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A question for all my omnivore friends out there:  Would you consider cutting meat out of your meals once a week?  It might seem like an odd idea, but joining meatless Mondays has so many benefits!

Meatless Mondays is a non-profit group that started as a health awareness program in 2003.  Their goal is to reduce meat consumption in order to improve our personal health, as well as the health of our planet.

Vegetables on Meatless Mondays

Meatless Mondays has now become a food movement that is catching on like wildfire.  Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, introduced me to meatless Mondays when he suggested America get involved during an interview with Oprah. Michael suggested that by cutting meat out of our meals once a week will reduce our carbon footprint.  He also noted an additional benefit of meatless Mondays. “To the extent we push meat a little bit to the side and move vegetables to the center of our diet, we are also going to be a lot healthier.”

Adding more vegetables, beans, fruits and nuts to your diet will not only help your digestive and immune system, but it also has an external body benefit.  A vegetarian diet on Mondays will help you consume more vegetables that contain vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that help make skin healthy and clear.

And of course an added bonus: learn some fun new recipes along the way!

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Foodborne illness is costing the U.S. $152 billion annually, according to a new report released by the Make Our Food Safe coalition Tuesday.  What states topped the list with highest foodborne illness-related costs?  Connecticut, Hawaii, Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, the capital Washington (District of Columbia), Mississippi, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. 

This important study was released as congress is working on legislation that would be the first major change in food safety in 50 years.  Yes, 50 years.  The goal is to bring the bill to the Senate by Easter, but supporters are worried that the frenzy around healthcare reform will postpone forward movement.  However, the Make Our Food Safe Coalition, which is made up of public health consumers and industry groups, are working hard to keep things on schedule  Today they rallied a group forty-five victims of foodborne illness on Capital Hill in support of the Food Safety bill. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 76 million people in the United States get sick each year with foodborne illness and 5,000 die.  By passing this legislation, not only would we save billions of dollars, but we’d also be saving lives.  It’s time for change.  If you want to find out more about how to take action to help pass strong food safety legislation, visit MakeOurFoodSafe.org.

I decided to experiment with drinking tea in the morning rather than a cup of coffee. After drinking tea for three days straight, and then going back to coffee, the difference in how I felt was so obvious!

Tea = Gentle

Coffee = Jitters

It got me thinking. I already get pretty stressed and riled up at work, so why would I make it worse by starting my day with a big cup of jitters? Since the majority of us are probably pretty hooked on our morning cup of joe, I thought it would be helpful to share some information about both coffee and tea.

Quick History (because they are both fun stories)

Tea was discovered by the ancient Chinese ruler Shen Nong, over 5,000 years ago, when a leaf landed in his boiling water. He drank the brown liquid and found it refreshing. Coffee was discovered much later and is believed to have been first cultivated in Arabia. In fact, it is believed that coffee beans were used to make tea until someone dropped a bean into the fire by accident, and voila, coffee was born!

Both contain caffeine, but how much?

Tea contains approximately 55 milligrams of caffeine per cup, and coffee contains about 125 – 185 milligrams per cup. As far as teas go, green teas contain the least amount caffeine, followed by white tea, and black and oolong have more. The effect of caffeine in tea usually takes longer to enter the blood stream than coffee, so it’s gentler on our bodies. Coffee, on the other hand, hits our system much faster, which causes that jolt in us that we’ve come to know and love for its ability to make us feel more alert.

What about decaf?

A lot of people are under the impression that they need to stay away from caffeine altogether. I’m here to tell you that’s not always the case! In fact, next time you reach for decaffeinated tea, consider this. Studies conducted from the US Department of Agriculture found that decaffeinated green tea contains less than a third of the catechins in regular tea. Catechins are the main antioxidants that make green tea so good for us!

Coffee and your health

On a positive note, the caffeine in coffee can help relieve asthma by helping relax the airways in the lungs. Other than that, it’s just a commodity that we like to enjoy, for better or for worse! Something to consider if you’re like me and enjoy french press coffee. MSNBC recently shared a study that showed that unfiltered coffee has a negative effect on cholesterol. However, to keep things into perspective, they did explain that “Unfiltered coffee has much less effect on your heart disease risk than smoking, high blood pressure, or being overweight.” Phew! I’m a big believer that most things in moderation are okay, but if you are interested or concerned, check out the full MSNBC article on coffee and cholesterol here.

Tea and your health

Studies show that tea helps slow the growth of cancer cells, helps with digestion, and has antioxidants that help keep our hearts healthy. It also helps lower our bad cholesterol and promotes weight loss.

Whatever beverage you choose to start your day with, just remember to pay attention to how your body reacts to it.  Although we’ve become accustomed to the coffee jitters, perhaps you’ll consider enjoying the effects of caffeine the gentler way with tea.

Every day I wake up thankful to have a wonderful husband, loving family, steady job, and healthy lifestyle.  Okay, we all admittedly have those days that stress overwhelms us and the cloud settles in.  This morning, I spotted an article that gave me another reason to always look on the bright side of things… it may stop heart disease!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is a chemical used to make baby bottles, water bottles and food containers.  BPA is also found in the lining canned goods.  The risks of this substance has been in question for years.  As recently as 2008, the FDA stated that low amounts of exposure to BPA would not have any adverse health effects.  However, a friend of mine emailed an article to me with a headline that caught my eye: Human placenta cells die after BPA exposure.  The researchers findings indicate that exposure to BPA during pregnancy can hurt the baby.  Very small amounts of BPA caused severe damage during their experiment.

Can someone explain to me why the FDA hasn’t banned this chemical altogether, even though they have acknowledged the risks of BPA?  Let’s take a tip from Canada.  Our northern neighbors, along with several US states, have banned BPA from children’s products

While the debate continues, it’s important for us to share our concerns, and spend our dollars supporting healthy products. In response to consumers freaking out about the risks of BPA, a lot of manufacturers now offer BPA-free bottles.  A couple of great examples are Nalgene and Born Free.  Also check out the love bottle – it’s a reusable glass bottle that you can write on.  How fun is that?!?

-In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.  ~Author Unknown

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