Friday, October 16, 2009

Inflammation

Most people have heard of inflammation. Most people probably think of it as something bad, something that causes pain and misery. There are whole aisles of anti-inflammatory medicines at the drug store, and Americans use a lot of them. In 2001, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) accounted for 70 million prescriptions and 30 billion over-the-counter doses. So, clearly inflammation causes a lot of problems in the body, so why is it there at all?

Inflammation is perhaps the chief way the body heals itself. Inflammation is the reaction created anywhere in the body where damage has happened. It attracts an increased blood flow (raising oxygen levels), increased presence of white blood cells, and increased nutrients. All of these are needed to clean up damage and/or attack foreign invaders. The body has a few self-limiting mechanisms to slow down or cancel inflammation (when the work is done), but it's not uncommon for inflammation to get out of control. When inflammation is out of control we get localized fever, pain, swelling, and redness. Some newer theories on how malignant tumors grow suggest that cancer cells high-jack the normal inflammation reaction to create a rich flow of nutrients and oxygen to stimulate cancer growth. So, inflammation is the classic good guy and bad guy.

A way to determine whether you have widespread inflammation affecting your health is to get a blood test. There is an inflammation indicator in blood called C-Reactive Protein (CRP for short). If it is elevated along with a decreased albumin level, then inflammation is present and some attention to bring it under control something to be desired.

One of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories is the spice Turmeric. It is bright yellow in color and is one ingredient used in curry. To be better absorbed it should be taken with just a little bit of black pepper. Using Turmeric is completely safe, unlike all the NSAIDs. NSAIDs can be quite dangerous, as they all affect clotting and can create serious (and even life threatening) bleeding and other side effects. I have been using a teaspoon of Turmeric a day and do note that the aches and pains of my aging process are much reduced.

It is always important to locate the source(s) of inflammation whenever possible, but Turmeric can go a long ways to reducing the negative effects from inflammation. Try it and let me know how you see it working for you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pumping up Immunity

With cold and flu season around the corner, and schools back in session acting as incubators for every little plague to come along it's time to tune up your immune system. Here is a list of things you can do.

1. Not to harp, but eliminate sugar. Most germs love sugar -- especially the special sugar your body turns all those cookies into: glucose. Germs multiply exponentially. So try this little math exercise. Some bacteria can divide every 4 minutes. So start with one. In 4 minutes you have 2. In 8 minutes you have 4. In 12 minutes you have 8. In 16 minutes you have 16. In 20 you have 32. In 24 minutes you have 64. In 28 minutes you have 128, and on it goes. Ok? Get that? THEN, consider your immune system reacts to sugar by shutting down for 6 hours. If your immune system is asleep on sugar for 6 hours, it will wake up to how many bacteria? Answer: I got tired of multiplying at 2 hours and the number was 1,073,741,824. There are still four hours to go and your immune system is still sleeping. Quite a mess for it to catch up to when it comes out of it's sugar-land.

2. Stress knocks down the immune system badly. Oh, if only we could eliminate all the things in life that stress us! Unfortunately, there is usually very little that can be done on that score. So, coping with it better is the only solution. The best stress-reliever there is comes not in a pill but in your tennis shoes. Get up and exercise! Exercise improves all the body's ways of coping, and reduces the risks for just about EVERY chronic disease stalking humankind, including Alzheimer's, depression, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease -- hey, even the common cold.

3. If you're eating most of your food off the World's Healthiest Foods list (www.whfoods.com) then vitamin supplementation is probably not a necessary addition. The more nutrition one can get from food (and not from synthetic, humanly formulated tablets) the better health everyone will have.

4. Hand-washing is really important, and almost as much so: keeping your hands away from your face. The majority of common infectious diseases travel on water droplets that get sneezed out onto nearby surfaces and left on commonly handled things, like doorknobs. Wash often, and try not to obsess.

5. If worse, comes to worse and you do begin feeling like you're catching something grab a natural immune system stimulant/tonifier, and take a lot and frequently at first. Some of these immune system aids include: echinacea, golden seal, mushrooms, colostrum and combinations.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Swine flu advice

A very large expenditure of dollars is taking place to fund a media campaign to scare the bejeebers out of everyone over the Swine Flu, also affectionately referred to as H1N1... would have liked it to be R2D2 but I wasn't consulted. Of course, since the advent of sewers and clean water supplies the only new thing public health officials have to handle infectious disease is the basic tenet: "Run, don't walk, to get your shots before the beastie viruses kill you." Now, they have spent lots to convince that there is a new murdering virus out there and that your ONLY defense against this menace is to get your vaccine. The public has been pushed to stampede panic and there is an almost daily media watch to announce the precise moment the vaccine is available and to whom it is to flow to first.

My opinion is that it's a whole lot of useless panic and fear about an illness that health officials themselves rate as having mild-moderate symptoms. The major share of deaths from the Swine Flu have been those with immune compromises/limitations or other major chronic illness. This HARDLY warrants a vaccine! But, because this is America, and we HAVE the technology, we can build it, and public health can't think of ANYTHING but more shots -- we get more shots. Worse yet, this vaccine has been super rushed through the process with extremely little testing. There are bound to be side effects from virtually any engineered or chemically altered substance shot into the body. Do we know what these side effects will be, or how severe? No, because there's been no tests done, BUT -- we have a way to find out! Start immunizing the weak, young, and frail first. If the vaccine doesn't kill them, then we should be good to go.

But then, do we know if it really works? Is there any way to know that it was the shot or someone's efficient immune system that kept them from getting the flu? Not really. But i suspect this much: all these foreign antigens (the particles in vaccines that they say is what makes immunity happen) seems with only common sense to suggest there must be some pretty significant impacts on the immune system. Public health would have us believe that only GOOD things happen to the immune system. Massive numbers of people with stories of negative results get no air time since it undermines the myopic public health goal of a shot in every person's arm. So what do you think? It's a health care decision that is yours to make.

