What We Can Learn From Japan – Even Changing The Way We Grow Food

Say Hi To Japan’s High-Tech Indoor Veggie Factories

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It’s no secret that man is openly vulnerable to the random and unforgiving fury of mother nature. Droughts, storms, floods, and many other natural events could at any time, and anywhere, wipe out a major agricultural hub.

But no worries, Japan came up with a solution to this issue. Japanese plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura, along with GE, recently developed a special LED fixture that emits light at wavelengths optimal for indoor plant growth.

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They allow Shimamura to control the night-and-day cycle and accelerate growth. The systems allows him to grow lettuce full of vitamins and minerals two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm. He is also able to cut discarded produce from 50 percent to just 10 percent of the harvest, compared to a conventional farm. As a result, the farms productivity per square foot is up 100-fold.

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Furthermore, the LEDs last longer and consume 40 percent less power than fluorescent lights. Ding-dong! This could possibly change the way the world grows food.

Underground Bicycle Garages

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Ha! Try this one bike thieves.

How does it work? Hop off your bike and guide it onto a small platform, insert your card, and voila. Your bike is stowed away out of sight and out of the way, safe and sound, so that you never have to worry about those insistent lock snippers. And it only takes about 10 seconds to retrieve your bike back.

These garages are built entirely underground (average about 38 feet), and can hold around 204 bikes.

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Better Vehicle Parking Garages – Automated Of Course

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Automated (car) parking systems (APS) are mechanical systems designed to minimize the area and/or volume required for parking cars.

An APS provides parking for cars on multiple levels stacked vertically to maximize the number of parking spaces while minimizing land usage.

The benefits?: Increased vehicle security, minimized parking lot damage, physically safer as no one is walking through, reduced engine emissions, better handicap access, minimized construction time, and reduced overall space needed for the garage. 

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Touchscreen Menus At Upscale Restaurants

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While some may argue that the use of touchscreens in restaurants is just another nail in the coffin for social interaction, I believe this idea to be a step forward with regards to efficiency and customer service. How often do you find your waiter/tress too busy to take your order? Or how often is your order taken down wrong to your disappointment?

High Speed Bullet Trains – The Shinkansen Gets The Job Done

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Japan’s main islands of Honshu and Kyushu are served by a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the country’s major cities. These bullet trains are called shinkansen.

Running at speeds of up to 320 km/h, the shinkansen is known for punctuality (most trains depart on time to the second), comfort (relatively silent cars with spacious, always forward facing seats), safety (no fatal accidents in its history) and efficiency. Thanks to the Japan Rail Pass, the shinkansen can also be a very cost effective means of travel.

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A shinkansen could take someone from Vancouver to Toronto (a trip that normally takes 4 days driving) in about 14 hours. The question is, what the heck are we waiting for North America? Follow suit!

An Organized Approach To Garbage Disposal

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Although not as eco-friendly as Costa Rica or certain European countries, Japan stands as an innovator when it comes to waste management and organization.

In Tokyo, trash (gomi) has to be divided into three categories (combustible trash, non-combustible trash, recyclable trash) for proper disposal. Each category is collected separately on a designated day. Signs in the neighborhood inform residents about the weekdays on which what type of garbage is collected. Burnable garbage is usually collected on two or three days during the week, while non burnable garbage is usually collected once a week.

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Norimitsu Onishi of The New York Times put it beautifully,

“Lipstick goes into burnables; lipstick tubes, ‘after the contents have been used up,’ into ‘small metals’ or plastics. Take out your tape measure before tossing a kettle: under 12 inches, it goes into small metals, but over that it goes into bulky refuse.” 

“Socks? If only one, it is burnable; a pair goes into used cloth, though only if the socks ‘are not torn, and the left and right sock match.’ Throw neckties into used cloth, but only after they have been ‘washed and dried.’”

Kamikatsu, a rural town of 2200, has gradually raised the number to trash categories to 44 varieties, including tofu containers to egg cartons, plastic bottle caps to disposable chopsticks, fluorescent tubes to futons.

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While incineration may not be the best option, Japan makes effective use of the heat energy released during the burning process, such as for power generation and water heating.

There Are Almost No Homeless People In Tokyo

Given the fact that Tokyo is the most populated metropolis in the world (39.2 million), one would naturally think there would be a high number of homeless people, similar to major metropolises in North America (such as New York and Mexico City).

