For White Sharks, Diet Is Different For Each Individual

April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

White sharks are the largest predatory sharks in the ocean. They are thought of as apex predators, animals who as adults have no natural predators of their own in their natural ecosystem. Marine scientists have long known that white sharks feed on seals and sea lions, but a new study from the University of California, Santa Cruz demonstrates that there is surprising variability in the diets of individual sharks.

The research team traced variations in diet over a sharks’ entire life by analyzing composition of growth bands in shark vertebrae. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the shark’s tissues serve as natural tracers of dietary inputs.

“We did find that white shark diets changed with age, as expected, but we were surprised that the patterns and extent of change differed among individuals,” said Sora Kim, who led the study as a UCSC graduate student and is now at the University of Wyoming.

The study looked at the vertebrae of 15 adult white sharks caught along the west coast; fourteen were caught off the coast of California and one off Baja California. White sharks in this population eat a wide variety of animals, including dolphins, fish and squid in addition to the seals and sea lions. According to Paul Koch, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UCSC, not every shark eats the same mix of prey animals.

“We confirmed that the diets of many individuals observed at seal and sea lion rookeries shift from fish to marine mammals as the sharks mature,” he said. “In addition, we discovered that different individual sharks may specialize on different types of prey. These two types of flexibility in feeding behavior are difficult to document using traditional methods, but may be very important for understanding how the population is supported by the eastern Pacific ecosystem and how it may respond to changes in that ecosystem.”

White sharks are found in temperate waters around the globe. They are considered an important, though not terribly common, predator in California’s coastal habitats. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the agency is considering whether to list the west coast population on the Endangered Species Act to protect them.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is a law that is designed to provide for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened. It is also geared towards the conservation of the ecosystems of those threatened species. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) shares responsibility for implementing the ESA with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

White sharks found along the California coast cruise the coast from late summer to early winter before moving offshore in a regular migratory pattern that has been tracked by tagging studies. While their movements may be predictable, the results of this new study illuminate important dietary and behavioral differences between individual sharks.

The shark vertebrae were obtained from various collections, caught at different times and in different places along the coast from 1957 to 2000.

“Interestingly, we do see a small shift in diet as marine mammal populations increased after the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972,” Kim said.

The results of this new study are published online in the journal PLoS One.

Beggar the Dolphin Killed By a Diet of Hot Dogs and Beer

Turns out that a diet of beer and hot dogs—though theoretically appetizing—is just as harmful to dolphins as it is to humans, especially when it encourages bad behavior in the former.

Just like the dog who has learned to eye dinner scraps at the table, Beggar the dolphin developed an ultimately fatal habit of approaching humans in Sarasota, Florida—a habit that was reinforced and enabled by boaters feeding the bottlenose dolphin an unhealthy diet of, among other things, hot dogs, beer, fruit, shrimp, and squid. His learned unnatural behavior is believed to have contributed to his death. Beggar was recently found floating dead near Albee Road Bridge. He was about 20 years old.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, feeding and petting wild dolphins is illegal, and punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and and a year in jail per violation. That didn’t stop curious humans from luring Beggar—a dolphin famous in the area for being one of the most observed and ill-fed of his kind—to their boats with food unfit for dolphins.

MORE: Ready, Set, Kill: Dolphin Hunting Season Begins

The feeding drastically altered Beggar’s behavior, leaving him more susceptible to injury from boats he tried to approach. A necropsy performed on Beggar’s body revealed multiple watercraft inflicted wounds and a stomach filled with items not normally included in a dolphin’s diet such as fishing hooks, strands of fishing line, and squid beaks, as well as several ulcers of varying severity. He also had multiple broken ribs and vertebrae and was dehydrated—probably because he wasn’t eating the normal dolphin diet that would provide him with the hydration he needed. While no single cause of death could be determined, Beggar’s necropsy suggests that humans had a hand in it.

