Is monogamy good for society or is it unnatural human behavior?

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“To argue that our ancestors were sexual omnivores is no more a criticism of monogamy than to argue that our ancestors were dietary omnivores is a criticism of vegetarianism,” says Christopher Ryan, psychologist and co-author of Sex at Dawn (Amazon affiliate link).

Without a doubt, his statement raises eyebrows but it’s intended to also raise the debatable question: are humans designed to be sexually exclusive? His answer is an instant “no,” and he makes the case by arguing that today’s society is no longer one that is founded on an economic relationship in which the man hunts and provides shelter while the woman offers sexual fidelity in exchange.

Why we aren’t meant to be sexually exclusive

By saying that “we’re not descended from apes,” but actually “are apes,” and citing other cultures with sexual practices that are far from the “one and only person for me” mindset that many cultures subscribe to, Ryan presents some interesting ideas. For starters, times have changed. The sex-in-exchange-for-shelter notion is clearly not as common as it once was.

He also urges folks to consider the sexual habits taking place in tribes in the Amazon, where women believe a child is the creation of accumulated semen. Therefore, a woman seeking a strong, smart and funny child would have a lot of intercourse with each man possessing those desired traits. The thought is that doing so carries over the essence of each man into the baby. When the child is born, paternity is considered a “team endeavor.”

In other cultures, people are enjoying sexual experiences with hundreds of other people and when pregnancies occur, the identity of who the biological father is a “non-issue.” For the entire discussion by Ryan, listen to his talk here.

Why monogamy is a good idea

On the flip side, many people say that monogamy is a must, suggesting that it leads to a deeper sense of well-being and a more harmonious life. Articles and books have been written on the benefits of monogamy. One Boston Globe article likened a monogamous relationship to the stability of permanent employment, compared to the inconsistencies and hurts that often come along with a temporary one.

Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of sexually transmitted diseases. One survey shows that 47 percent of males tell their dates they’ve had fewer sexual encounters than they actually have and 23 percent divulged they would not inform a partner if they were involved with someone else. As for letting the other person know they had an STD? Most surveyed said they would not make their partner aware.

Still, Ryan maintains that easing up on our outdated notions is a must. He says it can pave the way for a more tolerant society that once freed of sexual shames and conflicts, can finally learn to do what they feel rather than what they are told they should feel.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Is monogamy good for society or is it unnatural human behavior?

Note: We realize many of you may view this post as quite the departure from topics like mono-fruiting and raw burger recipes to which we say: yes it is.

However, at Raw and Natural Health, our goal is to shed light on a variety of health topics (and certainly, with the complexities of emotion, cultural norms, STDs and so on, human sexuality is indeed a health topic both mentally and physically).

We aim to bring new and yes, sometimes eyebrow-raising topics to the surface (both relating to foods and topics like this), not for shock value, but in the spirit of informing and engaging others in conversation and learning from one another. Yes, the majority of our stories will still be about healthy food choices, but every so often, we’ll be delivering stories that address health in other ways. Because how we treat our bodies – food, thoughts and otherwise – is key to keeping us at our happiest and healthiest.

Sources for this article include:

How to manage stress: don’t worry, be happy!

Whether it’s preparing for that big work presentation, dealing with a drama-loving neighbor or gearing up for a special first date, it’s completely understanding that our nerves can get the best of us. Self-doubt, anxiety, fear of failure (and for some, fear of success) all can do a number on our body and brain.

Some people unfortunately deal with life’s stresses by pouring a strong drink. I mean, how many television shows have we seen where the character seems to suddenly have a firm handle on their life as soon as they down some bourbon? Surely, some of us have had times where we’ve said, “I just can’t wait to get home and have a glass of wine.” Some pop a pill to help them sleep better. Others wallow in their frustrations, engaging in ongoing negative self-talk that keeps their goals at bay. Or, it’s not uncommon that people stray from their healthy eating habits. Suddenly, a pint of ice cream goes missing, thanks to the stress/food connection. Ironically, these attempts at managing stress actually add to it.

