misleading. Current law says that any food containing less than .5 grams of trans fat can “round down” and indicate trans fat content as 0 grams.  Therefore, a listing of zero trans fats, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is zero, and a food product that is advertised “trans-fat free” most likely is almost trans-fat free but might very well include trans fats.  If your label lists hydrogenated oils, you are eating trans fats.

 

We all have the freedom to be educated, informed consumers so that we can take care of our bodies wisely.  All fat is not bad, and it’s important to our health to include “good fats”  in our diets.  We can use the above tips, the resources below, and our good fat food chart to stay healthy and fit.

 

RESOURCES

Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S. Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS Med. 2010;7:e1000252.

Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: modulation by replacement nutrients. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010;12:384-90.

Astrup A, Dyerberg J, Elwood P, et al. The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93:684-8.

Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Thompson R, et al. Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011:CD002137.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.