Who Do You Think You Are?

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Image via Flickr by Alexander Day

 

Here’s a question: Are you what you think you are? An Old Testament proverb declares, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” I expect that applies to us ladies as well. How about this one: are we really what we eat? The correct answer is in the affirmative, it is impossible to be otherwise.

A startling figure was reported in The Guardian, in that, “About 85% of Americans do not consume the US Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily intakes of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development.” This is a 2015 metric, though I don’t see the state of affairs has changed much, from my own research. For example, french fries remain the number one vegetable consumed by Americans, some 28 pounds per person annually. And let’s just gloss over the approximate 180 pounds of sugar…for now.

The Guardian article recognizes that “hidden hunger” (micronutrient deficiency) wreaks havoc on our systems because we do not appear hungry, we appear filled out or even pudgy. If we don’t look emaciated and weak, it follows that we don’t necessarily move toward dietary changes. But the fact remains that body mass is clearly not synonymous with nutrient density. It’s one thing to consider our own body, quite another to feel the weight of responsibility for what we teach our children to consume on a daily basis. As a mother, this is an ever burning question for me. Am I giving my children the best building blocks that I can, or am I placating their demands for something of far less quality, content to set them up for a lifetime of disease?

Long-term illnesses and chronic discomfort have compounding effects, if we don’t clear things up quickly. In my own practice, I look at daily dietary intake, as this will give me a great idea as to what may be being set up in the body. Garbage in eventually equals garbage out. Sometimes, the real problem is that the garbage actually doesn’t come out; it remains lodged in the G.I. tract or in organs and fatty deposits. Over time, this equates to an ever-thickening toxic soup under our skin, clogging our veins, crossing the barrier and poisoning our brains. Little wonder that we’ve lost our get-up-and-go, or that our children are dulled vessels of apathy.

Nutrition, nutrient density, nutrient-rich foods…not the sexiest of conversation starters. But converse about such things we must, if we would live and live well. In her 2009 article, “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride observes that so-called mental disorders in children are very frequently the symptoms of unrecognized physical illnesses. She writes that, in addition to suffering from environmental contaminants, children also “cannot digest and absorb their food properly and have severe nutritional deficiencies. As a result they are unable to learn, unable to function in society, to play sports, to make friends, to fit in.” The good doctor underscores my earlier point, that it is impossible to reflect anything other than what we consistently feed ourselves. And let’s remember, that aforementioned government recommendation is widely considered to be the barest minimum for survival.

So the final questions for the moment are: Are we thriving, or are we barely surviving? And are we clipping our children’s wings at the same time?

Who Do You Think You Are?

Diabolical Diabetes

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Image via Flickr, by Paulo Etxeberria

 

The dreaded “D-words”: devils, demons, diseases, diabetes. I can’t speak for everyone’s spiritual condition…but I can nearly guarantee that, if you’re reading this, you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or know someone personally who is. That’s how close this particular disease is to us, one degree of separation, and small wonder. Though it seems an acceptable evil nowadays, like dental caries and tonsillectomies, diabetes is the stairwell to a dungeon of miseries. Amputation, blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and nerve damage can all be awful expressions of advanced biological systems failure, preceded by constant blood sugar imbalance and rampant insulin overproduction. The sad part is that the suffering is unnecessary. Imbalances can be balanced, overproduction can scaled back. Life can be good again.

Rooted in Wheat and Sugar

According to chiropractor Bruce West, diabetes is rooted in the increased consumption of refined wheat products, paired with the sedentary lifestyle of the western world. In his book, The 45 Day Health Turnaround, Dr. West states, “This disease is caused by eating processed foods loaded with wheat, sugar, and corn syrup, all the while staying on the couch and avoiding exercise.” If that’s you, this may be your wake-up call.

What’s the quick fix? Get more exercise; oh, and remove wheat and sugar from your diet. Easier said than done, I know; the typical English-speaker swallows roughly 125 pounds of sugar every year. And we’re not referring to heavy whole-meal or sprouted grain breads made (usually) at home, many without yeast, as these do retain nutritional value. Rather, let’s identify the troublemaker as the light-as-a-cloud, refined-then-refortified, loaves and pastries of simple carbohydrates that stock the public pantries. If you are in your best health and fitness ever, an empty carb treat once in a while has no immediate peril. The pre-diabetic, however, is already on the precipice of disaster. Less wheat products, less sugar, more physical activity, these are the new rules.

