Effortlessly eco-wash your laundry to save money and the environment

(Natural News) Changing the way you do laundry can help save the environment, proving that even the smallest of adjustments have a significant impact when it comes to green living. According to carbon footprint expert Mike Berners-Lee in an article in The Guardian, doing laundry (drying included) every two days adds 440 kilograms of CO2 emissions…

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(Natural News) Exercise, especially when done regularly, is beneficial for both the body and the brain. However, there are cases where strenuous physical exercise can produce excessive reactive oxygen, otherwise known as oxidants. The body’s antioxidant defenses may be overwhelmed in this instance. Fortunately, researchers from the Foro Italico University of Rome found evidence that the regular…

TCM helps patients with mild cognitive impairment reduce some symptoms

(Natural News) Alzheimer’s disease is often presaged by a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is the stage between the decline of cognition expected during normal aging and the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. MCI has a very common sub-type called amnestic MCI (aMCI). It is characterized by the impairment of episodic memory; but…

Congressman Writes To Mark Zuckerberg About The Bullying of Individuals Who Discuss Vaccine Injury

In response to Rep. Adam Schiff’s letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook urging him to censor content related to vaccine misinformation, Rep. Bill Posey responds. He corrects the many inaccuracies in Schiff’s letter, and asks questions of his own regarding free speech, paid advertising, and the bullying of individuals who discuss vaccine injury.

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Do You Know How Your Food Gets Turned Into Poop?

Your gastrointestinal tract is home to millions of bacteria, some beneficial and others harmful. These bacteria are important to your overall health. Understanding how your body processes food and eventually eliminates waste may motivate you to make changes in your diet, ultimately improving your health.

Constipation is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful challenge. In some instances, stool can got stuck in your intestines causing a blockage. What constitutes a healthy evacuation schedule is impacted by several factors.

You may have questions, such as how much is too little or too much? What affects how often you go? And perhaps the most important question may be: What can you do to become more regular?

The process of elimination is your body’s way of getting rid of undigested food and waste products. Doing this regularly positively affects your emotional state, how well your brain processes information and even reduces skin breakouts and bloating.

The size, shape and color of your bowel movements can also tell you a lot about your health. The appearance and frequency gives you clues about the health of your gastrointestinal tract and may give you an early signal of disease processes, such as digestive problems and even cancer.

Digestion Occurs Outside the Body

Before delving into the mechanics of how food is digested and small strategies that reap big rewards to improving your health, it’s important to remember your digestive tract actually resides outside of your body.

Imagine your body is a cylinder. If you were to run a tube directly through the center of the cylinder from top to bottom, this would represent your gastrointestinal tract. The solid part of the cylinder around the tube represents the inside of your body.

Your gastrointestinal tract is full of bacteria that must remain separate from your sterile internal organs. When bacteria leaks from your gut into the sterile environment, such as during leaky gut syndrome, this sets up an inflammatory response and increases your potential risk for a number of health conditions.

It All Starts in Your Mouth

Digestion begins in your mouth. As soon as you take a bite of food and begin chewing, saliva starts to mix with food. The enzymes in your saliva begin the process of breaking down the food particles to a smaller size. Your tongue works to form the food into a small ball in order to make it easier for swallowing.1

This is a complex process involving nearly 50 pairs of muscles and many nerves to prepare the food and move it from your mouth to your stomach.2 After chewing, your tongue pushes the food into the back of your mouth to trigger the swallowing response.

At this point, your voice box will close tightly so breathing stops in order to prevent the food or liquid from entering your lungs. After swallowing, the food enters your esophagus, which is the tube carrying food from your mouth to your stomach.3

Your stomach is like a sack with strong muscular walls. As the food enters, your stomach can actually expand. In addition to holding the food, it also mixes it up and secretes a powerful acid and enzymes to help continue the process of breaking it down.4

The time food stays in your stomach will vary between individuals and from men to women. After you eat, it can take between six to eight hours to pass through your stomach and into your small intestines.5

The Work of Peristalsis Moves It All Along

After leaving the mouth and before reaching the stomach, the food passes through the esophagus. This strong muscular tube uses a series of contractions, call peristalsis, to move the food to the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus and just before the stomach is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

This valve is meant to keep the food from moving backward up the esophagus. If you have experienced heartburn, also called acid indigestion, it may have been the result of stomach acid released from the LES, causing a burning sensation in the esophagus.

