Thursday, July 30, 2009

Organic

I came across another article today on organic food. I didn't even have to read the article, I got mad at the title, "Organic food isn't any more nutritious". Perhaps not by much, but it's a lot better for us!

If I ever choose to eat organic (which to be honest, isn't often due to cost), it's not because I see it as more nutritious, it's because it's been grown without pesticides, fertilizers or better (read: nutrient rich) soil.

There's no surprise, the study was conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, so it's going to be one-sided stating it's not necessarily a nutrient-superior food. A similar study, done by the U.S-based Organic Centre* found certain levels to be higher (antioxidants - very important! like vitamin C and vitamin E). Since it's grown in better soil, the food, in turn, would automatically have better nurtrients (nitrogen, phosphorus).

For my Canadian counterparts, there's also the Canadian Organic Growers, and good news! Organic legislation has been put into effect (finally!) in June! (There was no regulation before and it only took 18 years..heh.) So now anything labelled 'organic' has to adhere to certain standards. Familiarize yourself with the labels here and read more about it here, containing FAQ's.

Geez, I got a bit off topic, didn't I?


*the Organic Centre actually disects the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition's study and does comparative tests and their own studies. You can find the article here. It's their FSA response and very interesting!

Folate

I happened across an article here that says labels on folate-enriched foods are incorrect, citing they can contain from 90% and 377% more, per what's claimed on the label.

Folate is a vitamin that's good for us and needed in our system, especially women of child-bearing age. Also a factor with those with anemia (good to know: folate and vit. B12 are needed together; in the absense of B12, folate stays unactive thus both becoming deficient causing anemia. One or both of the vitamins are needed to help said anemia, but B12 is especially important due to nerves/nerve damage). But 377%?? That's a lot. Can there ever be a toxic overdose of folate?

Folate is part of the B vitamins. It helps activate vitamin B12, it metabolizes homocysteine* and helps with the synthesization of cell division & new cell growth. As far as "too much", the UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) is 1000 micrograms/day. My studies tell me toxic symptoms are that it masks vitamin B12 deficiency.

The fact that it masks itself as a vitamin B12 deficiency is interesting; when my B12 is low (I'm anemic) and I haven't gone for my shot for a while, I can tell because I get more heart palpitations (among other symptoms). Homocysteine is related to the heart (see * below). Is that why I get more palpitations? When folate and/or B12 levels are low, it raises homocysteine. Hmm. Food for thought.

Anyways, my point being - it's better to eat raw if possible and definitely un-processed foods. It's best to get ones folate needs naturally (avacado, beans, lentils, spinach, oranges, cantaloupe, etc) than through fortified foods, or things like this can happen.


* homocysteine is an amino acid used by the body in cellular metabolism and the manufacture of proteins. Elevated levels are thought to increase risk for heart disease, damaging the lining of blood vessels and increasing the risk of blood clotting. High levels are associated with vitamin deficiencies.

Food, Fun and Friends

I love a good get-together. Went to a friend's tonight for a potluck, though said friend despises the term 'potluck' (where does it originate from anyways?) and called it a, "BYOF" (bring your own food - quirky and original, I thought!). So food I brought (chocolate, naturally). There was a really good spread. And beer. And wine. Yum.

Great conversation was had. I contemplated holding a discussion group on John Paul II's, "Theology of the Body". This will never happen, of course, but it's a nice thought. A lot of laughs. They even got to see a brief, though however entertaining appearance of "Drunk J." (some of you will know what this is). :)

I am always happy after recounting evenings like this. Y'know, when you come home, step in the door, you have the quiet to yourself (vs. sharing a room with 15 people), you take a deep breathe, sigh a contented sigh.. and you think about the intelligence you were surrounded by; the friends, the love - and you are happy and thankful. I could never have enough evenings like this.

Thank you, friends.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Random

I am very thankful for said "everything happens for a reason" previously. And things indeed do, happen for a reason.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Books

I'm almost finished reading Michael Pollan's, "In Defense of Food". What a fantastic book. Should be one more sit-down and I'll be finished. I wish I could write a small review/thoughts after each reading, but I read before bed and I'm usually *in* bed while doing so, and the computer's off.

When I'm done, I'll flip through it and try to review it the best I can (there's so much to mention, I don't know if I'll get in everything).

So, for those waiting, review is coming soon.