My belief is that any optimally operating immune system will handle just about any problem that gets thrown its way, including Swine flu. We may be sick, perhaps awfully sick but with the right bodily "terrain" we will successfully throw off anything that makes us sick; and, our immune systems will NATURALLY be the stronger for it. So, I'm skipping my shots thank you, and working really diligently, as every flu/cold season, to make my body's terrain as inhospitable to germs as I can.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More on Sugar...

As soon as I give my spiel to folks about how bad sugar is for them, the first question out of their mouths is, "What about Splenda (or other sugar alternative)?" The question actually betrays the depth of our addiction to sweetness; like, "I can't live without everything I eat tasting like dessert. So, if I'm taking away sugar, then PLEASE GIVE ME SOMETHING to make my food sweet or I'll die!!!" Attachment to sweetness IS the reason we're in the health crises today that we are. The top three most prolific chronic, life-threatening, epidemics on the planet: diabetes, obesity, and cancer - can all claim sugar as the gas for their engines.

So, the first answer could be a simple, "Kill your sweet tooth already!" Teach your taste buds to like food without any sweeteners at all. Break your addiction and just say, "No!" to sweetness.

Because there is always the whine: "But I can't." or "I don't want to," the second part of the answer, then, is that all widely available sugar replacements are synthetic poisons in one way or another. Most ANY time a scientist with big thick glasses takes something apart and invents something new with a chemistry set, the outcome is NOT going to be compatible with human life; there will be side effects for large numbers of people. Our bodies are really pretty ancient structures, intricately built, balanced, and maintained with the original nature God planted here on Terra Firma. Bodies have not evolved to handle chemicals cooked up in a laboratory since WWII, and they do not know what to do with artificial sweeteners! These sweeteners mix up hormone regulation of glucose, they mess up brain chemistry, they may even contribute to initiating other chronic diseases, e.g. autoimmune diseases. This is how bad artificial sweeteners are: you would be better off with sugar! Remember sugar kills, so where are we? Dead due to sweet-tooth-itis. Pull your sweet tooth and bury it for good health!

What sweeteners ARE safe? Perhaps the best one known at this moment in time is Agave Nectar. It has the lowest glycemic index of any sugar -- meaning it stirs up the least waves with insulin. It also has the fewest calories and it has more sweetness than sugar, so you can get the same sweetness with less. Stevia has been a long-standing natural sweetener. It too is sweeter than sugar. It's drawback is it has an aftertaste at higher amounts that some people find unpleasant. Honey, real maple syrup, and molasses need to be used sparingly as they will definitely up the glucose levels, but they tend to be a tiny bit slower absorbed than sugar without side effects. Their drawback is they definitely alter the taste of foods in which they are used. Those are about it for sweeteners.

So, in summary: it is best to get used to far less sweetness and forego sweeteners of all kinds. Avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague. Use sparse amounts of agave nectar where a bit is needed for a special treat.

Catastrophic Sugar Effects

I feel like a lone wolf on a hill howling at the moon. For years -- over a decade now -- I have preached how sugar destroys one's health. I'm still howling at the moon about it, and as I sat the other night watching first my daughter, then my spouse, guzzling down a pop I thought - Lord, the word is really hard to get through people's heads. But then, even yours truly can't seem to keep it in his own head as I succumb to the temptations of chocolate chips on a far-too-often basis. Sugar is truly a nemesis of cataclysmic dimensions that is very tough to tame except for the strongest willed. I hope this brief blog will inspire you to take on, at LEAST a few days, of battling this destructive Goliath that blatantly opposes your good health and well-being.

Sugar consumption has gone from 2 kilograms per person per year in the late 19th century, where it was truly considered a rare and luxurious treat; to over 250 kilograms per person per year in the late 20th century. For the metrically impaired: that's a jump from 4 pounds to over 250 pounds. Think of 250 pounds of sugar piled on your dining table, and that is your PERSONAL share of the sugar intake this year.

While once I had a list of like 50 health impacts caused from sugar, I want to throw out just one for your consideration. The American Cancer Society is now saying that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer. Look around the room you're sitting in right now and count how many that is! Do YOU feel lucky? Here is a still little believed fact about cancer: sugar feeds cancer cells. Need some proof of that? Consider this: one of the best and most accurate cancer scans that can be done on anyone is called a PET scan. It's a bad test in that it involves taking a massive radiation hit, but there is no disputing the results that come from it. How does it work? They give a radioactive glucose isotope to take and then scan your body for where the glucose concentrates. Every place where glucose concentrates is the location of cancerous masses; because cancer preferentially uses glucose. Glucose is derived directly from the breakdown of sugar in your body.

Cancerous tumors can take five to twenty years to develop. Isn't it likely that with 250 pounds of sugar a year (over a half pound a day) that any cancer cells that do appear are likely to thrive in that glucose-rich environment? Combine it with the other fact that sugar is like putting your immune system on a bottle of scotch - making it virtually worthless for anything for up to 6 hours after the ingestion of sugar -- and cancer has about the easiest job in the world to get started and take over. Hence, we see 1 in 3 people doomed to a very catastrophic life change with a new cancer diagnosis.

Do yourself a favor. Try to carry the information from this one blog in your head for a year. Use it to resist the 10,000 temptations we're thrown everyday. Ask yourself, "Is this candy worth feeding my cancer?" Cut cancer's chances to dominate your health, because trust me -- I've watched the effects of chemotherapy. It's NO fun!