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Every business in the food industry is subject to regular health inspections, which determine how sanitary the restaurants are and whether or not unsafe conditions in the kitchens pose a risk to potential customers. A restaurant can receive poor scores for simple things, such as if their employees wash their hands in a sink meant for food preparation or they fail to label their bottle of sanitizer. However, occasionally the restaurant will receive marks for such gross misconduct you wonder how they could possibly keep a client base.

  1. Brownsville and Raymondville Restaurants

    Two different restaurants were profiled for South Texas’s Channel 4 New’s Food for Thought, which examines local restaurants in Texas that have committed severe health code violations. The first, a Brownsville Burger King, was in violation and subsequently shut down for having a rat infestation in the children’s play area. During the health inspection, a dead rat was caught on camera right next to the playscape. They have been cited in the past for rodent problems. In Raymondville, the Raymondville Superette was cited for 21 violations. Among them — off-temperature foods, improper hand washing, dirty equipment, rodent contamination, and roaches. The rat droppings were found near food preparation areas and live roaches were found crawling in the sink.

  2. Amazing Restaurant Inspections

    Amazing Restaurant Inspections is a program that reenacts true restaurant health code violations from around the country. Hardee’s, the fast food burger joint, was caught keeping raw chicken in a sink that was overflowing with sewage. A Burger King at the Cleveland airport caught one of their employees urinating onto the floor drain in the kitchen. A McDonalds filled a bottle marked “SANITIZER” with spray butter. At O’Charley’s, cooks were using a loaded garbage can for leverage of their cutting boards to prepare food on, a straw was found in the ice bin, and hair was found in the cheese. A North Carolina McDonalds used the full garbage can as a shelf for their recently cooked fries, so the grease would be able to drip into the bin. In one of Manhattan’s four-star hotels, a mouse was found swimming in the marinade in the kitchen.

  3. Port Richey’s Golden Corral

    Tampa’s ABC Action News’s Dirty Dining segment discussed a Golden Corral restaurant in Port Richey, Florida that violated health code inspections and was shut down for rodent activity. The inspector noted that there were too many rodent droppings in the restaurant to even count. The restaurant has had 130 critical violations and 160 non-critical violations in a 14-month span. Maggots, flies, and garbage littered the alley right outside the back entrance to the restaurant. The droppings themselves were found under all the buffets, under dry food counters, under kitchen baseboards, and under equipment in the kitchen. When health inspectors took temperature readings of the food, they found that beef, plant food, milk, and ice cream mix were all stored over 41 degrees, which could cause illness upon consumption. There was also undercooked chicken at the buffet.

  4. Olean’s Finest Wendy’s

    A teenage employee at a Wendy’s restaurant in Olean, New York documented the grotesque state of his work environment on tape and distributed it out onto the internet for all to see. The Wendy’s was under construction but saw fit to continue to serve customers in spite of excessive dust, a stripped ceiling, and an actual hole in the floor of the kitchen. When he contested the fact that the establishment should not be open in such circumstances, he was suspended for the duration of the construction and then fired for posting the video. Among other disgusting things, he found black mold all over the walls and near the grills and dust entirely covering the coffee cup lids.

  5. Pizza Hut and Waffle House

    A Pizza Hut in Philadelphia received a health code violation for a “large accumulation of mouse feces on pizza boxes.” The inspector also noted a dirty floor, mainly due to the rodent contamination. He caught an employee eating while preparing food for customers, without washing his hands or wearing gloves. All Waffle Houses in Atlanta, Georgia seem to repeatedly score below 80 when receiving their health inspection for constantly making the same critical violations. For example, many of them were cited for personal hygiene problems, such as not washing hands. There were also a great deal of temperature violations, in which food was either cooked, served, or stored at inappropriate temperatures.

  6. Dirty Airport Restaurants

    Several Chicago chain restaurants in the O’Hare and Midway airports were profiled by CBS 2 News for having three years’ worth of critical violation marks on their inspections, reporting problems such as food poisoning, fevers, and E.Coli as a result of an unsanitary food preparation space. Lallo’s, a Mexican fast food chain in the Midway airport, had food surrounded by insects and food stored at improper temperatures. Four-day old beef and egg product were found at unsafe temperatures and had to be disposed of. Cameras also caught employees washing their hands and vigorously shaking off water at the same sink used to serve customers drinking water. At O’Hare, Reggio’s Pizza Express has failed inspections three years in a row for various problems, such as coolers that do not work. The Chili’s in O’Hare has failed four inspections and has received multiple complaints about customers getting sick from burgers due to the presence of E.coli.

  7. Greencastle’s La Charreada

    La Charreada is a Mexican restaurant chain with locations across Indiana. Indianapolis’s Channel 13 News covered the Greencastle location’s major faux pas when restaurant employees were caught gutting a deer carcass in the kitchen. The restaurant was only closed for 48 hours, but many customers have denounced their loyalty to the chain, utterly disgusted by the events. A conservation officer had dropped off the deer, which was effectively road kill, and the employees were slicing meat off the bones from a pan on the floor. The restaurant has been shut down in the past for other critical violations, such as cockroaches in the kitchen and food being stored at incorrect temperatures. In that instance, the restaurant was closed for a day and fined, but allowed to reopen when the issues were addressed.