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Thankfully this isn’t the case however. Last year, Tokyo hit an all-time low number of homeless people, a surprising 1700 (7500 for all of Japan, as compared with 600,000 for all of the United States).

Japan has historically had one of the lowest rates of inequality among developed countries. But where Japan is really surpassing the United States, instead, is in the social safety net it offers its citizens.

The Japanese Constitution guarantees its citizens “the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.”

Another reason for the low number of homeless may come from the strong support system of Japanese families. Though it is a difficult to quantify, the tradition of Japanese families remaining tight knit and supportive of each member is undeniable.

Time To Learn Something From The Japanese?

These are but a few of the amazing advancements playing out in the Land of the Rising Sun. Of course, no country is perfect, and Japan definitely has some things to work out (i.e., nuclear energy plants being built on fault lines…)

Needless to say, however, if you have an issue, Japan has a solution.

Source:

The Holidaze

Body Mechanics – nourish your tendons and ligaments to keep your body on the move.

Tending to your tendons and ligaments may not be at the top of your “selfcare” priority list. But these structural connective tissues are necessary to keep our bodies moving efficiently—they enable us to sit, stand, walk, and perform virtually all physical activity. Weak or injured tendons and ligaments can be disabling and may lead to chronic pain, making it important to nourish them before problems arise. This becomes especially important as we age.

Tendons and ligaments are strong, flexible connective tissues that are an essential part of the musculoskeletal system. While they are related in collagen_proteincomposition—mostly collagen, with small amounts of elastin and other proteins—and ultimately work as a team, they have different functions in the body. Tendons connect muscle to bone, allowing muscle contractions to move your skeleton, while ligaments connect bone to bone, forming and stabilizing joints and keeping your skeleton intact. The Achilles tendon is one of the more commonly known tendons and the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a well-known (and commonly injured) ligament.

Tendon and ligament injuries are common in athletes and active people, in older adults, and in those who regularly perform activities that require repetitive movement, including work-related activity. Tendons are especially prone to injuries due to overuse, resulting in inflammation and weakening of the tendons. Heard of tennis elbow? That’s actually a case of tendonitis, which is inflammation and irritation of a tendon in the elbow, and rarely is it actually caused by playing tennis.

Collagen, the major component of these connective tissues, begins to degenerate and stiffen as we age. Additionally, tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply, making existing injuries harder to heal, leading to decreased strength in those tissues and chronic pain.[i] Because the integrity of these connective tissues decline with age, leading to weakened tendons and ligaments and potentially an injury and/or chronic pain, it is important to support them with good nutrition and a few choice supplements.

Collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein that makes up all human connective tissue, including tendons and ligaments, and helps keep these tissues strong. As we age, collagen production slows and existing collagen can deteriorate, causing tendons and ligaments to weaken. A diet high in quality protein will provide the building blocks the body requires to make collagen, including the amino acids proline and lysine.[ii] Additionally, collagen supplements have been shown to stimulate collagen production, helping to maintain healthy tendons and ligaments.[iii]

Dark green vegetables are also excellent examples of food containing collagen producing agents.  Add drak green leafy veggies such as spinach, cabbage and kale to your diet every day.  They are packed with an antioxidant called lutein.  You need 10 mg to get results – which equates to about  4oz. of spinach or 2oz. of kale.  Also Soy products such as soymik and cheese contain an element known as genistein. The presence of genistein gives soy products their collagen production qualities, as well as helping to block enzymes that tend to break down collagen.  Just about any soy product contains enough genistein to be helpful, including soy products that have been developed as substitutes for meat products.

Oestrogen, derived from plants, is vital to making healthy collagen.  Lots of  foods contain plant ­oestrogens (phytoestrogens) that can help replace the effects of lost oestrogen. Try hummus, nuts, soy and pinto beans.

Lycopenesl  Red fruits and vegetables also are excellent sources to up the collagen content of foods in the diet.  The presence of lycopenesl in these types of foods helps to act as antioxidants, which in turn increases collagen production. Try adding red peppers, beets, and fresh or stewed tomatoes to the diet. Also include sweet potatoes, carrots and more.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is required to convert the amino acids proline and lysine into collagen[iv]; in fact, vitamin C plays such an essential role in collagen production that a deficiency can weaken the tendons and ligaments.[v] The vitamin also reduces inflammation due to injury or overuse. In a human cell model of tendonitis, a proprietary combination of collagen and vitamin C suppressed a number of pro-inflammatory compounds and promoted healing.[vi] Good sources are green pepper (higher vit C content when cooked), dark green leafy veg like broccoli and sprouts, guava, papaya, kiwi fruit and oranges.