During normal digestion, the LES opens to allow food to pass into the stomach but reflux may occur when the sphincter is weak or relaxes inappropriately.6 Peristalsis continues from the esophagus all the way through the digestive process to move your food to the end of the process. The series of wave-like muscle contractions cannot usually be felt.

As the food reaches your stomach, the churning turns the mixture into liquid. At the bottom of the stomach is the pyloric sphincter, a band of smooth muscle controlling the movement of partially digested food and juices from the stomach into the duodenum.

The pyloric sphincter opens with the force of contractions in the lower part of the stomach to allow a little of the liquid to pass into the duodenum, or the upper part of the small intestine. Your small intestine is a narrow, winding tube measuring approximately 20 feet when stretched out.7

Peristalsis continues to do its work, pushing food from the small intestine into the large intestine. This area is wider than the small intestine and measures just 5 feet in length. The entire length of human intestine can range between 25 and 28 feet long, curled and wound strategically within your abdomen.8

Your Liver and Pancreas Get Involved

Once the liquid reaches your small intestine, your liver and pancreas get involved. These two organs reside in your abdominal cavity in a sterile environment. The pancreas produces enzymes to break food down and the liver makes a green fluid called bile.

The pancreas is found behind the stomach, surrounded by the small intestine, liver and spleen. Nearly 95 percent of the organ is tissue that produces pancreatic enzymes for digestion. The remainder produces hormones to regulate blood sugar and pancreatic secretions.9

Juices and enzymes from the pancreas are designed to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins and are delivered to the small intestine through small tubes called ducts.10 The liver contributes bile, a complex fluid containing electrolytes, organic molecules and water.

Within bile are bile acids, critical for digestion and the absorption of fat in the small intestines. An adult can produce up to 800 milliliters (3.3 cups) of bile each day. The detergent action of bile acids causes fat to break down into minute droplets.11 This is not digestion but is important as it increases the surface area of the fat, making it available to other enzymes for digestion.

Peristalsis12 continues the movement of the liquid mixture through your small intestine and into your large intestine. No further digestion occurs in the large intestine, but the mass continues toward the bowel as water is absorbed from the indigestible matter.

Your large intestine is made up of the colon and the rectum and is responsible for the absorption of certain vitamins made by bacteria that reside in your colon, including thiamine, folate and biotin.13 The mucosa of the large intestine also produces bicarbonate to neutralize the increasingly acidic waste products as they move down toward the bowel.

How to Tell if Your Stool Is Healthy

Since stool, beginning as food in your mouth, traverses the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract, it can give you clues about the health of your gastrointestinal tract. Living in the digital age means you no longer have to guess about the type of changes you may need to make in order to improve the condition of your stool, and thereby your health.

An online tool called StoolAnalyzer14 will help make suggestions for you based on the appearance of your stool shape, color, size, frequency and behavior. You receive a score on a 100-point scale with dietary recommendations to improve your health. While this is not a substitute for an ongoing relationship with a holistic health care provider, it may give you an idea of where to begin.

The next time you have a bowel movement you may want to compare what you see in the toilet against the chart below to gauge whether or not your stool is healthy or unhealthy. Simple dietary changes and a consultation with a holistic health care professional may help you quickly figure out what’s gone awry with your digestive tract.

Healthy Stool Unhealthy Stool

Medium to light brown

Stool is hard to pass, painful or requires straining

Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not small pieces

Hard lumps and pieces, pasty and difficult to clean yourself or mushy and watery

About 1 to 2 inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long

Diameter is narrow, indicating a possible obstruction; infrequently is not so concerning, but if it persists definitely call you physician

S-shaped resulting from the shape of the lower intestines

Color is black, tarry or bright red indicating bleeding in the GI tract; black stools may result from certain medications, supplements or black licorice. If you experience this it is best to be evaluated by your health care provider

Natural smell, not repulsive (but not saying it will smell good!)