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7 Best Recovery Foods for Long Runs

by Staci Marks on June 1, 2012

Marathon runners probably have their pre-run meals down to a tee; they already know which foods work best during runs for optimal performance. However, most runners don’t spend nearly enough time planning their recovery meals after a long marathon. Once they pass that finish line, much time is spent evaluating the run, stretching, and socializing, causing the prime 30 to 60 minutes after marathons to pass. This time is best for refueling, a critical concept that helps your muscles recover for the next race. The foods and fluids consumed after long runs matter because they affect performance in future runs. Plus, your body needs to replace fluid, glycogen, and energy. Here are the optimal post-run foods for recovery:

  1. Carbohydrate liquid drink

    Contrary to popular belief, diluted sports drinks and water are not enough post-marathon for your body to sufficiently regain sugars and electrolytes. Water and sports drinks are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream, which leads to further imbalance of electrolytes and frequent bathroom breaks (which only increase fluid loss). Scientifically, the best drink for recovery is a beverage containing a four to one ratio of carbohydrates to protein, according to Running Times Magazine.

  2. Fruit smoothie with banana, yogurt, and milk

    Liquid fruit smoothies are favored during the 30 to 45 minutes after arduous runs because many athletes feel the need to relax their stomach muscles (and calm their sympathetic nervous system) before taking in solid food. Nutrients (carbs and protein) in the form of smoothies are ideal to digest because they can easily be absorbed by the body. Incorporating bananas, milk, and yogurt is a simple and easy way for your body to replenish lost nutrients.

  3. Bagel

    Bagels are rich in carbohydrates, helping you replenish energy and replace glycogen. They can be conveniently packed and prepared with a high-protein spread or loaded with lean cuts of meat (turkey, chicken breast, or ham). Athletes should consider whole-grain bagels over bagels made from refined flours, as those take longer to digest.

  4. Greek yogurt with granola and fruit

    Shape Magainze recommends eating Greek yogurt loaded with granola and dried fruit 60 to 90 minutes after a marathon. Dried fruit, especially blueberries and raspberries, will replenish your body’s antioxidant reserves to fight muscle damage from the long run. Granola is rich in carbs, which will boost energy stores. Finally, Greek yogurt contains twice as much protein as regular yogurt, helping your muscles rebuild and recover.

  5. Chocolate milk

    According to the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk after long runs ran 23% longer when exercising later versus those who only drank carbohydrate sports drinks. However, chugging dairy products after running isn’t for everyone, since some people may be lactose intolerant or can’t immediately stomach heavy liquids, like chocolate milk. Still, it is a good recovery option, as the protein in milk can help your muscles recover faster.

  6. Coconut water

    Just 11 ounces of coconut water contains 14 grams of sugar and 670 milligrams of potassium, an amount much higher than amounts found in sports drinks. According to Suzanne Eberle, R.D., author of Endurance Sports Nutrition, coconut water has carbohydrates, is fat-free, and is ideal for rehydrating after long runs. Be sure to supplement coconut water with a heartier, protein-infused food shortly after your race.

  7. Protein / recovery bar

    High-protein supplement bars are beneficial after intense marathons because they enhance your recovery. Packed with protein, carbs, calories, and just the right amount of fat, these bars contain balanced amounts of nutrients to help your muscles recover and boost energy levels. If consumed within 20 minutes after a long run, research from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests better recovery and optimal performance for your next run.

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7 Harmful Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

by Staci Marks on May 31, 2012

It’s almost that time of the year: the days are getting hotter and the sun is getting stronger. The need for a healthy and effective sunscreen is greater than ever. Unfortunately, many sunscreens on the market contain toxic chemicals that can be potentially dangerous. While getting moderate doses of Vitamin D from the sun is ideal, prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays have long been known to lead to skin cancer. To reap the many benefits of sunscreen without the harmful side effects, avoid these following ingredients:

  1. Oxybenzone

    According to The Environmental Working Group, 56% of sunscreens contain this penetration enhancer (helps other chemicals penetrate the skin). This chemical can cause an eczema-related allergic reaction that may spread beyond the applied area. There have been many toxicological studies conducted to test for hormone altercations that throw off your endocrine system as a result of oxybenzone absorption. The Environmental Working Group also links this chemical to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer.

  2. Homosalate

    Similar to oxybenzone, this UV-absorbing chemical can mimic bodily hormones. Since our bodies cannot dispel this chemical to match the rate of absorption, it accumulates to toxic levels over time.