Anthocyanidins. The anthocyanidins found in dark-colored fruits such as cherries and blueberries, and in grape seed extract and Pycnogenol®supplements, have been shown to help the collagen fibers link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix.[vii]

Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic acid is a component of tendons and ligaments and has been shown to stimulate collagen production.[viii] It is also comprises the synovial fluid that surrounds certain tendons, helping to keep them lubricated and moving smoothly.[ix] Researchers recently discovered that a thin layer of “skin” made of epithelial cells covers the tendons;[x] because hyaluronic acid is a major component of connective and epithelial tissues, it is thought to help maintain the integrity of this tendon “skin.” An animal model of tendon injury found that hyaluronic acid significantly speeded healing.[xi]  Hyaluronic acid or hyaluronate is available in capsules or injectables and found in glucosamine supplements.  Beans help your body produce hyaluronic acid.  Aim for at least two tablespoons of beans each day – broad or butter beans make a great substitute for mashed potatoes.

Gelatin. Gelatin-rich foods have long been a part of traditional diets—cultures around the world commonly consume all parts of animals, including the gelatin-rich cartilage and bones. Consuming gelatin has been shown to increase collagen proteins in the blood,[xii] helping to build the structure of both tendons and ligaments. One easy way to introduce more gelatin into your diet is to regularly make and consume bone broth, a savory broth made by simmering bones in water. (Ever made homemade chicken broth from a chicken carcass? That’s one type of bone broth.) Or consider taking a gelatin supplement.

Although caring for your tendons and ligaments may not occur to you until you are already suffering from pain or an injury, maintaining the health of these important connective tissues may just save you from an injury in the first place. A healthy natural foods diet along with a few choice supplements will help nourish these connective tissues, keeping them healthy and strong, and keep you moving smoothly through life.

Article adapted from: Lidsy Wilson, Healthy Hotline, naturalgrocers.com; Kim Jones, 9 ways to keep collagen healthy, The Mirror.CO.UK; Verdungal, How to increase collagen from eating the right foods, Heathcentral.com.

References
[i] http://www.sandiegohealthclinic.com/services/prolotherapy.html

[ii] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=fightdz&dbid=6

[iii] Wilson, L. “Structural Integrity: Collagen for joint and skin health” Health Hotline, Feb 2012

[iv] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=fightdz&dbid=6

[v] http://www.nutritionreview.org/library/collagen.connection.php

[vi] Shakibaei M, Buhrmann C, Mobasheri A. “Anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects of Tendoactive® on human tenocytes in vitro.” Histoland Histopathol 26, 1173-1185, 2011.

[vii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12635161

[viii] Bruce A. Mast, Robert F. Diegelmann, et al. “Hyaluronic Acid Modulates Proliferation, Collagen and Protein Synthesis of Cultured Fetal Fibroblasts.” Matrix Vol. 13/1993, pp. 441-446

[ix]http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/hyaluronic_acid_for_ten…

[x] Susan H. Taylor, Sarah Al-Youha, Tom Van Agtmael, et al. “Tendon Is Covered by a Basement Membrane Epithelium That Is Required for Cell Retention and the Prevention of Adhesion Formation.” PLoS ONE;  2011 January

[xi] Thijs de Wit, Dennis de Putter, Wendy M. Tra, et al. “Auto-crosslinked hyaluronic acid gel accelerates healing of rabbit flexor tendons in vivo.” J Orthop Res 27:408–415, 2009

[xii] Koji I, Takanori H, et al. “Identification of Food-Derived Collagen Peptides in Human Blood after Oral Ingestion of Gelatin Hydrolysates.” J Agric and Food Chem, 2005, 53 (16), pp 6531-6536

 

 

An alkaline body is a healthy body.

Keeping your blood pH alkaline creates a healthy environment in which to live.

Do you find yourself feeling tired and getting sick way too much, and it’s confusing to you because you eat healthy foods?  The culprit could be that you are consuming too many acidic foods and beverages.  Many healthy foods can cause a pH imbalance.