But at Raw and Natural Health, we’re big believers in seeing that glass half full. No, not the bourbon glass either. Stress is a given, but it’s how we handle it that can help us bulldoze through those negative thoughts and anxiety. Just like eating healthy foods, having healthy thoughts contributes to a better life.

Here are some tips on how to deal with stress so it doesn’t drag you down mentally or physically.

Healthy habits to help manage stress

Meditate:

Living in the moment and genuinely appreciating what you have can help ease anxieties. Sarah Maria, a certified meditation instructor with the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California says getting in touch with your thoughts and surroundings though “mindful meditation” can help make this possible.

Meditation that falls in the “mindfulness” category, like vipassana, she says, ” . . . involves focusing on your breathing in order to diminish awareness of worrisome thoughts. As soon as your mind wanders or you notice noises outside or sensations in your body, you just come back to the breath.”

You need not be a meditation superstar surrounded by feng shui and incense. If you are, that’s great – keep it up! Just sitting quietly for a few minutes on your sofa can do the trick. For more information about other kinds of meditation, read this article.

Visualization:

Diana Ross may have sung about stopping in the name of love, but we think stopping can carry a new meaning altogether. For example, every time a negative thought enters your head, imagine a stop sign. It’s a visual reminder of something we do in our daily driving routines anyway: We stop. Look both ways. Think about where we’re going and then proceed accordingly. So . . . just stop.

Take time to imagine a stop sign every time you have thoughts that you’re not perfect enough, smart enough, confident enough, then replace it with thoughts of you in your ideal situation (applause after your presentation, that date being filled with meaningful conversation and good laughs, and so on). Do what works for you. It might not be a stop sign, but perhaps the soothing ebb and flow of a tide or even thinking of your favorite color.

It’s believed that visualizing a desired outcome is almost as if the body is actually experiencing it. So no wonder you may feel “down” and “blah” at times. If you’re always thinking bad, you will feel bad because it’s like your body’s going through where your thoughts are taking it.

In fact, a Psychology Today article mentions that ” . . . research has revealed that mental practices are almost effective as true physical practice, and that doing both is more effective than either alone.” So, it certainly can’t hurt!

For more about the power of positive thinking, check out this story:

http://www.naturalnews.com/044296_positive_thinking_healing_visualization.html

Eat healthy foods:

Don’t be tempted to throw your healthy lifestyle off when a case of nerves strikes. There’s lots to be said about the stress/food connection involving cortisol (the stress hormone itself) that actually triggers our intense cravings for things like salts and sweets.

Resist the urge by reminding yourself how great you feel and look thanks to those organic apples and avocado smoothies you enjoy. You can connect on that first date or make it though a tough business meeting without devouring pizza and chips.

So, believe in yourself, ignore the naysayers and remember that it’s important for your overall health to be happy not just some of the time, but all of the time. You’re worth it and you deserve it!

Here’s to YOU!

What techniques do you have to help manage stress? Please share; we’d love to hear from you.

Sources for this article include

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? A closer look at food category craziness

Ever need a Band-Aid? What about a Kleenex? Of course you’ve probably asked for these items from time to time, but technically, you’re asking for a particular brand name, not the actual item itself.

It’s all thanks to really good branding folks and consumer acceptance of phrases. So, most people talk about wanting to relax in the Jacuzzi, which is the brand name for the more generic, “hot tub.” Really, we want a facial tissue, not a Kleenex and an adhesive bandage, not a Band-Aid. (I know, doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quois in the word world, right?)

What’s all this have to do with healthy foods? Ah, well, it’s all about the words we use to describe a certain food. For example, when the masses have been referring to a fruit as a vegetable, then gosh darn it, a vegetable it is. Yes, it’s that time: time to take a look at those long-held beliefs about what foods belong in what category and maybe settle it once and for all.

A look at some specific foods in the vegetable versus fruit debate

Let’s take a peek at top foods that get us thinking, “is it a fruit or a vegetable?”

Tomato:

This category of this nightshade has pretty much been going around in circles forever, from the longstanding “vegetable” status to today’s commonly accepted (for the most part) “fruit” status.