  3. Paraben Preservatives

    There have been many reports of serious chronic and acute side effects associated with Paraben preservatives. Derived from plant and petroleum sources, these preservatives may cause irritation and allergic reactions. More importantly, the chronic effects of Paraben use are known to disrupt and mimic hormones and cause reproductive toxicity. As a suspected carcinogen, it has connections with breast tumors, skin cell damage, and oxidative stress on the body’s tissues, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

  4. Octocrytene

    As a synthetic UV absorber and sunscreen agent, when exposed to UV rays, this chemical may produce oxygen radicals that cause cell mutation. It may accumulate in our bodies in measurable amounts, resulting in increased production of free radicals that are known to induce indirect DNA damage. According to the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, octocrytene may have contributed to the increased occurrence of malignant melanoma in sunscreen-users when compared to non-users.

  5. Retinyl Palmitate

    A from of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, may speed up the development of skin tumors when applied in the presence of sunlight. This data was recently made available from an FDA study that tested lab animals coated in vitamin A cream for development of tumors and lesions. As much as 25% of all sunscreens contain vitamin A retinyl palmitate because it is an anti-oxidant, according to the same FDA study. Until more concrete evidence can be conducted, the Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding sunscreens with vitamin A (look for “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol”) on the label.

  6. Octinoxate

    The most widely used sunscreen ingredient, octinoxate helps other ingredients be absorbed more readily. According to the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption, studies show strong evidence of this chemical disrupting the endocrine system by altering hormones. The chemical’s effects on estrogen levels are harmful for humans and wildlife, especially when the chemical seeps into water. While SPF products are designed to decrease sun-induced aging, octinoxate may actually be the main culprit for premature aging, as it produces free radicals that attack skin cells. As a penetration enhancer, this chemical continues to be one of the most common ingredients found in sunscreens with SPF — double check labels before buying.

  7. Artificial Scent

    Many people dislike the smell of sunscreen and buy ones with added scent. These sunscreens are normally listed as “parfums” that contain artificial musks. Many allergic reactions have been linked to scented sunscreens, including reddened skin and eyes, topical lesions, and difficulty breathing. Those with asthma should especially choose scent-free sun creams. Many artificial scents may even disrupt hormones, stimulating human estrogen receptors. These artificial musks also have an environmental impact — they have been found to be toxic to aquatic life, as measurable quantities accumulate in the food chain.

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Ringworm: The Basics

by Julia McCartney on May 25, 2012

When people hear the term “ringworm,” they often assume that it refers to an infection that involves microscopic worms. That’s not the case. The name for this condition comes from the fact that it often produces rashes with red, raised edges and unaffected centers. The result looks a lot like a ring. However, the telltale ring doesn’t always happen with this infection. In many cases, it just looks like a dry, red rash. One thing’s for sure: It’s very common. While small children are the most susceptible, it can happen to anyone. It can even happen to the family pet. Learn more about ringworm below.

What Causes Ringworm?

If you have ringworm, it’s not because a bunch of worms have invaded your body. Instead, it means that a specific fungus has grown and multiplied in the outermost layer of your skin or on your hair. This fungus is called tinea, and it thrives in moist, warm areas. As a result, ringworm is more likely to occur to people who sweat a lot. The fungus can also be introduced through small cuts and scratches.

Where are You Likely to Encounter the Tinea Fungus?

There aren’t specific areas in the world where the tinea fungus is particular prevalent. As mentioned above, it prefers warm, moist places. Not surprisingly, then, it is often picked up in locker rooms and gyms. People often return home from public swimming pools with the fungus as well.

Types of Ringworm

Ringworm is a generic term for an infection that is caused by an overabundance of the tinea fungus. One of the most well-known types of ringworm is tinea cruris, which is commonly known as jock itch. It occurs on the groin, which is a part of the body that tends to be moister and warmer than other areas. Tinea corporis refers to ringworm that is present on the body, and tinea pedis refers to ringworm that develops on the feet. It should also be noted that athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection, sometimes spreads and turns into ringworm as well.

When ringworm occurs where hair grows, the condition can be a lot more serious. Tinea barbae refers to ringworm that grows on the beard while tinea capitis refers to ringworm that occurs on the scalp. In these instances, ringworm causes bald patches. Pets who have bald patches are often suffering from ringworm. Humans can pick the fungus up from their furry friends by petting them, but it’s not especially common.

The Main Symptoms of Ringworm

After coming into contact with the fungus that causes ringworm, the infection may not develop for one to two weeks. The main symptom is a scaly, itchy, red rash. Scaly patches often develop on the affected areas. In some cases, they may begin to ooze or form blisters. As mentioned above, these rashes sometimes take on clearly defined edges that are red on the outside. When normal skin is in the middle, the infection can look just like a ring. When ringworm happens on the nails, they may crumble, become noticeably thicker or become discolored. On the scalp and on other places where hair grows, bald spots may develop.

When to Seek Medical Help

Mild forms of ringworm can usually be handled with at-home care. There are a few exceptions. If it develops on the scalp or on a beard, medical attention is warranted. Otherwise, a significant number of bald patches may occur. If the condition persists after four weeks of self care, you should also see a doctor. Medical assistance is also warranted if the rash begins to spread to other parts of the body after treatment has begun.

