Category Archives: Miscellanea

8 names you don’t want to see on your nutrition labels

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One of the very important things to look put for when you buy any packed food products is the nutritional information. All of us are constantly looking for what we can gain from a particular product from a particular brand. But unfortunately that’s not all you should be looking for. With all kinds of additives being used while manufacturing a food product, it is important for you to know which of these you need to be able to parse out as bad stuff. This can help determine whether you will have an overweight and unhealthy future, or whether you will turn out to be fit and energized.

Here, we have shortlisted eight ingredients you never want to see on your nutrition label.

BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a preservative that is used to prevent rancidity in food products that contain oils. BHA has been shown to cause cancer in rats, mice and hamsters and the only reason its use has not yet been banned is technical – BHA has caused cancers the forestomach’s of rodents, an organ that humans do not have. Research still suggests that BHA is reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen, which is a good enough reason to eliminate it from your diet.

Parabens: Another form of synthetic preservatives used to inhibit the formation of molds or yeast in food products. The problem with parabens is that they can decrease they can disrupt your body’s hormonal balance. Parabens have also been found in breast cancer tissues.

Partially hydrogenated oil: A lot of products can deceive us by claiming that they have ‘0 grams trans-fat’ and have almost all their customers convinced that the product is completely free of trans-fat. This is not necessarily true. The FDA allows any product with less than half a gram of trans-fat per serving to claim ‘0 grams of trans-fat’ on the labels. This means that the product can have 0.49 grams per serving and can still claim to have ‘0 grams trans-fat’. These fractions can quickly add up, especially considering that you should not be consuming more than 2 grams per day. If you find ‘Partially Hydrogenated oil’ mentioned anywhere on the label, make sure you put the product back on the shelf.

Sodium nitrite: Nitrites and nitrates are used to inhibit botulism-causing bacteria and maintain processed meats, a reason why the FDA allows its use. Unfortunately, once ingested, nitrites can fuse with the amino acids (present in meat) to form nitrosamines which are powerful carcinogenic compounds. Ascorbic acid and erythrobic acid, especially vitamin C can reduce the risk and many manufacturers today add one or both of these to their products. However, limiting the intake is still the best way to avoid the risk involved with the use of nitrites.

Caramel colouring: This is one additive that would not be harmful if produced in the traditional manner, with water and sugar on a stove. But new processes of manufacturing involve treating the sugar with ammonia, which can result in some harmful carcinogens. This is the additive present in aerated beverages that make them so harmful.

Castoreum: One of the nebulous ‘natural ingredients’ that is not really harmful but it can be quite unsettling. Castoreum is a substance made from beavers’ castor sacs o anal scent glands that produce potent secretions that help animals mark their territory in the wild. However, 1000 pounds of the unsavory ingredient are used annually to imbue foods – usually vanilla or raspberry flavoured – with a distinctive musky flavor. This can be found in almost any food that contains ‘natural ingredients’.

Food dyes: Plenty of flavoured candies and sugary cereals rely on artificial dyes and flavours to suggest a relationship with nature. These dyes allow the manufacturer to mask the drab colours of processed foods, but certain hues have been linked to more serious ailments.  Some of these artificial colouring agents were found to be carcinogens causing tumours. Avoiding products with these artificial agents is as much as possible is your best bet to avoid the associated complications.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable proteins: These are plant proteins, usually used as a flavour enhancers and are chemically broken down in to amino acids. One of these amino acids, glutamic acid can release free glutamate which joins combines with the free sodium in your body to form Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), an additive known to cause adverse reactions including headaches, nausea and weakness in sensitive individuals.

Eight ingredients that you should watch out for, once again highlights the importance reading the labels when it comes to food products.

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Relax! You’ll Be More Productive

Curated from for a moment about your typical workday. Do you wake up tired? Check your e-mail before you get out of bed? Skip breakfast or grab something on the run that’s not particularly nutritious? Rarely get away from your desk for lunch? Run from meeting to meeting with no time in between? Find it nearly impossible to keep up with the volume of e-mail you receive? Leave work later than you’d like, and still feel compelled to check e-mail in the evenings?
Golden Cosmos
Golden Cosmos

More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

“More, bigger, faster.” This, the ethos of the market economies since the Industrial Revolution, is grounded in a mythical and misguided assumption — that our resources are infinite.

Time is the resource on which we’ve relied to get more accomplished. When there’s more to do, we invest more hours. But time is finite, and many of us feel we’re running out, that we’re investing as many hours as we can while trying to retain some semblance of a life outside work.

