Planetary Eco Newsbeat
New Eco Friendly De-Inking Process Developed.
A new technology utilising enzymes (biological molecules) has been shown to remove ink from recycled paper. A research project conducted by the University of Malaysia Sarawak reported the use of a crude enzyme preparation for the enzymatic de-inking of mixed office paper. Traditional de-inking methods have involved the use of large quantities of chemicals, causing pollution to the environment. The enzyme material was prepared by growing endoglucanase (enzyme use for the enzymatic treatment) producing Bacillus licheniformis BL-P7 in a liquid culture media containing sago pith waste and rice husk. Furthermore, the process proved to be more effective for the removal of larger ink particles. Also, properties such as brightness, air permeability, tensile, and tear were enhanced in the preparation of the recycled mixed office paper.
Researchers : Hashimatul F.H., Hairul A.R., Andrew Wong H.H., Awg A.Sallehin A.H. (all of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak), Nigel Lim P.T. (Sarawak Forestry Corporation) Adapted from materials provided by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
Organic Wine Leaves Only Half the Eco Footprint of Non-Organic!
Italian environmental scientists from the University of Siena, measured the resources needed to produce wine at two farms in Tuscany. Both were utilizing Sangiovese grapes but one was totally organic and the other was not. The organic farm used natural fertilisers and most of the work was done by hand, while the other farm used conventional methods of production. A bottle from the organic farm had an eco-footprint of 7.17 square metres, half that of the non-organic wine with a footprint of 13.98 square metres. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, DOI: 10.1016/j
Low Sperm Count Link to Soy also includes Nuts, Wines and Beers
The high levels of oestrogen like chemicals in soya beans have also been found in beers, wines and nuts. Gunter Kuhnle of the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, UK tested foods and beverages using mass spectrometry. Previous testing had focused on lignans but ignored isoflavones and this expanded search has found phytoestrogens in many more foods and drinks. Studies into the effects of phytoestrogens have produced a mixture of results, with some showing compounds that protect against cancer, menopausal symptoms and heart diseases, whilst others have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and male infertility. Journal reference: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (DOI: 10.1021/jf801534g)
A-Beta Protein Alzheimer Disease Clues
Amyloid-beta the thinking brain’s protein has been shown to be intrinsically involved in increased neuron activity. A study into people with severe brain injuries resulted in steadily rising levels of A-beta protein as their brain activity increased through recovery. A-beta, as the protein is sometimes called, is best known for causing plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a normal component of the brain, but scientists don’t know what it does. Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from Milan, Italy and Washington University in St. Louis, USA used advance brain testing techniques to ascertain if brain injuries cause a spike in amyloid-beta levels that could lead to plaque formation, a team of researchers from Milan, Italy, sampled fluid from the brains of 18 comatose patients.
What the researchers found was exactly the opposite of what they expected, says David L. Brody, a neurologist at Washington University who led the study with Sandra Magnoni of the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan. Instead of seeing a spike of A-beta soon after brain injury from falls, car accidents, assaults or hemorrhages, levels of the protein started low and rose as the patients improved, the team reports in the Aug. 29 Science.
Farm Kids Avoid Asthma & Allergies
Pre-natal exposure to farm animals and plants helps protect children from asthma, allergies and eczema. Researchers from the Centre for Public Health Research discovered farmers’ children had a lower incidence of allergic diseases than children not exposed to animals, grain and hay products. The findings have been published in the European Respiratory Journal. Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes says it is the first study to show a direct link between exposures in utero and a significant reduction in asthma symptoms, hay fever and eczema.
©Eco Living Magazine.
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Heading: Probiotics – Fermenting For Life.
Intro: We are not alone. In fact, we are hosts to trillions of micro-organisms, happily munching on our waste products and doing a sterling job within our digestive system.
It may come as a bit of a shock to those of us with obsessive compulsive cleaning tendencies, that killing all the tiny invisible bugs is not a really good idea. Bacteria are all around us, within us and performing vital tasks for our health and the health of this planet. Of course, like everything in existence, there are good and bad bacteria, not intrinsically bad but just bad for humans – and probably quite good for something else. The good bacteria, (or gut flora), are involved in a myriad of useful functions – such as fermenting unused energy substrates, producing vitamins for us, preventing the growth of bad bacteria, producing hormones to help us store fats, and improving our immune functioning. If we did not have all these bacteria munching away our bodies would be unable to digest many of the carbohydrates that we consume – like certain starches, fibres, proteins, and sugars like lactose. Studies with animals indicate that we may need to eat 30% more calories to maintain our stable body weight without the helpful presence of gut flora. The good bacteria transforms carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids, and these are able to be processed by our cells into nutrition and energy. Lactic and acetic acid are also produced by this saccahrolytic fermentation, and they are used by our muscles. There are numerous other positive functions supported by good bacteria in our systems.
Bacteria have also been shown to be implicit in preventing allergies (which are an over reaction of the immune system to non-harmful antigens). Research into children with allergies has confirmed that the make-up of their gut flora is different to those without allergies. The role that bacteria play in training our immune systems to respond to antigens is the key point in understanding this. A baby inside its mother is bacteria free, and develops its gut flora through birth and breast feeding initially.
