Wednesday, December 21, 2011

5 Suggestions for the Holidays

One of the most common discussion topics around the holidays always seems to be about weight management or dieting.  Everyone seems to walk around gatherings commenting either about their guilt for liking food or about how many pounds they're adding.  I'd like to make some suggestions about ways to think about food and the holidays.

Suggestion #1: Remember it IS a holiday season and nobody is going to be killed by eating "what they shouldn't" short-term.  Moderation is ALWAYS a healthy by-word, but enjoy and do it without guilt.  What fun is a guilt-ridden holiday?

Suggestion #2: Keep a minimum of "goodies" and fattening items around the house.  Making up piles and piles of sweets and fattening food to just be there tempting you 24/7 is not REALLY celebrating anything but hedonism and your own potential for girth.

Suggestion #3: Don't forget to exercise.  Go for walks, or hit the gym.  Don't try to "burn off all the calories you eat" - there is significant discouragement in that!  Just get out there and keep your heart moving that life force around that we call blood.

Suggestion #4: Drink water!  It helps fill up your tummy so you won't feel like eating as much.  It helps you detoxify.  It fills in your fine facial wrinkles.  It should be the primary beverage ALWAYS - every day.  1/3 of your body weight in fluid ounces + 8 oz for coffee and sugar.

Suggestion #5: Begin thinking about your celebration during the holidays as walking out onto a diving board where you will be poised to jump, after the first of the year, into a new way of working on your health.






Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can be a problem; they are a problem on two fronts.  First, is the problems they create in your body.  If one looks up the symptoms that can be attributed to food sensitivities, the symptoms can cover just about every one in the book; everything from nasal allergies, headaches, and blurry vision to frequent urinary tract infections, abdominal pain, and fatigue can, in the right persons, manifest because of what they eat.

The second problem food sensitivities pose is diagnosing them and pinning down what foods are causing a problem.  It is a rare occurrence for a single food to be causing all the health problems one might have.  It is not as uncommon for multiple foods to be causing one's impaired health.  There is a general rule of thumb that the foods you are reacting to are paradoxically the foods you consume most; but even that isn't of much use.  The most effective test for food allergies/sensitivities is the elimination-challenge diet.  This diet removes the suspicious foods for a period of 2-4 weeks, and then methodically re-introduces one food at a time watching for the reactions to return.  It is extremely effective - if you eliminate all the offending foods.  The trouble is how do you know just what all to eliminate?  Also, eliminating your favorite foods for weeks is an intense challenge when the list was made up largely as a guess - "Well, maybe this is a problem?" 

One of the diagnostic tools that can assist in the food elimination decisions is a food allergy panel.  Food allergy panels take a small amount of blood and, depending on the type of test, look for immune system reactions to different foods.  The results then provide a list of the foods your immune system is showing a response to; you eliminate those foods and retest in a few months.  I use a test called the ALCAT.  It provides a great starting place.  It also gives an affirmation that you don't have sensitivities as well.   So, if you have mysterious symptoms that don't seem to have a conventional medical explanation or ones that haven't improved greatly with conventional treatments, you might explore the impact food sensitivities may be causing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gluten Intolerance

Do you have trouble with your stomach hurting frequently?  Do you think of it as "just part of getting older?"  Have you had digestive problems for years and just learned to live with it?

Oftentimes health problems creep in so gradually that we just adjust ourselves to them and are barely aware that there is a problem there, or we think that everyone is having problems, so why should I be any different?

An increasingly common cause of tummy pains is gluten.  Gluten is the elastic protein in certain grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye) that makes for a well binding dough.  It helps to trap air in the dough and makes for lighter bread, and malleable dough forms for pasta.  Unfortunately, it also is sticky and gummy and adheres to the tissue lining of the digestive track.  Over time the immune system picks up on its presence and in its attempt to eliminate it creates inflammation, which is where the hurt comes in.   For the relatively small number of people with Celiac Disease gluten is a true health nightmare.  You do not have to have Celiac Disease, however, to have gluten intolerance or digestive inflammation.  Anyone having digestive problems - Irritable Bowel, Crohn's Disease, just nebulous abdominal pains -- would benefit from at least giving a gluten-free diet a try.

Giving up gluten is no simple matter, however.  Wheat flour is used in a surprising number of ways.  Most people find the giving up of bread and pasta a major impact on their ability to eat.  Fortunately, the numbers of gluten intolerant people has increased so much over the past few years, that stores are carrying a lot of gluten-free products.  (If you are overweight though, be cautious to read labels for fat content and adjust portion sizes accordingly.)

I'd suggest going off all gluten for two weeks and see how your tummy pain is.  If you then add wheat back, your tummy will definitely let you know if gluten is the problem.  Then you have a choice.  You can put up with the pain; or you can eliminate gluten for an extended period of time.

NatureWords for your body, peace for your soul,
M.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Expanding Your Food Horizons

Food and water are the two substances, in addition to oxygen, without which humans cannot live.  Clean water is a tremendous problem throughout most of the world, but not so much so here in the U.S.; we have a much more profound problem with food.  I'm not going to talk about obesity or diabetes, those are getting lots of press.  I want to talk about some more general health issues with food that apply to everyone.

