GM Know’s

gm-knows-2The term GMO is seen in our society every single day. It shows up on stickers in grocery stores, advertisements on the television, and is seen in buzz articles on the Internet. However, what do people actually know about Genetically Modified Organisms? There exist many debates as to if GMO’s impact your health or the environment negatively. Some have been proven to been true but other issues still need to be researched. This article provides insights into various topics on GMO’s, but mostly aims to aid consumers in knowing more details about the production and impacts of GMO’s.

What is a GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. A GMO has had its genetic material altered so that its DNA contains more or less genes than what is found naturally. This process of alteration is also referred as Genetic Engineering (GE), or Genetic Modification (GM). Techniques used in genetic engineering allow for selected individual genes from either related or non-related species to be transferred from one organism into another.

So, why genetically modify food?

plantintesttube2At first, the production of GM crops was solely to benefit farmers by creating disease resistant and drought tolerant varieties. But recently, scientists are now aiming to create the perfect species that not only has growth benefits but also benefits the consumers. They do so by seemingly enhancing nutritional benefits and taking out genes that have been found to be potentially harmful to humans. Although there seems as if there are no negative reasons as to genetically modified food, there have been proven environmental risks as well as potential health risks.

Are all GMO’s the same?

No, all GMO’s are not the same. GMO is a blanket term for any way an organism is modified and does not really provide any information about it at all. Every single GMO is distinctive and quite different than another. A GMO containing species could be referring to a crop that has been modified to be resistant to an herbicide, or to separate crop that has been modified to express different levels of vitamin precursors. Overall, the main point is to show that all GMO’s are referred to the same GMO but they are all extremely different depending on the modification.

What are the dangers/risks of GMO’s?

So far, it might seem as if GMO’s have sole positive impacts. They can produce higher crop yields, eliminate the need of external pesticides, and remove potential harmful gene sequences. However, there are potential health risks and environmental risks that go along with the production and consumption of genetically modified foods. In regards to health risks, there has been speculation as to if GMO’s have increased food allergies rates or increased the likelihood of bacterial contamination. There have not been enough studies to say definitely if these correlations are 100% true or not, but that is exactly the point. Little to no long term research has been done on the effects of the consumption of GMOs and health risks. As for environmental impact, there have been definite negative effects that have been seen in regards to the production of genetically modified crops.

Environmental Risks

Lack of Diversity
Genetically modified food production causes potential risks to the biodiversity by promoting large-scale monocultures. The contribution to the decline in biodiversity actually increases vulnerability of crops to climate change, pests, and disease. Diversity is extremely important in agriculture for multiple reasons. One of those being that it allows for the maintenance of other ecosystem services such as soil and water conservation, which supports soil fertility and pollination that are all essential to human survival.

Another potential consequence of GM production is out-crossing. Outcrossing refers to the passing of traits on to wild relatives, through insect pollination or wind, and the changing of the genetics of those relatives. These changed species, again, can take on a new ecological role that would harm the environment that it was originally established in. Those interactions can promote extinction of certain populations of other plants as well affect insects, birds, and all species that consume GMO seeds.

Increased Pesticide Use
One other way that biodiversity can be damaged is the increased use of pesticides associated with genetically modified crop production. The promotion of greater pesticide use can be toxic to many species, and further disrupt plant communities. Another concern is the production of what people refer to as “superweeds’. These “superweeds” are weeds that have adapted to the herbicides being used and have developed resistance to them. The difficulty to control these “superweeds” increases costs and quantities of herbicides necessary to maintain the crop.

Final thoughts

finalthoughtsAs discussed, there is a lot of debate around the risks of the production and consumption of genetically modified products. In regards to health concerns, there are no observed short-term risks. However, little to no research has been done on the long-term effects of consuming genetically modified food. As for environmental risk factors, there have been proven detrimental effects to the environment from the promotion of lack of biodiversity to the increased use of pesticides. To air on the side of caution, buy organic. But if you are still not sure as to which produce to get, use Organic Diet Buddy. Organic Diet Buddy can help you pick and choose which foods to buy organic to protect yourself from pesticide residue as well as unknown GMO’s.

5 Reasons to Shop at Farmer’s Markets

From meeting your local farmers with the freshest produce to giving your body the proper full nutrition, there are countless reasons to shop at a farmer’s market.

