Wednesday, May 20, 2015

RCC Youth Ministry - Fun and Sun at Wildwood

Warning: Stevia Shown to Affect Hormones and Blood Sugar

Stevia is a highly convenient calorie-free sweetener, which is naturally derived. It dissolves easily and is affordable, so a lot of health-conscious folks have flocked to stevia as a go-to sugar alternative.
Possible health benefits include the following:
  • Stevioside, the bitter part of the stevia leaf, increases the death of cancer cells while down-regulating certain stress processes that contribute to cancer growth.
  • Stevia contains antioxidants and can be synergistic with other antioxidant anti-cancer compounds, such as blackberry leaf.
  • By removing sugar from the diet, fasting blood glucose can be normalized, possibly helping those with obesity or diabetes.
Unfortunately we find that when we look beneath the surface, this popular health food may not be the harmless sweet angel we think it is. The body is complex, and stevia may cause underlying imbalances to hormones and blood sugar.
Let’s first review the different types of stevia on the market. Green leaf stevia: This is essentially the whole stevia leaf, dried and ground into a powder so all the natural constituents remain. This is the way stevia is used traditionally in South America and Japan. This type of stevia is only 30–40 times sweeter-tasting than sugar.
Extracted stevia: The bitter-tasting constituent (stevioside) is removed, leaving only the sweeter-tasting rebaudioside. This version is likely to lose the health benefits associated with stevia, since these are thought to come mainly from the stevioside. The result is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Chemically-processed stevia: Popular brands of stevia tend to be this type. The natural stevia is subjected to a 42-step process to create a highly refined extract, using chemical solvents and GMO additives. This type is 300–400 times sweeter tasting than sugar.
From this basic analysis we can see that it’s probably safer to stick with stevia as traditionally used in its minimally processed form. The extracted form may be relatively safe as well, but all the potential health benefits are lost.
However, beyond the obvious marketability of a sweet-tasting substance that appeases the palate but doesn’t raise blood sugar, it’s wise to examine more subtle effects on the body.
One major concern is that stevia taxes the adrenals. These are the glands which produce cortisol, the important hormone that allows us to wake up in the morning and experience a healthy stress response, which is vital for our adaptation and survival.
steviaThe problem is that stevia tricks the adrenal glands into a perceived state of hypoglycaemia. According to Clinical Nutritionist Kate Skinner, “Stevia is sweet on the palate, so the body assumes it is receiving sugar and primes itself to do so.
Glucose is cleared from the bloodstream and blood sugars drop, but no real sugar/glucose is provided to the body to compensate. When this happens, adrenaline and cortisol surge to mobilize sugar from other sources (liver and muscle glycogen, or protein, or body tissue) to bring blood glucose back up.”
A further concern is that stevia may alter other hormones that play important roles in fertility and immunity. Its chemical structure comes from a hormonal pathway, which could cause it to interact with receptors meant for the body’s own hormones. Stevia has been traditionally used as a contraceptive, and has been shown to influence fertility in animal studies.
When there are so many other delicious sweet-tasting foods to enjoy, the complex effects and potential unknowns of stevia just don’t seem worth the risk. Opt for moderate amounts of raw honey or coconut sugar instead, or use dates or bananas to sweeten your recipes.
-The Alternative Daily

Community Health Fair - Delaware County

Pennsylvania House Of Representatives
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Community health fair on Thursday

A reminder for area residents that my community health fair will be held this Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Chapel of the Good Shepard, 654 Church Lane, Yeadon.

My community health fair is a perfect opportunity for residents of the 164th Legislative District to receive free screening tests – and get lots of health questions answered -- by making just one visit.

There will be information on the Affordable Care Act, and an expert will be available to answer all of your questions about the federal health care program.