The personal emotional dynamics with food are substantial.  Food is like a lifelong mate.  Think about it.  Food sits with us at every meal and every snack.  It's there when we are alone, or when we are with others.  It's there when we're home or when we're out; at work or at play.  We take it to bed with us, go on dates with it, encourage others to join with us in it, we pack it and carry it in the car and everywhere else we go.  Food participates in everything we do - privately, as well as socially.  One of the most common talking points with other people is what foods we like or don't like; and the cause for those personal preferences remain mysterious and largely unknown.  What we like is just what we like.  If we have the foods we like, we're happy.  If we don't get the foods we like we get to feeling deprived and even unloved.  When too many foods we don't like get forced upon us we can even feel tortured, depressed, and hate life's circumstance that forces "this yuck upon me!"

Everyone has about 20-25 foods that comprise more than 90% of one's daily diet.  We reach for the same things week in and week out, and even though we might complain a little bit about getting bored with "the same old thing," we don't really want to change it up too much.  Changing our basic diet creates something akin to a relationship issue.  We feel abandonment, emptiness, stress, sorrow, loss, deprivation.  Eliminating certain key foods from our standard set creates a downward spiral, and before we know it we're living out a Lifetime Movie - "I'm just going to starve myself because without my mashed potatoes (insert favorite food) I just don't want to eat anything... I'd rather die!"  I think this reaction may be close to universal.  Yet, there are thousands of foods available.  Supermarkets are stuffed to overflowing with a greater and greater diversity of foods from all over the world.  So, what's up with our inability to expand our diets?

Take a look at the 20-25 foods you eat most often.  Look seriously at their nutritional content.  I would hazard to guess that as many as half of the foods you commonly consume have little nutritional value.  Broadening our diet to include more nutritionally dense foods is an essential longevity health-skill.  While most of us have all heard of "comfort foods" -- as though there's a really select group of things we need for comfort -- the fact is probably that all the foods we consistently reach for are comfort.  Eating itself is all about comfort.  So the question really becomes, how do we create the positive associations with other foods such that more nutritionally dense foods transform themselves into "comfort foods?"


I don't really have any proven suggestions, but these four common-sense ideas might help:
  1. Find a partner, preferably someone you really like, who is willing to experiment with you in expanding dietary horizons.  Experiment with different diets and different foods together and compare notes about how you experience eating differently.
  2. Pick a couple favorite activities and adopt an "off-your-list" (OYL) healthy food that you eat every time you do that activity.  If you include a friend who joins you for the activity and the food, the positive association will probably be all the more powerful.
  3. Learn the health benefits present in other "off-your-list" (OYL) foods and while you are eating those other foods talk to yourself A LOT about everything that particular food is doing for your body.  (I have used this and found it comes in time to create a craving for the new foods.)
  4. Try to avoid trying new foods under stressful circumstances.  Choosing stressful times to try new foods is likely to only associate stress with that food.
If any other ideas come to mind, why don't you share them under the comments here?


NatureWords for your body, peace for your soul,
M.

     

Friday, September 30, 2011

Health Resonance

Since I can't afford two pianos, nor have the room in any of my life spaces to have two pianos side by side I can't personally vouch for the truthfulness of what I'm about to share, but....  I read that if two pianos are parked side by side and you hit a key on one of them the sound frequency of that note will cause the same string on the other piano to vibrate.

Sit for a moment and ponder what this might mean.  Like, recall that all living things are creating and expending energy.  Energy vibrates and has an inherent "buzz" about it.  Think of electrical transformers and generators.  I remember as a kid visiting the dams on the Columbia River and the deep vibrating buzz of the electrical generators.  Of course, that is perhaps billions of times more energy flowing than the cells generate in our bodies, but just the same we are all operating on certain energetic frequencies.  If we had the ears for such tiny impulses we could hear them as sound.  Different cells produce different energetic signatures and together they harmonize such that each one of us is likely putting off a particular musical chord.  Re-enter the two pianos.  Hmmm?

Could "good health" be defined as harmonized cellular energy?  I think this is very likely the case!  If this is true, then knowledge about the pianos and sound resonance opens up the door of speculation.  In particular, if we expose our bodies to harmonious sounds will our health improve?  Is part of the huge degradation in the environment due to the chaotic background noise being generated from so many different sources?

I'm not the first to come up with this idea.  It is being actively worked upon by people a lot smarter than me.  There are hundreds of directions we could go with using sound for health.  How about starting some sound experiments of your own?  Like, the reason you may find certain types of music more soothing than others is that certain styles "chime" well with your own biological music you are generating.  By listening to music that soothes your soul, perhaps you are soothing cellular groups that are stressed and heading toward disease?  Soothing music may be helping to create the positive resonance your body needs to heal?  It's a GREAT thought!  And, even if it isn't the case, you now have a GOOD excuse for sitting with your favorite music, sipping a little red wine, and relaxing -- and THAT does do a body good as well!!

 NatureWords for your Health... Peace for your Soul! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Detox II

So I finished up the detox I mentioned on Sept. 7th a couple of days after that.  I've done detoxes often enough that I didn't do too badly, apart from blood sugar issues.  The Master Cleanse program with it's use of the maple syrup lemonade plays havoc with blood sugar regulation, and I almost felt better with water only.

