How to Buy Organic Groceries Without Exceeding Your Budget

Woman shopping for candy grocery store

Written by Laura Batcha CEO/Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association

I hope you’re among the millions of individuals and families across our nation who have discovered how good it is for you and your family to eat organic food and use organic products in your daily lives.

I get lots of questions on how we can save money when buying organic. Organic products can sometimes be more expensive than conventional, and we all want to find ways to economize while still choosing organic. The good news, I have found, is that there are many ways to live an organic – and thrifty! – lifestyle.

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In the News: Music Shown to Enhance Effects of Hypertension Medication, Morning People Appear to Live Longer, Depressed Mothers May Have Children with Lower IQs

A new study shows that certain music enhances the effects of hypertensive medication. New research has proven that music lowers heart rate and blood pressure on its own without any medication. However, a study conducted at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil has recently demonstrated that the effects of music go even further to augment the effects of medications for this condition. Thirty-seven participants who had been taking hypertension medication for six months to a year listened to music for 60 minutes after taking their normal daily dose, and researchers took their vitals at the 20, 40, and 60-minute marks. The heart rates of the participants dropped significantly after an hour when listening to music, and not at all on the days that they sat without music. Researchers believe this could be due to music activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that slows heart rate, or the gastrointestinal system, causing the drug to be digested and absorbed faster. The study must be replicated with more participants with varying degrees of severity in their hypertension, but these results suggest that some musical intervention is worth a shot for anyone wishing to see more improvement without changing their prescription. If you have high blood pressure, here are five surprising reasons why. (MNT)

Night people are shown to have a 10% higher risk of death from any cause than morning people. This conclusion was formed after researchers controlled for age, sex, smoking, body mass index, sleep duration, and other variables presumed to affect life expectancy, in a sample of 433,268 people aged 38 to 73. Participants classified themselves as “definite morning”, “moderate morning”, “moderate evening”, and “definite evening” people and the researchers followed each of them for about six years. Not only did “definite evening” show a 10 percent increased risk of death than the “definite morning” group, each of these intervals between the two types in classification saw a significantly increased risk of disease. Night owls were 30 percent more likely to have diabetes and twice as likely to have a psychological disorder than morning people. The size, length, and statistically significant results of this study make it credible; night people can decrease risk by gradually making their bedtime earlier and not bringing smartphones to bed with them to make it more likely that they fall asleep right away. Want to become a morning person? Try these six tips. (NYT)

A new study suggests a mother’s depression has long-term effects on her children’s learning and development. The study spanned from birth to adolescence, tracking the mother’s depressive symptoms, the child’s cognitive development, and aspects of the home life to indicate the level of engagement between the two. The results showed that if the mother had depression when the child was one, it led to decreased developmental levels in the child through the age of 16, coupled with the fact that depressed mothers were less likely to engage and provide learning materials. Researchers also found the opposite to hold true: Early signs of low IQ in a child made mothers become less likely to engage, and actually increased the mother’s depressive symptoms after the child entered adolescence. The study was done in Chile, and researchers worry that the results may not be applicable across nationalities and cultures, but they do stress the importance of early enrichment programs for kids to reach their full potential regardless of home life. (ABC)

In the News: Updated Alzheimer’s Definition Could Lead to Faster Diagnosis, Yoga in School Helps Young Children with Anxiety, One Gene Can Make You Increase Sugar Intake While Decreasing Body Fat

Scientists are leaning towards using biological methods to diagnosis Alzheimer’s 15-20 years sooner. Rather than waiting until cognitive decline reveals itself in a patient to start testing and diagnosing Alzheimer’s, doctors can diagnose the disease using objective and biological evaluations from brain scans. Dr. Clifford R. Jack Jr. of the Mayo Clinic led a few of his fellow experts to change the guidelines in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association to include these objective brain characteristics in the signs of the disease, meaning that a lot more people will be correctly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 20 years sooner than they otherwise would have been. These brain scans haven’t been approved in the mainstream treatment of Alzheimer’s, only in studying it, but this evaluation tactic has huge implications. This disease currently has no cure, only treatments that temporarily and slightly ease symptoms, and experts believe it is because the disease is often caught too late, similarly to cancer. Because doctors can now use this improved, objective definition of the disease to identify it and study patients before symptoms develop, they may be able to develop treatments to prevent the eventual cognitive decline. Stock up on these anti-Alzheimer’s foods to further stave off this condition. (NBC)

Study finds yoga and mindfulness activities greatly improves well-being in third-graders. Researchers from Tulane University worked with a public school in New Orleans to add yoga and mindfulness activities to the curriculum for an experimental group of children, while a control group continued regular care such as counseling and interaction with the school social worker. The researchers chose to do the study with third-graders because previous child studies have already found this to be a significant year for increased academic challenges and related increased stress and anxiety for kids. Before and after the changed curriculum, researchers evaluated the children’s quality of life; kids who underwent the intervention using yoga and mindfulness while at school saw significantly improved psychosocial and emotional quality of life scores after eight weeks, and teachers confirmed a noticed difference in the well-being of students in this group. The larger implications are that mindfulness and related activities are extremely valuable at any age for improving quality of life and that the stress or anxiety in young people in your life should not be underestimated. Check out Dr. Oz’s favorite yoga moves here. (SD)