Treating Ringworm

In most cases, it’s possible to treat ringworm yourself. Once treatment begins, it typically takes about four weeks for the infection to go away. The skin should be kept dry and clean at all times. Bedclothes and sheets should be changed daily. An antifungal or drying powder should be used. Antifungal creams and lotions are also available. Look for medications that contain miconazole or clotrimazole. In more severe cases, as with ringworm that affects the scalp or the beard, antifungal pills may be needed. Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed to handle problems that have developed due to persistent scratching.

Preventing Ringworm

Nobody wants to come down with ringworm. There are a few common-sense ways to avoid it. Do your best to keep your feet clean and dry at all times. Wear fresh, clean socks every day. Shampoo your hair on a regular basis. If you go to the gym or to a public pool, always wear sandals at all times.

Ringworm is often spread between people who share personal items. Don’t share things like towels with other people. Each person should have his or her own towel. Don’t share brushes or combs with others. The same thing goes for clothes. As for pets, it is exceedingly rare to catch ringworm from a cat or dog. However, you should never touch a pet that has bald patches, which are a common sign of ringworm in pets.

The Bottom Line on Ringworm

As unsavory as its name may be, ringworm is actually not a huge deal. It’s not fun to have, but there are worse infections to get. At any rate, it’s fairly easy to avoid the condition entirely. Just use common sense when visiting public pools, locker rooms and gyms. Keep your feet and your body as dry and clean as possible. Wear fresh, clean socks and underwear every day. If you do develop the symptoms of ringworm, get over-the-counter antifungal treatments as quickly as possible. If it occurs on your scalp or in your beard, or if it persists, keeps recurring or spreads, seek medical assistance.

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8 Most Terrifying Situations for Germaphobes

by Staci Marks on May 25, 2012

Germs are a part of life. Bacteria are everywhere, and there’s no real way to avoid it. Most people keep a bottle of Purell on hand, try not to drink after sick people, and call it a day. However, if you do enough research on bacteria floating around in our daily lives, it’s easy to become somewhat of a germaphobe, exacting extreme caution at every corner. The following eight scenarios are practically death sentences for a germaphobe, exposing them to all kinds of gross, grubby germs.

  1. Going to the Hospital

    The last place a germaphobe wants to be is a haven for sick, coughing, disease-riddled people. When you combine multiple sick people, even in an environment where sterilization is taken very seriously, it is far too easy to spread disease. For that reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “every year nearly 100,000 people die of infections they developed in U.S. hospitals and healthcare facilities.” Mistakes are made — instruments aren’t cleaned properly, dirty hands proliferate, and too many nurses wear their scrubs outside of the work environment. You may go in for one illness and wind up with something far worse.

  2. Being Around Children

    Since children haven’t developed a sophisticated immune system, they pick up bugs everywhere and spread them around. Children are germy to begin with, as most of them enjoy being dirty, playing in filthy sandboxes, picking their noses, and neglecting to wash their hands. They touch everything and sometimes even put things in their mouth when they shouldn’t. School is simply a breeding ground for such bacteria, and children transmit them with finesse between desks, playground equipment, and in the cafeteria. A child might make a germaphobe nervous, but they would simply go into convulsions if they had to jump into one of those McDonald’s ball pits with a horde of children. When Erin Carr-Jordan undertook the challenge of investigating the cleanliness of fast food playscapes all over the country, she found the presence of serious bacterial strains such as Staph aureus, Pseudomonas, E. coli, Bacillus cereus and Coliforms.

  3. Using Public Restrooms

    Most people would prefer not to use public restrooms, as they are recognizably dirtier than those in our homes, but sometimes nature calls and there’s no other option. According to Denise Mann of WebMD Health News, researchers identified 19 strains of bacteria throughout 12 public restrooms in Colorado, including on the doors, floors, faucet handles, soap dispensers, and toilets. Sometimes, the methods people take in an attempt to avoid the germs only make it worse for others. Women may squat above the toilet rather than sitting on the seat, spattering the seat with urine. People often flush the toilet with their feet, leaving toilet handles covered in bacteria found on the bottoms of their shoes. Germaphobes may take solace from lining the seat with toilet paper and holding their breath. When it comes to port-a-potties, a germaphobe will probably choose to hold it.

  4. Riding in an Airplane

    Once you load onto an airplane and take off, you’re effectively in a sealed, germ-infested environment with no escape. Charles P. Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, performed an experiment in 2007 in which he swabbed down airplane bathrooms and tray tables on eight different flights. His results showed the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and norovirus in four out of six of the tray tables. Unsurprisingly, the bathrooms were studded with E.coli. Planes house hundreds of people throughout the course of the day, and seat cushions, tray tables, and even in-flight magazines are susceptible to carrying all of the various germs such people spread on their journey.