For people who do get sick doing a detox, there is good news -- it convinces you quickly of how badly you need to do more detoxification work.  Symptoms that occur during detox include:  nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, itching, headaches, bad breath, achy joints, tiredness, and even mild fevers (though fevers can be from dehydration, too.)  These symptoms can get quite severe, even debilitating requiring  bed rest and a slowing down of the detox processes.  

What can you do about these symptoms?  First, do NOT take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, like advil, aspirin, or alleve; and no Tylenol either.  These mask your symptoms but defeat the goal by adding to the toxic load.  A couple of supplement things might help - chlorophyll and/or activated charcoal.  Neither one of these add toxins and both help to bind toxins that have been released, thus decreasing or eliminating their pesky side effects (symptoms) and they hold onto the toxins until they can be processed.

Hot baths for 20-30 minutes induce sweating that reduces toxin loads through the skin.  The bath can help itching especially, and if you put a couple tablespoons of oatmeal in a sock that you run the bath water through this also aids itchiness.  One caution: be well aware that raising your body temperature in the bath, also increases your body's metabolism and with it blood sugar can drop.  If you've been fasting and you pump up metabolism you can get dangerously dizzy or faint very quickly.  So, do the hot bath only after having taken some juice or something else with calories that will support your blood sugar level.

Enemas and mild herbal laxatives can speed up the elimination process and reduce toxin loads to reduce symptoms as well.   I have a hope for the end of this year or early next to have out an e-book about the great therapeutic value enemas can play in your overall health, so watch for that.

Finally as a last resort, if symptoms get too much then end the detox.  This is done by putting food back into your life.  If you've been off food for several days it is best to ease back into a diet, perhaps by juicing fruits and vegetables; then salads with small amounts of protein.  Protein shakes can also be used.  I particularly like the taste and the breakdown of a product called Muscle Milk, that is a whey-based protein.

As I said, if you've gotten sick on your detox you need to plan additional ones in the months ahead.  These can be accomplished through mild one day fasts where symptoms should be less pronounced, or if you are game to go it again, a longer several day fast program.  Happy detoxing. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Detoxing

On Monday I started a detox.  I decided to use a commercially created form of the Master Cleanse program.  This includes a complete solid food fast with a lemonade made of lemon juice, palm/maple syrup, cayenne and water plus a laxative tea in the evening.  My plan is to do 5 days, so I'm halfway through.  Apart from a bit of spaciness and the expected hunger pains that come with any fast I haven't had any detox symptoms, though I have done many detox programs over the years.  The lemonade certainly helps the hunger - especially if enough cayenne to burn your throat a little going down is used.

Why do this?  First off, I'm a proponent of thinking about our physical bodies in the primordial state of early cave dwellers.  If we spin time backwards to before all the environmental, chemical, and dietary issues that modernity has injected into life and consider the lives of early human beings before the agricultural revolution and all, I think we pick up a few hints for our health today.  There were times before Safeway or QFC when there might be a few days without food.  Hunters and gatherers might not find food.  So they lived lives with nature-enforced fasts.  Their digestive systems got a rest.  I think it does not hurt us to rest our digestive systems, even for a day once a week.  (Most of the world's spiritual disciplines recommend fasting for spiritual health as well.)  

The second reason is modernity has exposed us all to a huge array of toxins that mess with our body chemistry something fierce.  We don't really notice too much except that a lot of symptoms we might blame on "aging" nag us all the time.  We live in a cauldron of modern chemistry.  Like the frog swimming in a pot - if the water temperature is raised gradually the frog doesn't notice it's about to get cooked.  Throw one in a pot already at boil, and it will do it's best to leap out instantly.  We're living in the chemistry pot with the toxicity of it gradually increasing.  Our bodies are adept at adapting even while they are simultaneously and invisibly being slowly poisoned.  Detoxing is a good way to turn down the effects of the toxic soup in which we swim daily.

Finally, there is a very good feeling that comes from the knowledge that you are putting a great deal of intentionality into your health.  A lot of introspection and reflection on what all your body's responses to the absence of food mean.  If detoxing makes you terribly sick (something I will talk about in the next blog) you know you have work to be doing.  When it makes you feel better toward it's end, you find a new resolve to change your diet and ways you want to interact with your environment.  A detox/fast helps you to build resolve to avoid many of the sins to which you've been subjecting your body.   So weigh the fasting and detoxing options.  I'm happy to answer questions and give advice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Longevity

The best current information we have on how to extend our life and our health is through calorie restriction.  Calorie restriction is a way of eating on vastly fewer calories than the majority of us eat.  The "typical" American diet is 2,000 calories.  This is the amount on which all nutritional food labels base themselves.  Calorie restriction is defined as somewhere around 1200 a day.  The average daily metabolic rate is the amount of energy we need just to perform basic life tasks - like sitting, thinking, and breathing.  It is about 1200 calories, so calorie restriction is like eating a minimal amount of food for existence.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garlic

Another food you can grow easily in your yard, or in a container on your patio or deck is garlic.  Garlic has been known for both its culinary uses and it's medicinal purposes for eons.  Garlic is a member of the allium plant family which includes onions, leeks, and shallots. 