Those three new rules threaten to put the kibosh on “enjoying life” for half my readers, I suppose. Unless, of course, you’re desperate for pain-free longevity. Some of you dear readers have already recognized something is way out of balance; there’s a huge difference in how “old” you feel today, in surprising contrast to how “alive” you remember yourself being, maybe only a few short years ago. If you’re not yet convinced wheat flour + sugar = disease, try removing only these two items from your diet. You may find this alone to be near impossible, as sugar shows up everywhere in processed foods. If you can stick to the wheat / sugar fast for two weeks, take note of how you feel. Is your energy longer-lasting? Is mental clarity sharper? Keep on this fast for as long as you can. You may want to get your blood sugar levels tested as you go, for a more analytical metric. Dr. West goes on to say, “without exercise and the elimination of, or dramatic reduction in, wheat intake, you simply will never overcome diabetes. And conversely, with these two factors and the right supplements, you can be drug-free within 90 days.” That’s quite a prognosis, flying in the face of the conventional prescription meds model. But what have you got to lose? What could you regain?

Daily exercise seems to be an insurmountable hurdle for some. For me, I don’t mind it; but my husband, for example, only gets excited about physical activity if it involves a game or socializing. Find your inspiration. Promising to hit the gym in the morning, then waking up and not going breeds guilt. Guilt is not conducive to improving health. If you cannot muster the energy to crawl toward your goal, at least fall in the general direction; 20 minutes of Wii Fit is not too meager a beginning, if that’s all a body can take. You inhabit an amazing vessel, in that it will not develop until you make impossible demands of it. Consider the immobility that is overcome within the first year of life, when a newborn goes from struggling to hold its head up, to standing triumphantly, their relatively huge body balanced atop cute little feet and toes. That first year of development is an expression of unfettered faith in action. Over the course of a lifetime, that faith is hammered, attacked, and otherwise eroded, by means equally spiritual and physical. The infant who observed people walking upright, having no reason to believe he or she was ineligible for such a feat, has become so invaded by defeatist programming that the adult limits itself. No external forces need be imposed any more; the adult no longer believes in an ability which the infant never questioned. The joy of living, jumping, and running, has been usurped by the comfort of sitting, watching, bingeing.

The problem for the diabetic is a transparent one. The body is not managing insulin production well. The human body was designed to heal itself. Most of us were not born with critical deficiencies, weren’t brought into the world needing assembly and batteries. The healthy child of a healthy mother arrives a specimen of glowing health. And with good feeding and care, this little person should be able to go on for decades, requiring minimal maintenance. But what we see in this country, among our own people, is not good feeding and care. We see an accepted ethos of medicating and chemical micromanagement. Prescription medications are inherently deceptive, and should be approached with caution. There may yet be a need for antibiotics, for example; a few I know who survived this winter’s flu onslaught believe their lives were saved by them. Fair enough, but we cannot survive in an anti-biotic state forever. The prescription fallacy plays out when we think a problem is resolved because the symptom’s discomfort is alleviated. In reality, if we maintain the same poor diet and lifestyle choices, the ailments persist. More accurately, they are quietly worsening. The next wake-up alarm could be louder, with no snooze button.

The Need for Change

The statisticians suggest that more than 30 percent of Americans are trending toward obesity. Many overweight diabetics and pre-diabetics are given misleading information as regards weight loss. Whether they are advised by medical professionals, or they come to their own conclusions, losing weight is often seen as the priority first step toward healing. But this is not necessarily so. Granted, maintaining a healthy body to mass ratio is a good thing; but weight gain may be as much a symptom of chemical or hormone imbalances as it is it’s own problem. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., in his book, “Eat for Health”, observes that excellent nutritional intake has “profound effects on improving pancreatic function and lowering insulin resistance over and above what could be accomplished with weight loss alone.” Dr. Fuhrman advocates a high-nutrient diet which, in my experience, very few people are willing to follow. This has as much to do with belief as it does effort and willpower. If you are a believer, then you’re already aware of the never-ending quest for a greener-green, a more “organic” whole food. All this adds up to time and money, and even the crunchiest of us are susceptible to taking short cuts for expediency.

As long as people generally believe they’re doing okay, no crippling aches or pains, people don’t change. We see it in nations as well as in the individual. All too frequently, the desperation level must become hellish before we are motivated to repent. Nowhere is this as obvious as in how we satisfy our appetites. It becomes an issue of philosophy, perhaps of morality. Before naysayers poo-poo such notions, spend a few years watching a loved one knowingly and willfully destroy his or her health right in front of you, not caring enough to make the effort. No matter the validity of their reasoning, you’ll find your morality, and your exasperation threshold.