  5. Attending a Water Park

    Everyone knows that the water at water parks is about 2% pool water and 98% child urine, at least according to South Park. A germaphobe would not be comforted by the presence of germ-killing chlorine. While at water parks, children and even some irresponsible adults use the lazy rivers as personal toilets. Children are also prone to drink the water or gather it in their mouth and spit it at each other. Even if you don’t actively try to drink the water, getting a bit on your lips and accidentally lapping it up could cause you to ingest water with the presence of E.coli. Few things are less pleasant than leaving a water park with severe diarrhea because of a bacterial strain floating around on the communal inner tubes.

  6. Exercize Class at a Fitness Club

    Hitting up the gym should always be good for your health. Unfortunately, along with your hour of cardio, you may pick up a persistent bug. The machines at fitness facilities tend to be laden with the sweat of everyone else who used that machine before you. While some are courteous enough to wipe it down before moving on to a different machine, this by no means eradicates all of the germs spread onto the equipment during their workout. The same applies to yoga mats, which people utilize with bare feet and sweat plentifully onto. After a powerful workout, a germaphobe would never use the gym showers without at least investing in a pair of flip-flops, since the showers are crawling with germs and the contraction of athlete’s foot.

  7. Using Someone Else’s Cellphone

    Germaphobes may be able to use their own phone without pause, but even in an emergency, using someone else’s cellphone is sure to gross them out. According to an article written for The Daily Mail, the typical cellphone contains 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle in a men’s public bathroom. Cellular phones are excellent carriers for staph infection-causing germs. When you think about all of the places people take their cellphones, it can be a bit eye-opening. Most people even take their cellphone with them to the restroom, tinkering with it while they go about their “business.” When someone hands you their warm, freshly used cellphone with an oily, makeup-covered touchscreen, you might think twice about putting it to your ear.

  8. Staying at a Hotel

    Even the priciest resort hotels can be culprits for bacteria and bed bugs. As a germaphobe staying in a hotel room, you may want to invest in one of those bed bug sleeping cocoons and a box of disposable, latex gloves before touching anything. The hotel bedspread is one of the worst features, as it is not cleaned as frequently. Strange things go on in hotel rooms, and hotel housekeepers aren’t always responsive to it unless it appears as a stain. Before jumping onto your bed, consider the residue of urine and semen found in an upscale hotel room by ABC’s News Team. When ABC News inspected the cup-cleaning process, it was even worse. Housekeeping doesn’t even wash the glassware found in hotel bathrooms, but simply towels it off and recaps it. The same goes for coffeepots and mugs.

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Vegetarians face many challenges during pregnancy, a period of increased nutritional need. For one, their diet might lack the optimal amount of protein, iron, and vitamin B12, which is found in meat. Another issue is that recommended intakes of vitamins and minerals are much higher, and pregnant women must have adequate weight gain, which may be hard to do on a vegan diet. Here are some other healthy guidelines for expecting vegetarians to ensure proper nutrition.

  1. Adequate Weight Gain

    Vegans may begin pregnancy a bit underweight, gaining weight very slowly throughout the following nine months. It may be beneficial for vegans to eat foods higher in fat and lower in bulk to add on some pounds. Drinking extra calories (milk shakes, soy yogurts, or eating more tofu) are healthy ways of increasing your calorie intake. The Vegetarian Resource Group advises a general weight gain for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and a pound a week in the second and third trimesters. For underweight vegetarian women, though, expect to try to gain 15 to 25 pounds over the course of your pregnancy (while maintaining a steady rate of weight gain). Eating foods like nuts, dried fruits, soy, bean products, and other concentrated sources of calories may be helpful in reaching your desired weight goal.

  2. Vegan Multi-Vitamin Supplements

    According to the Queensland Health Dietitian/Nutritionists, folic acid is needed early in pregnancy (first trimester). Folic acid is needed for the healthy development and growth of your baby, and also helps prevent abnormalities like spina bifida. Recently, folic acid has also been connected with a type of birth defect called neural tube defect; studies report that women who gave birth to infants with neural tube defects had significantly lower intakes of folate than other women, according to The Vegetarian Resource Group. Expecting vegan mothers should also consider taking multivitamins or general pre-natal pills, which are loaded with more than 21 essential vitamins, minerals, and extra B12, depending on certain brands. The Livestrong Foundation’s newsletter recommends the Veganlife Multivitamin, which should be taken three times a day, is allergen-free, and can be purchased with or without iron.

  3. Boost Iron Levels

    Iron is a necessary nutrient that aids in the development of the fetus and placenta. Taking specific iron supplements may be beneficial, since iron deficiency anemia is not uncommon during pregnancy and affects vegans and non-vegans equally. Good sources of additional dietary iron can be found in cereals, wholemeal breads, dried fruits, nuts, and dark green vegetables. The Vegetarian Resource Group recommends iron supplements of 30 milligrams daily during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, taken in between meals to maximize absorption.

  4. Make Your Calories Count

    Try to stick to an all-natural diet, and avoid highly processed foods, sweets, or salty foods. Even for vegetarians, calorie intake needs to increase only modestly during pregnancy. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, no additional calories are needed. In the second trimester, an extra 340 calories are recommended, and an additional 452 calories are needed per day in the third trimester. It’s important to choose a well-balanced meal not high in fats or sugars or excessive in calories.