Color is white, pale or gray potentially indicating a lack of bile suggesting a serious problem, warranting a call to your physician. Antacids may also produce white stool

Enters the water quietly, no wet cannonball splash leaving your toosh in need of a shower

Color is yellow potentially indicating a giardia infection, gallbladder problem or Gilbert’s syndrome. If you see this call your physician

Uniform texture

Presence of undigested food, especially when accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss or other bowel habit changes

Sinks slowly

Stool that floats or splashes on entry

Increased mucus in the stool associated with inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis or cancer, especially when accompanied by blood or abdominal pain

Terrible odor should not be ignored. This is an odor above and beyond the usual objectionable stool odor, which can be associated with malabsorptive disorders, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and chronic pancreatitis

Steer Clear of Constipation

The health of your gastrointestinal tract is measured not only by how your stool looks but how often you empty your bowels. Of course, nearly everyone experiences alterations to their schedule from time to time, but generally speaking, there’s a few telling criteria you will want to evaluate.

While what’s normal and healthy for a 21-year-old student compared to a 57-year-old commercial fisherman or a 71-year-old knitting fanatic may be different, some factors impacting your stool habits and frequency include lifestyle, diet and exercise.

According to Perfect Origins,15 depending upon your height, age and diet, you could be carrying around from 5 to 20 pounds of stool in your intestines at any given time. Failure to get rid of waste at regular intervals can trigger or exacerbate:

Upset stomach

Heartburn

Excess gas

Constipation

Diarrhea

Irritable bowel syndrome

Insomnia

Mood swings

Skin problems

Allergies

Since your bowel movements begin with what you eat, it makes perfect sense what you eat or don’t eat has an impact on how your digestive system works. Fiber-rich vegetables are an important way to help ensure regularity.

Grains and sticky proteins like gluten, can cause constipation. Worse still, they may contain lectins leading to leaky gut. Factors that may lead to elimination alterations include:

The amount of fiber you eat

Sticking to an elimination routine

Exercise, or lack thereof

Hydration

Medications

Frequent use of laxatives

Poor nutrition

Iron supplements

Hormones

Medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and even the flu.

How easily you evacuate your bowels may also be related to the position you’re in when you’re on the toilet. You might not have thought about it, but before toilets came along people used a different set of muscles to have a bowel movement.

The most effective means of evacuating your bowels completely is to be in a squatting position so your knees are closer to your chest. This optimizes the natural alignment of your colon. Using a squatting position may help prevent hemorrhoids, bowel diseases and help to keep your leg muscles strong, improving your balance inability to walk without assistance.

If you have a toilet that sits higher, you may not be able to squat over it. In this case, consider using a short stool to raise our knees into position while sitting on the toilet. You may help optimize your bowel habits by:

  • Eating 25 to 50 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories and reducing or eliminating grain and processed foods
  • Staying hydrated until your urine is a light straw color
  • Getting at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise each day and refraining from sitting as much as possible
  • Paying attention to the digestive side effects of any medications and supplements
  • Squatting during elimination

Living the Change Documentary

Most people would agree that we’re living in an age when the Earth is in the midst of crises — social, environmental and economic. At the heart is the overconsumption of resources, which is fueled by economics. The money system demands and compels endless growth, which necessitates the conversion of nature into property and products.

With growth, the economy keeps growing, but in order to grow, it needs more natural resources to support it. Plus, increasing interest causes people to work longer and harder to maintain the same standard of life, all the while overconsuming and contributing to the overexploitation of precious resources. It’s a vicious cycle that’s explored in-depth in “Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future.1

This documentary, directed by Jordan Osmond and Antoinette Wilson, makes clear that unsustainable growth is accelerating in a way that can’t be met by the natural resources available on the planet, but while it may seem hopeless, there are people pioneering change in their own lives and communities to further a more sustainable and regenerative way of life. As the film states, “The issues are global but many of the solutions are local.”