Quotes

In times of dryness and desolation, we must be patient, and wait with resignation for the return of consolation, putting our trust in the goodness of God. We must animate ourselves by the thought that God is always with us, that He only allows this trial for our greater good, and that we have not necessarily lost His grace because we have lost the taste of feeling of it.
~ St. Ingatious of Loyola


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Worth

What is our worth? What is our worth to other people? What makes us say, "They're not worth my time" or "They don't deserve me, I'm worth more than that"?

Worth is a funny thing. It can set us high, or set us low. It determines our conditions, our convictions, our stamina. It's projected from our self-confidence.

I've constantly been asking myself what I'm worth lately. Not from what's ingrained in me from years and years of disfunctional, built-in, chronic behaviour; but what *I* decide what *I'm* really worth. To other people. Or what *they're* worth to me.

Right now I feel like I'm not worth a lot to some people, the way I've been treated. I can accept that, albeit their execution is a bit faulty (when I say 'a bit', I mean a lot). I just have to decide what's worth *my* time. My hurt. My tears. My energy. My self-worth.

Random

Everything happens for a reason. Everything *painfully* happens for a reason.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I am amazed by the kindness of people, sometimes. It's not encountered enough (hence the amazement).

I have a friend, we'll call her L. (I'm not sure if she'd mind me speaking of her publicly, so first initial will be used). L. is 26 and has cancer; its a rare form and will eventually kill her. It's a sad fact and sadder still that she's so young. I wanted to send L. a package of...something. Something to let her know she's thought of, cared for, regardless of our distance (she's MST and I'm EST). She doesn't get a lot of support from her immediate family/friends, so I've assigned myself her personal cheerleading coach. Why? Why not? No, it's not something I have to do, but I know I've 'met' her for a reason and I've assigned a purpose for myself in our friendship. Everyone needs a cheerleader in their corner, especially when they're dealing with a mortal illness. Anyways, she started chemo (again) today and I wanted to send her something to make her smile.

While downtown running errands, I pick up a sort of motivational card. Hopefully it'll make her smile. Then I ran into the chocolate store and looked for chocolates for her (milk chocolate, mint, was her favourite from a discussion one night). While the lady behind the counter was helping me look for milk mint chocolates, I was telling her L.'s story. We found the perfect mint chocolates (shapes of daisies), she was wrapping them up and she turned around to hand them to me and said, "These are on the house". *gasp* I was speechless and very touched. It seems she dealt with cancer with her 16yr old cousin ("Why do they keep getting younger?" I said) and she was moved by L.'s story and she understood how difficult it was to watch someone go through chemo. We were both almost in tears by the end of our talk. So I thanked her profusely and went on my way.

I went to the post office to mail said card and chocolates and they weren't quite fitting right in the padded envelope to fit as a 'letter' (would then have to mail as a parcel, which would be $8 if not more). After some discussion, we un-did the envelope, re-arranged the chocolates flat and she cut up a file folder to fit, wrapped it around the chocolates so they'd stay flat, and it all fit perfectly, and as a size of a 'letter'. A dollar and change. Fantastic. It should be there by Friday.

L.'s strength amazes me on a daily basis, even when she's feeling weak. It makes me feel bad gripin' about my own stuff, when someone younger than me has to go through something 10 times as hard. She's started chemo today and will get analyzed weekly to see if its stopping or spreading. She feels like hell already and I wish I could be there for her, but my card will have to do.

Let's think positive thoughts for L. this week, k? She needs all the help she can get.

Quotes

You are my friend when you can guard my failure, challenge my thought, and celebrate my success. - Unknown

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry, Poetry and Market

Just a few random things today.

Yesterday had two good things; Harry Potter and old poetry books. My views on Harry Potter are held with some people, but not all. It was a good movie (they all are), but I don't believe it was of the same calibre as the previous HP movies. There were some.. how can I say.. emotional components missing. It was good! Don't get me wrong, but it wasn't "I'm in awe, I can't wait till this comes out on video so I can watch it repeatedly" sort of good. Anyways, this opinion isn't held by everyone so I'm going to keep the rest to myself for those fans that haven't seen it yet. It *was* fun to watch.

I collect old poetry books and I was lucky to obtain 2 yesterday. One of Byron, which oddly has no print date. I'm going to have to research why not (did they only start printing publishing dates in books after a certain time?). I'm going to estimate it's printed in the 1800's. It contains the infamous, "When We Two Parted". It also has facsimile's of his letters and some drawn and oil-painted art. Another book I obtained is called, "Later Poems By Bliss Carman" printed 1921 who incidentally is a Canadian poet. I've never heard of this poet before so I was interested to come across this book. An excerpt as follows...

