Thursday, July 25, 2013

Companion Planting for your Organic Garden

Fighting Pests with Companion Plants

Cultivating a diverse mixture of plants can be a great way to encourage growth and naturally fight garden pests. Whether your crops are suffering from nitrogen deficiency or an infestation of flies, your solution may lie in a symbiotic relationship instead of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.

Onions: Onions, garlic and other alliums deter aphids and carrot flies, making them a popular companion crop for almost any organic garden. Avoid planting them with beans or lentils, but cultivate them near your roses as an excellent natural pesticide. Carrots can return the favor if you allow them to flower by attracting beneficial insects like lacewings and predatory wasps.

Beans: Beans host nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which acts as an excellent natural fertilizer for beets, carrots, rosemary, chard, celery and more. Together with corn and squash, beans are part of the “Three Sisters”, a well-known group of companion plants that have been grown together by Native Americans for centuries. The fertilizer they produce is too much for tomatoes, peppers and alliums (onion, garlic, leaks, etc.), but is beneficial to most other plants.

Rosemary: Rosemary repels cabbage flies, bean beetles and other parasites. Broccoli and cabbage can particularly benefit from the protection that rosemary provides.

Tarragon: If you only include one companion plant in your organic gardening arsenal, tarragon is a perfect choice. Tarragon has a scent that is detested by most pests, large and small, and it is compatible with virtually every other plant.

Horseradish: If you have been frustrated in the past by any of the numerous diseases that plague potatoes, try planting them alongside horseradish. Horseradish naturally increases disease resistance in root vegetables.
In the wild, plants depend on other species of plants to provide shade, add nutrients to the soil and protect them from parasitic insects and molds. By welcoming these symbiotic relationships into your organic garden, you can solve many of the problems otherwise combated by artificial means.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Probiotics & Diabetes Prevention

Promising Research in Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent metabolic disorder in the country, frequently classified by as an epidemic by health experts. Affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide, diabetes has led to nerve damage, poor circulation, amputations, damaged kidneys, respiratory distress and death. High-fat, high-cholesterol and high-sugar diets have eclipsed genetic predisposition as a leading cause of diabetes in the U.S. While this is a tragedy, there is a silver lining: although it is a devastating disease, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.

Probiotic diets have helped countless people lose weight by aiding their digestion and increasing their metabolism, and new research indicates that it may help delay or prevent type 2 diabetes as well. By encouraging the growth of healthy gut bacteria, dieters can combat the effects that poor food choices have on their body. Studies have shown that this can result in reduced cholesterol, more efficient digestion and obesity reduction. Each of these factors further reduce the risk of adult onset diabetes, and more recent research shows that probiotics may aid in metabolizing insulin as well.

While poor choices can often lead to poor health, responsible choices are the first step to getting your body back on track. Our bodies evolved to subsist in an environment where fat and sugar were rare and our cravings were a beneficial survival instinct. Now that these fats and sugars are available in stores on every street corner, our cravings have become a liability. However, most of us have the natural means to stop that liability from becoming a life-changing—and potentially life-threatening—disease. The grunt work of our digestion and metabolism is done by the beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive track. By increasing their numbers and encouraging them to thrive with a probiotic diet, we can better arm our bodies against metabolic ailments including high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.