Nutrient-rich eating is the ideal, without question; in fact, it is how our ancestors survived and thrived since the Flood. Unless we grow our own veggies from heirloom seeds, we take your chances at the grocery store and growers markets. Purists resolve to be on a first-name-basis with their growers. It’s people who do the planting, after all; people feed other people.

Finding What Works

What if “the best” produce is 30 miles from home, or more, and you work in the opposite direction anyway? And what if you’re already maxing out your window well with potted herbs and peppers? Vitamin and mineral supplements were created for such reasons. Most Americans are barely getting the minimum recommended daily allowance of the essentials; going for optimum health requires intention and focus. If fresh, raw, whole foods are the vehicle to longevity, nutritional supplementation can be seen as the insurance. But again, you’re looking for high quality plant-based natural products to put into your body, to serve your essential functions, which requires more diligence on your part. The old question arises again: isn’t life worth living? Aren’t you worth thriving, not merely existing?

Balancing our internal systems through proper diet, exercising our muscles, lungs, and brain — these are the simple keys to happy longevity. This is the straight and narrow path to health, physical, emotional, and mental. Deviation from this protocol, neglecting the fundamentals — these are the slippery slopes into the abyss of discomforts, diseases, and miseries. Some of us who leave “the path” in our youth, with cavalier disdain for self-discipline, return to the high road later in life, licking our wounds. Some never make it back to optimal health at all, struggling for decades under the likes of those above-mentioned horrors. A few leave us altogether; their stories and wisdom remain unknown to us.

We gain much by being vigilant over our wellness, and we have much to offer to those around us as we do. If you know you’re sliding down the slope, you can dig your heels in right now, with the determination to arrest your own disability and destruction before it’s too late. The good news is that, while there is yet breath in our lungs, it is not too late to make changes. Small improvements add up to the renovation of a life. Today’s the day.

Diabolical Diabetes

Glandular Landscape

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Proper nourishment and gut health, you won’t get away from it. You can’t, we are what we eat; we sow and we reap. No man has ever sown alfalfa and reaped walnuts. Universal laws are exactly that, laws. We do not break them, we break ourselves by neglecting their soundness.

There is a common (but not commonly known) deficiency among Americans, and that is with regard to our levels of iodine. Iodine is a trace chemical element, essential for living organisms, and has been known to be a component of balanced human health and biological integrity since the early 1800s. It is most commonly found, as food, in kelp and seaweed, also fish and shellfish. If farms have iodine-rich soils, farmers feed their stock iodine-rich feed, then it may also be found in eggs and dairy products, and in varying levels in crops.

Iodine for Life

Iodine deficiency nowadays seems to be the quiet troublemaker, but let us connect it to the associated system failures: reproductive fertility, childhood brain development, proper metabolic regulation, and healthy immuno-responsiveness are all highly dependent upon proper levels of iodine in the body. This is why iodine is considered essential. We can know that the iodine-thyroid connection has been well-established, going at least back to 1820. Why, then, would such a deficiency be allowed to drift to the periphery of our health-mindedness? Probably because of the salt.

The iodization of salt became a popular solution to low iodine levels showing in land-locked communities, where soils were not strong in iodine content. In the early 1900s, American and Swiss trials of iodized salt delivery to such deprived communities proved successful in reversing the endemic goiter present in unacceptable numbers of community members. Once established as a viable supply of iodine to the people, this fortified salt was rolled out to become generally available in grocery stores across the land. So why is hypothyroidism still an issue?

Hypothyroid Connection

Hypothyroidism is defined as deficient activity of the thyroid gland, namely hormone production, resulting in the most severe tell-tale symptoms of goiter, myxedema, and cretinism. More common early-stage symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, despondency, depression, weight gain, and alopecia. The condition has its first recorded cases at the very beginning of the 1900s, by some reports; the likes of goiter and cretinism have been known since ancient times, as have treatments involving algae and ocean sponges. But we find a surprising number of people diagnosed with hypothyroidism still, even in the 21st century, even in America.

Many natural-health practitioners report staggering findings per human iodine levels. David Brownstein M.D., a Michigan-based board-certified family doctor known for his holistic approach and expert iodine research, has reported that greater than 90 percent of his patients are found to be iodine-deficient. This in the age of information. And, whereas prescription medicines are promoted to manage symptoms, far too many people fall victim to persistent ignorance of the iodine facts and, therefore, neglect to affect positive change at the root of their diseases. Another thing you can’t get away from: root causes must be addressed.