The health fair will also include:
•    Free health screenings
•    Information on health wellness from providers, state and county agencies and non-profits
•    Door prizes and giveaways
•    Free refreshments

For more information about the health fair, please call Maureen McGrory at 610-259-7016 or email


Rep. Margo Davidson
D-164th District
Delaware County

PA House of Representatives Democratic Caucus
  PA House of Representatives Democratic Caucus
PO Box 202250 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2250
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The Coconut & Thyroid Connection: How This Tropical Nut Supports Healthy Thyroid Function

I have people tell me all the time… “I can’t seem to lose weight no matter how much I exercise, I feel tired and I don’t know what is wrong with me.” Does this sound like you?
A good place to start uncovering issues is to consider the efficiency of the thyroid. Often, even if your test results say you are fine, the thyroid is struggling to do its job. Without a properly functioning thyroid, it is nearly impossible to feel and look well.
But, don’t dismay, there is a really simple, completely natural way to help your thyroid get back into the game.

Not the villain

Once termed a villain fat armed to destroy, coconut oil is now being embraced as the healthiest saturated fat on the planet — and for good reason… Coconut oil is truly a jam-packed therapeutic bullet that can tackle even some of the most health destroying conditions, including thyroid problems. It is rich in fatty acids, which support metabolism and provide energy.
Over 30 million people in America suffer from thyroid malfunction. As many as one in three women over 35 may be suffering from thyroid problems. Integrative medicine specialist Robin Miller, MD, co-author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond, says that women are 10 times more likely as men to have a problem with their thyroid.
According to an estimate by endocrinologists, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population is affected on some level by low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism. This condition is actually an autoimmune disease, which makes over 80 percent of conventional pharmaceutical treatments ineffective (more on that to come).
FACT: Thyroid hormones are necessary for normal health and cellular activity, and if thyroid function is not normal, weight loss is next to impossible.
Are you exhausted, have memory lapses, thinning hair, body aches, irritability, depression, sleep problems, low sex drive, constipation and/or weight gain? Perhaps you don’t quite feel right but can’t put your finger on why?
It may be your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland that rests below your Adam’s apple, just along the front of your windpipe. Comprised of two lobes, connected in the middle by a bridge, the thyroid serves a major role in metabolism growth and maturation.
Signs your thyroid may be out of whack
Extreme fatigue. If you’re always tired, even after sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night, it’s a common sign that your thyroid hormone levels are low. Of course, fatigue and low energy are associated with many conditions, but if you don’t have enough thyroid hormone (TH) flowing through your body, your muscles aren’t receiving a signal to get up and get moving.
Brain fog. If it feels as though you’re walking around in a fog all day, are having difficulty focusing, or forgetting things frequently, it could be that your thyroid is out of whack. Too much TH can make it hard to concentrate, while too little can cause memory problems.
Digestive issues. Those with hypothyroidism often complain of constipation, as an underactive thyroid can cause the digestive process to slow. An overactive thyroid gland can cause the opposite problem, such as diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.
Mood problems. Mood swings, anxiety or depression can develop in those who have thyroid disorders. Anxiety and nervousness are linked to hyperthyroidism as the body is flooded constantly with a message to go, go, go, causing it to go into overdrive.
Do you exercise, eat right and still can’t lose weight?
Putting on a few pounds can be caused by many different things, so few physicians will consider this alone as a symptom of a thyroid problem. But if you aren’t eating any more than usual, exercise regularly and still can’t seem to lose those extra pounds, it could very well be an underactive thyroid.
But… my thyroid test was normal (really?)
“Many people may be suffering from minute imbalances that have not yet resulted in abnormal blood tests. If we included people with low-grade hypothyroidism whose blood tests are normal, the frequency of hypothyroidism would no doubt exceed 10 percent of the population.
“What is of special concern, though, is that many people whose test results are dismissed as normal could continue to have symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Their moods, emotions, and overall well-being are affected by this imbalance, yet they are not receiving the care they need to get to the root of their problems.