Twenty years of age is the average lifespan of a dolphin, but steady observation of Beggar revealed that human interference may have dramatically reduced his quality of life. In 100 hours, Dr. Katie McHugh of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program documented 3,600 interactions between Beggar and humans with up to 70 interactions an hour, 169 attempts to feed him 530 different kinds of food, which included hot dogs and beer, and 121 attempts to touch him resulting in 9 bites (probably because he thought people’s fingers looked like little Vienna sausages). Rather than spend time with other dolphins, Beggar spent his days hounding humans for food. When law enforcement was present on the water, humans were less likely to approach Beggar and, consequently, Beggar was more likely to forage for food on his own like a normal dolphin.

But while Beggar’s death is a sad reminder of how humans can have devastating effects on wildlife, more tragic is the violent demise of a dolphin shot to death in Louisiana. Conservationists are offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer of a bottlenose dolphin found dead at Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge. The dolphin died of a gunshot wound just behind its blowhole—the bullet was found in its lung. Similarly, another dolphin was found stabbed with a screwdriver off the coast of Alabama earlier in the summer season. No arrests have been made in either case, but once the perpetrators are found, justice is sure to be swift. Just as the Marine Mammal Protection Act outlaws the feeding and touching of dolphins, it delivers the same harsh penalties for those who harass, harm, or kill wild dolphins.

What do you think could be done to prevent dolphin deaths like Beggar’s? More education or more policing? Can we trust humans to respectfully admire dolphins on their own?

Related Stories on TakePart:

• ‘The Cove’ Still Open for Slaughter: Dolphin Hunting Season Begins in Japan

• 2012 Taiji Dolphin Slaughter: A Hunting Season in Review

• A Major Victory and a Path Forward for Saving Dolphins in the Solomon Islands

Liz Acosta is a writer, artist, and activist living in San Francisco. She likes to practice what she calls “accessible activism,” doing what she can to change the world. She loves dogs, photography, bicycles, IPAs, and Britney Spears.

Great white sharks show diversity in diet, study says

Great white sharks may munch on a wider array of sea creatures throughout their lives than previously thought, according to a new study published Friday in the journal PLoS ONE.

The great whites are well known to many as the stars of “Shark Week” and as one of the ocean’s most feared predators. Researchers have long believed that a shark’s diet evolves over its lifetime as it grows, moving from small prey like fish to larger animals like seals and, every once in a while, humans.

But in the new study, the researchers found that great whites show a remarkable diversity in their diets. Even sharks that live near each other ate differently throughout the course of their lifetimes, and some sharks never made the transition to large animals at all.

The researchers, from UC Santa Cruz, studied the vertebrae of 15 great whites that were caught off the West Coast of the U.S. between 1957 and 2000. When sharks eat, a record of their diet is stored in their vertebrae in the form of carbon and nitrogen. Over time, the elements amass as bands in their vertebrae, akin to a tree’s rings. Because animals lower on the food chain have different levels of carbon and nitrogen in their tissue than animals higher on the food chain, researchers can tell what the sharks ate over time by looking at bands from different periods in a shark’s life.

The researchers expected to find a gradual change in the levels of carbon and nitrogen over time, signifying increasing consumption of bigger animals as they got older. This would lead to a plateau in the elements’ levels once the transition to large animals was complete.

While they saw that pattern in some sharks, the diets varied a great deal between different sharks. Some sharks appeared to eat small animals, such as fish and squid, for their entire lives. Others seemed to get feisty while still young, eating bigger animals like seals virtually from the get-go.

The researchers also noticed another shift over time: In general, sharks have recently consumed more marine mammals than they used to, a change the researchers attribute to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which passed in 1972.

You can read the full study here.

Return to the Science Now blog.

Beggar the Dolphin Killed By a Diet of Hot Dogs and Beer

Turns out that a diet of beer and hot dogs—though theoretically appetizing—is just as harmful to dolphins as it is to humans, especially when it encourages bad behavior in the former.