Number 1: Support local economy and family farmers

  • - Puts money directly back into your community
  • - The more we support local farmers, the more they flourish
  • - Buying directly gives farmers better return for their produce and helps them in the global economy

Number 2: Protect the environment

  • - On average, food travels approximately 1,500 miles to get to your door
  • - Conventional agriculture uses many more resources that pollute water, land, and air with toxic products
  • - Local agriculture reduces those toxins as well as reduces trash by eliminating extra packaging

Number 3: Enjoy variety and freshness

  • - Usually get produce less than 24 hours after harvesting
  • - Items that are not artificially “forced” or “restrained” from reaching ripeness will taste better and fresher
  • - Try different fruits or vegetables that you have never seen before! Farmers are happy to let you try their harvest before purchase

Number 4: Nourish yourself

  • - Fresh produce has highest nutritional value
  • - Most store produce is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification
  • - Protect your body by knowing the sustainable techniques used by local farmers

Number 5: Engage with your community – have fun!

  • - Fun and educational for whole family
  • - Get to know members of your local community
  • - Experience a taste of small town life and feel connected to the world around you!

Check to see if your licensed local farmer’s market accepts SNAP benefits or Double Up Food Bucks! Both programs are made for low-income individuals so they can buy fresh local produce as well.

Download Smart Foods: Organic Diet Buddy

Find a list of your local farmer’s markets, or use the “pin” to find what is closest to you.

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Pranayama for Athletes

Breathing is one of our most vital functions, and yet, a large majority of people do not pay any attention to it. As an athlete or active individual, it is especially important to be conscious of your breathing; proper breathing can make the difference between silver and gold!

Does Breathing Really Matter?

Sadly, our cultural upbringing has led to the development of harmful habits that inhibit proper breathing. School and work demand that we spend the majority of our day sitting, possibly leaning over a desk or a computer, and we end up slouching much more than we realize. Poor posture closes off the diaphragm and forces us to take shorter, faster breaths that barely reach the chest. This type of breathing is considered “shallow breathing” and it can hurt both mental and physical health.

When you step out of the classroom or office and into a gym or game, your breathing and postural habits will carry over. Thus, if you can master proper breathing and posture outside of your athletic activities, the improved habits will also carry over and significantly improve your athletic performance.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama (also called conscious breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, or yoga breathing) is a form of breathing that engages the diaphragm to carry inhaled oxygen beyond the short reach of shallow breathing. If you practice yoga, you may have already heard of and begun practicing pranayama. It allows oxygen to reach the entirety of your lungs, maximizing the amount of oxygen that enters the blood and the brain.

Diaphragmatic breathing engages all systems of your body (cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine, lymph, immune, digestive, and respiratory) and maximizes the efficiency of your oxygen intake. Using pranayama, you can fill your lungs with 4500 mL of air, while shallow breathing only brings about 350 mL of air into your lungs!

Pranayama and the Body

During strenuous exercise, your muscles are constantly contracting and require large amounts of oxygen delivered to them. If they muscles do not receive an adequate supply of oxygen, they begin performing anaerobic respiration, which allows them to contract without oxygen. The down side to this process is that it produces lactic acid that can build up in your muscles, leading to painful cramps and soreness that slow you down or weaken your performance. Diaphragmatic breathing can delay or altogether eliminate the need for anaerobic breathing!

The best way to master your breathing during exercise is to establish a rhythm that is comfortable, natural, and reliable. For example, a swimmer may choose to inhale during a stroke, retain it for two or three strokes, and then exhale during a stroke. A runner may use the same rhythm but line it up with their strides. Focusing on your established rhythm will ensure that you do not let your increased heart rate affect your breathing and cause you to take short and inefficient breaths.

Pranayama and the Mind

The mental benefits of pranayama are just as profound as the physical benefits! Many physical limitations are self-imposed, meaning that the body can often perform harder, faster, and longer than the mind believes it can. The body may be more than capable, but if you decide that you cannot run another mile or swim another lap or sprint to the end of the soccer field faster than an opponent, you are not going to.

Mental clarity is a major benefit of phragmatic breathing. When you focus on your breathing and become wholly aware of the engagement of your entire body, you leave no room for doubtful thoughts about your physical performance, creating a more meditative experience that ultimately leads to achievement.