health

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nuclear energy the answer to what exactly?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-08-15 09:54

Is the nuclear industry exploiting our concern over global warming by representing nuclear power as a carbon-free electricity source and global climate saviour? Let’s not forget that the nuclear fuel cycle releases carbon dioxide during mining, fuel production, transport, plant construction and decommissioning, and that there is no responsible way to ‘dispose’ of radioactive waste anywhere in the world.

These statistics supplied by Earthlife Africa on nuclear technology made me sit up and take note recently:

• there are only 22 nuclear reactors under construction in the world
• 5 of these began construction over 20 years ago
• of the remaining 20, construction of 14 has been suspended
• in India, the country with the most recent and current construction experience, completion costs of the last 10 reactors have averaged at least 300% over budget...

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green your personal care

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2007-08-10 13:37

The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that, until now, has had little other than ‘cruelty to animals’ to worry about as a minor obstacle to their marketing campaigns. The safety of beauty products has largely been taken for granted – who would wittingly poison their customers? Take a look at the ingredients of your shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, hair gels, lipsticks, mascaras and perfumes, and choose True or False for the following to find out just how safe your products really are:

1. my shampoo & body wash contain sodium lauryl sulphate
2. one or more of the hair products I use contain a combination of: sodium lauryl sulfate and TEA (triethanolamine, DEA (diethanolamine), or MEA (monoethanolamine)
3. methylparaben appears on a label
4. dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, or diethylhexyl phthalate, or DEHP appear on a label

If one or more of the above is True, then the ‘safety’ of your products is questionable. All of the above chemicals have been linked to health problems and some or all of them are banned in certain countries...


greening it up–thurs 02 aug 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-08-02 14:09

Cape Town starts to mainstream recycling – at last! With the pressure mounting due to a shortage of landfill sites, CT starts a ‘separation at source’ initiative in certain areas on 13 August that will help reduce the 6000 odd tons of waste the city produces a day. Clear plastic bags, delivered to your door, will cater for dry waste – paper, cardboard, plastic containers, bags, bottles, glass and tin cans. [capetown.gov]

No more blackouts for sunny SA. If we took a leaf out of Israel’s book – almost every home is equipped with solar panels for use in heating water – we wouldn’t be facing further threats of blackouts from Eskom. Harnessing solar power, in a country that has more than its fair share of sunshine, makes more sense than nuclear power. Yet, to date we’ve committed R12-billion on the design and construction of the PBMR – nuclear energy which is neither clean nor cheap! [cooltech.iafrica] A surprise, then, that Eskom is spearheading a solar water heater drive. [urban sprout]

Death to Ronald McDonald. Proposed food regulations could see a major clampdown on junk food, and include banning adverts, cartoons and toys aimed at enticing children to eat junk food and unhealthy snacks. These same proposals also aim to put a stop to fake nutrition claims. [IOL]

Join Jeff as he jaunts the Atlantic. Jeff Barbee has taken to the seas to raise awareness for environmental matters. On this very special trip the photojournalist is working with scientists and researchers, covering airport construction on St Helena, efforts to save rare and endangered species, and tracking bird migration routes, pollution levels and many more exciting projects. He wants to get a million hits to his website. [jeffbarbee]


green your baby

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-08-01 12:12

Nothing motivates one quite as much as being responsible for a new being, and having a baby is the moment when many people move from one end of the green spectrum to the other – it’s no longer just what you put into and on your body that counts, now it’s a little life that’s being affected – it becomes a big deal!

Green jargon unravelled – just how to green your baby

We give you the low-down on how to be more 'green' when it comes to your baby; how you can treat the planet with the respect it deserves and in so doing, teach your child to do so too, and how to have less of an impact on the environment.

Nappies: Whilst many people function on automatic pilot and stock up on disposables as the only sensible approach, the cotton nappy is re-emerging as a far more sustainable, green option.