Just like the dog who has learned to eye dinner scraps at the table, Beggar the dolphin developed an ultimately fatal habit of approaching humans in Sarasota, Florida—a habit that was reinforced and enabled by boaters feeding the bottlenose dolphin an unhealthy diet of, among other things, hot dogs, beer, fruit, shrimp, and squid. His learned unnatural behavior is believed to have contributed to his death. Beggar was recently found floating dead near Albee Road Bridge. He was about 20 years old.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, feeding and petting wild dolphins is illegal, and punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and and a year in jail per violation. That didn’t stop curious humans from luring Beggar—a dolphin famous in the area for being one of the most observed and ill-fed of his kind—to their boats with food unfit for dolphins.

MORE: Ready, Set, Kill: Dolphin Hunting Season Begins

The feeding drastically altered Beggar’s behavior, leaving him more susceptible to injury from boats he tried to approach. A necropsy performed on Beggar’s body revealed multiple watercraft inflicted wounds and a stomach filled with items not normally included in a dolphin’s diet such as fishing hooks, strands of fishing line, and squid beaks, as well as several ulcers of varying severity. He also had multiple broken ribs and vertebrae and was dehydrated—probably because he wasn’t eating the normal dolphin diet that would provide him with the hydration he needed. While no single cause of death could be determined, Beggar’s necropsy suggests that humans had a hand in it.

Twenty years of age is the average lifespan of a dolphin, but steady observation of Beggar revealed that human interference may have dramatically reduced his quality of life. In 100 hours, Dr. Katie McHugh of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program documented 3,600 interactions between Beggar and humans with up to 70 interactions an hour, 169 attempts to feed him 530 different kinds of food, which included hot dogs and beer, and 121 attempts to touch him resulting in 9 bites (probably because he thought people’s fingers looked like little Vienna sausages). Rather than spend time with other dolphins, Beggar spent his days hounding humans for food. When law enforcement was present on the water, humans were less likely to approach Beggar and, consequently, Beggar was more likely to forage for food on his own like a normal dolphin.

But while Beggar’s death is a sad reminder of how humans can have devastating effects on wildlife, more tragic is the violent demise of a dolphin shot to death in Louisiana. Conservationists are offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer of a bottlenose dolphin found dead at Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge. The dolphin died of a gunshot wound just behind its blowhole—the bullet was found in its lung. Similarly, another dolphin was found stabbed with a screwdriver off the coast of Alabama earlier in the summer season. No arrests have been made in either case, but once the perpetrators are found, justice is sure to be swift. Just as the Marine Mammal Protection Act outlaws the feeding and touching of dolphins, it delivers the same harsh penalties for those who harass, harm, or kill wild dolphins.

What do you think could be done to prevent dolphin deaths like Beggar’s? More education or more policing? Can we trust humans to respectfully admire dolphins on their own?

Related Stories on TakePart:

• ‘The Cove’ Still Open for Slaughter: Dolphin Hunting Season Begins in Japan

• 2012 Taiji Dolphin Slaughter: A Hunting Season in Review

• A Major Victory and a Path Forward for Saving Dolphins in the Solomon Islands

Liz Acosta is a writer, artist, and activist living in San Francisco. She likes to practice what she calls “accessible activism,” doing what she can to change the world. She loves dogs, photography, bicycles, IPAs, and Britney Spears.

Limiting blogger’s diet advice prompts questioning of free speech rights

By George F. Will

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina is giving Steve Cooksey some choices. He can stop speaking. Or he can get a Ph.D. in nutrition, or a medical degree, or a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and then pass an examination after completing a 900-hour clinical internship. Or he can skip this onerous credentialing, keep speaking, and risk prosecution.

george.will.JPGHe has chosen instead to get a lawyer. His case, argued by the libertarians at the Institute for Justice (IJ), will clarify the First Amendment’s relevance to an ancient human behavior and a modern technology.