The Not-so-Green Revolution

At one time, all food was grown organically in concert with nature and surrounding ecosystems. This all changed with the Green Revolution, which sounds beneficial but actually describes the conversion of natural farming to one dependent on chemicals, fossil fuels and industry. “The Green Revolution led to oil revolution,” Living the Change added.

The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Green Revolution that led to the introduction of petroleum-based agricultural chemicals, which quickly transformed agriculture, both in the U.S. and abroad. Monoculture was the outcome, with a focus on monocrops, i.e., growing acre upon acre of only one crop at a time. The very definition of monoculture is a system of agriculture with very little diversity.

It defines the wide swatches of corn and soy being grown across the U.S. and worldwide. A whopping 35 percent of cereal and soy harvested globally is actually fed to animals being raised on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).2 Where you could once find locally grown food nearby, we’re now very much dependent on the industrial agriculture complex for our very sustenance.

As the film explains, our food production system is meant to save the world but is based on something that’s temporary and leading to a loss of biodiversity, like the collapse of insects. Diversity is crucial to survival. In the industrial system, farmers go to great lengths to protect food production systems, adding in fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. But the system is actually very fragile and vulnerable.

For instance, we’re now hearing discussions of “peak phosphorus and potassium” in the way we discuss “peak oil,” and, according to some, we may soon be facing looming shortages of these two critical fertilizer ingredients.

As the film states, if supermarkets stop selling food for three days — how would you survive? What would you do? Many people would have nowhere to find food, which makes you begin to realize that the very food on your plate is dependent on many system that need to be in place for the entire chain to run smoothly.

But with the environmental issues and economic pressures at hand, “it’s easy to see how a bad situation could develop quickly … we need to quickly change our food system or there will be huge impacts on humans and the other animals on the planet.”

Technology Is Not the Answer

Many people are waiting for a new technological advancement to bail out the planet. But if technology could solve all of our problems, the film suggests, wouldn’t it have done so already?

Even green technology like solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars require fossil fuels at every stage of their production. “For these technologies to be part of the solution, those of us in the developed world need to drastically reduce our energy consumption.”

Leaving coal, oil and other natural resources in the ground and replanting forests that have been lost to deforestation is the path we should be on, but instead humanity is still clearing grasslands to plant monocrops like corn to make ethanol — a perfect example of the dichotomy of many “green” products and fuels.

There’s now so much corn grown in the U.S. that the Corn Belt (typically said to include corn grown across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and parts of Nebraska and Kansas) can be seen from space, courtesy of satellite chlorophyll-sensors.3

Unbeknownst to many, biofuels such as corn ethanol are not carbon neutral. In fact, they’re associated with a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions; they’re even worse than gasoline when the water need to grow corn is taken into account.

Research shows, instead, that ethanol-producing (i.e., corn) crops only offset 37 percent of carbon dioxide emissions produced by burning biofuels.4 Meanwhile, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), more than 8 million acres of grassland and wetlands have been converted to corn from 2008 to 2011, which released at least 80 million tons of carbon a year.5

Every time an acre of grassland is plowed, 60 tons of carbon dioxide are released into the environment.6 On the other hand, leaving grasslands as-is and adding in compost has the potential to significantly increase carbon sequestration.

But as it is, the planet is largely dependent on a system that requires fossil fuel inputs and will collapse without them. Globally, the world uses 95 million barrels of oil every day.7 Fossil fuels are used to produce clothing, plastics, food, electronics and everything in between. We’re at a point now where being sustainable isn’t just something that’s a nice idea — “being unsustainable is a threat to our species.”

Organic, Regenerative Agriculture to the Rescue

The filmmakers traveled to New Zealand, where they spoke to the owners of Wairarapa Eco Farms — an example of agriculture done right. They explain, as most regenerative farmers do, that they’re in the business of creating healthy soils — basically creating a habitat for the microorganisms therein, which then lead to healthy plants that support healthy animals.

A key difference at their Eco Farm and other regenerative farms is the move away from growing annual crops like grains and moving toward perennial agriculture, which incorporates annuals along with trees and animals like pigs, sheep, cows, ducks and geese.