Although many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, we can measurably increase our energy. Science supplies a useful way to understand the forces at play here. Physicists understand energy as the capacity to do work. Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable. Taking more time off is counterintuitive for most of us. The idea is also at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted. More than one-third of employees, for example, eat lunch at their desks on a regular basis. More than 50 percent assume they’ll work during their vacations.

In most workplaces, rewards still accrue to those who push the hardest and most continuously over time. But that doesn’t mean they’re the most productive.

Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

The Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah found that when she got male basketball players to sleep 10 hours a night, their performances in practice dramatically improved: free-throw and three-point shooting each increased by an average of 9 percent.

Daytime naps have a similar effect on performance. When night shift air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap — and slept an average of 19 minutes — they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.

Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.

MORE vacations are similarly beneficial. In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.

As athletes understand especially well, the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for renewal. When we’re under pressure, however, most of us experience the opposite impulse: to push harder rather than rest. This may explain why a recent survey by Harris Interactive found that Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012 — up from 6.2 days in 2011.

The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.

In the 1950s, the researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.

The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

“To maximize gains from long-term practice,” Dr. Ericsson concluded, “individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

I’ve systematically built these principles into the way I write. For my first three books, I sat at my desk for up 10 hours a day. Each of the books took me at least a year to write. For my two most recent books, I wrote in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions — beginning first thing in the morning, when my energy was highest — and took a break after each one.

Along the way, I learned that it’s not how long, but how well, you renew that matters most in terms of performance. Even renewal requires practice. The more rapidly and deeply I learned to quiet my mind and relax my body, the more restored I felt afterward. For one of the breaks, I ran. This generated mental and emotional renewal, but also turned out to be a time in which some of my best ideas came to me, unbidden. Writing just four and half hours a day, I completed both books in less than six months and spent my afternoons on less demanding work.

The power of renewal was so compelling to me that I’ve created a business around it that helps a range of companies including Google, Coca-Cola, Green Mountain Coffee, the Los Angeles Police Department, Cleveland Clinic and Genentech.

Our own offices are a laboratory for the principles we teach. Renewal is central to how we work. We dedicated space to a “renewal” room in which employees can nap, meditate or relax. We have a spacious lounge where employees hang out together and snack on healthy foods we provide. We encourage workers to take renewal breaks throughout the day, and to leave the office for lunch, which we often do together. We allow people to work from home several days a week, in part so they can avoid debilitating rush-hour commutes. Our workdays end at 6 p.m. and we don’t expect anyone to answer e-mail in the evenings or on the weekends. Employees receive four weeks of vacation from their first year.

Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. In a decade, no one has ever chosen to leave the company. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.

Reposting ….

Cancer survivor’s inspirational mastectomy photos BANNED by Facebook for being ‘pornographic’

  • Joanne Jackson, 40, from Thornhill, West Yorks, had a series of pictures taken to celebrate beating the disease
  • Social networking site removed images, citing ‘nudity and pornography’ rule
  • Incident comes as Facebook bans U.S. mother’s photos of baby who died from birth defect for ‘graphic content’


PUBLISHED: 10:12 GMT, 22 May 2012 | UPDATED: 11:17 GMT, 22 May 2012

Mother-of-two Joanne Jackson, 40, had a photo session to commemorate winning her battle with the killer disease after having a mastectomy – and posted them on the social networking site.

But Facebook removed some of the images, which revealed her operation scar, for being offensive.

Joanne has been warned that further ‘abusive’ breaches will result in her account being shut down.

Inspirational: Joanne Jackson, 40, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last June and had a mastectomy, had a series of photos taken to celebrate her survival - but Facebook deemed some of the images 'pornographic'

BANNED: This is the photograph of Joanne Jackson, 40, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last June and had a mastectomy, that was removed Facebook after being deemed ‘pornographic’

Angry Joanne, a Slimming World consultant of Thornhill, Dewsbury, West Yorks., said: ‘There is nothing pornographic or explicit about these pictures. That was not the idea at all.

‘I took breast cancer and the mastectomy in my stride and decided it wasn’t going to stop me living my life. It wasn’t going to define who I was, and it didn’t make me any less attractive as a woman.

‘My attitude was to just get on with it. I knew I could kick cancer’s ass and I did.’


Former council youth worker Joanne was approached by a friend, whose husband Paul Hodgson was a professional photographer, and she jumped at the chance to pose for pictures.

She said: ‘I am not one who is shy but these pictures weren’t as much about me as about other women who had maybe just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘It doesn’t have to be a death sentence and there is life after a mastectomy.

‘The images aren’t fluffy, they are real and I am very proud of them.’