Then again, in the 1800s, the U.S. Supreme Court actually ruled that it is indeed a vegetable, although botanically, it’s really a fruit. The case came to be when an argument was made that tomatoes should not be taxed as a vegetable because, well, it isn’t one.

According to OrganicGardening.com, “The case eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which decided that while tomatoes are really botanically defined as fruit, consumers think of tomatoes as vegetables, and that is how they should be legally defined.”

So there you have it.

Cashew:

Is it a nut? A fruit? A seed? Part one thing and part something else? They’re in the nut section and in all kinds of articles about what nuts are best for us, so isn’t it obvious? Not necessarily.

Some say it’s a fruit. . . because that’s what the nut was attached to. But inside that nut is a seed/kernel, which is really what we eat. So it’s a . . . hmmmm. For more about this doozey, read this article.

Avocado:

Often referred to as a very nutritious “food” (gotta love generic wording; it’s great for those “I don’t know what category it’s in this week moments), the avocado is apparently a fruit.

That often sits in the vegetable section and is sometimes added to our vegetable salads. But it is really technically a single-seeded berry. Sigh. Want to know more about the avocado? Check out this story.

We’ll leave it at that. There are others out there swirling about, confused cruciferous “foods” with labels that don’t match the section they sit in at the health food store. Call ’em what you will, lots are nutritious “items” to eat, well-worth taking a seat on your dinner plate.

Enjoy!

What’s your take on all this? Do you insist on going by what a food is botanically? Or is it fine to stick with popular belief?

Sources for this article include:

The healthiest parts of foods you may be overlooking

Ever set out to enjoy a juicy organic orange, yet crinkle your nose at the sight of that stringy, white skin? Maybe you even peel back a few layers just to get one step closer to that orange goodness.

Not so fast!

Turns out that a lot of the fruits and veggies we eat have tons of health benefits in the parts of them we may be overlooking. As always, chose organic foods for optimal health.

The best parts of foods you (maybe) haven’t discovered yet

The pith of an orange:

That white stuff between the fruit and the peel that often adheres to the orange is the pith, and it’s where the fruit’s highest concentration of flavonoids call home. These flavonoids play a role in protection against certain cancers and help with heart disease prevention.

This isn’t to say that it’s time to do a complete reversal and discard the fruit in favor of just the pith; the entire orange is loaded with vitamin C, fiber and flavonoids. It’s just that the pith is the fruit’s powerhouse, and is often thrown away or peeled from the fruit when it should be enjoyed!

Watermelon rind:

Although certainly crunchier and not quite as flavorful as the flesh itself, the rind is very rich in something called citrulline. Published studies talk about the fact that this compound, found in the rind, has antioxidant properties that fight free-radicals and lead to a healthier system. For more information about watermelon rind and tips on how to eat it, take a look at this story.

Pineapple core:

Don’t ditch that pineapple core. Go ahead and eat it. Pineapple contains bromelain, a naturally-occurring protein enzyme that may alleviate inflammation and pain. Studies have shown that bromelain content is most concentrated in the pineapple’s core.

Broccoli stalks:

Be a stalker . . . when it comes to broccoli, that is (we don’t need to see any of our fans on the nightly news). The tendency is to cut the stalks from the florets and discard them, but did you know that the stalks have just as much fiber and antioxidants? So eat it all raw, add stalks to a salad, juice them . . . as the saying goes, “it’s all good.” Literally.

Kiwi skin:

This one often gets a “Really? I can eat that?” from people. But it’s true. That fuzzy brown part of the kiwi is safe to consume and according to experts, boasts three times the fiber than strictly ingesting the green flesh. Who knew?

Do you already enjoy these parts of foods? Are there others you’ve tried? Let us know; we’d enjoy hearing from you.

Sources for this article include:

Green cabbage health benefits: celebrate health and luck on St. Patrick’s Day (and every day)

St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner and that means many folks will be celebrating the tradition with green beer and processed nastiness to which we say, “yuck!” Or worse, but we aim to keep our posts away from words like that, even if certain people’s dietary choices make us want to clobber them with a cucumber 🙂

By now we know we can enjoy life and its many festivities without partaking in a gluttonous, unhealthy food fest of Jabba the Hut proportions. Like, for example, enjoying green cabbage.

