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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

... the Chinese government doesn’t allow foreigners to inspect Chinese farms? Chinese companies subcontract with foreign inspection agencies to ensure food safety and correct labeling. Chinese imports have a horrible track record including toxic toys, contaminated pet food, and, most recently, food certified organic contaminated with pesticides. Ron Cummins, the director of the Organic Consumers Association, emphasizes that most farmers play by the rules; however, Congress as not supplied adequate funding for enforcement. This includes imports from countries like China. Cummins believes the safest course of action is to say we won’t certify imports from China because their law won’t allow inspections. (www.alternet.org)

... performing heavy exercises first thing in the morning could be harmful to your spine? Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor at the University of Waterloo and a spinal biomechanist, says that vertebral disks soak up water and swell overnight. A swollen disk is much easier to herniate. McGill recommends waiting one to two hours after waking before attempting heavy exercise.

... low cholesterol levels can be harmful? Scientists studied more than 3,500 civil servants to investigate how levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol were associated with memory. HDL cholesterol can influence the formation of the beta-amyloid “plaques” that are a distinctive feature in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Higher levels of HDL are also believed to protect against damage to the blood supply caused by the narrowing of the arteries.

After the five-year study period, the researchers found that people with low levels of HDL were 53 percent more likely to suffer memory loss than people with the highest levels of HDL. Those with impaired memory are at an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. (Mercola.com Health Alert)

... consuming omega-3 fatty acid supplements while following a weight loss program will make you feel fuller longer? A study involving 232 overweight and obese volunteers who were randomly assigned to an energy-restricted balanced diet and supplemented with either low dose (260 mg per day) or high dose (1,300 mg per day) omega-3 fatty acids for eight weeks. During the last two weeks of the study, the authors measured the subjects’ appetite. The subjects who consumed the weight loss diet together with the high dose of omega-3s experienced less hunger immediately after the test meals, as well as two hours later, compared to subjects consuming the low-dose omega-3s. According to the researchers, “This observation indicates that long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulate hunger signals.” (Vitamin Research Breaking News July 15)

... dishes advertised as local and organic at restaurants are sometimes frauds? They may not be all-natural, as your menu promised, and may come from a huge national vendor like Sysco rather than a family-owned farm.

As the organic movement gains popularity across America, terms like “organic,” “all natural” and “farm fresh” are appearing on more and more menus. However, there are no “truth-in-menu” laws, and even the word “organic” is used loosely. A restaurant can call ingredients “organic” whether they’re factory-farmed Chilean products grabbed from the shelves of Wal-Mart or hand-delivered by a small farm after being picked that morning. The phrase “all-natural,” only means “minimally processed” with no artificial ingredients or colors. Ultimately, diners need to be aware, educate themselves and ask questions. (azcentral.com)

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