I am the breath of being,
The primal urge of things;
I am the whirl of star dust,
I am the lift of wings.

Within the dying ashes
I blow the sacred spark,
And make the hearts of lovers
To leap against the dark.*

How can this guy not be famous?? I've never come across him. Anyhoo, it's a good find.

Today's goodness started with a visit to the market. My goal was to find strawberries and maple syrup. Alas! No strawberries! Where are all the Ontario strawberries?!? *sigh* I was able to get the syrup, though and cherries and sugar snap peas. Mmm. Then attended our city's Art on the Street Festival (an exhibition where local artists show their items). Always fun.

Well, the rest of this weekend, I think, will be low-key. Work, Mass and studying. Hope everyone's having a good weekend.

*Earth Voices, poem orig. published 1916, Bliss Carman


Friday, July 17, 2009

Mortality

My own mortality has been challenged lately. It started when I found out my dad was diagnosed with cancer last year (he's doing well, btw), with a friend and her worsening cancer; just things around me are coming up more often than not. Perhaps it just keeps coming up more because I'm getting older (but still, I'm not *that* old).

Death has always been around me; I went to funeral, after funeral, after funeral when I was young. I joked with my mother at one of them that I should get my name engraved on a gold plate on one of the chairs 'cause we were there so often. Then today I got thinking about Nathan. Nathan was someone I grew up with from the age of 6. He killed himself when we were 14. We had just started dating; I was so crazy about him. I don't know what made me think of him today. I miss him.

Right.. back to my mortality. It comes up in my head now and then when I think of my immune system and how incredibly lousy I've been feeling the past year. My health is getting worse and I don't know what to do to make it better. I don't know what one does with these thoughts. Is the universe asking me to prepare? Is this common?

Well, I'll keep coasting along, I guess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Proteins - figured out?

I might have figured out the protein debaggle (is that even a word?) that's been circling in my head the past 4 days.

One can eat a protein-rich diet. Excess protein is broken down and converted to amino acids (the body does not 'store' protein, it merely uses and recycles it). Amino acids (an enzyme) builds up to what the body can use. In the end, anything the body doesn't use is broken apart and converted and stored as fat (other excesses are lost in urine). Fat is stored and used as energy.

Then we have the thought... carbohydrates are our primary source of energy. When the body has used up all its carb-based energy, it turns to protein-based energy. Proteins are the last source we want our body to use, because then it interfers with things like muscle (it will essentially eat away any present muscle) and we waste away to 'nothing' (worst-case scenario).

My understanding is halted trying to understand and connect the two. In my studying, I find I understand things as I'm reading them individually, but I need to put into practice more involving one with the other, creating the bigger picture.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Proteins, Sun and Annoying Trucks

Proteins - While out for lunch with a friend today, we went to an organic vegan/vegetarian place. I was nervous (being an avid omnivore and all) and I was afraid the food wouldn't fill me. I can pleasantly say I was wrong. I had a Mediterranean wrap (wrapped in a leaf, no less) of a mixture of crushed almonds (mixed with vegetables and whatnot) and salad on the side (tahini sauce). It was *fantastic*. Then my brainz got to work: vegetables have incomplete proteins. When mixed with incomplete proteins, they become complete proteins. I couldn't remember any distinguished lists of "this 'n that makes this" or formulas pertaining. So long as I'm mixing different plant materials, can I assume I'm getting complete proteins? For dessert, I had a macaroon; a mixture of organic chocolate, coconut and agave. Yum. It was small, but satisfied the craving. At the end of the meal I was pleasantly satiated.
I also realized (per my hypoglycemia) I didn't get as hungry as quickly as I do after most meals. My sugar levels stayed higher, longer. I was worried what the increased fiber would do for my IBS, but I was relieved it was not affected at all.
.... as a side thought: this meal consisted of more proteins than carbohydrates. How did my blood sugar know to stay up? We're taught by the North American pyramid to have a carbohydrate-induced diet (since carbs are the main source of energy). But if vegetarians consume a mostly protein-rich diet....*thinking trails off*......

Sun - Couldn't have asked for a better day. Much time was spent in pleasant conversation in the warm, breezy outdoors.

Annoying trucks - While out enjoying the sun, we heard a truck with bells. "An ice cream truck!" We ran clear across the park to realize it was.... a tool sharpening truck. He kept circling the neighbourhood teasing us with his chimes. Not cool.

I got a lot of studying done tonight. Learned more about vitamins (water-soluble and fat-soluble) and deficiencies with particular vitamins. I started reading about minerals but my brainz were fried at that point.