  5. Get Enough Protein

    Getting enough protein during pregnancy can be quite a challenge, especially for vegetarians. The American College of Nurse-Midwives recommends daily consumption of 71 grams of complete proteins, although protein requirements may vary. There are both complete and incomplete protein food sources: the complete proteins are found in milk-based dairy products (yogurt, cheese, eggs, and milk) and soy products (tofu, soy milk, and soybeans). Most vegetarians are consuming incomplete proteins (found in plant-based foods like legumes and grains). It is especially important for vegetarians to have a balance of complete and incomplete proteins that contain essential amino acids.

  6. Maintain Adequate Intake of Calcium

    In the past, women have been urged by their doctors to substantially increase their consumption of calcium-rich foods during pregnancy. Since calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, mothers should consume enough calcium to provide for the growing fetus, without compromising her own bone density. Current research from The Institute of Medicine concludes that adequate calcium intake prior to pregnancy is adequate for the growth of healthy bones, and dietary calcium does not need to be increased during pregnancy. The recommended amount of daily calcium is 1,000 grams for women age 19 and older, and increased to 1,300 mg for pregnant adolescents, according to The American Dietetic Association. Look for calcium-fortified products, like orange juice and rice milks. Other common calcium-rich foods are kale, collard greens, turnips, broccoli, and tofu.

  7. Keep Up Your Supply of Vitamin B12

    It’s common for vegans to not get enough vitamin B12, since it is a nutrient found primarily in animal foods. However, it is a vital nutrient for the developing fetus (all cells that synthesize DNA rely on vitamin B12.) Luckily, there are vitamin B12-infused cereals and prenatal vitamins with only B12. Choose at least one source of B12 a day: the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends a daily vitamin B12 allowance of 2.6 mcg. A deficiency in this nutrient can cause weakness, weight loss, dementia, depression, and in severe cases, brain damage, according to The Livestrong Foundation.

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What Does “Genetically Modified Food” Mean?

by Julia McCartney on May 23, 2012

Genetically modified foods are more prevalent in the United States than in any other country in the world. While the government asserts that these foods are safe to eat, some scientists have a different opinion. What are genetically modified foods and how safe are they?

“Genetically Modified Food” Defined

A genetically modified food is one that has been derived from a process involving the genetic engineering of an organism. This process artificially modifies the DNA of the organism. These modifications are intended to make plants more resilient to climate changes, resistant to certain common pests and resistant to viruses that are commonly associated with the individual plants that are modified. Although the aim of genetically modifying food is to make it more abundant and readily available to the general population, studies have indicated that consumption of these foods may not be entirely safe.

FDA Concerns Regarding Genetically Modified Food

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has held several hearings to listen to testimony regarding the safety of genetically modified organisms, many researchers feel that the organization’s conclusions are misguided. The FDA has decided to continue its policy regarding genetically modified foods. No special labeling is required as long as the genetic makeup of the food is close enough to the original food source that it does not cause harm to those with certain food allergies.

A group of activists hoping to convince the FDA to change their labeling policy sent a petition to the organization in March 2012. The FDA responded to the petition claiming that more time was needed to decide whether it was necessary to label genetically modified foods.

Scientists’ Findings Regarding Genetically Modified Food

Several studies concerning genetically modified foods that have been conducted on mice have indicated the need for continued studies of the long term effects of consuming these foods. One study conducted by scientists at the University of Verona in Italy indicated that genetically modified foods negatively influenced metabolic rate and liver function during the aging process of mice.

A report published through the Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth in Austria revealed that mice that were fed genetically modified corn feed displayed reproductive failure over several generations.

The scientific findings regarding genetically modified foods indicate that more studies must be done to determine the exact effects of these foods on the human body. The alarming connections between genetically engineered food products and adverse health issues in test subjects makes it apparent that people should avoid these foods until more information is discovered. There is a chance that further studies will reveal that these foods are not safe for consumption.

Worldwide Regulations for Genetically Modified Food

A map released by the Center for Food Safety brings to light the fact that most other developed nations worldwide have adopted policies limiting the sale of genetically engineered food products. Even those countries that allow the cultivation and sale of such foods typically require clear labeling regarding the modification of the product.

There are 10 countries worldwide that have enacted a strict ban on genetically modified organisms. Others have yet to adopt a national ban but have smaller regions that have banned the practice. Seven countries on the African continent have a policy in place that states that these countries will not accept genetically modified food that is sent to the country from abroad as a form of aid.

The United States cultivates an overwhelming percentage of genetically modified crops. Nearly 60 percent of all genetically modified crops are sourced from the U.S.

Adverse Health Affects Associated with Genetically Modified Food

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine released a statement highlighting the fact that studies have found several health problems associated with the consumption of genetically modified foods. Even though these foods are generally considered to be safe, health issues linked to genetically modified foods include serious concerns such as accelerated aging, problems with the regulation of insulin, cell growth abnormalities, organ malfunction and infertility.