It’s one of the quintessential St. Patrick’s day foods, perfect for health-minded people like us. Plus, it even carries some good luck history with it. Folate and fortune? Win-win!

Green cabbage and its health benefits

Green cabbage contains vitamin A, which is great for our skin, skeletal system and teeth. Plus, it’s also a good vitamin C source which does wonders when it comes to healing cuts and wounds as well as building healthy bones and teeth. Green cabbage is also high in folate, which can help with depression, insomnia and restless leg syndrome while also contributing to overall cell production and nervous system support.

By now we bet lots of you are saying, “yeah, but what about red cabbage?” Of course. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, red cabbage trumps green (for example, it contains more than six times the daily value of vitamin A than green and delivers 3% of the daily value of iron compared to the 2% in green). It also has anthocyanins, which green does not, which is said to play a role in fighting cancer and improving memory. However, this doesn’t mean green cabbage should be dismissed. In fact, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods site, compared to red cabbage, “greens have substantially more folate.” It’s still an extremely healthy vegetable and hey, we’re having a bit of fun here trying to keep it all in line with the green St. Patrick’s Day theme! Still, if you can’t resist, here’s more info about the red variety.

So, back to St. Patrick’s Day . . .

Get lucky (ier?) with cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day

OK, so perhaps that heading could come off semi-inappropriate (some will chuckle, others will engage in a “tsk tsk”) but according to traditions through the years, it’s true. Greens like kale and cabbage are often included as part of “good luck” meals (common for New Year’s meals too) because their folded and wrinkly appearance resembles money. Those who eat it are thought to encounter more financial successes that those who don’t.

Sounds good to me. Still, I’m covering all the bases: I’ll take a lottery ticket with that head of cabbage, please 🙂

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you like cabbage? Share your thoughts; we’d love to hear from you.

Sources for this article include:

Is fasting good or bad for your health?

The concept of fasting doesn’t always give everyone a case of the warm and fuzzies.

Some say it’s a great way to detox and recharge our bodies (and minds), while others argue that it creates a state of unnecessary unbalance. People say it’s fine, even necessary, to restrict calories from time to time. Yet a lot of folks say nope, fasting paves the way for heath problems.

Study shows: Go on a fast to improve brain health and live longer

Yes: Fasting is good for us

Here’s the deal. A few years ago, there was a lot of discussion in the media about a study done by researchers and professors at leading Universities. They said fasting one or two days a week with the likes of healthy foods like fiber-rich vegetables can help improve brain health.

Indeed, the benefits of such intermittent fasting has been studied for many years, in many cases demonstrating its role in improved memory, learning ability, overall cognitive function. It may even increase our longevity and give us a more youthful appearance. For more about how fasting may help brain health, read this article.

So embraced is this concept that there’s even a Calorie Restriction Society International where its members – you guessed it – restrict their calories based on the belief that it helps their health. Interested in learning more about this society? Check it out here: http://www.crsociety.org/

No: Fasting is bad for us

Many folks shun such studies, saying that the potential dehydration, hypoglycemia, weight fluctuations and yo-yo blood sugar levels (to name just a few) are just not worth it.  Engaging in calorie restriction, even by “just” 500 calories for each fast, can negatively impact our electrolyte levels, wreak havoc on our digestive system and make us dizzy and/or groggy.

Furthermore, it’s thought that advocating calorie restriction of any kind could pave the way for eating disorders and should not be encouraged.

What are your thoughts? Do you fast? Is it healthy with the right foods or a bad habit no matter what foods we consume? Tell us where you stand in the comment section.

Is ulgi fruit good for you?

There’s a fruit in a grocery store near you that looks like you could break out in hives just by touching it, let alone eating it.  We’ll give it to you straight: it has a blister-like skin that’s full of green and yellow lumps and it’s downright awkward looking.