Who has not used garlic in their cooking?  It can be used "straight up" as "garlic butter" (whole heads of garlic roasted until the cloves are all soft and squishy that can then be spread on bread) or it can be chopped finely and included in virtually any recipe.  Sauteing garlic lessens its taste potency.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are a member of the crucifer family, along with broccoli and the cabbages.  Brussel sprouts are like little cabbages.  They are actually flowers of a sort.  They grow with numbers of them on a long stalk, so they can be quite entertaining to grow in your garden.

Their nutritional value is very high.  The Nutritional Data website shows them to be very filling for a low number of calories and very nutrient dense.  They contain good amounts of B-vitamins, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese.

They have Isothiocyanates, which are sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for the aroma they have when cooking, but more importantly help the liver heal.  These compounds stimulate enzyme production in the liver that facilitates detoxification.  Research shows they may also play a significant role in preventing cancer, especially premenopausal breast cancer.

They can be steamed or roasted in the oven.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MyFitnessPal.com

I want to introduce you to, what I think, is the greatest and best diet/exercise tracking website anywhere, and the best part is it is free!  Myfitnesspal.com is wonderful.  It has an ap for your mobile devices, so entering your exercise or food while you're on the go is a snap.  It has a database of 160,000 foods that covers just about the entire gamut of processed and whole foods.  If your particular dinner item is not listed, you can enter the recipe; or just enter the information off the nutritional label into a section called Your Foods.   You can enter your current weight and what you want to weigh and it will calculate the calories you need in a day to achieve your desired weight.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Artichokes

The garden season is coming up and I thought it might be a good idea to share some "power foods" with you that you might want to think about adding to your gardening plans.  Power foods are those with especially powerful nutritional properties.

The first food is the Jerusalem artichoke.  The artichoke is a member of the aster family.  The edible part of the plant is the inner base parts of the flower petals, plus the flower's heart.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Life's Complexities

Some days you could almost think there was someone stamping you with a theme.  The theme I've heard today is that a great deal of the troubles in our lives and world can be pinned on convenience, automation, and external drives for "success."

I want you to think about this for a moment.  There are all kinds of gadgets and creations meant to save us time.  Processed food bereft of nutritional value, computers for carpal tunnels and headaches, remotes so we can let the plaque build up in our arteries that don't have to move blood any more, and on they come.  But, for what?  So we can spend more time away from home running ourselves crazy with work and school and thousands of extra-curricular activities.  Then we say we don't have time for anything but sitting in front of the TV and eating microwaved cardboard?

I want to invite you to ponder this situation.  The most simple of first steps is to become aware of all the many ways hustle, rush, and short-fused agendas are dictating your energy levels, your sense of groundedness, and your stress.  Awareness is the first step to change.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Radiation Exposure

Given the reactor problems in Japan and the concurrent release of radiation that has wafted across the Pacific, I've been asked by a number of people whether this is something to be concerned about and what is to be done to protect against it.  My short answer is: say a prayer.

Radiation is THE Problem with nuclear power, nuclear war, nuclear medicine, and industrial nuclear applications.  Other than avoidance altogether there is not a lot of health protective guarantees at all from radiation.  The problem is this: amounts of 0-100 mSv are considered low-level, yet can fracture biomolecules including DNA.  (On Tuesday March 15th Reactor #3 in Japan released 400 mSv into the air.)  Damaged DNA will frequently lead to cancer at some point.  A chest x-ray has

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Dangers of Aluminum

On first thought, one would perhaps think that a metal like aluminum, for instance, would be inert and cause no health problems.  You would think it would just sit around being a light shiny metal - like a roll of foil - and not really generate anything blog-worthy.  Yet, this is not the case.

We have known for a number of years now that there has been a link between aluminum and neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  To my knowledge a causative relationship has not been definitively proven.  But, the circumstantial evidence against aluminum is high with a positive correlation between these two diseases and high aluminum levels in postmortem brain tissue samples.  Today Dr. Mercola's website talks about the connection between aluminum and breast cancer.  A study out of Italy found much higher levels of aluminum in

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When Mental Health is Big Business

Mental health in America is big business.  Consider these two statistics recently released:

Antipsychotics remained the top-selling class of medications in the U.S., with 2009 prescription sales of $14.6 billion, similar to the 2008 level.(1)

 Antidepressants became the fourth-largest class in 2009, up from its #5 ranking the prior year, with U.S. prescription sales growth of 4 percent to $9.9 billion.(1)
So, between antipsychotics and antidepressants Americans are feeding pharmaceutical companies almost $25 Billion a year.  There are a lot of reasons this is an outlandish amount.  The pharmaceutical companies

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Supplements for Colds.

The KING5 health link leads with a story that zinc can help with shortening the duration of a cold.  This is news?  I like how as time passes very old, tried and true non-pharmaceutical treatments for different illnesses pass muster with science and suddenly become "okay."  I also like how until they do many people equate using these remedies as quackery.  Sigh, oh well...  The dose I would throw out for the zinc by the way would be not more than 100 mg a day while you're sick, and they are right -- it is prone to causing nausea on empty tummies, so eat something.

Other cold and flu fighting supplements include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Elderberry, Chinese Mushrooms, Astragalus, Echinacea, Goldenseal, and Colostrum.  While studies have been done on echinacea with mixed results, all the others will have to await "validation" by real scientists and until then walk on the wild side and maybe kill a virus.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Woes of Soda Pop

Last week the Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a press release reporting on how the caramel coloring used in dark colored pops - e.g. Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper, is made with a process of sugar and ammonia that makes the resulting caramel food dye carcinogenic.  They called on the FDA to ban the ingredient.  