Some proponents of these foods argue that the connection between genetically modified foods and health problems is simply coincidental. However, there have been multiple studies involving animals that have definitively linked these modified foods to the health issues mentioned above.

How To Be a Proactive Consumer

Because there are no labeling laws currently in place regarding genetically modified products in the United States, it can be difficult for consumers to avoid these foods in the store. The Huffington Post provides some helpful tips for being a cautious consumer. A summary of these suggestions is listed below.

  • Avoid foods that contain ingredients that are commonly sourced from genetically modified crops. The most frequently genetically modified crops in the United States include corn, cotton, canola and soy. Note that the inclusion of cotton indicates that many of the clothes and linens used in the average household are made from genetically modified materials.
  • Steer clear of any food that has been heavily processed and prepackaged. As stated above, corn is one of the most commonly genetically modified foods. Many packaged foods contain corn in one form or another because it is cheap to produce in mass quantities. Approximately 25 percent of all foods contain some form of corn, and many of these products are concentrated in the prepackaged aisles of grocery stores.
  • Read the labels on foods and choose those that are clearly marked as organic. There are regulations in place that prohibit any ingredient that is claimed to be organic from being genetically modified. However, be sure to read the details to make certain that every ingredient used in the product is considered to be organic. Some products that are labeled as organic only have a few organic ingredients.

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It seems that as soon as a celebrity pops out a baby, the whole world expects them to be back to a perfect weight the next day. Where does this pressure come from? Celebrity moms are pulling out all the stops to get their bodies back within months of having a baby. Is it the industry, the paparazzi, or even the fans that are waiting to see it? As our country struggles to fight obesity, we are placing weight loss stress on new mothers that are in the spotlight. You have to give them their credit because these moms have fought hard to get their bodies back into fighting shape.

  • Bethenny Frankel

    Founder of the Skinnygirl franchise, Bethany Frankel is one celebrity who actually had to defend her rapid weight loss after the birth of her fist child. Bethany got her start in reality TV and then went on to be a spokesperson for healthier eating and working out. Critics slammed Frankel for losing 29 pounds in the three weeks after the birth of her daughter. However, the health advocate credits her healthy lifestyle before her baby for helping her after childbirth. While pregnant the star made sure to not overeat and was also continued working out on a daily basis. Bethany claims that all of her healthy habits helped her gain only 35 pounds throughout the entire pregnancy.

  • Aishwariya Rai

    Another star who is having to defend her weight after the birth of a child is former Miss World, Aishwariya Rai. The pressure of being Miss World would be a lot for anyone to handle, but the Bollywood actress is taking her time getting back her pre-baby figure and is receiving criticism from fans, the Indian government, and even photographers. So why all the criticism? Many are slamming the actress for not appearing to have lost any baby weight after she gave birth six months ago. Many are saying that because of her status in her country, she is obligated to get her figure back and soon. It appears that many are not as concerned with her health as much as they should be. Most of the criticism is stemming from how motherhood and beauty are portrayed in her country.

  • Jessica Simpson

    Another famous face who has had to endure the pregnancy firestorm is Jessica. In what has been called one of the longest pregnancies, Jessica Simpson recently gained more than 50 pounds while pregnant with her first child. Even while she was pregnant, people were criticizing the star on how much weight she was putting on. Once posing in daisy dukes, it appeared that the star was already gaining weight before she was pregnant. The additional 50 pounds made people question how many kids she was really about to have. Before her daughter was even born, weight loss companies were trying to sign Jessica as their new spokesperson. Ultimately, Weight Watchers signed Jessica to a $4 million dollar deal. Now all we can do is sit back and wait as Jessica diets and works out with a trainer to get her body back.

  • Beyonce

    Worldwide singing sensations apparently have no problem shedding the post-pregnancy weight. Like Jessica Simpson, Beyonce gained about 50 pounds during her pregnancy but seemed to only put it in her belly. Though she was able to save herself from the weight-gain criticism, many attacked her for not appearing to really be pregnant with her child and accused her of faking it altogether. However, Beyonce stands by the fact that it was in fact she who delivered her baby girl and who is now almost back to her pre-pregnancy weight. Although she has been working hard, she admits that the birth did change her body. However, she is embracing the changes and loving every minute. So just how did Beyonce get her healthy body back? After months of breastfeeding, the singer started out slow by walking but stuck to a strict diet. Now she is back hitting the gym and we can all marvel at the “bootylicious” curves that she has regained.

  • Mariah Carey

    Another singer who has been highly regarded for her body is Mariah. At the top of her game she was belting out tunes all over the world and seemed to always show off as much skin as she possibly could. Then in a new phase in her life, at the age of 40, she was married and pregnant with twins. After having a difficult time getting pregnant and facing many health issues throughout the pregnancy, Mariah and her husband gave birth to twins. After the birth, she was determined to lose the 70 pounds that both babies had provided. After realizing that working out would not be enough, the singer signed up with Jenny Craig. Once she had her diet under control she focused her attention to walking and underwater exercises to get her body back to toned perfection.

