March 23, 2012

Studies Prove The Effectiveness of Bio Fuels:

But more needs to be done, and quantified

Going green will not only improve the health of the planet but can make an improvement in the quality of the air we breathe. Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, can seriously affect our general health and cause multiple health issues for individuals. Poor indoor/workplace air quality can lead to serious cancers like black lung disease, mesothelioma or Hodgkin disease. Though indoor air quality is an important matter, everyday air pollution is just as bad or maybe even worse since it can affect a wide range of people.

Carbon Dioxides, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and more are released into the atmosphere and contribute to a number of health issues. Cancers, lung disease, asthma and other respiratory ailments can all be attributed to pollution in the air. This is evident by the higher rates of health issues around industrialized areas where minimum air quality requirements are not met.

Biodiesel fuels are one product that the green market offers that works to lower carbon dioxide and other dangerous chemicals from the atmosphere. Biodiesel fuels are taken from renewable sources such as soybeans and other agricultural byproducts. They are biodegradable, through a process called transesterification, where the glycerin is separated from the fats. The oils and grease from these bio sources are then converted into fuel, which can be used alone or as extenders in other fuels.

Though these qualities of bio fuels seem incomparable to our current use, questions still arise. Though bio fuels burn clean, without releasing chemicals and fumes, and come from endless renewable sources, but is this enough to lower the amounts of air pollution and improve the quality of what we breathe?

Thanks to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), there is solid evidence that bio fuels are the way to go and are enough to help combat the pollution crisis. The NREL conducted a study regarding the use of biodiesel fuels on a fleet of heavy duty diesel trucks. The study was aimed to determine the effect that biodiesel and biodiesel blends have on the emissions from these trucks. In essence, the study found that risk of premature deaths due to exposure from air toxins is reduced by 2-5%, and the amount of particulate matter was reduced by 4-7%.

Although the effects of biodiesel fuel on air quality have not been quantified by the EPA or other institutions, it is clear is there is an advantage to using bio fuels. When used with diesel engines, the emissions improve ignition and oxidant distribution, thus improving overall emissions. Dangerous hydrocarbons and particulate matter have an inherent toxicity. Because biodiesel reduces the toxicity of particulate matter, it's important to explore this potential option for lowering health issues

March 15, 2012

Did You Say Healthy Party?

Recipes to make you next event lighter (in a good way)

Parties and Healthy foods are normally not two words you would put together in a sentence. But there are actually tasty and healthy food out there that are great for any event. Party foods with a healthy edge are a cornucopia of different flavors and textures. Wade out from under the grease laden fried food, and consider some healthier alternatives guests will be sure to appreciate.

Portobello Mushroom Steaks are a delicious alternative to beef steaks on the grill. These hearty mushrooms are full of flavor naturally and receive a boost of seasoning from an easy to make barbecue sauce. Portobello mushrooms add necessary carbohydrates and fiber while giving a protein boost, all necessary for energy and building muscle mass.

Healthy choices for side dishes and snacks are tasty and endless. Raw vegetable trays are always a perfect choice that satisfies the crunch partygoers desire. Baked crackers and pita chips add the next crisp factor. Cheezy Beany Spread is an excellent dip or spread that provides an excellent source of protein, vitamin C and E, iron, beta-carotene and calcium. Zesty garlic, lemon and roasted red bell pepper is the reason for this spread's terrific flavor.

Place a festive Aztec Salad next to all and guests have a feast for eyes, noses and tummies. Black beans, corn, onions and peppers marinate in a combination of spices and vinegars. The bold flavor of this salad is thanks to spices such as cumin, cilantro, coriander and red pepper. Guests will come back for second helpings just to look at the pretty colors.

Satisfy the sweet tooth every party guest has with some great alternatives to cookies, candy and cake. Popcorn is a flexible base for mixing with cereals, nuts, granola, cheese and spices. Play with naturally hot and sweet foods such as wasabi peas and raisins for an addictive flavor. Make a fruit salsa that has just enough heat to taste perfect with tortilla chips. Have fruit trays available with yummy yogurt dips.

Do not feel as if the only choice for a party is soda or alcoholic drinks. Create fun spritzers with carbonated water or ginger ale and unusual juices such as pomegranate juice. Garnish these drinks with pieces of fruit that will add color, punch and flavor that guests will delight over. Consider making smoothies for a party. Smoothies allow a host to provide a large variety of flavors and textures for their guests to drink.

Do not fall into the overindulgence trap of endless bowls of potato chips at the next party. Think of benefits ingredients in healthy alternatives provide. Introducing these healthy alternatives are going to help guests realize new ideas for their own healthful living.

March 12, 2012


Full steam ahead to better health

In the hurried times we live, it seems everyone is searching for that quick and easy way to stay healthy while trying to squeeze it into our busy schedules. Often times, the most beneficial ways are sometimes the easiest. Many of our first experiences with bicycles are using it to get to and from a friend’s house in the neighborhood. What we often never think about is just how beneficial riding a bike can be to us. Not to mention, it can be downright fun!