My response to this is almost a yawn and "so what?"  There are a lot of reasons not to be drinking pop, what is one more?  In light of the article, the stupidity begins, in general, with how much synthetic food dye is utilized by processed food and beverage manufacturers (and it IS

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Dozen Breast Health Tips

So I gave the resounding critique of 3-D mammograms a couple days ago.  Here are some sound tips on keeping your breasts as healthy and at as low risk for breast cancer as possible.

To Do List:
  1. Watch your BMI (body mass index) and keep your weight within a normal range.  Google BMI calculator to find out what yours is.  Excess body fat produces estrogen, which stimulates cancer growth in a large number of breast tumors.
  2. Breast self-exams at least once a month, at the same time in your monthly cycle.
  3. Exercise -- at least 3 times a week enough to get near winded for 20-30 minutes.  Exercise = circulation.  Improved circulation keeps the immune system on guard duty.  Exercise also reduces stress and helps with the BMI.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

3-D Mammograms

The FDA has approved 3D-Mammograms.  The news of this development was all over the TV and newspapers.  I can already imagine radiologists donning their 3-D glasses and pouring over the films.  The hype leaves the impression that women are going to be better off with this newer better technological improvement over the standard 2-D X-rays they now have.  There are a few problems here in Mudville, however.

The first issue is that there is only a 7% diagnostic improvement.  The pro-mammogram elements in medicine have tried to gloss over the rather dismal accuracy record of mammograms, misleading women into thinking they were essential screenings regardless of accuracy.  Yet the truth has been they've always only had about a 54% accuracy rate in

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ten Common Homeopathic Remedies

A good thing for people to have around the house is a homeopathic first aid kit.  Homeopathics are an excellent, safe, and effective means of dealing with common health problems that arise at home.  If the right remedy is given early on in the problem, it can often nip that problem before it can get going.  Here is a list of  the ten most common remedies I suggest to my patients in the middle of the night or before setting out to find a doctor.  All of these remedies should be readily available at a health food store near you.  They typically come in 6x or 30c potency.  6x will require more frequent administration of the dose, but either will work.  These are especially handy to have around for children and grandkids because they have only a sweet taste and don't require swallowing pills.

  1. Apis -- for stings or insect bites, also can try with hives
  2. Arnica -- for any kind of bruising blow or injury where bruising is likely.
  3. Belladonna -- for a fever that leaps in out of nowhere and the person has a flushed appearance.
  4. Chamomile -- for oversensitive & excessive irritability with aversion to being comforted, also green mucus
  5. Cantharis -- for any kind of burn or for urinary tract infection involving a burning symptom
  6. Gelsemium -- fear, anticipation, e.g. prior to a performance; lethargy and lack of thirst from fever
  7. Hypericum -- crushing wounds or injuries to nerves or with shooting pains
  8. Mag Phos -- for cramping pains, particularly menstrual.
  9. Nux Vomica -- great for food poisoning situations and vomiting.
  10. Pulsatilla --  yellow discharges, sensitive, wanting to be comforted

There are probably 3,000 or more remedies, so this is just a very limited number, but my clinical experience for the last 16 years says these are used the most, and are the remedy bottles that are most often empty at my house.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Some Diabetes Prevention Tips

New Diabetes diagnoses are hitting all time highs and one can wonder looking at the growth curve whether or not everyone will be diabetic in a few years.  Here are a number of tips to help you regulate your blood sugars better.  Prevention is worth more than a needle in the tummy and a finger prick a couple times every day for the rest of your life.  Start now and avoid big problems later!

1.  Sugar consumption is just past the obscene level.  It's in every processed food, in addition to what is just consumed in junk food of all kinds.  So, start whittling back on your sweet tooth!  Every granule and drop of sugar you eliminate and choose to go without pulls you back from the precipice of diabetes.  Read labels -- sugars are listed!  4 gms of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Do the math and think of just spooning in the teaspoons of raw sugar!

2.  Exercise: 10-20 minutes of brisk walking at least 3 times a week is an impressive start if all you're doing is laying around watching Lifetime and sucking down hot chocolate.  If you're already doing that amount add more days a week and then increase the minutes. 

3.  Avoid artificial sweeteners.  They are synthetic and your body doesn't know what to do with them other than mess up your metabolism and brain.

4.  Essential blood sugar management minerals are calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, and molybdenum.

5.  Bring your weight down.  Carrying extra pounds increases diabetes risk.  Use the Push Away Diet.  Push away from the table before you're done! You're a grown-up.  Your mom is not going to punish you for not cleaning your overstuffed plate!!  And, if she wants to send your leftovers to China, hand her a mailing envelope.

6.  If you're female of child-bearing age, breast feed your children.  Women who do reduce their diabetes risks later in life.

7.  Herbs which can help manage blood sugar or up metabolic rates include: garcinia cambosia, bitter melon, green tea, acai berry, and siberian gingseng.