“Even if the TSH level is in the lower segment of normal range, a person may still be suffering from low-grade hypothyroidism.” — Arem, Ridha M.D., The Thyroid Solution, 1999, 2007 revised edition.
Other signs that your thyroid is in trouble ( Do you have more than 3 of these?)
  • Fluid retention/swelling
  • Frequent viral infections
  • Hair loss
  • Frequent bruising
  • PMS
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to cold/heat
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Itchiness
  • Joint aches
  • Brittle nails
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Lack of concentration
  • Constipation
  • Depressed immunity
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Hoarse voice
How does diet interfere with thyroid function?
It is thought that diet plays a role in thyroid health. Although low iodine intake leads to low thyroid function, table salt does not appear to be the best option. Many foods eaten in Western culture contain what are known as goitrogens or iodine blockers. Two popular goitrogens are soybeans and peanuts.
A great amount of processed foods contains either or both of these. Grocery store items are full of polyunsaturated oils and many Americans still shy away from using saturated fat, preferring to cook with expeller-pressed or solvent-extracted oils. If you cook with vegetable oil, it is time to stop. These oils are only increasing inflammation.
With the industrialization of our agricultural system, soil has become iodine deficient, further compromising thyroid health. In addition, consumption of refined sugars and grains also negatively impact thyroid function.
Why thyroid medications don’t work
Simply gobbling up hormone replacement medication without addressing the root of the problem will not promote health. It is a band-aid solution that so frequently defines Western medicine.
Hypothyroidism causes a decrease in thyroid hormone and it is not as simple as replacing the hormone ( a very Western thing to do, of course). The underlying cause of the condition MUST be addressed.
It is important to understand what happens in an autoimmune disease. First and foremost, this condition causes the body to attack itself in the same fashion that it would attack a foreign invader, such as a virus or bacteria.
The attack causes inflammation which suppresses thyroid hormones and also decreases the responsiveness of thyroid receptors. You can pump all the thyroid medication you want into your body, but if your receptors are not keen, it won’t help at all.
In addition, the inflammation decreases the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active form of thyroid hormone). Most of the synthetic hormone medicines (Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl, etc.) are T4, and if you give this medication to someone who has inflammation, it won’t work at all because it can’t be converted to the active form.
The two root causes of hypothyroidism, immunity and inflammation, MUST be addressed in order to restore balance and health to the body.
It’s time to feed your thyroid…
Perhaps you have always thought coconut oil was a bad thing… truth is, it is a really, really good thing. Considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts.
It also contains saturated fat — in fact, it is a whopping 90 percent saturated fat. Don’t let that scare you; although you may be convinced that saturated fat should not be touched with a 10-foot pole, coconut oil is healthy.
Although there have been over 60 years of negative public policy around healthy saturated fats, like those found in coconut oil, research and review of cultures that have used coconut oil for thousands of years tell a different story — healthy saturated fat can be highly beneficial.
Research demonstrates that the naturally occurring saturated fat found in coconut oil has some amazing therapeutic values:
Promoting heart health
Boosting the immune system
Providing immediate energy
Promoting healthy skin
Helping to regulate blood sugar
Boosting metabolism
Promoting weight loss
3 fatty acids that your thyroid craves
The unique medium-chain fatty acid profile of coconut oil is what makes it stand apart from all other oils and gives it the ability to help the body self-regulate (something it is quite able to do).
These fatty acids, including lauric acid (found in a mother’s breast milk), are small enough that they can be gobbled up by the mitochondria in the cells. Because of this, they provide immediate energy for the body.
Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal substance. Because monolaurin is a monoglyceride, it can destroy lipid-coated viruses including measles, influenza, HIV, herpes and a number of pathogenic bacteria.
Another fatty acid that coconut oil contains is caprylic acid, also found in breast milk. Also known as octanoic acid, this saturated fatty acid has a number of health promoting properties and the innate ability to treat yeast-like fungus in the intestines.
Capric acid is present in very small amounts in goat’s milk and cow’s milk, but is abundant in tropical oils, including coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
It is a medium-chain fatty acid that has potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties. In the body, capric acid is converted to monocaprin, a form that can readily fight viruses, bacteria, and the yeast Candida albicans.