Four years ago, Cooksey was a walking — actually, barely walking — collection of health risks. He was obese, lethargic, asthmatic, chronically ill and pre-diabetic. The diet advice he was getting from medical and other sources was, he decided, radically wrong. Rather than eat a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, he adopted what he and other enthusiasts call a Paleolithic diet, eating as primitive humans did — e.g., beef, pork, chicken, leafy green vegetables. Cooksey lost 75 pounds and the need for drugs and insulin. And, being a modern Paleo, he became a blogger, communicating his dietary opinions.

When a busybody notified North Carolina’s Board of Dietetics/Nutrition that Cooksey was opining about which foods were and were not beneficial, the board launched a three-month investigation of his Internet writings and his dialogues with people who read and responded to them. The board sent him copies of his writings, with red pen markings of such disapproved postings as: “I do suggest that your friend eat as I do and exercise the best they can.”

“If,” the board sternly said, “people are writing you with diabetic specific questions and you are responding, you are no longer just providing information — you are counseling — you need a license to provide this service.” This had the intended effect of chilling his speech; his self-censorship stopped his blog. By saying his bloggings will be subject to continuous review, North Carolina hopes to silence him in perpetuity.

IJ’s Jeff Rowes notes that Cooksey’s speech “involves no sensitive relationship (as in psychological counseling), no uniquely vulnerable listeners (as in potential legal clients forced to make snap decisions), and no plausible presumption that the listeners are unable to exercise independent judgment.” That presumption is, however, the animating principle of modern regulatory government. North Carolina is uninterested in the fact that Cooksey’s advice is unpaid, freely solicited and outside any context of a professional-client relationship. The state simply asserts that Cooksey’s audience is “a uniquely vulnerable population,” which is how paternalistic government views everybody all the time.

Were Cooksey blogging for profit to sell beef and other Paleolithic food, he would be free to advise anyone to improve their health by buying his wares. So his case raises two questions:

Is an individual’s uncompensated advice, when volunteered to other individuals who seek and value it, constitutionally protected? And does the Internet — cost-free dissemination of speech to spontaneous, self-generated audiences — render many traditional forms of licensing obsolete?

Two principles are colliding. One is that when government regulates speech based on its content, judicial “strict scrutiny” of the regulation requires government to bear the burden of demonstrating a “compelling” need for “narrowly tailored” speech restrictions. The second is that when government regulates occupations in ways that restrict entry to them, excluded citizens bear an enormous burden of demonstrating that there is no reasonable basis for the regulation.

Since the New Deal, courts have applied the extremely permissive “rational basis” test: If legislatures articulate almost any reasons for regulating, courts will defer to them. This has given a patina of high principle to the judiciary’s dereliction of its duty to prevent individuals’ liberty from being sacrificed to groups’ rent-seeking. Laws like the one silencing Cooksey are primarily rent-seeking. They are written to enhance the prestige and prosperity of a profession by restricting competition that would result from easy entry into it, or from provision of alternatives to its services.

People, being opinionated mammals, have been dispensing advice to one another since the advent of language, and have been foisting dietary opinions since cavemen weighed the relative benefits of eating woolly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers. So IJ has two questions for North Carolina and for the judicial system:

Did Ann Landers and Dear Abby conduct 50-year crime sprees by offering unlicensed psychological advice? Is personal advice as constitutionally unprotected as child pornography? If so, since a 2010 Supreme Court opinion, it is less protected expression than videos of animals being tortured.

George F. Will writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.

Beat the winter blues with hearty soups, says Diet Chef

UNITED KINGDOM, Sept. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Diet Chef is encouraging people who struggle to stick to their weight loss plan during winter to choose warming, hearty soups at lunchtime.

Over the summer people often find it much easier to lose weight as they can get outside more and enjoy lighter, fresh food. But as soon as the weather turns colder they crave warming, stodgy foods and cosy evenings spent curled up on the sofa with a bar of chocolate.

But instead of unhealthy dishes that are packed with calories, Diet Chef advises people to stock up on tasty soups for lunchtime. Autumn is perfect soup weather as they are both warming and delicious on a cold day. Soups are ideal for this time of year, not only will they fill you up and keep you going until dinner but they’re also packed with goodness.