8.  Avoid white foods -- white rice, white potatoes, white sugar, white flour/breads...  White is the sign of over processed grain or starch, which simplifies the carbohydrates making them too volatile for your blood sugar control systems to manage.
These all look simple on paper.  Start today, start somewhere!  Each item you undertake is a big step toward being in the minority in 2020 when more people will have diabetes than don't!  If you're choosing to stay on the diabetes track, you should buy some pharmaceutical stock and at least benefit financially during the disease misery and from the drugs they'll have for you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What Mercury Can Do

So here's the deal on your teeth... go to dentist, have cavity, drill it out, fill hole full of metal, "Hey thanks, my tooth is fixed.  By the way what was in that silvery stuff?"

"Oh nothing, just 50% mercury, some tin and nickel and other stuff."

Yep, that's right.  For over a 150 years teeth have been getting filled with mercury.  We're worried about 2 micrograms of mercury in seafood.  Many people have stopped eating tuna for this reason and the cans carry a warning to pregnant women.  Each mercury filling releases about 15 micrograms of mercury into your mouth a day. The American Dental Association continues to stonewall the lack of logic in using this practice.

I want to share some of the health problems generated by mercury and let them speak for themselves as to whether you want to continue letting your dentist put mercury in your head.  I'm going to share two lists of symptoms.  The first list is the OVERT symptoms of a medical crisis kind of toxicity from mercury.

  • Problems centered in brain, heart, lungs, and skin:
  • Peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, burning in extremities)
  • Red nose, cheeks, face
  • Slow learning in children
  • Bleeding gums
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of hair
  • Skin peeling and rashes
  • Increased salivation
These are the 2X4 bash across the head of, "Hey Silver-Toothed Dude, YOU have a serious problem."  These are the symptoms that the ADA says nobody is getting from amalgam fillings so they are safe.

Here is another list of symptoms.  These are gleaned from the homeopathic materia medica that show the subtler energetic powers of mercury and how it impacts health.
  • Instability on all levels
  • Internal hurriedness with slowness in acting
  • Fears and anxiety
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Inability to concentrate, battles confusion
  • Broad, flabby tongue with indents around the edges
  • Super sensitive to criticism
  • Forgetfulness
  • Sensitive to heat and cold
  • Ulcerative colitis, digestive problems
  • Easy perspiration
How much attention deficit disorder, and academic problems are part of the dental care to which we've been subjected?  How many of your problematic irritating health issues are reflected in these lists? If your mouth is full of fillings, could mercury be the problem?
 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Much Is Enough?

I received a question asking if there is a hazard to taking too many vitamins. 

My shortest answer would be apart from damage to your pocketbook, there are no large health hazards to taking too many vitamins.  Unless advised by a health professional for a particular health problem there is no value to going overboard "megadosing" vitamins and minerals.  There are a couple vitamins with unique features that might comprise a health problem if they were to be overdosed.  One of these would be niacin.  It is one of the B-vitamins, and is commonly recommended or prescribed for managing high cholesterol.  The risk with it is in very large doses it can have a toxic effect on the liver.  If you get itchy all over, look a little more yellow in the whites of your eyes, hear voices, or experience serious hot flashes frequently you may be getting too much niacin.  Reducing or eliminating niacin will cause the symptoms to diminish or disappear.

A second toxic vitamin is Vitamin A.  Normal adults would have to take in excess of probably 25,000-30,000 units for a long time (more than a year)  to collect any negative hits health-wise. I'm referring to pure Vitamin A -- not Beta-carotene for which it is impossible to overdose.

Iron is a toxic mineral.  Men rarely need supplemental iron.  Menstruating women have a need for 15-20 mg of iron daily, particularly during and for a few days after periods.  Iron increases your free radical damage, so it's best to avoid it beyond true need for it.  Too much iron has been associated with increased colon cancer risks.  Excess iron could also cause you to get stuck in the scanners at the airport.  (LOL - I am joking.)

The very best source for nutritional supplementation comes from food.  Whacky idea! A wide variety of variously colored vegetables are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.  The second best source is from supplements made from whole foods, (e.g. Juice Plus.)  Finally, the least useful source is a synthesized multi-vitamin tablet that you commonly find on the grocery store shelf.  The actual brand names will remain nameless as the companies would probably sue me for saying their products are trash and pretty worthless.

I have to say I am not very good at being consistent for long periods with the pill popper lifestyle.  The supplements I take with the most regularity include Juice Plus, a B-50 complex, a probiotic, and a revolving assortment of varied adrenal supplements (for aiding stress.)  If I'm getting sick, I'll take Vitamin C, Echinacea, Mitake/Shitake mushrooms, and Zinc.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Managing Depression

Pharmaceutical companies have done enough advertising to bring to everyone's attention that they have drugs available for managing depression, and if one doesn't work multiple numbers taken together can do the job.  I will not deny that there are some individual situations for which these mysteriously functioning pills are needed.  At the same time I would contend they're over-prescribed and over-used.

First off, it's important to distinguish between situational depression and clinical depression.  In American society we've been brainwashed into thinking if we have any problem in life it can be fixed with a drug.  We are a nation with a split personality in this regard.  As long as the drug is manufactured by a "reputable pharmaceutical company" and it's properly prescribed drugging your pain is to be admired.  If the drug is illegal, however, you do the hard time and your pain is nothing to be considered in the sentencing.  There ARE situations that make us sad.  Situations in which nobody in their right mind would not feel sad.  Job loss, death, relationship problems can all cause situational depression.  We are uncomfortable feeling depressed and sad and yet situations warrant those feelings and the best thing to do is embrace the feelings and allow time to heal the wounds.