The system operates on a closed-loop, such that external inputs like chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not needed. They also operate a community-supported agriculture program, or CSA, in which a group of people support the farmer. The farmer knows he has somewhere for his crops to go — they’re sold before they’re even grown as each member purchases a share.

In return, the people know they’re going to get a fresh box of produce each week, and there’s no food waste on the farm — they give out everything they produce to their members. We often hear that a plant-based diet or cutting out meat from the diet is the solution to feeding the world, but the film suggests that while eating less meat is important, cutting it out isn’t necessary.

In fact, you can’t have a healthy ecosystem without animals, and there’s a complex interplay between animals and plants that provides for the closed loop, for things like natural fertilization and pest control, to take place. The best solution is not to eliminate meat entirely but to seek out meat from farmers raising animals on pasture, according to the laws of nature — not against them, as in CAFOs.

Holistic Grazing to Rebuild the Planet

The documentary takes a close look at holistic grazing, a method popularized by Allan Savory, Zimbabwean ecologist and livestock farmer. Desertification has long been thought to be caused by livestock, such as sheep and cattle overgrazing and giving off methane. But, according to Savory, we have completely misunderstood the causes of desertification.

We’ve failed to realize that in seasonal humidity environments, the soil and vegetation developed with very large numbers of grazing animals meandering through. The constant movement of large herds naturally prevented overgrazing of plants, while periodic trampling ensured protective covering of the soil, helping to sequester carbon in the soil.

Similarly, Mark Shepard, founder of New Forest Farm, a 106-acre perennial “agricultural savanna,” stated that civilizations that depend on annual grain crops eventually collapse.

Instead, he follows a perennial agricultural ecosystem, the design of which combines brushland, woodlands and oak savannah, a type of grassland that also includes oak trees, to create the type of environment that might naturally occur.

Shepard describes it as a three-dimensional system that includes “a tree canopy layer, a smaller tree subdominant tree layer, shrubs, vines, canes, shade tolerant plants, ephemeral plants, fungi forage and livestock”8 all of which work together to naturally increase biodiversity and soil fertility.

Grazing animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys and chickens, are also part of the system, helping with grass, pest and brush control. These systems, whether you call them regenerative agriculture, holistic management, permaculture or something else, aren’t “magical,” the documentary points out, but rather are based on sound science:

“With regenerative agriculture, we can not only produce food, and produce an abundance of food, but we can do it in a way that regenerates the land, that replenishes the aquifers, that sequesters carbon, that nurtures and supports biodiversity.

[It’s based on] … having a point of view that is looking at your ecosystem in its entirety, not just individual aspects of it. So really what this breaks down to is that anyone who’s looking after land, whether you’re a farmer or a gardener, you’re an ecosystem manager.”

Breaking Free From Consumerism

The film follows the stories of people who broke free from the daily grind of consumerism, giving up high-pressure lifestyles and the constant drive to amass more things for lives more connected to nature, growing their own food and living sustainably.

While some have made drastic changes — giving up corporate jobs to live off the land — others take part on a smaller scale, by supporting small, local businesses. Some take part in “timebanking,” trading skills with one another at no cost and creating spaces to repair clothing, furniture, bikes and other products instead of throwing them away — and building a sense of community at the same time.

Others have focused on minimizing waste in their homes, cutting down on garbage, composting food scraps and paying attention to the way they shop, especially purchasing products with minimal or no packaging and avoiding throwaway or single-use items.

And therein lies the key, that everyone can participate in “Living the Change,” creating a healthier planet and stopping the inevitable destruction of ecosystems and loss of species that we’re currently seeing.

By choosing to buy locally crafted goods, food from small grass fed farmers and also growing some of your own, you’re making a difference for the better. By avoiding foods that come from CAFOs and cutting down on or eliminating excessive consumerism in your life, you stop some of the destruction from occurring while breaking free from an unsustainable system.

What’s more, the more people who choose to live this way, the less expensive and more attainable local goods and food will become. We all have a chance to help revive and recover our ecosystems before it’s too late. Start small if you need to — little by little, we can all make better, healthier choices that add up to major positive change.