Definitely the beast, not the beauty.

Now, what’s that phrase about not judging a book by its cover? Ah.

ugli-fruit

Exactly what is ugli fruit?

The grotesque-looking ugli fruit is actually a tangelo hybrid (yes, that h-word) from Jamaica that is a combination of grapefruit, oranges and tangerines.

It’s loaded with vitamin C, fiber and folate and it’s also low in calories. Taste-wise, it’s surprisingly good. Ugli fruit is sweet and juicy, with a dose of zip on the side that’ll kick your taste buds in high gear.

But still, it’s a hybrid and that makes it cause for concern for some folks.

The good, the bad and the ugli as the experts see it

To eat ugli fruit or not, that is the question.  Nutrition expert extraordinaire David Wolfe makes no hesitation that hybrid foods are out of the question because they are “biologically weak.”

Then there are the likes of Mark Sisson, a popular nutrition author and Ironman competitor, who tell us that “. . . hybridization isn’t some monolith to be universally condemned. Eat them, or don’t, but don’t fret.”

To learn more details about how these men feel about food hybridization, including whether or not they fall into the controversial GMO category, click here.

What about ugli fruit and interaction with medications?

Although it’s part grapefruit, ugli fruit is missing a compound that is common in grapefruits, so those on certain medications can rejoice! That compound has been shown to cause detrimental drug interactions, hence all of the hubabaloo about not having grapefruit or its juices with certain medications.

Of course, it’s never a bad idea to run the ugli fruit topic by your doctor, just to be sure.

Click here to read more about ugli fruit and hybird foods.

Daylight Saving Time: staying safe and healthy during the time change

If you aren’t already aware, consider this your friendly reminder: make sure to turn your clocks an hour forward this Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 2:00 a.m. : ) Well, unless you’re a night owl, most of us just change it before we go to bed Saturday night.

Many people are thrilled about this. After all, changing the clocks this time of year is symbolic of soon-to-be appearances of daffodils that put us in springtime mode. But (yeah, there’s bound to be one), Daylight Saving Time can wreak havoc on our health. We’ve all been there: engaging in that self-talk when we wake for work at 5:00 a.m. Monday morning saying, “But it’s really like getting up at 4:00 a.m. . . . this is miserable!”

Obviously, every person responds to changes in sleep differently, but the bottom line is that the time change can do a number on our 24-hour natural sleep/wake cycles, better known as our circadian rhythm. Even though it’s only a one hour change, our cycle gets thrown for a loop.

Health hazards of Daylight Saving Time

Sadly, this disruption in sleep cycles can be serious for some of us. In fact, hospitals see a spike in visits during the first week after Daylight Saving Time, where heart attacks are more common than other times of the year. Uh-oh.

Add to that statistics that show an increase in Monday traffic accidents (a significant of them fatal).

And a lot of us are just plain grumpy and groggy, so it’s no surprise that articles have been written about Monday being a good day for lazy “cyber-loafing.” For more details about health risks associated with this time change, read this article.

Tips for staying safe during the time change

At Raw and Natural Health, we’re committed to your health, and we want you to remain aware about such health risks. In the upcoming days, try to be more in tune to how you feel (energy levels, etc.). Consider swapping cyber-loafing for a short nap, walk or energy-boosting green juice. Definitely be extra cautious on the road. Just because you may be alert doesn’t mean the other drivers are at their best.

Actually, this is all good advice any time of the year, but it’s not a bad idea to be even more mindful of it in light (ha, pun not intended) of the time change.

For more tips, including how to get a head start on easing into the changes once Daylight Saving Time ends in the fall, check out this story:

4 Natural Tips to keep your body on track during Daylight Savings Time

Last but not least, don’t forget to set the clocks an hour ahead all throughout your house as well as in your car.

Happy (almost) Spring!

Sources for this article include:

Are nightshades really bad for you?

We recently published an article:

http://rawandnaturalhealth.com/white-vegetables-bad/

…that touted the benefits of white vegetables, mentioning that light-colored foods like mushrooms, fennel, cauliflower and potatoes are often overlooked in favor of eating brightly-hued foods. Excited about food and health as we are, we were rather happy to bring attention to white veggies, the underdog of the produce aisle.