I always used to wonder what would compel someone to wear cycling clothes and go ride their bikes in the hot summer afternoons, but once I learned how powerful of an exercise tool cycling really is, I became one of those people. Bikes are readily available through a myriad of price points for everyone’s budget. Obtaining the bike is the easy part. However, finding and maximizing our time is the hard part. Many cities have dedicated recreation and bike trails where cars aren’t allowed, so there’s no danger from cars when riding. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is second only to tobacco smoking as a health risk in developed countries. Cycling is an incredibly suitable means of staying healthy and prolonging life.

Using me for example, a 150lb person who cycles at a speed of 14-16 mph for 45 minutes can burn 540 calories an hour. That’s an incredible figure when compared to some other exercises. Cycling to work that’s relatively close can burn off 10lbs of fat a year alone. Not to mention, it’s a non-weight bearing activity for our knees, which makes it viable for people who may have a prior knee injury or arthritis in the legs.

The charity Sustrans reports that on average; approximately 20 life-years are gained from the health benefits of road bicycling for every life-year lost through injury. Cycling is also great for your heart. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as those who did not.

Any way you look at it, cycling is a great exercise that we all can do! No matter what shape or size, there are benefits we can all get.

March 6, 2012

The Marvels of Design

How new technology makes home phones a thing of the past

In today’s world, technology is everything.  Everyday new things are coming out, and many of these technical marvels are so small that their power blows one’s mind. One of the places that debuts many of the concept for mobile technologies is the Mobile World Congress.

This is an exciting place to be. It's a place where manufacturers show off their latest technological breakthroughs, both in terms of hardware and software design. A lot of presentations are given, some for products that are still months or even years off. With some of the new technologies that are being built into mobile phones, it's time to declare home phones and feature phones completely dead. Here are a few demos from this year's Mobile World Congress that were truly mind blowing.

P2i's SplashGuard

Waterproof phones have been around for years, but until now they've all required layers of dense materials to achieve this effect. One company, P2i, has taken a different approach to waterproofing. They're using nano-coating for their waterproofing technology, and have demoed the technology in a number of environments. They recently showed off a waterproof napkin that, after being dunked in water, was still completely dry.

The technology, originally devised as a joint venture with the U.S. Department of Defense, has already made its way into mobile phones. The Droid RAZR line of smartphones and new Xyboard tablet both incorporate the
SplashGuard technology. It can't completely waterproof a phone yet, but one has to believe that it will be able to within a few years.


Augmented reality has been slowly creeping into the marketplace over the last couple of years, and mobile devices have become legitimate navigation devices at the same time. It was only a matter of time before the two services overlapped, and now they have.
iOnRoad encourages drivers to look at their smartphones while driving, combining a view through their smartphone's camera with information on a person's driving. It lets you know how far you are from the vehicle in front of you, what speed you're going, and more.

The software could soon represent a breakthrough for safety. With the ability to alert drivers if a vehicle in front of them is braking, the app could very well save lives. The CEO of the maker of iOnRoad said that the ultimate goal is to integrate the software with existing mobile navigation apps.

Nokia PureView

For years, apps have tried to improve smartphone cameras. The iPhone 4 and 4S include an HDR option, and many apps on both iOS and Android offer some sort of enhancements to stock camera apps. Nokia has taken a similar approach to improve the smartphone camera, but has instead developed new hardware.

PureView is Nokia's new camera sensor that will be included in their smartphones. With 41 megapixels at its disposal, PureView makes the current five-megapixel and eight-megapixel offerings that most phone makers offer seem obsolete. PureView takes five-megapixel cameras, using its 41-megapixel range to oversample every shot, resulting in the best photo available from any given shot.

March 5, 2012

Get in “The Zone”

Dr. Barry Sears is a biochemist who wanted to find a way to avoid dying from a heart attack and invented the Zone diet to achieve these goals. This dies it based around balancing protein and carbohydrates with the goal to balance hormones. The balance of protein to carbs is 30:40 and that is supposed to be the focus of the “zone”.

Over the past ten years there has been a focus on high-protein and low-carb foods. Research on these diets have been limited but recently researchers have found biomarkers have been negatively affected by severely low carbohydrate intake. A problem that can arise with a diet like Atkins is that people can go into ketosis (inefficiency of the body to oxidize fat). This can eventually lead to bone loss.

The Zone diet has a high enough recommended dose of carbs that people will not go into ketosis. The Atkins diet recommends no more than 20 grams a day while the Zone diet allows up to 180 grams a day. Although the Zone diet is still low on carb intake it is not as extreme as the Atkins diet. It is important to note how imperative balance is in diets. Cutting out groups of food can be detrimental to one’s health and these results might not be found for years to come.

There are new diets and fads coming out daily and it is important for everyone to carefully examine the reasons behind the different diets. A very popular diet now is the Paleo diet which eliminates refined sugars, grains, dairy products and other miscellaneous foods. Although people swear by this diet and have a lot of research to back up their opinions it is hard to see the benefits of a diet which eliminates whole food groups which we have been consuming for years.

The Zone diet which focuses on balance and lowering the amount of certain food groups makes more sense to me. I think balance is extremely important to all aspects of life, especially in one’s diet. It is important to note that certain diets work better for certain people but doing research before starting a new diet is more significant than ever.