In an enormous UK study, researchers find one gene that makes people eat more sugar without increased body fat. Researchers in the UK recently studied the biological data of 451,099 people; this size study lends itself to concrete confidence in their findings, which included the conclusion that there is one gene that many of us may call the “lucky gene.” Called FGF21, it makes people who have it want and need to intake a higher level of sugar than anyone else, while also increasing metabolic rate, resulting in lower body fat levels than most people. However, they also looked at the effects of this gene on people’s diets, body compositions, and blood pressures, concluding that people with this gene aren’t entirely lucky: their bodies hold more fat in their upper body, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and compromised heart health. They also are more likely to drink more alcohol, due to their taste for sugar. Researchers hope to use this information to explore potentially treating diabetes with the manipulation of this gene. However, the largest takeaway is that, while you likely don’t know if you have this gene, a healthy diet is important for anyone, regardless of whether there is evidence of risk on the scale! (MNT)

How to Be a Mindful Parent When You Are Feeling Stressed

Mother in pajamas with coffee sits on the bed while children jump all around her

Written by Dr. Claire Nicogossian, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Stress is a part of life and nothing amplifies that emotion more than being a parent. Raising a family is hard work, and while there are many rewards, the reality is, being a parent is a role made up of active nurturing and intense responsibility for at least two decades until children become independent and are ready to launch into the world.

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In the News: Study Explains Why Insomniacs Sleep Without Realizing, Weight Loss Surgery Linked to Divorce and Marriage, Synthetic Cannabinoids Linked With Deaths

New study explains why some insomniacs sleep without realizing it. Labeled as “sleep misperception”, there is a phenomenon where people with insomnia are clearly asleep but do not experience it, reporting the next morning that they did not sleep at all. To find out more, Professor Daniel Kay of Brigham Young University and his team studied 32 people with insomnia and 30 people without the condition – their sleep patterns, brain wave, and activity patterns during sleep, and participants’ own reports of their sleep experience the next morning. Those with insomnia who reported not being asleep when the polysomnography (technology to track sleep) reported them to be so were confirmed to be experiencing conscious-level activity in their brain during non-REM stages. This suggests that those who suffer from this condition are not receiving the inhibitory neurons that your brain sends out gradually until you eventually lose consciousness and go to sleep. This, in turn, has great implications for the treatment of insomnia, involving a new goal of helping those people experience greater inhibitory activity, and Professor Kay recommends that these people engage in lengthy mindful meditation before sleeping in the meantime. If you’re struggling to sleep, here are the five best snacks for you to choose from. (MNT)

Weight loss surgery correlated to both divorces and marriages. According to a new study from a university in Sweden, weight loss surgery can have a huge impact on interpersonal relationships. The first part of the study compared about 2,000 obese individuals who had weight loss surgery with the same amount of people who had not; the second part compared over 29,000 obese individuals who had weight loss surgery with over 283,000 people in the general population. Interestingly, while unmarried participants who had the surgery were about 35 percent more likely to get married than their general population counterparts, the married participants who underwent surgery were also 41 percent more likely to get divorced. The researchers explained this trend by saying that the surgery makes people more likely to re-evaluate current relationships, and feel that they actually can either begin one or end an unhealthy one. They also speculated that feelings of jealousy or inadequacy in the other partner may play a part. This is an interesting pattern to note as bariatric surgery is becoming only more popular, following revelations that undergoing this treatment option carries fewer health risks than being obese. If you’re trying to lose weight, here are six surprising foods to help you along the way. (REUTERS)

Hospitalizations and deaths across Illinois linked with synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids are manmade drugs designed to produce the same mind-altering effects as marijuana, but they are much more powerful – and much more dangerous, as has been proven in Illinois. More than 70 cases of severe bleeding from many different body parts have been reported, as well as the two deaths of healthy men in their 20s after they used synthetic cannabinoids. Nine of these cases tested positive for rat poison. Though these products are toxic, people are tempted to use them because they are conveniently sold in stores and do not show up in a drug test; this argument has been used for the legalization of the far less dangerous real marijuana plant, which would prevent people from resorting to these manmade products to feel the pain relief and mental effects of marijuana. Though the synthetic products are not fully regulated, government and law enforcement officials urge the public to never experiment with them, particularly not in the wake of this outbreak. Three people have been arrested in connection with these hospitalizations and deaths. (CNN)

The Surprising Reason You’re Not Sleeping Through the Night

young couple sleeping in bed

Written by Dr. Daniel Barone 

There are few things more frustrating than not being able to sleep. It seems like it should be so simple: you get tired, you lie down, and the next thing you know, it’s morning. But for so many of you, it’s not simple at all – it’s a struggle. Unfortunately, figuring out what’s preventing you from getting the rest you need can also be a challenge. As a sleep doctor, I see this every day in my office. One cause of sleepless nights that many people don’t realize they are living with is restless legs syndrome (RLS).

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Concepts to Think About When It Comes to Your Nutrition

Young woman carries a shopping basket filled with fresh produce. She is shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables in a grocery store.

Written by Allen Tran, MS, RD, CSSD, High Performance Dietitian and Chef for U.S. Ski and Snowboard

Nutrition is vital for any elite athlete or weekend warrior. It’s the foundation for peak performance and the fuel behind it. And when it comes down to it, what you put in your body can be the difference between standing on the podium or going home empty-handed.

Whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds, prepping for a local 5K, or simply want to live a healthier lifestyle, here are three main principles to think about when it comes to your nutrition.

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