Joanne’s story is one of great inspiration as she only discovered she had breast cancer after dieting and losing five stones in weight, dropping from a size 22 to a size 10.

Sharing: Wishing to help others with her inspiring story, Joanne posted the photos on her own Facebook page and on the pages of several cancer organisations

Inspirational: Wishing to help others through her story, Joanne had the series of photos taken to celebrate her survival. She posted them on her own Facebook page and on the pages of several cancer organisations

Banned: Facebook removed the photos, citing the rule that banned 'pornography and graphic sexual content' from the social networkign site. Any further breaches would result in the closure of her account, they said

Offensive? Facebook removed the photos, citing the rule that banned ‘pornography and graphic sexual content’ from the social networking site. Any further breaches would result in the closure of her account, they said

She joined Slimming World in April 2009 weighing 15st 4lbs, after putting on weight as a result of suffering years of heartache, including four miscarriages. She now weighs 10st 5lbs.

Thanks to her weight loss, Joanne’s bust reduced from a size 40HH to 30C. In May last year she discovered she had a lump in her breast.

Fighting fit: Joanne lost five stone in 2009, and the resulting reduction in her bust size was the reason she was able to spot the tumours in her breast

Fighting fit: Joanne lost five stone in 2009, and the resulting reduction in her bust size was the reason she was able to spot the tumours in her breast

Tests revealed she had two types of cancer in her left breast.

Her breast care nurse Debbie Weevel said: ‘If Joanne hadn’t lost the weight that she did, the lump wouldn’t have been spotted until much later and it could have been too late.’

Joanne, who is married to self-employed cobbler Andrew and has two sons Connah, 19, and Evan, five, posted the images that celebrated her survival in her own Facebook album and on pages for various cancer organisations.

She has no idea who reported them but the warning came out of the blue.

The message said: ‘Content you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

‘Shares that contain nudity, pornography and graphic sexual content are not permitted on Facebook.

‘This serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account.’

The message added that Joanne should ‘refrain from posting abusive material in the future.’

Joanne’s Facebook friends have also taken up the fight and the images have been re-posted as far afield as Australia, the USA, Canada and Spain.

‘It’s censorship, pure and simple,’ said Joanne, who is now having breast reconstruction. ‘And I’m not backing down so Facebook can do their worst.’

Photographer Mr Hodgson, of Huddersfield-based Box of Frogs, said the pictures were ‘inspirational, not salacious or erotic’ and added: ‘This is about showing that a cancer diagnosis does not mean your life has ended.

‘These pictures show that you can beat cancer and still be you.’

A Facebook spokesman confirmed that ‘several’ images had been removed because they breached terms and conditions.

‘He said Facebook welcomed mastectomy pictures but said that some images may breach regulations.

Last week Facebook came under fire for deleting a mother’s photos of her baby who died hours after being born with a rare birth defect.

Heather Walker’s baby Grayson had anencephaly, a condition that meant his skull did not form fully over his brain.

Heather, from Memphis, Tennessee, posted several photos of Grayson on Facebook after his death, one which showed the baby without a hat.

It was this photo that was deemed ‘graphic content’ by Facebook and deleted.

Heather said: ‘They allow people to post almost nude pictures of themselves, profanity, and so many other things but I’m not allowed to share a picture of God’s beautiful creation.’

Magic moments: With the help of non-profit organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, they had a professional photographer to take photos of their newborn, just the same way as they did with their other two children

Memories: Heather Walker and her husband Patrick had a professional photographer take photos of Grayson, who died after only eight hours. But Facebook deleted some of the photos that showed the baby, born with a rare condition that meant his skull did not form properly over his brain, without his hat

After repeatedly putting the removed picture on her profile, Heather’s account was temporarily disabled.

An appeal to Facebook led to the mother’s account being reactivated and the picture of her baby which was deemed ‘graphic’ allowed to remain.

A spokesman for Facebook denied that Heather was ever banned from the site, and said in a statement: ‘On rare occasions, a photo reported to us may be too graphic too be permitted on the site. In these cases, the person who posted the photo is contacted, and the photos are removed.

‘We strive to fit the needs of a diverse community while respecting everyone’s interest in sharing content that is important to them.

‘It is important to note that any photos that are removed – whether inappropriately or in accordance with our policies – are only done so after being brought to our attention by other Facebook users who report them as violations, and when such reports are subsequently reviewed by Facebook.’

Read more:

For more information on diet, health and nutrition, please email Harpinder Gill at You are welcome to email us with any question on any health topic. Please allow 24 hours for an answer, and if your query seems requiring an urgent response, expect to hear from us before that time.

