Monday, September 20, 2010

Lead in Children's Apple Juice

"A new study from California finds high levels of lead in common foods and drinks our children consume. 125 out of 146 products tested at the EPA - Environmental Protection Agency, were found to have high lead levels.
"Lead exposure among children is a particular concern because their developing bodies absorb lead at a higher rate and because children are particularly sensitive to lead's toxic effects, including decreased IQ," says toxicologist Barbara G. Callahan, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts.
Lead was found in apple juice, grape juice, packaged peaches and pears including the baby food peaches and pears. Some items were labeled as organic.
Many products have enough lead in one serving to warrant warning labels under California law, says the San Francisco based Environmental Law Foundation, who did generate the study.
"Scientists agree that there is no safe level of exposure to lead," according to the foundation. "Lead accumulates in the body from multiple exposures."
For the list of companies and products named go to the EFL website at
Parents can make fresh apple and fruit juices from organic fruits. Helpful information on juicers here."
Until next time -
Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal
Source: Whole Food and More

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Clutter and Your Health

"Often people say that their homes aren't dirty, they're just cluttered. But clutter inhibits you from being able to clean your home well, as it is hard to clean behind and around things. Clutter promotes the buildup of dirt and allergens and increases your household's chances of respiratory problems. The health problems caused by clutter aren't just physical. In 1996, psychologists defined compulsive hoarding syndrome as a psychological disorder. In homes with severe cluttering, the residents nearly always suffer from anxiety or depression."

The previous paragraph was taken from the book "It's All Too Much," by Peter Walsh (professional Organizer from TLC's hit series "Clean Sweep"). Among many good ideas, this statement struck me to be the most profound in that I never considered how the act of acquiring more and more "stuff" as we seek to find satisfaction and security in our lives (aka: happiness) can actually become detrimental to our overall health & well-being.

This certainly made me examine my surroundings and re-evaluate the vision for the life I want to live. It seems to me that unburdening one's self from the "junk" of our lives only serves to improve it. Thereby giving us more freedom and energy to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life every day.

Remember, Wellness is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Single Massage Can Boost the Immune System

Devotees of massage therapy know it's relaxing and feels good. But massage may also be an effective tool for maintaining good health. Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reported this week that a single massage produced measurable changes in the immune system and endocrine system of healthy adults.

The researchers, led by Dr. Mark Rapaport, studied 29 healthy adults who received a 45-minute Swedish massage and 24 healthy adults who had a 45-minute session of light touch massage, a much milder exercise that served as a comparison to the more vigorous Swedish massage. Blood samples were taken before the massage began and at regular intervals up to one hour after the massage was completed.

The study found several changes in the blood tests of the Swedish massage group that indicated a benefit to the immune system. For example, Swedish massage caused sizeable decreases in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that contributes to aggressive behavior, and small decreases in the stress hormone cortisol. The Swedish massage participants also had an increase in lymphocytes, cells that help the immune system defend the body from harmful substances.

"This research indicates that massage doesn't only feel good, it also may be good for you," Rapaport said in a news release. "People often seek out massage as part of a healthy lifestyle but there hasn't been much physiological proof of the body's heightened immune response following massage until now."

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Remember: Wellness is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

Until next time -

Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal
massage therapist/wellness coach

Source: Shari Roan / Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Becoming an Eco-Conscious Eater