Essential Attention

Anyone can have a deficiency that negatively affects the thyroid, hypothyroidism isn’t the only distortion on the glandular horizon. But, as this is a post and not a textbook chapter, and because hypothyroidism has been a recurring talking point within my spheres of late, I thought it worthwhile to zero in on this one. The takeaway here is simple enough: check your iodine levels. This can be done at home through an absorption test, or get a more accurate reading through a natural health specialist or family doctor.

The National Institutes for Health website has a chart showing sufficient, if not optimal, recommended daily amounts (RDA) of iodine intake, respective of different stages of life. The chart values are generally considered to be enough to prevent goiter, but not much more. The entire human body needs iodine, not just the thyroid; one notable benefit being that the trace element actually encourages cancer cells to kill themselves…if there’s enough iodine present when called upon.

If you think (or know) you’re not getting enough iodine on a regular basis, about 700 micrograms for the average adult, then a high quality natural supplement may be an excellent step forward. This is something I can help with, so message me.

Until next time, good health to you!

Glandular Landscape

Preventative Ounces Add Up!

Not so long ago, President Trump declared that prescription opioids should be considered a public health emergency, partly due to the disturbing trend in overdosing fatalities. The New York Times recently ran an article pointing out that more people in America are on antidepressants than anywhere else in the world, and that their effectiveness has been shown to be overstated because of data manipulation.

Put these two noteworthy items together and you paint a decidedly dystopian vision of the future, of a very close-to-home and personal nature. So why not focus on building a strong foundation today, while it’s sunny, rather than shelling out for triage and recovery when your health hits the fan?

Old News is Good News

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You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. If you’re going for longevity, and you’d like to preserve your autonomy, be vigilant as regards diet and exercise. We were not designed to be sedentary for most of our waking hours, nor to internally process the glut of processed “food” items that pack our grocery markets. God is forgiving, and forgiveness is built into our very bodies. Nevertheless, there is only so much we can accumulate before our biological systems start to fail, expensively and uncomfortably.

We eat very well in this country. Yet, Americans are widely considered to be the biggest eaters on the planet, double entendre intended. It may be understood in this, that the human body looks for nutrients during a feeding session. If the nutrients are hard to come by, as in many of our grocery items, the internal signal to stop eating is delayed until sufficient nourishing is accomplished. For more on this concept, read Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, M.D..

It’s no wonder, then, that people can get so large. The delivery agent, namely low-nutrient edibles (I have a hard time calling it “food”), gets stored for later processing because we keep shoveling it in faster than we can cycle it through and out. The delivered nutrition may or may not be bio-available anyway, depending on how heavily-coated our intestines are, from years of junk food build-up. You’re beginning to see the compounding of the problem, surely.

Highly Motivated to Change

Taking preventative measures now will increase your chances of having to focus primarily on maintenance down the road. As has oft been observed, we do not pay the price for good health, rather, we reap the benefits. But here’s where the real snag shows up. People tend to pay for what they desire, instead of what they require. This is generally true, until some motivational event stimulates repentance. Think heart attack, gall stones, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, eczema, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etcetera. You experience any of this type of discomfort and you’ll be inspired to make a change, no doubt. And you’ll pay heavily for it.

So, what’s to be done? Thankfully, there are very simple things which everyone can do, but it’s not always easy. It is no fun giving up that personal pint of gelato, or both sleeves of double chocolate chip cookies with pecans, or that secret family sized bag of sour cream and onion potato chips. You’ve earned them, right? They’re yours. You deserve them. And, sure as shivers, we shall reap what we sow. It can be no other way, so we must wake up and wise up.

Making It Happen

The easiest thing to be done right off the bat, for most people, is to get up and take a walk in the fresh air. Physical activity has been shown to improve oxygenation to the blood, important for disease resistance; it has also been shown to stimulate the body to release hormones required for clear thinking, mood improvement and creativity.

For anyone who feels they’re in a downward cycle of poor eating habits, adding one fresh raw fruit or vegetable daily can help you regain willpower and make better choices within the first week. If you’re really stuck, meaning the thought of a fresh apple makes your stomach turn, then high quality all natural vitamin supplements could be the thing to get started on. Good supplements can have a huge impact simply by supplying the body with much needed and long overdue nutrients. This will cost a bit more than bags of citrus or a few pounds of carrots. But we must ask ourselves, how much is life worth living? Would we rather pay dues now, or penalties later?

Preventative Ounces Add Up!