15-year-old discovers a paper sensor that detects pancreatic cancer

In case you can't recognize your own organs, that is a pancreas. With this new test, you can find out if you have pancreatic cancer 168 times faster.

In case you can’t recognize your own organs, that is a pancreas. With this new test, you can find out if you have pancreatic cancer 168 times faster.

Image: RAZCREATIONZS/Shutterstock

A Cheap, Accurate Cancer Sensor, Created By A 15-Year-Old

This new test is better than old tests for pancreatic cancer by astronomical margins. And it was invented by someone who’s still worried about passing his driving test.

Every year, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair wows us with the ingenuity of high school students. This year’s first place winner is particularly impressive. Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old student from Maryland, came up with a paper sensor that detects pancreatic cancer 168 times faster than current tests. It’s also 90% accurate, 400 times more sensitive, and 26,000 times less expensive than today’s methods. In short: It’s a lot better.

Andraka was inspired to focus on pancreatic cancer because a friend’s brother was killed by the disease. “I became interested in early detection, did a ton of research, and came up with this idea,” he says.

Andraka (center) with the other winners.

Andraka’s dip-stick sensor can test urine or blood for a certain protein (mesothelin) that indicates the existence of the specific cancer. The paper strip changes conductivity based on how much of the protein is in the blood. It can, according to Andraka, detect the cancer even before it becomes invasive.

This isn’t Andraka’s first science fair. “I really love science and science fairs because you get to meet these people that you would never meet before,” he says. “Before this I was into the environment. A few years ago I was detecting bioavailable water pollution with glowing bacteria.”

All of Andraka’s $75,000 in winnings will go to his college education. He plans on studying to become a pathologist. In the meantime, the high school student plans to start clinical trials with the sensor, meet with Quest Diagnostics, and get the product on the market within 10 years. What were you doing in high school?

Ariel Schwartz

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

For more information on diet, health and nutrition, please email Harpinder Gill at You are welcome to email us with any question on any health topic. Please allow 24 hours for an answer, and if your query seems requiring an urgent response, expect to hear from us before that time.

In 8 Years, Facebook wrote, and updated history!

And since we’re on facebook, here’s a nice article about the company whose page you are on right NOW!!!!

In 8 Years, Facebook Changed All We Do Online

BY E.B. BOYD | 05-17-2012 | 11:18 AM

In the storm that is Facebook’s IPO, we pause to take note of the way the social network has transformed the way we live now.

Is Facebook worth the $100 billion or so its pending IPO suggests it is? Who the good gracious knows. But one thing we can all be certain about is how the social network has radically changed people’s behavior and expectations online in the eight short years since it was a nary more than a twinkle in the eye of its baby-faced founder(s). Those changes have had the monumental impact of facilitating the formation of entirely new industries and dramatically shifting the way brands market themselves online.

There are things we do online today, that we take so much for granted that we forget that some of them didn’t exist even as recently as two years ago. And others were so radical they inspired outright rebellions when they were first introduced. And yet all of these things are not only commonplace today, they are the presumed paradigms. To operate any differently would seem downright odd.

If past is prologue, we’re confident Facebook will continue to innovate in the years to come, thereby continuing to transform how individuals and businesses interact online and creating a whole new set of economic opportunities. Whether that translates into enough revenue to merit a $38 share price, we’ll leave up to the number-crunchers on Wall Street. For now, however, we want to pause in this brief respite before the NASDAQ frenzy slated for tomorrow to pay homage to a few of Facebook’s game-changing innovations.

The Death Of Email

I was in London last winter, and while walking through a train station, I overheard two people talking about coordinating with a third person. “I’ll reach out to him on Facebook,” one of them said. When I was in Afghanistan last year, at the rec center of every single military base I was on, anywhere from half to two-thirds of troops were on Facebook. When you only have access to computers for half an hour at a time, Facebook becomes the most efficient way to let friends and family know what you’re up to and catch up with their news. When I found out that an old boyfriend had had a kid but hadn’t emailed me the happy news, I was momentarily upset until a mutual friend told me, “I think he just posted it to Facebook.” The social network has become one of the primary ways that people communicate today. Certainly it hasn’t supplanted email altogether, but, globally, it has become the go-to channel for a slew of use cases that used to be managed by email or phone–or simply not communicated at all. So much so that it’s spawned an entirely new industry of social networks-for-business, like Yammer, Chatter, Podio, and Edmodo

For more information on diet, health and nutrition, please email Harpinder Gill at You are welcome to email us with any question on any health topic. Please allow 24 hours for an answer, and if your query seems requiring an urgent response, expect to hear from us before that time.

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