IF the depression gets prolonged or deepens into dwelling on it, unable to push through and do daily activities of living, or diverts into suicidal thinking and planning a stronger more pro-active approach is needed.  I personally would resort to the psychotropic drugs only as a last resort.  There are a lot of means and methods to try before arriving at the last resort.

Here are just a few ways to use natural approaches to support emotional health.
  • Exercise -- Get extra oxygen to brain cells by walking briskly or jogging, or swimming -- any aerobic cardiovascular workout will do the trick.
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners, sugar, and simple carbohydrates.  They destabilize blood sugar and blood sugar swings high and low make for increased inability to control emotions.
  • Increase protein in your diet.  It stimulates metabolism, and is a precursor for building strong cells.
  • Plan and work out a schedule that gets you out of the house and engages your mind.  Try to create opportunity for interaction with other human beings for a few hours EVERY day.  This prevents your brain from falling into a rut and provides other things to think about.
  • Work puzzles -- these are like exercise for brain cells.
  • Manage sleep.  Some people handle depression by sleeping more, some by sleeping less.  Work to find a middle ground.  Sleep in the darkest room possible and aim for 8-10 hours a night.
  • The following herbs have positive effects on emotions and mental function: St. John's Wort, Skullcap, Passion Flower, Chamomile, Gota Kola, and Gingko.
  • The following vitamins and minerals help: a B-vitamin complex, zinc, copper, Vitamin C and E.
  • These added natural supplements are also helpful: GABA, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, lecithin.
See a healthcare provider, and in particular a naturopath, if you want help working out an anti-depression plan.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vitamin D

There ARE times when being a naturopath causes a lot of mind games in my head.  Vitamin D has been ALL over the news lately.  It almost feels stupid to write a blog about something that is receiving so much attention and yet I believe Vitamin D is this important.

First of all, do this fun little activity with the people with which you live: take a globe and find the latitude line on which you live and follow it around the earth.  Compare the countries that are north or south of your latitude line.  If you are north of about 40 degrees you are in a northern latitude.  People in northern latitudes do no get sunlight - especially in winter.  More days are cloudy, and the days that aren't the sun isn't at a high enough angle and it's too cold for sunbathing anyway.  This means no Vitamin D is getting made by your body.  This is a problem.

Vitamin D regulates the protein expression for 1 out of 10 genes.  Cells that would go "rogue" by mutating or twisting their proteins and therein becoming cancerous are created.  Vitamin D facilitates and regulates immunity.  The immune system is the body agency that is in charge of taking out cancer cells.  So a Vitamin D deficiency leads to more cancer cells being potentially created, AND shorts out the agency that is eliminating cancer cells that are naturally produced in everyone.  Can the need for it be any plainer?

Everyone in my practice who I have tested have been deficient.  We are at 49 degrees latitude and well, Seattle has a little bit of a rain reputation for good reason.  You can ask your doctor to test you, but chances are really high you are low.

The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, and it is the UV part of the spectrum in sunlight that is the key.  So, the second best source is tanning.  Last source is supplements.  I realize fully that this flies in the face of all the educational campaigns the American Cancer Society and dermatology and cosmetology groups have run over the past ten years to use your sunscreen.  If the body needs Vitamin D and it has been evolutionarily so important to life that the body has it's own way to make Vitamin D from UV exposure, does it not make logical sense that a) a deficiency of Vitamin D can be very detrimental, and b) skin cancer may not be the result of being in the sun?  I will be the first to say emphatically -- do NOT let yourself get sunburned!  Sunburn is cell damage.  Logically, enough repeated sunburning could lead to cancer.  But, you do not need sunburns to make Vitamin D!  Single BEST way to get Vitamin D is getting your skin exposed to sunlight or a tanning bed.  The more skin exposed the less time it takes.  Just be extremely careful to ramp up the amounts of time spent in the sun so the body's natural tanning response can build in the protection from burning.  If you can't get sunlight or tanning then take supplements.  I'm recommending 1,000 units of Vitamin D twice a day to my patients.  If you're chronically sick and run down, depressed in winter, or carry cancer genes then I'd go higher.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Autism

My grandnephew has been through a lot of testing and finally, after a long time, has been given a health label of autism.  Like most psychological/mental diagnoses, autism is a wide-ranging and varied disorder with a host of different possible but unproven causes.  Nobody knows what causes autism.  There are lots of causes, perhaps nearly as many as there are individuals with the label.

One of the extremely common contributing factors to autism is dietary related.  The following food items have been reported to exacerbate autism:
  • grains, particularly gluten-containing grains - wheat, barley, and oats.
  • food preservatives
  • food dyes
  • artificial sweeteners
  • sensitivity to particular foods on an individual basis
Food sensitivities are best tested through an elimination diet.  The ironic rule of thumb on what foods could be causing a sensitivity problem are those that are ingested the most.  Any foods eaten a lot, or foods for which there are cravings are suspect.  These need to be eliminated for a period of at least two weeks, a month is even better.  Over that period of abstaining, if there are offending foods in that list, autism symptoms, as well as other health issues (e.g. insomnia, snuffly noses) may improve gradually.  At the end of the period, foods can be added back into the diet one by one.  An offending food will almost immediately and dramatically cause a worsening of symptoms once again.

