Category Archives: 7 Holonics and Life

Healthy eating makes you good and brainy

A children’s nutrition survey by the UK education charity Food for the Brain has shown strong links between a healthy diet and higher SAT scores. The survey also reveals “the shocking state of children’s diet and mental health in Britain” which leads to one in three children suffering from attention or concentration problems and mood swings. Almost half are shown to have constant sugar cravings. The survey, the largest ever on British children’s nutrition and diet survey, involved over 10,000 school children aged between six to 16 years old, comparing aspects of their diet with their behaviour, academic performance, SAT scores and overall health.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Children who eat diets high in fried food, takeaways or foods cooked in hot fat are three times more likely to be badly behaved
  • Children who eat vegetables, oily fish, nuts and seeds do best at school
  • Children with better diets have 11% higher SAT scores

The worst foods are fried and/or takeaway foods, processed food, ready meals and sugar. A worrying 44% of children who eat this type of junk food most days are shown to suffer from bad behaviour, compared with only 16% of children who never eat fried or takeaway food having poor behaviour. The survey found that the best foods for behaviour are fruit and vegetables with high consumers of both twice as likely to be well behaved. The best foods for parental rating of good academic performance are shown to be raw nuts and seeds with high consumers twice as likely to have good academic performance. The best foods for good SAT scores are dark green leafy vegetables, oily fish and water.

Natural Products’ review is here.

How to get fat without even trying

This five part YouTube series with now deceased TV newscaster Peter Jennings explores how the food industry spends billions of dollars to sabotage your health. Jennings also takes a critical look at the US government’s agricultural subsidy programmes, and the consequences of misguided government policies on diet and health. For example, sugar and fat receive 20 times more government farming subsidies than fruits and vegetables. The food industry spends $34 billion per year marketing their products, $12 billion of which is spent marketing unhealthy foods to children. Learn how misleading advertising, food additives, and a corrupt subsidy system have undermined public health.

Click here for the videos: part 1. Part 2Part 3Part 4. Part 5.

Enlightenment of education in France too?

Dynamic new French President Nicolas Sarkozy has added his voice to the calls for education reform.  Like those of Gordon Brown and his team in the UK change is desired.  Sarkozy sent a 30 page letter to teachers to catalyse change.  The Economist notes his laments:

not enough respect or authority in the classroom (pupils, he says, should stand up when the teacher enters); too little value placed on the teaching profession; too little art and sport in the curriculum; too much passive rote-learning; and too much “theory and abstraction”. France, the president concludes, needs “to rebuild the foundations” of its education system.

It is good that education method and infrastructure is reviewed and improved, but it will be a challenge to actually make changes simply because the incumbent system is inflexible and pedagogists have little agreement on how to enhance methods.  Sarkozy’s intentions are, however, in the right direction.  We reiterate our support of natural education systems (such as those espoused by J. H. Pestalozzi 200 years ago) which encourage emotional intelligence at primary level and expand to cognitive intelligences in secondary; encourage experiential learning; include ethics and values as part of the curriculum in all subjects; and start with personal focus expanding to local, then regional, global and universal perspectives.

Stop working (and living) in a chemical fog

I’ve always taken issue with closed environments like office buildings, airports, hotels and conference arenas.  Invariably the first noticeable thing on entering them is teh whiff of chemistry.  Its either materials used, cleaning agents or just stagnant, fetid air.  It slows down life and in some cases can cause more sever ailments.  BusinessWeek offers a primer on the problems and solutions for turning a sick office in to a healthy one.  Perhaps it will help you improve your lifestyle.

The banana – a modern agricultural scandal

This report by The Ecologist is an eye opener, even for the eco-aware.  It describes the banana industry today through the supply chain from plantations, with virtual slavery and toxic chemical use, through the monopolistic supply chain to the supermarket.  The author points out “As the pursuit of competitive production has fuelled the race for minimal social and environmental standards, it is inevitable that those at the very bottom of the supply chain will ultimately pay for ‘economy’ foods, through their health and the environment”.

In the UK, bananas are now the single biggest profit-making item sold by supermarkets, with Tesco generating an average £800,000 profit every week from banana sales alone!  Just four retailers – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – currently account for 70% of all banana sales in the UK. This represents over one million individual sales every week, which should be used as a vote for Fairtrade alternatives.  Next time you buy your breakfast banana please make it fairtrade, or diet.

Why snap decisions work

BusinessWeek reviews Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of The Unconscious which discusses the science cited behind the bestseller Blink.  The book helps understand how and why intuition works, but perhaps fails to elaborate on associated processes that help it work well – like being well informed.  The social profile in which the scenarios work also offers insight in to the sheep mentality of consumer behaviour.  Importantly it helps the reader come closer to merging their emotional and intellectual intelligences.