The stats:
• the average baby uses about 6 000 nappies


greening it up – mon 09 july 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-07-09 09:59

Local pineapples sprayed with toxic cadmium. SA canned pineapples have been rejected in the EU due to findings of high levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium. Farmers use the fertiliser, zinc sulphate, ‘across the board’ and have apparently ‘unwittingly’ sprayed crops that later tests have also revealed contain elevated levels of arsenic and lead. Farmers blame the department of agriculture, whilst the department relies on the feeds and fertiliser Act 36, 1947 – an act that doesn’t include maximum levels for heavy metals, and is way out of date. Consumers are apparently not at risk, as contaminated fruit won’t be sold locally or overseas(?) [IOL]

SA falls short of Live Earth challenge. Whilst Jo’burg rocked at the ‘almost sold out’ Live Earth concert on Saturday night [M&G], Cape Town, with no party to speak of, remained rather quiet – clubs and restaurants choosing to screen the Wimbledon Women’s final over the Live Earth transmission on SABC 2. SA fell far short of the challenge offered by Live Earth and tended to reflect, instead, similar attitudes to those of a recent British survey that found that ‘cleaning dog poo, graffiti, crime and terrorism are much more pressing issues than global climate change’. Is anybody listening to the green gurus? [IOL]

Global warming is, understandably, not an issue in developing countries, like South Africa – few of us appear to see global warming as a pressing personal problem, as opposed to those residents of the US and Europe. In Turkey, the concert was cancelled due to lack of local support. [csmonitor]

The SA Environment Outlook 2006 report [we blogged about it here] further warned that not only is the SA environment deteriorating but that we lack the capacity to deal with the crisis. This is the first report on the environment since 1999, compiled by environmental experts across numerous bodies, that identifies trends and responses to environmental change. [IOL]

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sugar - killing you softly part 2

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-04-24 11:11

Why is sugar bad for us?

William Dufty, in his book ‘Sugar Blues’ has a lot to say on the subject of why sugar is bad for us. According to him, refined sugar is lethal. Sugar actually drains and leaches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination make upon one’s system, because sugar is what nutritionists term ‘empty’ calories.

Taken every day, sugar produces an over-acid condition. This requires more and more minerals, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium, to rectify the imbalance. Finally, in order to protect the blood, so much calcium is taken from the bones and teeth that decay and general weakening begin. [nexus magazine]

He goes on to explain that the whole body is affected, including the nervous system and organs governed by it, such as the small brain.

It has been proved that:
(1) sugar is a major factor in dental decay
(2) sugar in a person's diet does cause overweight
(3) removal of sugar from diets has cured symptoms of crippling, worldwide diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart illnesses

Why is there so little evidence out there, and why aren’t we made aware of the detrimental effects of sugar? Most scientists achieve very little without a sponsor, and most research on nutrition is funded by the very producers of the food that we eat. Who would benefit from research about the detrimental effects of sugar?

Sugar pushers, who have an obviously vested interest in your consuming sugar, tout the low calorie content of sugar. Low calorie sugar might be, but nutritious it is not. All foods contain some nutrients in the way of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals, or all of these. Sucrose contains caloric energy, period.

The ‘quick energy’ claim – the same one that drives children literally up the wall – is based on the fact that refined sucrose is not digested in the mouth of the stomach but passes directly to the lower intestines and into the bloodstream – in other words, fast.

What adds to the confusion is the many terms used for sugar.

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sugar – killing you softly

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-04-18 09:04

I recently landed on a website called sugarfacts.co.za, obviously funded by the sugar industry (although nowhere do you find details of who exactly is behind the campaign) that arrives at some rather debatable ‘sweet truths’ about sugar:

• Burning off a teaspoon of sugar takes just 13 minutes of sleep
• Bread is more likely to cause tooth decay than sugar
• Sugar is in the middle of the glycaemic index
• A tsp of sugar has just 15 calories
• Sugar is just a natural carbo, nothing more, nothing less

Technically, they’re not lying. But they are distorting the truth, and their list of rather harmless sounding associations is completely misleading. Reading the ‘facts about sugar’ above, you would be forgiven for tucking into the sugar bowl.

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greening it up – tue 10 apr 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-04-10 10:48

Transport: leaving a smaller footprint. Possibly the one area in which South Africans are most guilty of contributing to global warming is our single-occupancy driving to and from work. Whilst we can throw our hands up in the air and blame the government for a bad public transport system, there are other options. The Rea Vaya rapid bus system, or BRT as it will be known, which has already begun implementation at a fraction of the cost of the Gautrain, [M&G] will run routes from Lenasia to Sunninghill; Alexandra to Regina Mundi; Dobsonville to Troyeville; Nasrec to Ellis Park; Randburg to the CBD and an inner city circle route.