Brain and nerve function are significantly affected by nutrition.  Adequate B vitamins, calcium, and minerals like zinc, copper, magnesium, and selenium are all crucial to enzyme functions that control proper nerve firing.

Toxicity problems would be the third area of concern that I'll mention here.  Exposures to heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and aluminum can all cause significant impairment of nerve and brain function.  Hair analysis is one less expensive, but fairly accurate way to evaluate how much of problem this may be.

We do not know what the mechanism for autism is.  We do not know causes or triggers.  But, we do know that many of these natural factors play at least some role in the body's overall general ability to function.  If incorporating them into lifestyle changes will alter the course of, or improve the symptoms of autism why would they not be tried?  Because, even IF they make no difference at all, I am confident they would improve ANYONE'S health. 
 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Snip, Snip?

Don't blame me so much for this one, blame Seattle Magazine, they're the ones who got me thinking about this.  In their most recent issue they have an article about male circumcision.  Amazon has over 900 references to circumcision.  Given the rabidly strong opinions about it, it's sheer stupidity perhaps to open up the can of worms.  But, as I thought about how to approach this controversial topic I also realized there are some equally deep-seated similar issues with another common male surgery - vasectomies.

There has been marginal scientific evidence that circumcision makes a difference health-wise.  The small health advantages to being circumcised that have been reported are decreased incidence of: 1) urinary tract infections in infant/toddler males; 2) contracting HIV/AIDS, HPV, or other STD's; and 3) cancer of the penis.  The numbers are not dramatic however, so the practice of circumcision remains more a decision based on religion, culture, and personal preference than medical factors.  These are deeply personal arenas and best left between doctor and patient, not with insurance companies or state laws.  Advocates of the uncircumcised side of the debate feel so strongly about their position that they are lobbying legislatures to make circumcising infants a crime based on the claim that the practice is abusive.  Given that it is done under anesthesia and has been accepted and performed for thousands of years the claim seems spacious.

There seems to be a larger issue at play though if one adds vasectomy into the considerations.  What I have observed is that men have a lot of anxiety about having medical procedures performed on their reproductive system -- be it on themselves or on their sons.

There are decent medical/health reasons to have both of these surgical procedures performed, and the risks from them are minimal.  Each person/parent needs to make up their own mind, but fear of pain should not be one of the reasons.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cancer Prevention

"I am opposed to heart attacks and cancer like I am opposed to sin."  
--Mary Lasker, quoted in The Emperor of Maladies

I crossed over into 2011 engrossed in reading the above referenced book.  It is a sobering, comprehensive, thought-provoking, brilliantly written book.  It is easily one of the better non-fiction books I've ever read on any subject.  It is basically a history of cancer and cancer treatment, but deeper than that it invites one into reflection on the nature of health and the spiritual/emotional/physical battles that are happening daily across the board -- patient, doctor, researcher, fund raiser-organizer, congress person, parent. loved one, child.  One in four of us will experience cancer at some time in our lives.  There is still no cure.  The fact is, we have made better progress in defeating HIV/AIDS. 

I continue to believe that the best defense against cancer (and disease in general) is adopting a lifestyle that is a proactive offense in preventing the occurrence of illnesses.  To this end, here are ten suggestions to begin incorporating into your life in this new year.  If you are already doing them, do more of the same.

  1. Include more fiber -- 20-40 gm a day.
  2. Drink water -- 1/3 of your body weight in fluid ounces every day
  3. Eat more vegetables than fruit, but eat more of both than anything else.  Organic is best, but just do it.
  4. Exercise - don't lay down if you can sit, don't sit if you can stand, don't stand it you can walk.  EVERY day do something active.  Interval training is appearing to be far more effective than most other types of exercise.  This is doing short rapid bursts of intense exercise interspersed with slow-downs.  Pedometers that measure steps will keep you honest: 7,000 steps plus a day.
  5. Incorporate the following anti-cancer supplements/foods/spices into your daily routine: turmeric, green tea, fish oil, and Vitamin D, 
  6. Delete from your diet: SUGAR in every form, food dyes, food preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and MSG.
  7. Sleep -- get enough for you to feel rested -- each person's need for it varies.  The majority need 6-8 hours.  Some need less, some more.  Sleep in the DARK - as dark as possible.
  8. Check in with and connect with your spirit in some way multiple times a day.
  9. Be positive and look at the half-FULL glass, don't dwell on the empty parts.  Help others do the same and if there are chronically "toxic" people in your life who can't or won't change their attitudes look for ways to minimize their presence in your life.
  10. Learn to say no to stress.  Most of the stress we have in our lives we have introduced ourselves.  If you are consciously stressed due to factors outside your control, then it is all the more important to be taking care of yourself and not agreeing to add more activity and more "velocity" to your already packed schedule or daily agenda.  Find down time and make it a priority to do the things that feed and nourish your peace and energy.  Rather nasty illnesses are stalking those who don't heed these words.
I hope your new year has gotten off to a good start and pray blessings on all who read these words!