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7 Commonly Held Misconceptions About Arthritis

by Staci Marks on May 18, 2012

With nearly 52 million Americans diagnosed with arthritis and another 27 million suffering from osteoarthritis according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), it’s important to separate the facts from fiction when it comes to joint pain. One of the most common misconceptions about arthritis is that it is a minor condition resulting in only aches and pains. These long-held myths only hinder progress and treatment, since arthritis sufferers may not be taking the right steps to treat the disease. Here are some debunked common myths surrounding arthritis everyone should be aware of.

  1. Taking supplements will rebuild joints

    Consuming glucosamine supplements and food products containing gelatin to rebuild damaged joints is an age-old misconception. Although both supplements contain natural compounds found in your joints and cartilage, there is no scientific evidence that supplements will restore joints. Sometimes, these pills or collagen infused products will offer temporary pain relief and inflammation suppression. Even though there is no concrete evidence proving or disproving this theory, taking supplements (in moderation) to reduce the side effects of arthritis is not harmful, so it may be a good option to explore.

  2. There is only one type of arthritis

    “Arthritis is arthritis” is a commonly held belief, just like some people may believe there is only one type of cancer. There are so many types of arthritis — rheumatoid arthritis, gout, crystals, fibromyalgia, and as many as 100 other kinds of the ailment. The most common type of arthritis is osteoporosis, which causes bone pain or tenderness over time. Since the early stages of the ailment almost have no detectable symptoms, many people are unaware that they are developing the condition. Also, don’t just assume that any joint pain is arthritis —  it could be a joint strain, bursitis, or a general sprain.

  3. Arthritis is untreatable

    There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments to slow the progression and relieve the pain of arthritis. Prevention is an important component — working out regularly, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and minimizing injuries to your joints are all preventative measures you can take. For arthritis sufferers, taking arthritis medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), COX-2 inhibitors, corticosteroids, and other pain relief medication can ease tension and inflammation, which is important in preventing more joint damage. People who wait too long to see the doctor for any joint pain often experience drastic erosions in joints (joints don’t grow back), so early treatment is also very important. While taking dozens of supplements may help, it also takes a toll on your liver and body. Some patients do extremely well with physical therapy, while others may need surgery. Whatever your condition is, there are always steps you can take to manage arthritis better.

  4. Exercise worsens arthritis

    A common myth surrounding arthritis is that exercising would inflict more damage to joints and cause more pain. Many arthritis sufferers believe they need to rest their joints, or simply don’t exercise due to stiffness and pain. However, much research has been done regarding the beneficial effects of exercise and treating arthritis. Range-of-motion exercises (movement beyond their normal range of movement), strengthening exercises, aerobic activities, and other gentle forms of yoga and tai chi can have many positive effects. Exercise enables muscle growth and strengthening, gives you more energy, helps control weight, and makes it easier to get restful sleep, all of which are beneficial to arthritis sufferers. The American College of Rheumatology has also encouraged people to incorporate brisk walks or regular water aerobic activity into their daily routine.

  5. Arthritis is a result of long-term knuckle cracking

    Many people crack their knuckles because it helps their joints feel less stiff, or to ease some tension between their joints. Studies have not found any correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis, although there have been some reports of acute minor injuries in children when too much force was used to crack the knuckle. Other than extreme cases, popping knuckles is just a vacuum phenomenon, according to Doctor Mark Macquillan from the University of Michigan, Department of Internal Medicine. Bits of excess nitrogen gas dissolved in your blood literally make a popping noise, which has no correlation to developing arthritis.

  6. Arthritis only affects the elderly

    It can happen to anyone. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention show that as much as two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. Junior rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form of childhood arthritis, affects youth populations as young as one to six years old, while data from a 2004 National Health Interview Survey found that an average of 80,100 cases of childhood arthritis affect youth 16 years and younger every year.

  7. Diet has no influence on arthritis

    Diet certainly is a factor in preventing arthritis, although the correlation is complex. Maintaining a healthy weight places less pressure on your hips and knees, but nutritious diets may just help your health in general, with no direct correlation to arthritis prevention. A study published by the Arthritis Foundation’s Arthritis Today, found that yellow and purple potatoes may reduce inflammation in men, and those who consumed high amounts of lutein (found in tomatoes) were 70% less likely to develop osteoarthritis. Gout arthritis is caused by an excess of uric acid, so people who consume large amounts of organ meat, sardines, and drink beer excessively have a higher chance of developing gout. Food allergies can also sometimes aggravate joints, but do not cause arthritis.

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20 Things in Your Home That Could Kill You

by Staci Marks on May 18, 2012

When you think of your home, what usually comes to mind is relaxation, comfort, safety, and security. It is said that home is where the heart is, but what they don’t say is home can also be dangerous. Homes are filled with hazardous, toxic and even carcinogenic products. Cleaners, air fresheners, and even cosmetic products that can be found right under your sink are more dangerous than you think. Take a look at our list of 20 things in your home that could kill you.

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