Because of this unique combination of fatty acids, coconut oil suppresses inflammation and repairs tissue while inhibiting microorganisms that cause the inflammation in the first place.
Metabolism booster
Not only can coconut oil keep infections at bay, it also helps to rev up your internal fat busters to help you maintain a healthy weight. Researchers have discovered that in cultures where unrefined coconut oil is a part of the everyday diet, there is less obesity and less lifestyle-related disease.
In fact, a culmination of studies done on coconut oil and metabolism has found that changing the oils you use every day can help you lose up to 36 pounds in a year. Yep… I said 36 pounds simply by switching unhealthy oils for coconut oil.
The shorter-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil burn quickly in the body. They are like small pieces of dry kindling added to a fire as opposed to a big damp log. The immediate transport of medium-chain fatty acids to the liver means the fat does not have to be transported through the whole body first and does not end up as fat in the blood, but instead remains accessible fat that can be used to power the body.
Medium-chain triglycerides also increase the rate at which the body burns fuel for energy. When you look at the lean and trim bodies of people living in the tropics — who make coconut a staple in their diet — this makes perfect sense.
A word of warning
I would be remiss not to mention the worst type of fat you should always avoid: trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil. Often included in so-called “low fat” foods, this fake fat is highly dangerous.
The main sources of trans fats are processed, baked goods and fast foods. You must switch to a whole foods diet if you want to help your thyroid. So, sorry, no more Twinkies, donuts, candy-bars or other snack items.
These types of fats raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, while reducing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. It is best to stay away from trans fats altogether — they offer absolutely no health benefits.
The inflammatory properties of these oils observed by some studies may well be due to the methods used in processing and packaging these oils, and not a property of the oils themselves.
The more natural a fat source is, and the less processing involved in its creation, the healthier it usually is. There are exceptions, such as the hormone-disrupting dangers of soybean oil. However, aside from these known “risk-factor foods,” when you choose natural, it is hard to go wrong.
How to add coconut oil to your diet
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use coconut oil for everything. It can replace all of the other oils in your kitchen. Raw, organic coconut oil remains solid at room temperature and does not break down during cooking.
You can fry with it, bake with it, drizzle it on foods, saute with it — and also put it on your skin, hair, nails etc… There is no shortage of ways to how coconut oil can truly improve your health — you can even add a tablespoon or so to your morning coffee for a great energy boost!
The days of badmouthing traditional saturated fats are quickly coming to an end.
Other natural ways to improve thyroid function
In addition to including coconut oil in your diet, try these other natural ways to balance your thyroid function.
  • Switch from iodized table salt to sea salt, as it has more minerals that help support better thyroid functioning.
  • Follow a gluten-free diet, which has also been shown to improve thyroid function. Research has found a link between wheat allergies and thyroid disease.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation or deep-breathing. Chronic stress is said to be one of the main triggers of hypothyroidism.
  • Avoid chemicals like triclosan, which is commonly found in items like antibacterial soap, deodorant, lotions, and even in cutting boards.
  • Supplement with probiotics, as good thyroid functioning depends on a supply of healthy gut bacteria.
  • Take a high quality whole-food multivitamin, and make sure you’re getting enough iodine, B-vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc and copper.
  • Limit exposure to fluoride and mercury — have a good water-filtration system for your home.
  • Follow an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating processed foods and eating as many whole, organic foods as possible.
  • Take high-quality supplements, such as zinc, selenium, manganese, chromium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E (cod liver oil is a good source of natural vitamin A).
  • Exercise — this is especially important to correct thyroid function. Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day is a good place to start.
If you have reason to believe that your thyroid may be working only half time for you, make the switch today to coconut oil. Embrace a healthy lifestyle that includes tons of whole foods, a regular sleep pattern, and movement (every chance you get). Before long, you will not only feel better, but you may be surprised at how well your pants fit!
Click Here to Discover 9 More Reasons to EAT Coconut Oil Every Day
- Susan Patterson, CHC, CMTA

