Why buy organic?

Many people believe that all food should be organic as it always was before pesticides, fungicides and insecticides laced with toxic chemicals were introduced into intensive farming.
Instead of which it has often been seen as ‘elitist, expensive’ and its detractors consider it ‘unnecessary’. Other claims are that it’s a massive con. Personally I don’t believe major companies or farms will have built their organic reputation on a big lie.
There are some brands that are virtually mainstream now – look at the yoghurt section in any supermarket and you will see it’s dominated by Rachel’s and Yeo Valley. Similarly see how much space organic chocolate takes up with the huge Green & Black’s brand (unfortunately now owned by Cadbury’s which means it’s actually owned by Kraft’s) and other makes like Divine and Montezuma.
So what exactly are the benefits of organic food and are they worth paying extra for?  Here are just some:

• The soil that organic crops are grown in is not intensively farmed and is more abundant with vitamins and minerals, which are abundant in the produce.
• Organic meat is not routinely fed with antibiotics.
• Organic meat only comes from animals that are free range and fed with organic food.
• Organic fruit and vegetables are not routinely covered with pesticides that contain some.
• It does not contain artificial colours, flavourings, sweeteners, or GM ingredients.
• Organically reared animals are treated humanely.
To set the record straight you might not actually pay more. Have a look at the organic alternative to some brands – sometimes they are actually cheaper, particularly with low cost items like pasta, rice, tinned foods, so why not buy them?
When it comes to vegetables if you grow your own you get not only pesticide free but completely free!

 

Is depression well treated?

The Government commissioned a report into depression a few years ago. The conclusion was overwhelming – that people were more likely to get much better if they had therapy than if they took antidepressants.

Consequently it was suggested that people with mild to moderate depression were given CBT – cognitive behaviour therapy – which is a quicker fix than psychotherapy and gives people coping mechanisms to make them feel better. It works very well but there was one major problem – there were not many therapists available.

So the government suggested that 20,000 were trained. Nothing much more has been said about this for the last couple of years, but as far as I know nothing has changed. You go to the GPs because you’re depressed and you are given anti-depressants. There may be some exceptions to this, but not many.

NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) also recommended that people could get access to treatment with the use of a CBT software program, but there seems little evidence that this has happened.

Consequently you are given very strong drugs that suppress the problem for the moment and make you feel better. If you want to give them up what happens? The problem resurfaces or you have such withdrawal symptoms that you have to carry on taking them, whatever the guidelines given by the manufacturer say.

There are occasions when someone has been through a terrible trauma where they need anti-depressants to get them through the day, but in 9/10 cases people can be helped with talking therapies. The sad truth is that unless they can get these from their GP, a local charity or if they or anyone close to them has cancer, they will have to pay for therapy.

I understand that it would be more cost-effective to give people talking therapies than to keep them on prescription drugs for years on end. It makes you wonder why people are still getting the same treatment at the doctor’s as they were 30 years ago when Valium was in vogue.

Sales of tranquillizers enabled a leading pharma company in Switzerland to create an entire street of office buildings. Perhaps that’s the answer to why nothing ever changes!

Good nutrition = healthy ageing

man olderLife expectancy was 45 in 1840 and now it’s around 90 on average with huge variations according to where you live. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, the average 90 year old may spend the last 10 to 20 years of their lives in ill health. Some 90 per cent of them take prescription drugs, and normally two or more types. Is this inevitable?Apparently not according to speakers at the British Nutrition Foundation conference on healthy ageing, ‘Good nutrition defends the body against the ageing process’.

The best ways to stay healthy into old age were said to be:

– don’t smoke
– exercise regularly
– eat plenty of fruit and veg
– drink alcohol in moderation

None of this is rocket science nor is it particularly new, but it does give people a sense of control over their own destiny. We all have to die one day but who wants to spend years lying in a bed, dependent on other people, in pain or unable to communicate?

The good thing is that it isn’t hard or even expensive to do any of the things that lead to a long healthy life, so everyone can do them. But it is often mindset that makes people think that they won’t be healthy, or that they can’t do anything about their health.

Hopefully the next generation will be less dependent on doctors and drugs and take more responsibility for their health. And in fact it will probably become a necessity because the NHS is unlikely to be able to prop up the baby boomer generation if they all are dependent on it.

Obviously there are no guarantees in life and the above doesn’t take account of stress or difficult lives that may wear people down. Or people who never really have a good start in the first place, but there’s no harm in trying!

Why we don’t want GM

Most of the British public are really adamant that they don’t want genetically modified food products. So much so that when GM products first came into the UK there was such an outcry by the public that all the supermarkets ensured that they didn’t sell anything under their own label that had GM ingredients.

Apparently one quarter of agricultural land worldwide is now given over to genetically modified crops. So they are rife around the world but not here.

Just why we are all so against GM is not clear and most people don’t exactly know why either. But most of us feel instinctively that we do not want our food meddled with. And because of precedents we don’t always trust scientists when it comes to our best interests.

So it is of considerable concern to find that the GM industry has been lobbying parliament insisting that GM crops are a solution to the global food crisis. This seems like a result of big marketing and PR budgets, which opponents do not have. Yet there is no evidence that GM increases yields.

Some of the objections to GM include the ability of crops to damage wildlife and farmland and for bees to spread the pollen on to nearby organic crops. One of the principals of organic farming is that produce cannot be genetically modified.

Unfortunately so far there is no big money behind sustainable and/or organic farming and it is corporate giants who are involved in GM. The only answer is for the public to stand firm and make sure that their MPs do too. To find out more about GM and to make your voice heard go to: Friends of the Earth, http://www.foe.co.uk/

Why HRT?

Women with hot flushes, anxiety and night sweats become desperate to do something about it, so they go to the doctor. Many GPs will recommend that they go on HRT. How wonderful, all the symptoms go and they feel like a human being again.

But what the doctors don’t always tell them is that when you come off HRT in your 50s, 60s, or even 70s, you will get all the symptoms of menopause back again. So now you’ve got much older and you are supposed to cope with the hot flushes, anxiety and night sweats. What’s the point of that?

Many older women who have been on HRT for 20 years (more than even the manufacturers now recommend)are struggling to come off it. People who do come off HRT after any amount of time often find that their symptoms are much much worse and they become depressed as well.

If they deal with menopause in the first place in a natural way – through nutrition (for example eating lots of soya), through appropriate supplements (especially made supplements for menopause) or with herbs such as Red Clover or Sage – they get it over with without too much pain and they never have to go through it again.

Interfering with nature can cause more problems that it’s worth. There is a very good reason for the menopause because your body is past its childbearing age. Why prolong the agony still having simulated periods when you can get through menopause and move on to the future without a monthly cycle or the pain of periods?