Sigh.

Like any food and dietary lifestyles, debate is likely to ensue. In this case, it was the word, “potato” that sparked concern because it is in the nightshade family. Lots of folks agree that the potato has good nutrients and is worthy of taking a place at our dining room table (or TV tray, whatever works). But many people say the potato (not sweet potatoes though), and any other nightshade food, should be avoided like the plague.

What are nightshade vegetables and what’s the issue?

Here’s the scoop. Many of us already know this, but some don’t.

Nightshade veggies (part of the Solanaceae family), are subject to controversy, many times associated with causing or exasperating health issues ranging from arthritis and digestive problems to bone loss and trembling. Bottom line is that all nightshades have a group of substances called “alkaloids” in common and it’s for this reason that many people won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole.

Alkanoids’ interaction in the body may cause joint damage (associated with the potato in particular) and disrupt nerve cell function, leading to a host of health problems. As if this isn’t startling enough, one of the four types of alkanoids present in nightshades that is certainly not associated with good health is . . .  nicotine. Yikes. Well, maybe.

Nightshades include:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet and hot peppers, including pimentos, cayenne pepper and paprika

To eat nightshades or not?

So you’d think that after hearing such news, we’d never even want to utter words like “tomato” and “potato” again. One part of us wants to take part in the “everything in moderation” approach, at least as it pertains to our chosen dietary lifestyle. Another part of us has no issue omitting a select handful of foods from our grocery cart. We can live without eggplant and potatoes, right? Of course we can.

Still, there are experts who see the good and the bad with nightshades.  Some say they’re fine to eat and that only people very sensitive to alkanoids might experience issues. Others say the correlation hasn’t truly been proved scientifically.

Then there’s the nicotine issue. On the World’s Healthiest Foods web site, it says, “The levels of nicotine in all nightshade foods are so low that most healthcare practitioners have simply ignored the presence of nicotine in these foods as a potential compromising factor in our health.”

Many who are not fans of doctors or hospitals will react to that quote saying, “Of course they ignore it. Maybe it’s high time they start paying attention to it though.” Many others say low nicotine content or not, any amount just can’t be good. Yet some dismiss the whole nightshade debate, nicotine, trembling and all, holding fast to the notion that variety is the key to eating right and after all, foods like potatoes do contain vitamins C, B-complex and potassium and zinc.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any experiences or stories about nightshades? Are any of them a part of your diet? We’d appreciate your comments.

Mono-fruiting: is it good for us?

There are all kinds of dietary lifestyles out there and mono-fruiting is one of them. Just like it sounds, it involves eating only one fruit for a determined period of time. People who enjoy this way of eating typically purchase fruit in bulk, and it’s not uncommon for some of them to even have two refrigerators or extensive pantry space!

But . . . (cue up the suspenseful music) is mono-fruiting good for us?

Yes, mono-fruiting really works

A woman named Yulia Tarbath swears by the lifestyle, as does her husband.  She prefers bananas in particular since they’re easily available, healthy and affordable. Eating bananas for extended periods of time has improved her concentration as well as her skin.

For more information about her story, click here: http://www.naturalnews.com/043460_banana_diet_mental_clarity_overall_health.html

We can go on. There’s Freelee the Banana Girl, best known for her “30 bananas a day” diet and even people who claim to have cleared their acne by only eating apples.

mono-fruiting

The downside of mono-fruiting

Despite these claims, many people advise against this dietary lifestyle, saying that it doesn’t give our bodies the full amount of nutrients it needs. For those interested in losing weight, it may actually make the numbers on the scale higher. In fact, fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis says, “fruit has almost three times the calories per serving as nonstarchy vegetables.”

As with any dietary choice we make, it’s smart to do your research and know pros and cons of each.  Read, plan and do your best to make sure that you consume organic, whole foods when possible.

Happy eating!

To get in on the debate regarding the healthful/adverse effects of mono-fruiting, check out this story.