Unexpected Health Benefits of a Good Cheese

Despite decades of the medical establishment recommending a reduced or nonexistent intake of unpasteurized and high-fat dairy, recent research has found that the hearty traditional cheeses commonly eaten in France and other parts of Europe have multiple health benefits.
Here are some excellent reasons to enjoy your favourite cheese with no guilt whatsoever:
Nutrition without allergens
Good quality cheese is essentially fermented milk, made from very simple ingredients: milk, salt, bacterial culture and rennet (an enzyme). Because the milk is fermented, lactose is almost nonexistent in cheese. This is the element that most commonly causes intolerance to dairy. In the cheesemaking process, bacteria converts lactose into lactic acid. If you want to avoid even trace amounts of lactose, stick with longer-aged cheeses since these have the lowest levels. Cheese is also highly satisfying and satiating due to the balance of protein and fat, and adds delicious flavour to dishes. Adding fat such as cheese to vegetables actually allows us to absorb more nutrients from the vegetables, because many nutrients are fat-soluble rather than water-soluble.
Anticancer properties
Most “normal” cheese, i.e. pasteurized, homogenized non-organic cheese from grain-fed cows, contains betacellulin, a growth factor associated with cancer. Conversely, raw grass-fed dairy contains high levels of conjugated lineolic acid (CLA), which has been shown to have anticancer properties. Grass-fed cheese contains about five times the CLA of grain-fed cheese. This is a good reason to invest in high-quality cheese originating from healthy animals.
Fat-soluble vitamins
Another reason to seek out top-notch cheeses is the increased nutrient content. When cows (or sheep or goats) are allowed to roam free in the sun, eating green grass, their milk contains incredible levels of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2. These nutrients are understood to support strong immunity, well-formed teeth and bones, and robust eye health.
piece of cheese isolatedVitamin K2 is commonly lacking in Western diets, which is unfortunate as it serves the special purpose of ensuring that calcium ends up in bones and teeth rather than in soft tissues. Consuming vitamin K2 from grass-fed cheese and dairy can help prevent the calcification of arteries and the formation of gall and kidney stones.
High-quality cheese also exhibits a much healthier balance of omega-6s vs. omega-3s. The ratio in grass-fed cheese is the ideal 2:1, while grain-fed cheese leans heavily toward the more pro-inflammatory omega-6s, with a ratio as poor as 25:1.
Enhanced microbiome
A 2010 study published in Immunology & Medical Microbiology demonstrated that daily consumption of probiotic cheese helps to tackle age-related changes in the immune system. The friendly bacteria naturally contained in cheese can enhance the human microbiome and improve a healthy immune response.
Microorganisms on cheese not only preserve the final product and make it aromatic and delicious, but they are also very important for food safety. Many of the bacteria on the rind prevent the spread of potentially dangerous pathogens by excreting inhibitors against other unfriendly bacteria, such as listeria.
Finally, cheese bacteria may help lower heart disease risk. A French study found that those who consume cheese have higher fecal levels of butyrate, a byproduct produced by good gut bacteria. These people also had healthier cholesterol profiles, indicating that the probiotics in cheese help balance the microbiome for improved cardiovascular health.
Beware of fake cheese
Take note that all of these benefits are solely associated with high-quality cheese. Spray cheese, plastic-wrapped cheese, or any other type of “cheese product” will undoubtedly contain any number of flavourings, colourings and thickening agents, and won’t bestow any of the wonderful nutritional advantages of a real cheese.
May this encourage you to choose quality and choose health!
-The Alternative Daily