A little bit of humour for your day

Found this great short on YouTube.. Pixar's 'Mostly Cloudy'. Very funny :)


Friday, July 10, 2009

Quotes

This is a bit of a theme for me lately, I guess...

Take care not to meddle in things which do not concern you, nor even allow them to pass through your mind; for perhaps you will not then be able to fulfill your own task.
~ St. John of the Cross

Time is slipping away...

It has amazed me the past few weeks where the time has gone. You know when you've got so much on your mind, it's suddenly a particular date? Yeah.

First; I f***ed up on my money.

Second; I just realized today I have exactly 12 days to get my shit together (info to organize) for a G.I appointment I have. It's fine that I'm a last-minute person, but for some reason I'm starting to panic.

I don't feel in control of stuff right now, which is odd because I've taken steps to control certain aspects of my life. I can't explain it. What's missing?

On other thoughts regarding my money post yesterday... I know it's normal for some people to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Most people, in fact. But I don't think there's EVER been a day I've not struggled with money. Loans. Debts. It's *always* been a stress. Always. Again, it's learned behaviour. My parents always stressed about money, thus I will learn to stress about money. The trick is.. learning not to. And I don't know how to do that (any pointers, suggestions, new outlooks are more than welcome suggestions).

Well, I'm going to go sit in the rocker by the window, next to a lounging cat and journal for a bit. Then I shall start my day. Lots of studying to do and I'm looking for a new doctor. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm not a good adult

I've got a few things on my mind, but I may make them in different posts.

This post is about how poor of an adult I think I've become, sometimes. I know, it sounds silly, and I should have more confidence. In most respects I do - I've come a long way and I'm getting more and more successful as time goes on - except in one area.

Money.

I'm gonna do the 'ol cop-out and blame my parents (you may or may not agree). Our conditioning starts when we're young and we're guided to be independent in however many different ways. Our parents tell us what's wrong (stealing), what's right (saying our please and thank you's), but for as much as I try to look back, I was never taught *anything* about money. It's easy to assume why; we never had any. I grew up on a small country farmstead where everything was rationed (milk, bread.. all the basics). Cheap meat was bought (I will never buy another porkchop as long as I live) and economic foods were prepared (I have now created pasta in ways that are sure enough to make me forget how I "used" to have it). I was never sat down, taught to save. My parents literally lived, I think, paycheck to paycheck.

Well, now so do I.

I never learned any other behaviour. And it isn't to say I make excess of x-amount of dollars a pay. I live within my means, alone. I pay rent one pay, hydro, cable, phone with the other (which easily can take up half a paycheck) and the rest is food and whatever minor socializing I do (coffee with friends, the odd dinner, etc). I would save, if I had something to save. Anyways.. I'm starting to ramble.

Back to the conditioning. How many of you were actually taught by your parents to learn to save money? Wisely spend? Have you had to learn on your own? How did you do that? What's the psychology behind it? (For me, I was so restricted as a kid, that I have a tendency, I think still, as an adult, to over-spend.. to make up for what I didn't have, right?) Which is ironic, because I'm not a materialistic person.

I grew up with my mother and step-father. On the other side of the family, my dad and step-mother have always done alright, and so have my (steps) brother and sister with them. Funny how that happens.

Well, those are part of my thoughts for today.

Later edit: I actually made this post because I accidentally mis-calculated when I was getting paid/have money (I know, it sounds retarded. One gets paid bi-weekly, it's not hard to figure out). But I did, and now after spending what I had, assuming I was getting paid this Friday, have nothing. Entertaining a close friend this weekend will be challenging. Hence my stress about money, then the post :)

Quotes

I like a good quote. I collect them, in fact. So I'll post random quotes from time to time.

If we understood the power of our thoughts,
we would guard them more closely.
If we understood the awesome power of our words,
we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.
In our thoughts and words we create
our own weaknesses and our own strengths.
Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.
We can always replace negative with positive.

~ Bettie Eadie (from 'Embraced By the Light') ~

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm a little 'green'...

"Green" can be meant in so many ways. The way I mean it, though, is in a military sense; when one is 'new'. I'm not entirely new to blogging (I've been holding a private blog on LiveJournal) but I *am* new to public blogging *insert nail biting nervousness here*. I don't know who will read, I don't know who will care! But all I know is I need to write...so I shall let the 'letters' fall as they may :)

P.S - Does anyone know how to incorporate smiley faces? I am a heavy user of smileys and would love a way to show it in 2D, rather than text :)

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