Durbanites have the Mynah bus, and Capetonians have the train - during peak hour safety guards have been stepped up, so it’s a lot safer. And if you can’t do either trains or buses then there is always the car pool option. Carpoolworld.com is one of a number of car pool websites on the Net that allows you to link up with other travellers living close to you who also work close to you. See the page for SA. [carpoolworld.com]

Which veggies and fruits are most exposed to potentially harmful chemicals?. We know that continuous small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, but did you know that there is a US ranking of fruits and veggies, based on work by a not-for-profit organisation of the results of some 43 000 tests, that show those most exposed to those least exposed to pesticide load. [foodnews] Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides, followed by peaches and apples; sweet bell peppers (similar to green peppers) had the most pesticides detected on a single sample, whilst celery had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single vegetable. Avocados and onions were among those least affected. It makes deciding which foods to buy organic that much easier. [read about those most contaminated]

Monsanto asks FDA to ‘punish’ dairies labelling their milk ‘rBST-free’. Could Monsanto be threatened by the increasing consumer demand for rBST-free milk? The company has a long history of trying to intimidate independent minded dairies and bottlers who do not want to use their growth hormones. [organic consumers] Why is rBST-free milk better for you? [urban sprout]


our daily bread

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2007-04-02 21:25

Or what you didn't know about mass produced white bread.

flour + water + yeast = bread, right?

Wrong - when it comes to the ingredients of your average supermarket white loaf. Have you looked at what goes in there? And why all the other stuff? Do we actually need it? This is what goes into a loaf of SaskoSam toasie white bread ("Delicious. Nutritious. Slice after slice.")

white bread wheat flour (gluten), water, yeast, salt, brown sugar, soybean flour, preservative (calcium propionate), emulsifiers (vegetable origin), partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, enzymes (non-animal origin), flour improver, mineral salts (electrolytic iron, zinc oxide) and vitamins

I thought I'd take a closer look at the ingredients...

The wheat flour, water and yeast are obviously expected and are all you would need to use if you baked the loaf yourself. The irony, though, with using refined white bread flour, is that it is totally stripped of any goodness. It's so refined that government requires certain vitamins and minerals be added back in chemical form. In fact the vitamins and minerals bread manufacturers advertise on their packets - vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, iron & zinc - are the exact same list of minimum requirements as stipulated by government, no more no less.

Whole grain wheat flour, in contrast, contains close to 20 vitamins and minerals, so by eating fortified white bread you are still missing out on at least 10 vitamins and minerals. Actually vitamin and mineral fortification of food is in itself a contentious issue, with absorption rates, recommended daily allowance (RDA) etc disputed by many experts. [Science in Africa]

So what is soybean flour doing in white bread? I speculated that it's cheaper than wheat flour but after digging around found that it has "emulsification, fat absorption, moisture holding, thickening and foaming" properties. [ACS Publications] A lot of handy properties in the industrial breadmaker's toolkit, but the fat absorption property is of particular interest...

Let's take a look at "partially hydrogenated fat" as this is where it gets interesting.

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greening it up – thurs 22 mar 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-03-22 12:58

A safari in the heart of the urban jungle? A group of Dutch and South African artists have pioneered a new kind of wild adventure by inviting guests to camp in the heart of Jozi's city centre. Organisers of the experimental "Cascoland" project hope their campsite in one of the city’s roughest areas will curb crime and help smash barriers between rich and poor as well as black and white. [reuters]

Fluoride in our water – only 37% of us say ‘no’ The government controversially plans to dose public drinking water supplies with fluoride, although these plans have now been delayed, pending further research – including the effects on human health and the environment. [IOL] Fluoride has been tied to bone cancer, lower IQs and osteoporosis, so why is it being added to water? [prevention.com] If you drink it, you are running the risk of all kinds of toxic actions – an interview with Dr Arvid Carlsson. [fluoride action network] And an interesting read [vernoncoleman.com]

Pollute the stratosphere with sulphur compounds – a radical end to global warming? James Lovelock spoke at the House of Commons last week about the world having ‘passed the point of no return’ but despite the doom & gloom there was a ray of hope (what’s a little acid rain between countries) - a little depraved or far-fetched? Read for yourselves [times]


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