Alan Mathieson, Development Chef at Diet Chef said: “The great thing about soups is there are so many flavours there is always something to suit most people’s tastes. Developing the Diet Chef range of soups we always strive to make sure there are plenty of textures to choose from as well as flavours, whether it’s creamy, thick, chunky or a lighter broth style soup.”

Diet Chef has a great range of lunchtime soups on offer with exciting flavours to tempt even the fussiest of eaters. Those who like their food to have a bit of a kick could try the parsnip and chilli or Thai chicken soups, while traditionalists will enjoy the tomato or lentil and vegetable options. A brand new carrot and coriander soup was also recently launched.

Diet Chef is a portion and calorie-controlled delivered meal plan that allows people to continue enjoying all the foods they love, but lose weight at the same time. After completing a free diet profile online, people simply need to look through the range of delicious food on offer and order what they want to start losing weight the easy way.

Diet Chef carefully counts the calories of all meals so dieters on the plan will be averaging less than 1,200 calories per day. The daily menu allows you to get delicious home delivered food, as well as offering a tasty and varied, healthy balanced plan encouraging dieters to lose weight at a healthy pace.

Those on the diet looking to check their own progress can do so using the weight loss calculator as well as sharing their weight loss success stories via the website or Diet Chef social media channels.

Visit the website: www.dietchef.co.uk
Become a fan: www.facebook.com/DietChef
Follow: www.twitter.com/dietchef

Press release submitted by online press release distribution site Submitpressrelease123.com

Media Contact: Diet Chef Diet Chef, 0207 580 8360, dietchef@360team.co.uk

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

Bureaucrats declare war on free advice

He has chosen instead to get a lawyer. His case, argued by the libertarians at the Institute for Justice (IJ), will clarify the First Amendment’s relevance to an ancient human behavior and a modern technology.

Four years ago, Cooksey was a walking — actually, barely walking — collection of health risks. He was obese, lethargic, asthmatic, chronically ill and pre-diabetic. The diet advice he was getting from medical and other sources was, he decided, radically wrong. Rather than eat a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, he adopted what he and other enthusiasts call a Paleolithic diet, eating as primitive humans did — e.g., beef, pork, chicken, leafy green vegetables. Cooksey lost 75 pounds and the need for drugs and insulin. And, being a modern Paleo, he became a blogger, communicating his dietary opinions.

When a busybody notified North Carolina’s Board of Dietetics/Nutrition that Cooksey was opining about which foods were and were not beneficial, the board launched a three-month investigation of his Internet writings and his dialogues with people who read and responded to them. The board sent him copies of his writings, with red pen markings of such disapproved postings as: “I do suggest that your friend eat as I do and exercise the best they can.”

“If,” the board sternly said, “people are writing you with diabetic-specific questions and you are responding, you are no longer just providing information — you are counseling — you need a license to provide this service.” This had the intended effect of chilling his speech; his self-censorship stopped his blog. By saying that his bloggings will be subject to continuous review, North Carolina hopes to silence him in perpetuity.

IJ’s Jeff Rowes notes that Cooksey’s speech “involves no sensitive relationship (as in psychological counseling), no uniquely vulnerable listeners (as in potential legal clients forced to make snap decisions), and no plausible presumption that the listeners are unable to exercise independent judgment.” That presumption is, however, the animating principle of modern regulatory government. North Carolina is uninterested in the fact that Cooksey’s advice is unpaid, freely solicited and outside any context of a professional-client relationship. The state simply asserts that Cooksey’s audience is “a uniquely vulnerable population,” which is how paternalistic government views everybody all the time.

Were Cooksey blogging for profit to sell beef and other Paleolithic food, he would be free to advise anyone to improve their health by buying his wares. So his case raises two questions:

Is an individual’s uncompensated advice, when volunteered to other individuals who seek and value it, constitutionally protected? And does the Internet — cost-free dissemination of speech to spontaneous, self-generated audiences — render many traditional forms of licensing obsolete?

