Thursday, May 30, 2013

Liver Health

What is the most important organ in your body?  The heart and brain are right up at the top of the list as being the most immediately necessary.  Kidneys are probably third in importance.  Fourth comes your liver.  It carries out so many essential functions that you cannot live long without it.  A few of the things the liver does include:
  • Converting fats or proteins into glucose when you haven't eaten
  • Filtering toxins and nutrients from your blood
  • Breaking down toxins, hormones, and foreign substances
  • Storing or sequestering toxins or foreign substances
  • Storing nutrients for later use
  • Making cholesterol for your hormones
  • Converting inactive thyroid hormones to active ones
  • Aiding the absorption of essential nutrients
A number of all too common illnesses can bring your liver down badly; these include Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, and Liver Cancer.

It is pretty easy to improve the health of your liver.  Many of us have heard of liver cleanses or detoxes.  The body is pretty adept at cleansing and detoxifying itself as long as it is given the rest and support it needs.  With summer arriving and the wide variety of inexpensive fruits and vegetables soon to be available, there is no time like now to help your liver have some relaxation and restorative support.  

Relaxation For Your Liver
You can relax your liver by just giving it less to do.  One of the most powerful ways to do this is to fast.  Since your liver has to be on the job every time you eat, not eating for a day is a good way to give your liver a day off.  If because of blood sugar problems you can't fast a whole day, then take a day's off from protein and fat intake.  Once a week eat only vegetables (preferably from the list below.)  In addition to fasting from food for a day, take a break from some of the more toxic vices in which we might participate like drinking alcohol or smoking (tobacco or marijuana).

Restoring Your Liver
Give your liver what it needs to function.  The following foods are extremely helpful to giving your liver the nutrition it needs to carry out its job.
  • Dandelion greens, burdock root, mustard greens, black radish, apples and saffron, watercress, beets, parsley, artichokes, cherries, grapefruit, parsnips, endive, garlic, onion, chicory, carob, horseradish, kumquats, limes, quinces, grapes, lemon juice mixed with water, upon rising in the morning 30 minutes before eating
• Wheat germ, lecithin, yogurt, tofu, soy
• Green tea: two to three cups per day.

fresh juices:
• Radish and pineapple
• Black cherry concentrate mixed with liquid chlorophyll
• Carrot, beet, and cucumber, radish, green pepper
• Papaya
• Cherry
• Carrot
• Carrot and spinach 

In addition, two herbs available in supplement form will supply very strong liver-specific antioxidant protection: 
  • Milk Thistle
  • Turmeric 
Your liver has to get you through a lot of toxic challenges in the 21st century world.  Give it the rest and help it needs to keep doing a good job for you.

NatureWords for your Health

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sodium Intake

The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently reviewed all the studies and information about sodium intake to assess the value of eating a sodium-restrictive diet.(1)  For many years the American Heart Association and cardiologists have recommended a limited sodium intake for those with hypertension (high blood pressure.)  Based largely on a certain biochemical logic there has been a belief that limiting sodium intake was helpful dietary advice for those with hypertension, as well as some stereotypical groups for cardiovascular disease -- such as African-Americans and individuals over 51 years old.  The review performed by the IOM found that the actual benefits are not clear cut at all.  The American Heart Association is not happy with the IOM finding and continues to stick by their recommendation of keeping sodium intake below 1500 mg a day.

For most of the years in private practice I have dismissed the sodium connection to hypertension.  Sodium is an essential mineral; it's used in the body for nerve and muscle function.  The kidneys are especially adapted for eliminating excessive levels of sodium.  There are a few rare individuals who are sensitive to sodium.  In my clinical experience these cases have been pretty exclusively among those with impaired kidney function.  For those who have high blood pressure, it is worth a trial period of low-sodium to see if it reduces blood pressure.  In those cases where it matters, reducing one's sodium is a LOT better than taking pharmaceutical drugs.  But, 99% of the time sodium intake makes no difference.  Does this mean you should dump the entire salt shaker on your food?  No.  Moderation is ALWAYS a safe course of action!  Nobody should go overboard on anything just because it's not been proven harmful.  You also don't have to be totaling up every milligram of sodium.  Just eat healthy!

Naturewords for your Health
Dr. M.

(1) http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Sodium-Intake-in-Populations-Assessment-of-Evidence.aspx 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Careful How You Avoid Sugar

I am hoping that the message is getting through everyone's head that sugar is just devastatingly bad for your health.  Sugar sneaks into all kinds of foods though so one MUST read labels compulsively.  In this modern day and age there's a strong likelihood sugar will be in just about anything you eat -- even things you would intuitively think were low in sugar.  Take a look at this short video to reinforce this idea.

http://www.upworthy.com/your-assumptions-about-sugary-foods-are-about-to-be-blown-away-2?c=ufb1

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cosmetic Surgery

In 2012 over 14 million people chose to have some form of cosmetic surgery, 91% of these surgeries were done on women.(1) I don't think most of us would come close to guessing which cosmetic surgery among women increased the most in 2012 so I'll just tell you -- upper arms.  "Upper arm lifts" increased from 300 in the year 2000 to 15,000 done in 2012, a 4378% increase.  This total pales in comparison to the 286,000 breast augmentation surgeries (down 7% from 2011) or the 243,000 nose reconstructions(2).  These statistics left me pondering the question -- what's with this huge necessity to pursue surgical alterations to one's body, most of them done financially out of pocket?

To be fair, it is not entirely about vanity.  Gastric bypass surgeries are becoming increasingly common and the resulting weight loss can leave lots of excessive skin on upper arms, thighs, and tummy's.  But, beyond these kinds of situations where most of us might choose, in essence, to remove the evidence of our unhealthy eating habits, one blogger pointed the blame at Michelle Obama and Jennifer Aniston who have very toned upper arms.  Apparently, the thinking goes that the women who set fashion trends cause those who don't have the bodies to pull off a particular look to go have themselves sculpted by a surgeon's knife to fit the look.  As an older male I am perhaps dull on this point, but I don't get it.  It leaves me a lot of questions which I'll just list below.  If anyone wants to pose answers or comments feel free to use the comment button... even more fun, spread the questions to your Facebook and see what your larger circle of friends think about it all.


  • Who is harder on your appearance -- you, your spouse/partner, your children, same gender friends, opposite gender friends, the masses you might see in public?
  • Just how strongly is your appearance tied to your self-esteem?
  • How strongly does your gender weigh in on how you look?  Do you use makeup, cosmetic surgery, exercise to make yourself look better for their sake or your own?
  • Why use artificial and even synthetic "fixes" (e.g. makeup, surgerical implants) when diet, exercise and supplements could work?
  • If God made you in God's own sacred image, does it bother you that you can't just be what God made you without ratcheting up the look for the social benefit of not being harassed about your appearance?
  • Do you feel harassed or bullied because of your physical imperfections?




(1) Medscape Medical News, "Reach of Upper Arm Lifts Growing Among US Women" April 30, 2013, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/803397

(2)  American Society of Plastic Surgeons, "2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report", http://www.plasticsurgery.org/news-and-resources/2012-plastic-surgery-statistics.html