Our bodies are meant to be alkaline environments, but we have changed their bodies from this natural state to one that is acidic. This is evidenced by the increase in illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and more. Basically, if your body is acidic, it will attract sickness.

There are many reasons why we have increased our acidity:

  • We consume mostly acidic foods – such as meat, carbohydrates and alcohol
  • Our stress levels have skyrocketed
  • We are on toxic overload – much of what we eat has toxins like junk and fast foods
  • We overuse pharmaceutical drugs

The pH scale ranges from 1.0 to 14.0, with 7.0 being neutral, 1.0 to 6.0 being acidic and 7.1 to 14.0 being alkaline. The ideal pH for humans is 7.365.  When your body is too acidic, it will move into overdrive trying to do anything it can to raise its pH level, but in doing so, it puts unneeded stress your body. This means it will neglect other vital functions in order to try to balance the pH.

A pH Imbalance Can Cause:

  • Obesity and weight gain
  • Numerous diseases since an acidic environment is one that is prime for diseases to grow and survive
  • Osteoporosis because it takes calcium from your bones
  • High cholesterol because the body creates cholesterol to aid in neutralizing the acids
  • Anemia because it pulls iron from your red blood cells
  • Muscle spasms because it pulls potassium from your muscle tissues

You Body’s pH Can Affect Your Risk of Cancer

There are theories floating around that an alkaline diet has not only the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, but that it also has the ability to cure it!   Michael Murray, author of Acid Alkaline Diet Simplified says, “At a pH of 8.5, cancer cells can no longer survive. Therefore, a high alkaline diet can potentially decrease one’s risk of cancer or even help fight the disease.”

Clues That Your Body May Be Too Acidic:

  • You are frequently lethargic, anxious or irritable
  • You catch several colds a year
  • You are constantly congested
  • You have gained weight
  • You have chronic pain and/or inflammation
  • You have consistent joint pain
  • You suffer from heartburn
  • You have poor digestion
  • You have had bone loss
  • You experience muscle weakness
  • You have urinary tract issues
  • You get kidney stones
  • You have receding gums
  • You suffer from acne and other skin problems
  • You have chronic yeast infections
  • You have experienced premature aging

How Alkaline Are You?

Even if you have some of these symptoms, you may still want to know your exact pH level, and fortunately it is easy  to test your pH level in your own home. You can buy testing strips from many pharmacies and health food stores or even online. The ones that test with saliva are often considered easier to use than the ones that test with urine. Be sure to test your pH either one hour before eating or two hours after eating.

Other pH Balancing Methods

In addition to food, there are other ways to balance your body’s acidity and alkalinity. Here are some tips as outlined in Michael Murray’s book, Acid Alkaline Diet Simplified:

  • Choose water as your usual beverage – To put this in perspective, Michael points out that pure water is neutral, non-herbal tea is 600-800 times more acidic, coffee is 700-1000 times more acidic and soda is 50,000 times more acidic! Now maybe you can see how much our diet affects our pH. Hopefully you understand why it is important to avoid coffee, tea and soda.
  • Breathe properly – Most people breathe from their chest instead of from their lower lungs, which is the wrong way to breathe because it doesn’t provide the body with the full amount of oxygen it needs. The body has an easier time ridding itself of acids when it gets a lot of oxygen, so breathing properly is important.
  • Be careful what foods you combine – Acid reflux comes from combining the wrong foods. Proteins can be combined with vegetables and sparingly with fats. Carbs can be combined with vegetables and sparingly with fats. Proteins and carbs should not be combined and fruits should not be combined with anything (with the exception of lemons, limes, tomatoes and avocados).
  • Manage your stress – Feelings like fear, anxiety and anger cause your body to create extra acids and at the same time, they make your digestive system shut down. That means your body is creating more toxins at the same time that it has stopped eliminating toxins. This is a big reason why stress causes so many health issues.

Now that you understand the important points relating to alkalizing your body, it’ll be much easier to make good decisions when it comes to your health. Most of us don’t realize how much one simple aspect of our health, like our pH level, can drastically affect us inside and out. But now that you know, what are you going to do with that knowledge?

Adapted from Faith M. Davis of Carpe Vita Inc. Oct 18 2012.