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Category: nature

A walk in the woods may help the microbiome and our mood

The microbiome is our own inner forest of beneficial and harmful microbes. Bacteria, yeasts and other types of microscopic organisms live within our gastrointestinal tract and on our other body surfaces. Beneficial bacteria help protect us from less helpful bacteria and yeast and other fungi. The moisture rich air of a forest has been found to have a variety of beneficial nutrients and may even provide some beneficial bacteria. [1]

Moisture rich air also can provide a positive lift for the mood from negatively charged ions. The smell of ozone in the air may be noticeable after a thunder storm or on the beach of a large lake or ocean. In excess ozone can cause headaches but smaller amounts may have a positive affect on the mood. [1]

Other research has found that simply looking at images of nature helped reduce stress levels for the study participants. Walking through urban areas has not been found to have as much stress reduction benefits as a similar amount of time spent walking through a more natural setting. [2]

Decorating indoor and outdoor settings in urban areas with images of nature may provide health benefits for residents and workers and have a positive affect on their mood.  [2]

Some types of indoor plants may provide additional benefits besides stress reduction or lift the mood. Some species of common indoor houseplants also help clean the air of chemicals commonly found in modern environments which may have negative effects on health. Volatile chemicals are released over time from plastics such as vinyl. New carpets and vinyl flooring may release larger amounts of volatile chemicals when they are first installed and continue to release smaller amounts over the years. Formaldehyde is one of the volatile chemicals which has been associated with health risks for adults and children and neurological risks for a developing fetus.

A study by NASA regarding what types of plants might help remove the negative chemicals found in the air of enclosed buildings led to a list of 50 houseplants that are effective at cleaning the air of negative chemicals. The complete list is available in a book and the top ten are listed online. The book goes into more detail about which plants may be better for removing which types of chemicals from the air of enclosed spaces – such as NASA spaceship. [3]

Volatile chemicals that can make an indoor environment more hazardous to breathe and which led to the term “sick building syndrome” include “formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds (benzene and trichloroethylene or TCE), airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, pesticides and disinfectants (phenols), and radon.”  [3]

The book by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, the scientist who did the research for NASA, is called “How to Grow Fresh Air – 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office.” It includes more detail about which plants may be better for cleaning which types of chemicals from the air and includes basic guidance on the type of care and ease of care that each species of plant might require to keep it alive. [4]

Caution is needed to not over-water houseplants or to leave them in a poorly drained pot as it may lead to mold. Some types of mold can have negative health risks but the type common to a houseplant are more likely to simply smell musty which can have a negative impact on the air of an enclosed space.

Houseplants which require misting such as ferns may also be increasing the amount negatively charged ions of water in the air which may help promote positive moods for people in the room. Small electronic model waterfalls also can increase the amount of negatively charged water ions in the air. Some types of air purifiers include an ozone generator however they aren’t recommended by the EPA as too much ozone can have negative health consequences. [5]

An early indicator of too much ozone might be a headache. The ozone generating units may be useful for freshening the air of an enclosed space when there are no pets or humans in the room.  Levels of ozone necessary to kill “biological organisms” (such as mold spores perhaps) would also be irritating or harmful for humans to breath for very long, [5], but once the ozone generating machine is turned off the increased levels return to normal after a few hours in my personal experience. I have used one in my home and it could cause obvious increases in ozone smell if turned up to full generating potential and that could lead to a headache for me. At lower power levels the ozone generation did seem to help freshen the air and it did seem to have a positive effect on my mood.

Electricity exists in many forms — in laptops and in a misty morning breeze.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. Kelly Tatera, “Scientists Reveal Why “Forest Bathing” or Going to the Beach Boosts Our Well-Being,” Feb. 3, 2016 [1]
  2.  Jared Green, “Research Shows Nature Helps with Stress,” 9/8/2011 [2]
  3. Greg Seaman, “The Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins,” May 13, 2009 [3]
  4. B. C. Wolverton, “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office Paperback,” April 1, 1997  [4]
  5.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ),Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners” [5]

Nutrient content found to be different in GMO soy; a link

Glyphosate tolerant GM soybeans were found to contain high residues of glyphosate and AMPA, a breakdown product of glyphosate. Nutrient content was also found to be different between the glyphosate tolerant GM soybeans and organically grown soybeans. The GM soybeans had less sugars, protein and zinc than the organically grown soybeans and had more omega-6, a less beneficial type of fatty acid.

Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans.