By the second year of life the infant’s faeces contains a similar amount of bacteria as an adult. The prevalence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in our western societies has been linked to our obsession with hygiene. Our predilection for kitchen and bathroom cleaning sprays has “über- sanitised” our homes, and has thus lowered the absorption – and the variety – of useful bacteria available in the colon to break down waste material. The lack of breastfeeding for the baby boomer generation has also contributed to this situation. Not to mention the pharmaceutically driven overuse of antibiotics that has killed off gut flora in exceptional amounts. The inverse of this occurs in developing countries, and there is no sign of IBD at the rates that we experience it here in the West.
Probiotics, meaning literally “for life”, can help with IBD and other conditions associated with bacteria levels, which are out of balance or missing vital components. Originally discovered by science at the beginning of the twentieth century, before being named ‘Probiotics’ in 1953, it has been defined by Dr Roy Fuller (author of Probiotic’s in Human Medicine) as, ” a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance.” Of course, sour milk and yoghurt have long been part of healthy regimes employed by cultures around the globe. The naming of particular strains by science is as much about recognizing effective natural approaches to nutrition, as it is about reinventing the wheel and claiming credit for it. Lactobacillus Acidophulis is probably the best known probiotic strain but there are many more including the Bifodobacterium family, the rest of the large Lactobacillus family and Escherichia Coli. Many of these are now available in supplement form, having been combined to form effective treatments for many bowel complaints, helping with lactose intolerance, some cholesterol reduction, improving immune function and lowering blood pressure. There is a large and still growing body of scientific evidence, indicating that diet supplementation with live probiotic bacteria may confer a significant health effect on the host, when those bacteria are consumed in “adequate” amounts. In fact, one important problem is that more then 400 bacterial species are thought to be present in the normal intestine, with bacterial concentration in the colon equivalent to one thousand billion bacteria per gram. This means that only “high-potency” probiotic products, i.e., those that contain at least a comparable number of live bacteria per gram of product, can be expected to modify the bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract in terms of quantitative and qualitative composition. Consult your natural health practitioner for advice on which probiotic supplement is best for your particular condition.
The argument against probiotics by some nutritional scientists is that the bacteria in these supplements and foods cannot possibly survive the naturally occurring acids in our stomach and this is where prebiotic foods come in. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients in foods, which stimulate the growth and activity of certain helpful bacteria – fructoologosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides are the two that best fit the bill. These can be found in functional foods like bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, chicory, legumes, oats, tomatoes, spinach and other greens. Perhaps a diet rich in both prebiotics and probiotics is the best solution for those seeking a healthy bowel.
Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, soya sauce, kim chi, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables also offer lactic acid bacteria. The oriental cultures in particular – who have developed these fermented foods – are well known for their traditionally long lived healthy lives. The pickling process activates certain bacterial properties within the food, and eliminates some of the qualities that inhibit the food’s digestion by humans. Pickled or activated nuts and seeds, which have been treated in a solution – a brine or other acidic liquid – for some time and then slowly warmed through a dehydrating process are a great example of this. Delicious and much more digestible.
©Eco Living Magazine.
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Heading: Clean & Green- Chemical Free Cleaning at Home
Subheading: Would you bathe in your bathroom cleaner??
We’ve all experienced how tough it can be to clean our bathrooms without gassing ourselves. Anyone who uses traditional household cleaners knows you’ve got to wear gloves, open the windows, and scrub whilst holding your breath. This experience should tell us a few things about traditional household cleaners, and not least that they’re having a negative impact on our health – while also being damaging to the environment.
If you’re looking to make your household cleaning safer for yourself and the environment then there are some great options available to you. The first step is to safely discard the chemical cocktail in your cleaning cupboard.
The health concerns stem from absorption of harsh chemicals directly through your skin and nasal passages to your bloodstream, as well as Volatile Organic Compounds that are found in petrochemical based cleaning products and synthetic fragrances and are released into the atmosphere as you spray your cleaners around your home. If you or your children have asthma, or you have allergies then these VOCs could be aggravating symptoms.
It’s not hard to imagine what the world will be like if we don’t address our polluting of waterways and ground water. No one wants to be responsible for making the problem worse but as Leroy Eldridge Cleaver put it – ‘you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem’ – and we all have to do our bit in our own homes today. That means switching to products that are 100% biodegradable (truly green products will tell you how many days this will take – 7 is good!), buying Phosphate Free cleaners and avoiding chemicals where there is a natural alternative.
You can then take the ‘back to basics’ approach and use simple ingredients to create your own cleaners and a bit of elbow grease. This is a great alternative if you have the time and patience. From Lemon Juice and Baking Soda for scrubbing down benches, chopping boards and bathrooms right through to Vinegar to clean your windows, there’s a natural alternative to pretty much everything you find under your sink. There are recipes you can following in fabulous books like ‘Spotless’ by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Flemming or even a quick Google search will have you cleaning up an environmentally friendly storm in no time.