Two principles are colliding. One is that when government regulates speech based on its content, judicial “strict scrutiny” of the regulation requires government to bear the burden of demonstrating a “compelling” need for “narrowly tailored” speech restrictions. The second is that when government regulates occupations in ways that restrict entry to them, excluded citizens bear an enormous burden of demonstrating that there is no reasonable basis for the regulation.

Since the New Deal, courts have applied the extremely permissive “rational basis” test: If legislatures articulate almost any reasons for regulating, courts will defer to them. This has given a patina of high principle to the judiciary’s dereliction of its duty to prevent individuals’ liberty from being sacrificed to groups’ rent-seeking. Laws like the one silencing Cooksey are primarily rent-seeking. They are written to enhance the prestige and prosperity of a profession by restricting competition that would result from easy entry into it, or from provision of alternatives to its services.

People, being opinionated mammals, have been dispensing advice to one another since the advent of language and have been foisting dietary opinions since cavemen weighed the relative benefits of eating woolly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers. So the IJ has two questions for North Carolina and for the judicial system:

Did Ann Landers and Dear Abby conduct 50-year crime sprees by offering unlicensed psychological advice? Is personal advice as constitutionally unprotected as child pornography? If so, since a 2010 Supreme Court opinion, it is less protected expression than videos of animals being tortured.



georgewill@washpost.com

Beat the winter blues with hearty soups, says Diet Chef

UNITED KINGDOM, Sept. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Diet Chef is encouraging people who struggle to stick to their weight loss plan during winter to choose warming, hearty soups at lunchtime.

Over the summer people often find it much easier to lose weight as they can get outside more and enjoy lighter, fresh food. But as soon as the weather turns colder they crave warming, stodgy foods and cosy evenings spent curled up on the sofa with a bar of chocolate.

But instead of unhealthy dishes that are packed with calories, Diet Chef advises people to stock up on tasty soups for lunchtime. Autumn is perfect soup weather as they are both warming and delicious on a cold day. Soups are ideal for this time of year, not only will they fill you up and keep you going until dinner but they’re also packed with goodness.

Alan Mathieson, Development Chef at Diet Chef said: “The great thing about soups is there are so many flavours there is always something to suit most people’s tastes. Developing the Diet Chef range of soups we always strive to make sure there are plenty of textures to choose from as well as flavours, whether it’s creamy, thick, chunky or a lighter broth style soup.”

Diet Chef has a great range of lunchtime soups on offer with exciting flavours to tempt even the fussiest of eaters. Those who like their food to have a bit of a kick could try the parsnip and chilli or Thai chicken soups, while traditionalists will enjoy the tomato or lentil and vegetable options. A brand new carrot and coriander soup was also recently launched.

Diet Chef is a portion and calorie-controlled delivered meal plan that allows people to continue enjoying all the foods they love, but lose weight at the same time. After completing a free diet profile online, people simply need to look through the range of delicious food on offer and order what they want to start losing weight the easy way.

Diet Chef carefully counts the calories of all meals so dieters on the plan will be averaging less than 1,200 calories per day. The daily menu allows you to get delicious home delivered food, as well as offering a tasty and varied, healthy balanced plan encouraging dieters to lose weight at a healthy pace.

Those on the diet looking to check their own progress can do so using the weight loss calculator as well as sharing their weight loss success stories via the website or Diet Chef social media channels.

Visit the website: www.dietchef.co.uk
Become a fan: www.facebook.com/DietChef
Follow: www.twitter.com/dietchef

Press release submitted by online press release distribution site Submitpressrelease123.com

Media Contact: Diet Chef Diet Chef, 0207 580 8360, dietchef@360team.co.uk

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

10 Ways to Get Arsenic Out of Your (and Your Kids’) Diet

by Sonya Lunder and Dawn Undurraga, of the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

Although scientists and government regulators have long known about the ever-present threat of arsenic in our diet and water, it was unsettling when two major reports came out on the same day last week, reminding us of the risk and the need to do what we can to minimize it.