    /Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

    Glyphosate was created as an antibiotic and mineral chelator but is being used as an herbicide

    Every cell in our bodies depends on mitochondria to produce energy from stored sugar. Mitochondria are actually bacterial in origin. They are smaller than human cells and have their own DNA that is different from the the human cell DNA. Glyphosate is presumably safe for use in the human food supply because it only affects a metabolic pathway found in plants and bacteria however if every cell of our human bodies also depends on mitochondria which are bacterial in origin then is the antibiotic glyphosate truly safe for human use? Or for use in food for farm animals – which also depend on mitochondria to produce energy from sugar (glucose is the form of sugar that is broken down for energy within mitochondria).

    A concerned scientist has been studying the topic for years and has been writing about the topic, read more: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/roundup-the-nontoxic-chemical-that-may-be-destroying-our-health/   The topic is dangerous to write about however within the current business world which seems to be oriented to support corporate profit  over the long term viability of our ecosystem. The authors of that paper have been labeled ‘debunked’ or something similarly dismissive.

    Glyphosate is being sprayed on invasive plants in wild areas and within waterways that are overgrown with invasive plants. However the affects of the antibiotic and mineral chelator on the desirable plants and wildlife is not known. A mineral chelator generally has been thought of as helpful, the phrase refers to chemicals that can bind onto a mineral and help transport it into cells or into the body from the gut. A mineral chelator that binds onto toxic minerals and helps transport them into the body might be not helpful or a mineral chelator that binds onto nutrients in the soil and prevents them from being absorbed by the plant would also be not helpful to the plant or possible to the humans or animals eating the plant.

    Glyphosate was first patented as an antibiotic and as a mineral chelator before it was developed into an herbicide.

    Glyphosate has been found in all samples of California wine that was tested in one study and it was found in over 40% of organically grown honey that was tested in another study and in over 60% of the commercially produced samples of honey. The chemical can be difficult and expensive to screen for using many of the typical methods however another method was used for screening the samples of honey:

    The a1nalytical program included the extraction of glyphosate from the various matrices and the subsequent determination of glyphosate residues by enzyme linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA).” “(Figure 4) depicts the concentration of glyphosate in honey samples grouped by growing method of source pollen: organic (11 samples) and traditional (58 samples); 5 of the 11 organic samples had glyphosate concentrations above the method LOQ with a range of 26 to 93 ng/g and a mean of 50 ng /g. Of the fifty-eight non-organic honey samples, thirty-six samples, or sixty-two percent (62%), contained glyphosate concentrations above the method LOQ, with a range of 17 to 163 ppb and a mean of 66 ppb.

    Read more: http://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/survey-of-glyphosate-residues-in-honey-corn-and-soy-products-2161-0525.1000249.php?aid=36354

    Figure 5 includes data comparing samples of honey produced in countries that don’t allow GMO Round-Up Ready crops with samples from countries that do. Samples from countries that don’t allow GMO crops had an average of 31 ng /g of glyphosate compared to 71 ng/g of glyphosate found in the samples of honey produced in countries that do allow GMO crops.  “Although glyphosate is not acutely toxic to bees, it is chronically toxic to animals and is reported to disrupt the endocrine system [35,36] and a recent study indicates that honey bees exposed to increasing sub-lethal concentrations of glyphosate exhibit a decrease in acetyl cholinesterase (AChE) activity [37].” Further study is recommended in order to further assess whether glyphosate might be adding to the loss of bee hives that has been associated with use of neonicotinoid chemicals. Read more: http://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/survey-of-glyphosate-residues-in-honey-corn-and-soy-products-2161-0525.1000249.php?aid=36354

    Fewer samples of wine produced in California were tested but 100% of the samples (n=10) were found to have glyphosate contaminants. The wine produced from grapes grown organically  did have less of the contaminant than the commercially produced wine. That may not help the people living in the areas where grapes are grown for the California wine: “According to the CA Dept of Health, breast cancer rates in the Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties is 10 to 20 percent higher than the national average.” “German scientists have shown that 0.1 ppb of glyphosate, which is patented as an antibiotic, has been shown to destroy the beneficial gut bacteria and promote the proliferation of pathogenic gut bacteria.(2)” “0.1ppt of glyphosate has also been shown to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.(3)” “Glyphosate has also been shown to increase antibiotic resistance, which could be leading to superbugs (9)” Read more:  https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/yesmaam/pages/680/attachments/original/1458830087/GlyphosateContaminationinWinePressReport_(2).pdf?1458830087

    So how much glyphosate might be too much? — Not much if 0.1 ppb is enough to destroy our beneficial gut bacteria and 0.1 ppt is enough to stimulate growth of breast cancer cells. And if it’s presence in the environment is increasing the risk of more pathogens developing antibiotic resistance than any of it might already have been too much for people with antibiotic resistant pneumonia.