The other way to go, which is the option I’ve chosen in my home is to use household cleaning products that have been formulated to be kind to you and have minimal impact on the environment. Not only does this option save time and effort but in most cases the ready-made cleaning products smell much better. In some cases so much so that you’ll never need to use anything else to scent your home. These greener household cleaning products will give you all the information you need on the label. They’ll tell you if it’s a plant-based surfactant, if the fragrance in naturally derived, how many days it will take to biodegrade and if it contains phosphates.
A few brands to look out for in the Supermarket or your Health Food store are Seventh Generation – great product imported from the US, Cinderella – my favourite as they smell divine and are Aussie Made, BEE – amazing Laundry Liquid & Dr Bronners – the ultimate All Purpose Castile Soap. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you’ll notice the difference immediately.
©Eco Living Magazine
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Heading: Lungs Fit For Life
Subheading: Power Breathe Review
In our city centred world, full of stress, pollution and too many sedentary occupations, we seem to be at the mercy of the many resultant respiratory ailments. It is all too common to hear of spiralling rates of asthma and bronchial complaints within our modern communities. The breath of life – is there anything as vital to our survival? Have you ever experienced that panic inducing moment when you just cannot catch your breath, whether it’s under the waves in the surf, running a race, or simply stressed by life? Not being able to breathe properly is a terrible experience, and one that marks a rapid rise in heart rate. What can we do to check the rise of these often life threatening conditions? Get fit! Yes – improving overall fitness levels through regular exercise like swimming, walking and going to the gym, can and does help many people who are prone to developing serious respiratory diseases.
What are we doing physiologically when we exercise? Well many things are occurring within our bodies when we run, swim or walk quickly. Our hearts beat faster and push more blood around our body more quickly; our lungs expand to take in more oxygen, and we are forced to do this more often. As we breathe in and out, especially if we are running uphill or further than we have before, it gets harder to catch that full breath. There is resistance to this caused by the exertion involved and it is this resistance that trains our lungs and improves our inspiratory muscle strength.
These muscles, which are directly responsible for our ability to breathe, are weakened when suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is most often exacerbated by bronchial infections and can often lead to hospitalisation if unchecked. The treatment for COPD is usually a rehabilitation program, which involves some inspiratory muscle training, and runs between 4 to 12 weeks depending on the severity of the disease. Unfortunately around 50% of hospitalised COPD patients are readmitted the following year with the same condition and many patients remain permanently symptomatic with impaired quality of life. This is due to the fact that the effects of short term rehabilitation program inspiratory muscle training fade after 6 months.
What is involved in inspiratory muscle training (IMT)? Generally speaking a breathing device is used and this device creates resistance by means of pressurisation – making it more difficult to breathe in fully and thus building muscle tension. So in the same way we build muscles in the gym, we can do this internally for our inspiratory muscles. This means that IMT is a completely natural approach to the treatment of respiratory illness, and allows us to target the particular muscles with which we need to breathe. These devices are now available for use at home and can now provide long term IMT for the successful maintenance of conditions like COPD and the many other degrees of respiratory disease. These devices are of particular use to those who are unable to exercise their whole body because of an accident or illness. The IMT devices now available were developed by sports scientists to help athletes improve their aerobic capacity and sporting performances.
The Power Breathe Wellness device I trialled at home is a hand held portable unit and is easy to use. It has an adjustable load feature, which allows you to increase or decrease the training level. You place the mouthpiece of the unit in your mouth, holding the handle at the same time, your lips cover the outer shield to make a seal and the mouthpiece bite blocks are gripped between your upper and lower teeth. Then you breathe out as far as you can before taking a fast and forceful breath in through your mouth. Take in as much air as you can, quickly, straightening your back and expanding your chest. Repeat the process, feeling more confident about breathing in through the Power Breathe unit each time. There is a nose clip for those who require some assistance in not breathing in through their nose. The instruction manual recommends starting with thirty breaths at level 0 before turning the dial clockwise to increase the load if you feel ready and able to. It also advises to complete 30 breaths at whatever level you feel able to twice a day – once in the morning and again in the evening.
It may feel difficult at first but as with all muscle training this is part of the journey to increased lung capacity. In my experience and if you are using the unit correctly, after four to six weeks your breathing and lungs will show increased capacity.
The really wonderful thing about this therapeutic device is that it is completely natural and that you are in control of your own training. The work that you put in directly correlates with the improvements you will experience in your ability to breathe, and thus enjoy life. This is in complete contrast to many of the medications prescribed for breathing conditions, which often have side effects and most importantly give you no feeling of being part of your own cure. Of course consultation with your GP is always recommended if you are currently on medications for respiratory illness and wish to begin training with the Power Breathe Wellness unit. Medical research has conclusively shown that IMT increases strength and reduces fatigue in those that embark upon it. If we can take back responsibility for our ability to breathe, it will be in my opinion, the beginning of a dramatic reduction in the incidence of diseases like asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
©Eco Living Magazine.