Yes, arsenic. It’s a naturally occurring mineral with a long history as a murder weapon, and, paradoxically, as a medicine, too. In some parts of the world, contamination levels are so high in food and water as to cause epidemics of skin, bladder, and lung cancer. In the United States, the effects might be harder to see, but they are still there. In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that people drinking arsenic-contaminated water at 10 parts per billion would have a 1-in-300 risk of developing cancer over their lifetimes. Recent research suggests that people ingest about that much arsenic in a just a half-cup serving of rice, not an unusual amount for millions of Americans.

The two new reports came from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the highly regarded Consumer Reports magazine, and both focused on the worrisome amounts of arsenic in rice and popular rice-based processed foods.

We agree that there’s reason to be concerned. Many rice-based foods and some fruit juices have arsenic levels much higher than are allowed in drinking water. And contrary to some denials from the food industry, the contamination does include the form of arsenic that poses a serious risk to our health. It’s long overdue for federal agencies to set health-protective limits on arsenic in food, but they are not moving quickly.

In the meantime, here are 10 easy-to-use tips on how you can reduce your, and your family’s, exposure:

1. Limit rice consumption. Try alternative grains like quinoa, barley, grits/polenta, couscous, or bulgur wheat.

The testing done by Consumer Reports confirmed that rice has much higher concentrations of arsenic than other grains, fruits, and vegetables. That’s partly because rice is sometimes grown in fields that have been treated with arsenic-based pesticides in the past, but in many cases it’s because rice plants have a natural tendency to take up and concentrate naturally occurring arsenic in the soil and water. The FDA says it needs to test 1,000 more rice samples to clarify which rice-growing areas present the greatest risk of contamination. But consumers can take protective steps while the FDA collects data and ponders regulation–a process that could take years.

2. If you’re preparing rice, rinse it thoroughly. Boil brown rice in a lot of water (as you do pasta).

There’s good research indicating that you can lower the amount of arsenic in rice by 30 to 40 percent if you take this simple step (the more water the better). Unfortunately, white rice doesn’t hold up well to this kind of cooking, but you can reduce arsenic levels somewhat by rinsing white rice before you cook it.

3. Vary your diet. Look for alternatives to rice-based processed foods; turn to breakfast cereals, rice flour, rice pasta, rice cakes, and crackers instead.

Growing awareness that many people are sensitive to the gluten in wheat-based processed foods has led to a proliferation of rice-based products, but they’re not the only gluten-free option. Good alternatives to Rice Krispies-type breakfast cereals include toasted oats, puffed corn, or whole grains like millet. You can also find flour mixes that contain no rice or gluten for baking.

4. Limit products that list rice syrup as a sweetener.

You don’t think of rice as a component of snack and nutrition bars, but a recent study by scientists at Dartmouth College found high arsenic levels in processed foods sweetened with brown rice syrup, which are often aimed at the natural foods market. EWG has concerns about the study and its interpretation in the media, but the underlying issue of brown rice syrup remains. Read labels to avoid this sweetener wherever possible.

5. Check your drinking water.

Arsenic taints drinking water in many parts of the United States. Check EWG’s Tap Water Database to see if it’s been detected in your water. If you drink well water, contact your local health department to find out if arsenic could be a problem in your well, or get it tested–it’s not expensive and it’s worth the investment.

What parents can do to protect babies and children:

6. Instead of rice cereal as the first solid food for babies, try orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and squash, bananas, and avocados.

Parents were once advised to start infants with fortified rice cereals, which were touted as non-allergenic and nutritive, but nutritional guidance is shifting. With some exceptions, parents are no longer being encouraged to delay introducing potentially allergenic foods. Soft fruits, vegetables, or even meats are great first sources of complementary nutrients for a breast- or formula-fed baby.

7. Switch to non-rice baby cereals, such as oatmeal or mixed grains.

Powdered cereals are convenient and often used to thicken baby purees, but Consumer Reports found more than 95 parts per billion of arsenic in every brand of infant rice cereals it tested, nearly 10 times the legal limit for drinking water. Look for non-rice whole grain or oat cereals, or make your own by blending oats in a food processor and then cooking them with water.