    And how much glyphosate might be deadly? — Twenty milliliters was not quite enough for at least one suicidal patient who did manage to make herself sick with a antibiotic resistant bacterial infection after ingesting the 20 ml of glyphosate in a suicide attempt (this is sad but is not uncommon – many people commit suicide by eating agricultural chemicals). (Twenty milliliters would be equal to about 4 teaspoons of glyphosate.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289481/

    How many ppb in one milliliter? –> search engine –>

    “This is the same as grams per 1,000 liters, which may be converted to milligrams per liter (mg/L). Therefore, 1 g/ m3 = 1 mg/L = 1 ppm. Likewise, one milligram per cubic meter (mg/m3) is the same concentration in water as one microgram per liter (ug/L), which is about 1 ppb.”

    So not much glyphosate is needed to cause negative health effects in humans and in the environment. It can break down quickly but may also take up to twenty years to completely break down. If excessive amounts of glyphosate are allowed to accumulate it may become difficult for normal seeds to be able to grow and genetic modification might be necessary for producing any viable crops in areas where glyphosate residue becomes prevalent (such as in any countries that allow GMO crops and use of glyphosate as a desiccant.)

    How much might be too much in nature? One part per million (1 ppm) equivalent to what might be found in the environment of countries that use glyphosate was found to be enough of a dose to produce deformities in 60% of the tadpoles of a tree frog. “Jayawardena et al. (2010) found nearly 60% malformations in tadpoles of the tree frog Polypedates cruciger treated with an environmentally relevant concentration of 1 ppm Roundup.” The formulated product (glyphosate plus surfactants or other additives) was found to be more harmful to offspring than the glyphosate alone. How much is too much in our food supply? We don’t know for sure but we are beginning to know more about how much may be present in our food supply: “Residues of up to 17 mg/kg of glyphosate have been found in harvested soybean crops [10].

    Back to the search engine –> “1 mg/kg = 1000 ppb” So –> “Residues of up to [17000 ppb or 17,000,000 ppm] of glyphosate have been found in harvested soybean crops.” Which seems like it would be enough to cause malformations in at least 60% of tree frog tadpoles if they were exposed to Round-Up Ready soy.

    Maybe it is completely safe for everyone — except the 2% who are developing autism and the 5.3 million people living with Alzheimer’s Disease.  North Dakota has the highest rate of mortality due to Alzheimer’s Disease and Nevada has the lowest rate.  http://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/

    Most glyphosate used at harvest time is done on spring and durum wheat, and mostly in the northern tier States (North Dakota & Montana) and ...”  This article is debunking a different article about use of glyphosate as a desiccant – this article states that is actually a rare practice – except possibly in North Dakota and Montana. Read more:  http://weedcontrolfreaks.com/2014/11/glyphosate-use-in-wheat/

    The search engine suggests that glyphosate has been used for invasive plant control in Nevada but did not turn up agricultural references. A study on use of glyphosate for helping establish native plants in an area with invasive plants. The glyphosate use on the invasives did help with getting the native plantings established instead. http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dynamic_content/uploadfiles/152/Nevada.pdf

    The search term results: https://www.google.com/search?q=use+of+glyphosate+in+Nevada&rlz=1C1CHWA_enUS600US600&oq=use+of+glyphosate+in+Nevada&aqs=chrome..69i57.4494j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    The search turned up a paper that has since been retracted after it was published due to some delay in the peer review process but the paper can still be viewed. It suggests there is a correlation between glyphosate use which causes an increased need for nitrogen based fertilizers because the glyphosate can affect soil bacteria that normally would make nitrogen more available so more nitrogen based fertilizer is required and which can lead to more nitrogen dioxide being released into the air which can affect ADHD risk and is also a gas involved in global warming. the paper turned up in my search terms because Nevada didn’t have some data that other states had made available. States with data available regarding glyphosate use between 2006-2009 suggest that Arizona and Utah used less than in previous years,

    It took fifty years or so before corporate control of science regarding cancer risk and smoking was freely available to consumers and it has taken twenty or so years to reveal Exxon’s role in denying the impact of fossil fuel use on climate change. It may take a while to reveal that spraying an antibiotic and mineral chelator is bad for soil health and health of other life forms. In the mean time I will continue to try to avoid sources of Round-up. It may be the combination of the adjuvants/surfactants that are used with the glyphosate that makes it more of a risk for neurodegenerative harm such as autism or ADHD than studies with glyphosate alone have suggested or it may be the changes in nitrogen based fertilizer use as suggested by the (retracted) article on ADHD and Round-Up.

    /Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

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