So, maybe you’ve heard that there is a food related weight epidemic in America. You might have even read that, according to the U.S. Government's Weight-control Information Network (WIN), over one-third of Americans are considered to be obese. But, there is more that affects Americans (and essentially the world) than just over consumption and poor food choices. It’s the fact that our eating affects our eco-system.
I recently learned that the food processing systems usually used to produce & preserve many favorite foods are responsible for up to one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and that an average 73% of all fruits and vegetables tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were positive for pesticides.
It is for more reasons than those mentioned above, that I suggest this: If you are going to be vigilant about what you eat (whether it’s to assist in weight loss or simply to contribute to your overall health), why not contribute to a healthier environment as well? After all, if we don’t take it upon ourselves to assume this responsibility, no one will. Believe me, every little bit helps and it’s not difficult at all to become an eco-conscious eater.
There are three main components to eco-conscious eating, but first we start with what you buy.
Organic vs. Natural
The term “Natural” as it refers to foods constitutes that the product only contains naturally occurring ingredients. Nothing “man made” such as artificial colors, flavors or preservatives have been added. While this is a good choice, I would opt for “Organic” foods whenever possible.
While organic food can often be more expensive, I have noticed a price drop as more local grocery stores have picked up on the public demand for more organically produced foods. Be sure to look for labels verifying that the foods are in fact organic. Generally, if a food has been certified by an organization such the USDA, you can trust that no conventional pesticides have come in contact with the food. Similarly, many pure organic juices will come without industrial fertilizer use or added sugars, making them both healthier and environmentally friendly.
Perfect Package
Now, while shopping for organic and hormone free foods is important, you might want to also be conscious of how your food purchases have been packaged. For example; if your organic meats or produce comes double-wrapped in plastic and sealed in Styrofoam, you may be losing ground on your “eco-conscious” plans when the packaging is thrown away. Instead, opt for recyclable vegetable bags and have meats wrapped in paper.
The Kitchen Green
Finally, take stock of how you actually cook what you've purchased. I’m not simply talking about adding extra salt or oil to your foods (although doing so can significantly lower their health value). What I mean here is “the way” in which you cook. Choosing to grill, bake or broil all of your meats on one day will significantly reduce your need for electricity and or gas. While some tend to dislike this idea, using your microwave oven instead of your stove-top to cook or re-heat your foods will also reduce your need for energy.
While this list is in no way complete nor are the many, many ideas on how one can become more “green” in their mode of eating & preparing foods, eco-conscious eating requires conscious thought about what goes into your body. Fortunately, eating for the environment and eating for whole-life wellness go hand in hand. With a few small changes in diet, many people can see benefits, especially in combination with exercise (according to WIN, inactivity remains the largest cause of obesity in America).
So, consider a farmer's market or the organic section of the vegetable aisle the next time you go grocery shopping to help both the planet and yourself. And if you need help putting a plan together to help bring your “whole life” plan together with exercise and stress management, be sure to visit my site, give me a call or shoot me an email. I’ll be glad to hear from you!
Until then –
Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Making the Time for More Meaningful Living

Everyone wants to have a "meaningful life", a concept that many whole-life wellness coaches encourage as a way to minimize stress and maximize the effects of things like exercise and meditation techniques.
Common wisdom holds that in order to give life more meaning, an individual should try to limit the time spent working, and increase free time. According to researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, (yes, that’s his real name) however, this may not always be effective.
While the average American spends approximately five hours per day involved in leisure activities, according to the 2009 U.S. Department of Labor "American Time Use Survey", not all of these leisure activities contribute to what would be described as a "meaningful life."
According to Csikszentmihalyi, while most people claim they are happier at home during their free time than at work, their happiness tended to be higher at work than at home. Why? Because in many cases work represents order, stability, and constructive activities that help to focus an individual's attention.
Time spent sitting on a couch or watching television tends to leave an individual unsatisfied and yearning for more - wanting a challenge.
Consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. The top section of the pyramid is attained by meeting the needs of spontaneity, creativity, and problem solving - not by simply whiling away the hours away from work.
While not every hour of leisure should be planned out, and while some true "down time" is necessary in order to recharge a weary body, one of the best ways to turn free time into meaningful living is to have a goal, a hobby, or a focus. This could be exercise, designing a healthy eating plan, or learning yoga. After all, it is the “journey” and not the destination that gives value to one’s life. A favorite quote of mine is this; “the meaning of life, is to give life meaning.”
So go, and do. Until next time –
Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal
massage therapist/wellness coach

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Understanding Cholesterol

If you don't understand everything about cholesterol, you're not alone. Cholesterol can be confusing. There's good and bad cholesterol and numbers that go with each. To actively manage your cholesterol, you need to know about the different kinds of cholesterol and the different ways to reach your cholesterol goal.

Know the Basics Cholesterol is a fat that your body needs. But too much of it can build up as plaque along the walls of your arteries, which can reduce blood flow and increase your risk of heart disease.

The Good and the Bad LDL is called "Bad" Cholesterol because it builds up in your arteries. HDL is known as "Good" Cholesterol because it helps remove the Bad Cholesterol from your body.

Food and Exercise Some foods, such as egg yolks and fatty red meat, increase LDL "Bad" Cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity can help raise HDL "Good" Cholesterol levels. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly are important steps in lowering cholesterol but may not always be enough.

Know Your LDL Number Knowing your LDL Cholesterol number is important in managing your cholesterol because it gives you and your doctor a standard for good health-just like temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Keep in mind, the higher your LDL Cholesterol number, the greater your risk of developing heart disease.


Remember, wellness is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

Live Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal