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Veganism – Fad or Future?

February 1st, 2019

By Sumer Dene

When I was 10 years old, my mom let me make a fundamental life decision. I was a vegetarian from birth and was given the choice to eat meat. Around the same time, my step dad offered me $100 to eat a piece of steak. I didn’t take his offer. My taste buds never acquired the need for meat at a young age, which made it easy for me to turn it down and find other nutrient-dense foods to nourish my body. A child doesn’t make the connection where meat and dairy comes from, they simply correlate savory tastes and flavors to perfectly packaged and marketed animal products. As adults they are programmed to disconnect from the food on their plate. After not eating animals for the last 24 years of my life, the most difficult part is finding options in a meat-centered society. Fortunately, the market is changing due to high demand, especially among millennials.

Favorably, people are becoming inspired to eat plant-based foods. They are learning it’s a lot easier than they thought and that plant-based foods can have a similar delectable taste that sends the same signals to the brain as would a ribeye steak. Plant-based foods are becoming more popular and convenient. For most of us, eating meat is a choice and not a necessity. Because of issues such as world hunger, global warming, and animal suffering, eating animals has become an ethical issue. According to Psychology Today, environmentalists encourage us to cut down on meat consumption in favor of vegetable foods that are better for the environment. The Food and Agriculture organization states that raising livestock takes about 80% of all agricultural land and produces just 18% of the world’s calories.       

Since prehistoric times, humans have been hunters and gatherers. However, it is different in modern society. Many systems put in place are outdated, and need to be reassessed as a whole. Animals are treated as commodities in a society dominated by large-scale animal agriculture corporations. People pay industries to mass produce and slaughter animals for them. This is unnatural in many ways compared to how our ancestors derived food. Agriculture has become an industry concerned with profit, and not about sustaining life. Meat was a necessity for our ancestors who hunted to survive; now it has become something you order off the dollar menu. Corporations genetically modify, chemically alter, and artificially inseminate animals confined in small cages at concentrated animal feeding operations. These animals aren’t here by God’s choice, they were bred into existence unnaturally to be slaughtered at a young age. Plants also are genetically altered and doused in harmful chemicals. The message society is sending to consumers is in order to be healthy; you must be wealthy. Is this the message that will continue?

The word “meat” became indirectly marketed with masculinity. However, many top athletes, including Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Serena Williams, and Lewis Hamilton, are adding plant-based protein to their diet, and winning as a result. Kendrick Farris is the only U.S. weightlifter qualified for the Olympics. Aside from breaking records, a plant based diet has helped him decrease recovery time, and improve mood, sleep and energy levels. Meat is a dense tissue and takes massive amounts of energy to break down. The same energy resources could be spent for regeneration, detoxification, and recovery after exercise. “We shouldn’t get so caught up with ‘protein’ because you can get an excess of protein, and most of it just gets passed through the body.” States Farris. All plants have varied amounts of protein that add up throughout the day. Foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, and algae match the protein density found in animal products.

The point of a whole-foods plant-based diet is to be conscious of what you put in your body. Cultures that enjoy health and longevity consume the least amount of animal products. Okinawa, Japan has the highest life expectancy. They believe in mindful eating; they take the time to think about what and how they’re consuming food. Okinawans eat less seafood than most Japanese, and instead of rice, sweet potatoes are the staple food in the traditional cuisine. Their diet is abundant in green and yellow vegetables, fruit, and various soy products. According to BBC, Okinawa’s oldest residents also have far lower rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia than other aging populations. A plant-based lifestyle is for anyone who wants to look and feel their best. It is not a fad or a trend, it’s a way of life and it is here to stay.

The Economist declares 2019 will be the “Year of the Vegan,” while Forbes predicts more people will “embrace a plant-based lifestyle.” According to The Economist, a quarter of millenial Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian. Forget fad diets, short term goals, and depriving yourself of foods. A lifestyle and mindset change is all you need to maintain health and wellness. A whole-foods plant-based lifestyle is about adding nutritious, delicious plant-based foods to your life for a lifetime. Instead of trying to follow a strict regimen, add plant-based diversity to your diet and find a balanced lifestyle suitable to your unique nutritional needs.

More people are developing a vegetable friendly palate. Social media is helping people learn new recipes, join support groups, and swap animal for plant-based protein. There are many reasons to choose nutritious food that loves you back. This movement is expanding every day. It could be for health and athletic endurance, the animals, your taste buds, ethics, or for the environment. Animals are good to us. They give us companionship, unconditional love, and forgiveness. Yet they become slaves to us for food, clothing, experiments, and entertainment which causes them great suffering. We separate each other by class, race, sex, and species. Rather than observing each other as a part of a greater whole, we build imaginary boundaries. As long as humans see other living beings as subservient to them, we will never achieve world peace.

Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin

  • 1 pasture-raised egg
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup walnuts or almonds (or a mix of both)
  • ½ cup enjoy life semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp distilled white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup pure cane sugar

Grease muffin pan or use silicone muffin tray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bananas in thin slices, add vanilla extract and mash. Mix almond butter, nuts, egg, and sugar together then stir. Add flour, baking soda, distilled white vinegar, chocolate chips, and salt. Stir thoroughly.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Blueberry Açaí smoothie

  • 1 Sambazon açaí superfruit pack
  • 1 cup Blueberries
  • 1 Banana
  • ½ cup Goodbelly Blueberry Acai Probiotic juice or Organic Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup Almond milk

Thousand Island salad

  • Your choice of leafy greens
  • 2 tsp flaxseed meal
  • 4 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • Sunflower seeds 

Dressing

  • ½ cup Vegenaise
  • 1 tbsp Sweet Pickle Relish
  • 1 tsp Ketchup
  • A dash of salt

The Decline of America’s Health and Nutrition

January 2nd, 2019

By Sumer Dene

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at Rutgers University. Afterwards, I researched animal law at the Superior Courts in Washington, D.C. These fundamental experiences inspired me to examine how belief systems, laws, and science influence food production.

We are inundated with fast food corporations and advertisements aimed to fix problems while creating them. A “happy meal” entices children to be brand loyal to a logo, while parents are lured by convenience and price. Nonetheless, kids are encouraged to eat addictive, unhealthy food in exchange for a gift and Americans suffer through relentless habit.

Healthy food is inaccessible and unaffordable to many communities while chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in America. The most common, and costly preventable health problems include heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. According to the United Nations, over 800 million people suffer from undernourishment around the world. For the Dietary Guidelines of 2020-2025, we urge policymakers to make critical decisions in securing the future of nutritious food supply.

Unsustainable Agriculture
Food is an important part of identity to maintain physical, emotional and mental health. It is a creative tool to best represent a person’s heritage and to connect people, globally, culturally, and even spiritually. However, there is a widespread cognitive dissonance in our relationship with food and how it got to our plate. This is a result of mass marketing of ultra-processed foods that undermine traditional culture. The destructive power of large-scale animal agribusiness far exceeds any other technology on earth. The U.N. addresses meat as the “world’s most urgent problem.” Instead of carrying the past in front of us, we must look forward to improve food production, health, the environment, and a booming economy and ecosystem.

The Guidelines
Integrity is determined by individuals awareness of truth and the ability to innovate and lead with research-driven science. Branded labels guide consumers when making important nutritional choices. The USDA oversees Federal Dietary Guidelines as well as policy and promotion of meat and dairy products. They are also in charge of educational systems, nutritional programs and multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns. The Standard American Diet (SAD) promotes food that may make you ill, particularly to the young and the poor. The USDA supports the agricultural economy by partnering with large scale food corporations such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Dominos, to develop heavy meat and dairy menus. Dietary Guidelines affect school lunch programs, nutrition for the military, food subsidies, food labels, SNAP (food stamps), and job growth.

Health Issues:

Hunger and Disease
According to the USDA, models are emerging that view hunger as a health issue. The need for sustainable, nutritious food has skyrocketed. Imagine if the agriculture department existed mainly for land grants to local farmers and funding for agricultural research and education. Many doctors and scientists have recommended to limit meat and dairy for the future of food supply. This would reduce the catastrophic effects of industrial farming, from its vast emissions, water pollution, and disease. A change in dietary guidelines would allow opportunities for new markets to grow, give support to local organic farmers, increase global collaboration, improve access and affordability to healthy foods, and advance sustainable technology for food production.

A Giant Leaf Forward
A dedicated group of chefs, gardeners, researchers, culinary anthropologists, and nutritionists are developing an integrative plant-based menu for the 2030 Mars Mission. Space gardens will be essential to explore space beyond lower earth orbit. The veggie experiment at the International Space station grows plants in a lunar greenhouse with very little water and no soil. This could be used on earth as a large-scale hydroponic source of food. Space exploration brings out the best in people, improves life on earth, and inspires youth to get involved to make a difference in the world. The food choices we make directly affect the world around us. We are a part of a whole, interconnected system. For the upcoming Dietary Guidelines of 2020-2025, scientists, doctors, and policymakers will discuss the imminent changes needed to protect the health and welfare of our planet. The question is: “Where will the future take us?” The committee will conduct a review of evidence and conclude with a scientific report by early 2020.

The Facts, Effects of Agribusiness
80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for livestock.

Less than 1% of U.S. farmland is organic. Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land and accounts for more worldwide greenhouse gas emissions than all of the transportation systems combined.

Animal agriculture is responsible to up to 91% of Amazon deforestation, 136 million rainforest acres have been cleared to grow feed and animals. Agribusiness is the leading cause of species extinction, deforestation, water pollution and habitat destruction.

Animal farms pollute waterways more than all other industrial sources and account for more than half of water used in the United States.

Over 95% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms with minimal animal cruelty laws.

Livestock operations have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in oceans around the world.

1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver.

This is known as the largest mass extinction on earth in the last 65 million years.

The Art of Healing Through Space Exploration

January 2nd, 2019

Astronaut Kate Rubin sports ‘Courage’ at the International Space Station Center (ISS).

By Sumer Dene

The SpaceSuit Art PROJECT is a global collaboration of hospitals, volunteers, and the International Space Station aimed to help children battling cancer. The Spacesuit Art Project was founded by artist and writer Ian Cion, retired astronaut Nicole Stott, and the NASA ISS Program Communications team. Nicole Stott is deemed “The Artistic Astronaut,” as she is the first astronaut to watercolor in space. Stott has flown on two spaceflights and spent 104 days living and working in space on the ISS and Space Shuttle. Ian Cion was the founder and director of the Arts in Medicine program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, where he created a series of large-scale public works in collaboration with patients, families, staff, and community partners. Cion is now the exhibition and program manager at Rice University, Moody Center for the Arts. He coordinates and develops program initiatives for the arts center and supports development and implementation of exhibits. Stott and Cion are co-founders of the Space for Art Foundation, and recently concluded their 2nd Space for Art World Tour, which traveled to pediatric oncology hospitals in four countries – The Moscow Institute for Pediatric Oncology in Moscow, Russia; Gustave Roussy in Paris, France; Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Great Britain; and University Hospital Pediatric Oncology Clinic, Cologne, Germany. Children use their imagination to paint patches of inspirational artwork, which is later stitched together by volunteers at spacesuit company ILC Dover to form a spacesuit. The art spacesuits – Hope, Courage, Unity and Victory; and the two suits currently in work, Exploration and Dreamer, tell the stories of pediatric patients around the world.

The Spacesuit Art Project has partnerships with hospitals in over 30 countries and includes participation with all 5 ISS agencies; spacesuit companies in both the U.S. and Russia; creative artists such as Projekt Postcard founder Loli Lanas and Russian partner and founder of Unity Movement Foundation, Alena Kuzmenko; and more than 45 NASA and international astronauts. This support offers amazing opportunities for kids to reach their highest potential, even in the most dire of circumstances. The positive, interactive experience builds a community among patients, healthcare workers, creative artists, families, and offers children a sense of purpose, hope, and fulfillment. The Spacesuit Art Project wants to increase awareness of pediatric cancer, inspire space-theme art therapy programs around the world, and understand the profound connection between space exploration, technology, art, healing, unity, and the human spirit.

The Spacesuit Art project is partners with many organizations that integrate art, science and technology through education, collaboration, and innovation. “We’d like to bring pediatric cancer research to the ISS and create more arts and medicine programs in hospitals around the world. We’d also like to start additional art projects to continue the positive relationships we’ve built along the way,” Stott explains. The Spacesuit Art Project inspires creative new ideas globally, such as The Space for Art Foundation in the U.S. and the Unity Movement Foundation in Russia, formed to develop space-inspired art therapy programs, exhibits, and research. It has also led to Postcards to Space, artistic messages created by children and sent via an electronic art compilation to astronauts at the ISS, and Earthrise projects, a network of educational and research centers with a variety of space-related activities for all ages. Children at partnering hospitals were even able to visit mission control in Houston to ask questions to astronauts while in space. This encourages children to ask meaningful, imaginative questions and think beyond their circumstance to look forward to the future.

The Spacesuit Art project wants to raise awareness of pediatric cancer. According to the National Pediatric Cancer Society, cancer is the No. 1 cause of death by disease among children, but only 4% of federal government research funding goes to study it. We still don’t really know why children get cancer, although much of what we have learned to treat adult cancers, such as combination chemotherapy, was discovered from childhood cancer research.

Pediatric research has developed groundbreaking new therapies, interventions, vaccines, and diagnostic tests that have improved lives worldwide. Researchers are beginning to understand genetic mutations that might cause certain types of pediatric cancer. Immunotherapy and genomic medicine are inspirational fields of study dedicated to find individualized treatment methods for all cancer types. The Childhood Cancer Data Lab (CCDL) is accelerating the path to a cure by empowering health professionals to harness the power of large-scale collections of harmonized data. The mission is to find the cure for childhood cancer by allocating data and resources sufficiently.

“We can shift the role an artist plays by building interdisciplinary teams to utilize art in the field of health and exploration. As an explorer, it’s not just one path. It only matters how we communicate and integrate information to get to the same destination. Art gives kids [and adults] a sense of purpose, wonder and accomplishment. There is a commonality between astronauts and children who are battling cancer, they both require incredible strength and courage to overcome isolation, risk, and medical procedures. These spacesuits are made as a prayer for the kids and a celebration of life.” Cion adds.

The mission of the Spacesuit Art Project could not have been accomplished without the wonderful volunteers, such as the many space professionals like ILC Dover, NASA’s space suit engineers since the beginning of project Apollo, and Zvezda, the Russian space agencies spacesuit manufacturer.

ILC Dover and Zvezda generously donated time and talent to build the Hope and Unity and Victory suits for the Spacesuit Art Project. David Graziosi and many other engineers volunteered time and effort to work with children at hospitals and put together a cutting-edge spacesuit with paintings from thousands of pediatric patients around the world. “Interacting with the children at the hospital was life-changing. It showed me what’s important in life and also how short life can be.” Graziosi explained. Many people are inspired to join the Spacesuit Art Project and the other work of the Space for Art Foundation because of its impact on youth and the opportunity it gives to children and their families. Children recognize the universe and humankind as a whole, interconnected system. They are curious about the mysteries of life and naturally innocent. There’s no borders, boundaries or limits when everyone works together, there’s only opportunities to overcome obstacles in search for a cure.

Healthcare Nation

December 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Change is constant, and culture is changing. A society’s principles and policies represent a nation’s way of life. We all have freedom of choice, the natural rights inherent to all. According to the United Nations, Human rights include the right to life, freedom, liberty, work, education and even to enjoy the arts. However, in our Democracy, do we have the right to truth and transparency in public and private institution? What is the price placed on quality of life and well-being?

A ‘conscious corporation’ succeeds by recognizing a need in society and satisfying that need in the most effective, responsible way. Consumer expectations evolve as we empower each other and find true purpose for the greater good. In the media age, there is no gap between corporation and consumer and no limit to how far we can go together. There is no room left for egos and agendas as we face fundamental issues across the nation, within industries and throughout humanity. Difficulties stem from misunderstanding of ourselves and others, misleading claims in media and advertisements, and insufficient research sponsored by parties of interest. We are inundated with information as we search for innovative ways to discover life-changing medicine, communicate shared value systems, and allocate resources efficiently. If people are confused and distracted, it’s far more difficult to think critically and make imperative, conscientious decisions. Marketing is everything. How something is presented to you determines what you see.

A study from BBC indicates pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing drugs, in some cases twice as much, than they do on developing them. BBC concludes profit margins are often much larger than money spent on research. Furthermore, companies have been faced with multi-billion dollar fines for malpractice and misbranding unsafe drugs. According to Reuters, an international news agency, “U.S. prices for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines are, on average, three times higher than in Britain.” In America, prescription costs are based on economic incentive and marketable value. Although, by being innovators and leader in research and technology, we help subsidize the rest of the world’s drug costs. The FDA works closely with pharmaceutical companies to determine which drugs can be marketed to the public. In recent years, FDA regulations are not as rigorously regulated. Competition and variety in a free market, in theory, would help lower prices of medication and encourage Americans to be more involved with their health. However, Consumers pay for brand names, not the effectiveness of drugs and the strained relationship between patients and healthcare providers lead to an overmedicated, mismanaged system.

America spends the most per capita and GDP on healthcare, yet has less than average life expectancy rates and higher rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality. The U.S. Government mandates outdated dietary guidelines that advise a low-fat diet, which is linked to poor mental health, hormonal imbalances, inflammation and higher risks of insulin resistance and diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration allows companies to market processed, chemically engineered food that is highly addictive and unhealthy, not to mention cheap to produce. A recent study at the 2018 Experimental Biology conference examined the biochemical effects of artificial sweeteners on the body.

Data suggests artificial sweeteners alter how the body ‘processes fat and obtains energy.’ Top researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest agree, “Artificial colors pose risks of cancer, allergies and hyperactivity in children and should be banned.” Factory-farmed animals are cramped in small cages and injected with artificial hormones and antibiotics. If one animal becomes sick, they all are treated with antibiotics in order to reduce need for individual care. However, unnecessary use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant organisms that propagate in dangerous numbers and enter the food supply. In the US National Library of Medicine, researchers conclude Antibiotic resistance is an emerging public health crisis and the effect on human health is yet to be determined. Experts agree, “Given divergent stakeholder interests and inadequate research to date, public policy discussions of this issue are often contentious and highly polarized.”

A change of perspective begins with grassroots effort. The goal is to spread knowledge and build a connection that links individuals, international policy and industry to global needs. Consumers want dedicated research, consistency and transparency in public and private industry as well as honest, sustainable product development. After all, people are far more important than profit, and we’re all people looking to make a difference while making a living.

Academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and industry lead the way to a future of preventative medicine, technological development, educational programs, and breakthroughs in research. Organizations can change culture through collaboration and honest communication. They can create a value system that measures value and outcome on a large-scale by setting a criteria and specific goals. Professionals from many backgrounds could develop teams to measure progress and cost-effectiveness, working together is simple when you speak a universal language.

For the holiday season, I encourage you to continue to be active in festive activities and involved with your health. Communicate with friends and family and do your own research to improve health and wellness. Eat good food but be mindful of what you’re consuming. Most of all, be grateful and give thanks for all of the blessings in your life. Let happiness, love and spirit follow us into the new year.

The Magnificent Marvels of NASA

November 1st, 2018

NASA’s special 747 carries the shuttle above the Johnson Space Center.
Photo Credit: NASA/ Sheri Locke

Sumer Dene with a Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), which is designed to safely navigate harsh terrain.

By Sumer Dene

Wonder is experienced, it can’t be taught. Through exploration and research, aerospace changes everything. NASA celebrates 60 years of encouraging passionate, dedicated individuals to go above and beyond what they see.

The Johnson Space Center, home of human spaceflight, made Bay Area Houston the thriving waterfront city it is today. Furthermore, NASA is voted year after year the best place to work in the federal government. The International Space Station improves lives through education and innovation to strengthen relationships with academia, government and private sector leaders. The space station is built piece-by-piece in orbit with the help of many nations. The modules are built in separate countries and first meet in space to be assembled. Friday nights at the space station, astronauts and cosmonauts join together to watch movies and share cuisine. They become family with an outlook that reaches beyond our scope.

Astronauts and Cosmonauts enjoy the pre-release of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the International Space Station.

Educating the world
Improved technology in robotics can lead to minimally invasive surgeries, safer cars, and mass harvesting of fruits and vegetables. Robotics engineer Lucien Junkin says, “The purpose of the Robotics Education program is to gather knowledge and spread it to the public. Failures are meant to teach you; the most important philosophy in engineering is safety, commitment and hard work.” Young adults overcome challenges with collaborative effort to reach competitive goals. NASA offers free educational programs and scholarships to help empower education in STEM. The Robotics Education program is in need of young leaders to build the future in technological development.

The highly-respected professionals involved in aeronautics push forward courageously in pursuit of a new frontier. NASA Public Affairs Officer Gary Jordan develops and hosts Houston’s first space podcast, “Houston, we have a podcast.” The podcast discusses many influential aspects of space travel live at Johnsons Space Center. It is released every Friday with various guests, sometimes including astronauts in orbit. Questions can be asked using hashtags #askNASA and #HWHAP on various social media accounts. “NASA shows that we are all connected. We are on the same mission and happy to explore new ways to make our lives better on Earth. It is important to communicate that with the public. Society is shaped by what we do today.” We have come a long way.

What has changed?
In the early 60s, it was easy to imagine space exploration. The lives of people and how they communicated was vastly different. A peaceful movement began to end all wars, remove barriers and expand consciousness through music and language. The youth wanted to end all wars so people would realize we are all parts to a greater whole. Traveling across the galaxy in an intergalactic world to save the human race was something first seen in black and white fantasy films.

NASA developed in 1958 during a crisis in the last “idealist” time in America. Hate, fear and propaganda spread through the use television and radio. Sixty years later, we long to connect, have our voices heard and be a part of something greater than us. Now, our generation faces many more distractions. “Hope” first begins with “Focus.”

NASA is working on robonauts to help human astronauts complete simple, repetitive and dangerous tasks in space.

The Vision
NASA looks forward to the future with a goal to solve pertinent problems and coexist peacefully. Intensive research help people live a better quality life and find answers to meaningful questions. The space center influences medical and technological advances, as well as society’s culture. Dr. Liz Warren is a NASA scientist who investigates how human physiology changes in microgravity. She leads a team to implement experiments in space. Cells change to a spherical, 3D structure and protein crystals grow perfectly in space, leading to a perfect environment for groundbreaking research in all life and physical sciences.

“Our bodies are capable of enduring and adapting to new environments. We explore because we want to push ourselves further to learn, grow and make an impact. We want the next generation to feel inspired.” Space research discovers ways to combat endemic disease, understand how the planet is evolving, and harness energy and resources sufficiently.

Space exploration has helped us understand human psychology. “The Overview Effect” is coined by Frank White as the cognizant shift in awareness some astronauts experience when viewing earth from the lunar surface. He describes space exploration as the “inevitable steps in the evolution of human society and consciousness.” On Earth, conflicts and differences divide people as our navigation system judges distance from our feet to the ground. Astronauts see 16 sunsets and sunrises each day and orbit earth every 90 minutes. In space, distance is measured expansively as the speed of light. There are no borders to separate the universe and humankind, opportunities are limitless when we work together on a mission.

Breast cancer risk factors women need to avoid

October 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Bay Group Media has and always will support Breast Cancer research. As a company we predominantly employ women and understand the importance of spreading knowledge to our readers. Information can save lives and help prevent tragedies. Our CEO, Rick Clapp has experienced the devastation and complexities of cancer and is a champion survivor.

Breast Cancer Awareness month is dedicated to spread awareness of the most common cancer among women. People gather at special events and fundraisers around the world to offer support. Health groups respectfully join together to discuss, inquire and evaluate a resolution to the pandemic we call cancer.

The goal of Breast Cancer Awareness month is to build a community of fabulous cognizant women who embrace their bodies, maintain a healthy lifestyle and unite in sisterhood. Being happy with who you are and mindful of your daily choices can go a long way and can lead others to do the same.

We encourage women to love and respect each other. Groups challenge the limited view of female sexuality and advocate for chemical regulations, a healthier work and home environment and transparent information regarding health and wellness.

RISK FACTORS
Risk factors for breast cancer include age, obesity, heavy drinking, smoking, chronic inflammation, high stress and toxins in our environment and diet. According to the National Cancer Institute, being exposed for a long time and/or to high levels of hormones is linked to an increased risk in breast cancer. Pesticides, synthetic chemicals and plastics leach harmful toxins that emulate estrogen in the body. These chemicals are found in processed foods, conventional health and beauty products, and the unnecessary plastic we use daily.

Excess estrogen is stored in fat and sequentially signals the body to store more fat. It’s a dangerous cycle that affects our lives in many ways. If something doesn’t seem right, ask pertinent questions. Answers become clear when you investigate. Educating yourself on important issues within a community brings everything to light to assess the bigger picture. In a free market with unlimited information and choice, where can we find solutions to complex, intricate issues for the betterment of society and the health of our people?

The “system” can be changed from the inside out. We can address obstacles to unite and lead towards a better world. Cancer rates have risen exponentially as time goes by, and so has the prevalence of many other diseases. U.S. taxpayers spend a groundbreaking $38 billion yearly to subsidize meat and dairy consumption including heavy subsidies on corn and soy. Nevertheless, experts and scientists advocate for a diverse diet rich in healthy fats, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, herbs and spices, and fibrous and fermented foods.

In a consumption driven industry, citizens pay for their own demise. This is an indicator of an issue that lingers in our government, food and education system and even within ourselves. We can all agree that changing government subsidies for the betterment of our people can save millions, advance healthcare and improve the quality of our lives.

SAVES LIVES
Early detection of breast cancer can save lives. Check yourself for any changes in breasts 4-5 days after your period. Notice any change in shape, color, size and contour. Caress breasts in different positions and gradually increase pressure applying three fingers in a U-shaped circular motion. Pregnant women can reduce their chances of breast cancer by breast-feeding, which results in lowered estrogen levels in the body. Learn to relax and be aware of how stress triggers you. High cortisol levels over time affect the production of hormones and weaken the immune system. Recognize negative thoughts and realize that most anxieties are not reality or truth. The best we can do is prepare for the worst, expect the best, and help others live with passion and to their highest potential.

Women are learning to embrace their femininity without limits. Female sexuality is elusive and mysterious, not until recently has culture allowed women to express themselves, connect to their body and discover their true potential as leaders in our world.

It is time to celebrate womanhood for the beauty and power that it contains. What messages do women receive growing up in this culture? Peer support groups are now spreading social messages to better lives by sharing relatable experiences. When we acknowledge and understand ourselves and the differences we have with the opposite sex we can deepen our relationships.

We strive to inspire men and women to live with intention and mindfulness to support a community of strong individuals that celebrate life together.

There is no rhyme or reason for a disease that affects people worldwide from many walks of life. Cancer has no prejudice or boundaries. It can affect anyone at any time of their lives for reasons unknown to science. The environment we are raised in dictates our habits and lifestyle choices. For any change to take place it must first happen within. A guideline for longevity is to enjoy a nutrient dense diet with healthy fats and wholesome foods, live life to the fullest, and be happy.

In the month of October, set aside a moment to honor the courageous people affected by this appalling disease and stand together to move forward to find solutions that can implement profound changes.

Trust Your Gut for Health and Wellness

September 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Your intuition communicates to all the nerve cells in your body, that ‘gut feeling’ you get is your subconscious mind sending you signals. The secret is learning how to listen to these instinctive feelings and trust your gut. America spends more money on healthcare than any other nation yet has the highest disease rate. In a land of opportunity, when did we put a price tag on our health and wellness? Food stripped of nutritional value is more convenient, easily accessible and affordable in our fast-paced society. We are conditioned to compartmentalize things we don’t see and can’t name, creating a detachment to the food we eat and how it got to our plate. How can consumers dictate their health in a world conflicted with dietary fads, advertising campaigns and misleading health claims? The public becomes confused when given small amounts of truth within a large amount of misinformation. In a society where we cannot seem to unite as a whole, have we lost connection with ourselves and our planet along the way?

Our body is an ecosystem. The protective microbiome in our gut is a community of like-minded organisms. This diverse population has a common goal: to get the most nutrients out of food so we can get the most out of life. A central philosophy of well-being is to eat high fiber, nutrient-dense foods. Our friendly gut bacteria thrive on fiber to promote glucose homeostasis, weight loss, and absorption of important nutrients. Fiber naturally detoxes the body and is essential for mental and emotional health. According to the ‘National Institutes of Health,’ integrated evidence concludes that metabolism of a high fiber diet can alter gene expression in the brain to prevent neurodegeneration and promote regeneration. Our relationship with food is much deeper than we thought. The gut sends unconscious signals to our brain via the vagus nerve, 50% of dopamine and 90% of serotonin is made in the digestive tract. These are the ‘drugs’ that make us feel happy and content. The stomach directly communicates to our brain to ‘manipulate’ behavior, it’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Processed foods high in saturated fats and artificial ingredients fool your brain to consume more calories because it doesn’t contain the nutrients your body needs. The good news is you can gradually change the community of organisms within you to impact your quality of life and boost energy. Increase fiber intake slowly and drink plenty of water. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.

Combine a legume with a whole-grain or nut and seed to create a complete protein. According to the ‘US National Library of Medicine,’ a diet rich in legumes is a predictor of survival of older people in different ethnicities. Legumes deliver a wide range of nutrients, including lean protein, fiber and antioxidants with relatively few calories. Soak legumes overnight before cooking. It is simple to prepare with layers of flavor and texture. Start with a neutral oil like sunflower, make a paste with vegetable stock, curry, garlic and your choice of vegetables. Legumes are a great addition to soups. It is delicious pureed in dips, dressings and spreads.

Healthy fats are essential to absorb nutrients, achieve optimal body composition and balance hormones. Research published in the “Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine,’ states a handful of nuts a day lowers the risks of many diseases and reduces weight gain. Nuts are packed with protein and fat. They help you age gracefully, improve memory function and maintain a strong, lively heart. Eliminating a macronutrient from your diet creates a calorie deficit which is a short-term fix with long-term adverse effects on mood and health. Balance and enjoy an assortment of whole-foods, be active in mind and body, enjoy life and drink plenty of water. This is the most promising way to live a healthful, happy life.

Truly Care
There are many advantages to a whole-foods lifestyle. It can simplify your life and protect our land, water and energy sources. The hardest part is knowing where to begin, with time and preparation it can be effortless and affordable to your specific needs. You as a citizen have a choice and a vote with your dollar. Knowledgeable consumers can change the economy as we know it. Declaration of mental and physical strength is the ultimate independence from society. The answer comes from honesty and integrity by evaluating scientific information without bias or corporate agenda. A food labeled ‘vegan,’ ‘organic’ or ‘all-natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for you. It can still be processed, high in sugars, and lacking nutrients. Don’t let yourself be consumed by a deceitful and saturated market. Educate yourself.

Have Fun & Be Creative 🙂
A whole-foods lifestyle includes thousands of possibilities from a diverse array of flavors, colors, aromas and textures. It’s not a strict regimen, its liberating. Let it be unique to your taste buds and personality. If you have concerns, ask your doctor for a blood test, evaluate results and adjust habits accordingly. Trust your gut.

Feel free to contact me at Sumerdene@gmail.com

Experience Galveston Bay’s Best: Seamah™ Texas

September 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Seamah™ is the name coined by locals of the two thriving coastal towns, Seabrook and Kemah. The towns are separated by a canal that joins the Galveston Bay with the brackish waters of Clear Lake. It’s vast waterways, canals and bayou inlets snake through Seabrook and Kemah neighborhoods making this recreational area the country’s 3rd largest boating community. This coastal area offers a most unique experience in boating, with its waterfront hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, marinas and yacht clubs.

The gulf coast marine is booming with new business. The area features several quality marinas and clubs to enjoy boating, yachting and fishing. At the Endeavor Marina they maintain your boat indoors and offer high-end concierge service. This service makes it easy for you and your family to go out on the water, worry free. All you need to do is call ahead and experienced staff will prepare your boat for you. They fuel and stock your boat with ice, beverages and all of the amenities by the time you arrive for your leisurely cruise.

Seamah’s™ landmark is Lakewood Yacht Club, a beautiful private yacht club nestled on Clear Lake. The club is ranked in the top ten best yacht clubs in America. Lakewood Yacht Club has over 300 boat slips in all sizes. It’s a charming and gorgeous place to eat great food, drink cold beverages and cocktails, socialize by the pool and enjoy the bay life. It provides members exciting regattas, sailing lessons and many social and water activities. Lakewood Yacht Club serves lunch and dining and a mouth-watering Sunday champagne brunch. This is the perfect place to enjoy a wonderful waterfront lifestyle.

The Kemah Boardwalk is the ultimate waterfront amusement park with fine and casual dining, theme rides and seasonal events. There’s always a festival with live entertainment taking place in Seamah™. It was named one of the top 10 boardwalks in the country. You can enjoy fireworks and evening concerts all summer long. “Rock the Dock” features a live concert on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. and fireworks begins every Friday night at 9:30 p.m. Bring your family out for a boat ride on the large speedboat the “Beast”or choose the “Fantasea,” the largest charter yacht on the Gulf Coast. Come unwind and relax with your entire family. Experience the best in dining and sightseeing Seamah™ has to offer.

Plan to stay overnight to enjoy the Kemah Boardwalk Inn. This quaint boutique hotel offers a variety of services with your own private balcony overlooking the scenic Kemah Boardwalk and Galveston Bay.

The colorful Aquarium Restaurant gives you and your family a total marine experience. Come explore and discover the deep sea mysteries and many ecosystems.

Their bar and restaurant has a 50,000 gallon tank filled with various aquatic life such as sharks, rays and fish found in Galveston Bay. The aquarium includes a rainforest exhibit with piranhas, snakes, scorpions, tarantulas and much more as well as guided tours and numerous hands-on educational programs. Experience the stingray reef where you can get up close and personal with the mystical creatures of the sea.

If you have an adventurous side, explore Galveston Bay on a 3-hour luxurious sunset dinner cruise. This private charter boat is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway or get together with friends. Windward Sea Adventures is recognized by the American Sailing Association and offers sailing lessons no matter your prior experience. Pine Gully Park has a fishing pier on Galveston Bay and overlooks the Great Texas Coastal birding trails. Take your family fishing and watch migrant birds in their natural habitat at this remarkable restored wetland.

Seamah™ is known for its fresh quality seafood establishments. People come from all over Texas to shop at the local family-owned markets. Rose’s, Emery’s Baybrooks and Golden Seafood all have a view of Galveston Bay. They are some of the largest distributors in the seafood industry in the United States and Mexico. You can enjoy a Raw Bar experience with live music and food and drinks on an outdoor deck at the Swamp Shack, Sam’s Boat or Outriggers Restaurant. Another noted eatery is The Classic Cafe’ which serves homestyle seafood and carries many delicious desserts, homemade cakes and pies. A must is to take your family out for fine dining and gorgeous views at The Flying Dutchman, Landry’s or at Villa Capri. Seamah™ is the place to experience a waterfront lifestyle at its best. Seabrook’s seafood houses feature the freshest quality seafood such as Gulf Coast fish, shrimp, oysters, crawfish and more served year-round. Come to Seamah,™ Texas. You will not be dissapointed.

Whole-foods Lifestyle

August 1st, 2018

Sumer Dene

I am honored to be Bay Area Houston’s new featured writer!

A little about me; I grew up in Atlanta, New Jersey, Houston and Los Angeles. I graduated with a degree in Animal Science from Rutgers University. In an active research environment, we ask important questions like how and why.

I was a model in New York City and Los Angeles. I did runway and editorial modeling and a national broadcast commercial.

The industry taught me how to be professional, poised and confident.

However, the demands took a toll and I felt stripped of my identity. Beauty is supposed to be unique, kind, graceful, natural and full of life. Why alter and idealize it? It was difficult to be myself and live up to unrealistic measurements and standards.

After college, I was a law intern at the Superior courts in Washington, D.C. I discovered the importance of finding fact to represent important truths. Change is inevitable and so is growth- if you are willing. Laws change over time based on the wants and needs of the people.

After my internship I moved to Austin, TX. Here I discovered eccentric art, music, culture and a variety of whole-foods available anywhere at any time of day.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, all of the versatile, quality, affordable fresh foods made convenient to order. How did people not know about this? More importantly, why are whole-foods normally so difficult to find in our daily, multi-faceted life?

Why?
Through knowledge and pertinent information we can share common goals to find solutions to major problems in our society. Our food system is complex, and it doesn’t have to be. Food connects us, brings us together and fuels us. Nutrition plays an important role in how we look, feel, think and interpret information. How we choose to nurture ourselves is a decision we make every day for the rest of our lives. We can inspire loved ones to make healthier choices from living by example and becoming informed. The main reason people don’t give a whole-foods lifestyle a try is because of lack of information, pressure from advertisements, family and friends.

Over time I learned to be aware of what I put in my body and things started to change.

How?
A whole-foods lifestyle first begins with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Everyone does it differently- it’s a learning experience to find out what is best suited for you.

There’s no need to limit or restrict yourself. This is a long-term goal to improve health and quality of life. You’ll learn each step is easier than the next. It’s supposed to be fun, simple and easy. It’s about exploring healthful foods and sharing that joy with the world, and that is why I developed a versatile, efficient guide to help others begin their personal journey with food.

Ingredients
It’s amazing what you can do with a few simple ingredients to combine into something delicious and nutritious. The less ingredients, the better.

Avoid words like high fructose corn syrup, gelatin, caraganeen, palm oil, white (refined), hydrogenated oils (trans fats), sodium nitrates, sodium benzoate, red 40, yellow 5 or any type of artificial color or taste used for marketing purposes. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Check servings sizes and percent daily values to calculate specific nutritional needs.

Processed and refined foods are stripped of valuable nutrients. These are “empty” calories high in saturated fats with no nutritional value. To make things worse, many low-fat items are high in sugars while concentrated juices lack the essential fiber you need. This leaves you in a destructive pattern feeling unsatisfied and hungry for more.

1. Purchase fruits and vegetables in season and legumes, oats, seeds, teas, herbs and spices in bulk. You can maintain freshness in sealed glass jars. Also at many stores they offer freshly ground peanut or almond butter.

2. Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 liters or more a day. Tal has amazing stainless steel water bottles that keep your water fresh and cool all day. You can find many sizes and colors at Walmart.

3. Make shopping simple. Reusable bags can hold many more items without tear and make grocery shopping so much more convenient.

4. Pot some plants, grow some trees. Look for a local nursery near you. Also Walmart and Home Depot have a variety of non-gmo organic seeds. You’ll grow much more than you need so make sure to share with family, friends and your community. There’s numerous therapeutic benefits to gardening plus it’s highly cost-effective.

Do your research – get the most out of your calories

Next month I will share some whole-foods recipes and suggestions. Feel free to contact me at SumerDene@gmail.com

I value your input and suggestions, all ideas are welcome.