8. Limit certain fruit juices to a maximum of one-half to one cup a day.

Arsenic-based pesticides were used on fruit orchards in the early 1900s, and soil contamination remains an ongoing source of arsenic in tree fruits and grapes. Testing shows that some samples of apple, grape, and pear juices and juice blends have moderate amounts of arsenic. And there’s another reason that pediatricians recommend limiting any and all juice in children’s diets: They’re high in sugar and can crowd out other foods that provide essential nutrients.

9. Avoid brown rice syrup as a sweetener in processed foods for kids.

The arsenic in rice is concentrated in rice syrup, which is sometimes used as a sweetener in snack bars, non-dairy beverages, and one brand of toddler formula. In previous testing, the one toddler formula made with rice syrup, Nature’s Gate toddler formula, had high concentrations of arsenic in its dairy- and soy-based formulas. Consumer Reports noted that the company has recently found a source of rice syrup that is processed to remove arsenic for its dairy-based formula. (Look for use-by dates of January 2014 for Dairy with DHA and ARA Formula, or July 2015 for Dairy.) Apparently, the company has not yet addressed the issue of arsenic in its soy formula.

10. Do not use rice milk as a dairy substitute for cow’s milk.

Britain’s Food Safety Authority cautions parents to avoid rice milk as a dairy alternative for toddlers ages 1 to 4½. Consumer Reports tested two common brands for arsenic and found that all samples exceeded EPA’s drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion. The range in rice milk was 17 to 70 parts per billion.

Look for other non-dairy drinks and make sure they don’t list rice syrup as a sweetener. In many cases, dairy-sensitive children can be given water and other dietary sources of calcium instead of a highly processed dairy substitute.

 

Sonya Lunder is a senior research analyst for the Environmental Working Group. Sonya holds a Masters of Public Health in environmental health sciences from UC-Berkeley . Prior to joining EWG in 2002, Sonya managed a community health intervention at a Superfund site, and worked for California’s Environmental Health Investigations Branch.
Dawn Undurraga, nutritionist, joined EWG after completing her Master’s in Nutrition Communication at Tufts University and her dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. While interning at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion during the formulation of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Dawn became fascinated with the intersection of nutrition research and policy. Prior to joining EWG, Dawn worked in both clinical and surveillance cancer research in California.
 

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Keep Your Body Toned And Fit With These Helpful Fitness Tips

light weights

Staying in shape takes a lot of will power and effort. From time to time, you need to learn new ways to improve your fitness routine and boost your morale to work out. This article is for those who need a little pep talk about the basics of being fit and in shape.

Watch less television. Merely sitting and watching a few hours of tv shows means you are not up and around, which means that your body’s metabolism is slowing down. Worse yet, chances of becoming obese increase with the amount of television that you watch. Instead of watching television, try taking a walk or playing a game.

A good way to maintain a healthy body is to exercise daily. The advantages of this daily ritual does not stop at having a presentable body but it also helps reduce stress and can relieve depression. It is also a good way to keep the metabolism high and therefore helps the individual to lose weight and stay fit.

Weight training and fitness go hand in hand. If you are dedicated to lifting weights and eating healthy, you are increasing your lifespan, building healthy muscles, and increasing the support and stability of your joints which aid in your life at present and in the future. Weight lift and do cardio at least 3 times a week to start.

Fibromyalgia sufferers shouldn’t fear a fitness routine. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, don’t avoid exercise. Even though you suffer from chronic pain, a fitness routine can help to relieve the symptoms, as well as improving your overall health. Remember to avoid exercise that involves a lot of impact. Weight training can be helpful, but only use light weights to begin with.

Being proactive in your effort to staying fit is the key to success in maintaining wellness. Try to change up your routine, so you don’t get burned out but don’t skip too many days of not working out. If you skip more than a day, the chances are harder for you to get back into the grove of working out.