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Acid / Alkaline

One of the most important tenets of holistic/alternative health is eating a healthy nutritious diet. The devil in the details is primarily regarding what makes a food group fall into this category, as well as how much of that food to eat. The concept of acid and alkaline is starting to crop up in my research more frequently, and includes studies and experience from medical doctors as well as alternative practitioners.

A good introductory article explaining this concept can be found HERE . Be sure to read down at the bottom about his rebuttal of a “Quackbusters” article, which helps make the concept even more understandable.

One of the most intriguing research articles I’ve come across is about cellular pH. You can read about this  HERE .

And wouldn’t you know, I can’t seem to find my reference for the third piece of recent findings…sigh; however, what this entailed is a study that shows how lack of stomach acid, or stomach acid that is too high in pH, can lead to an overall acidic environment in the body. In other words, as we age, our stomach acid can weaken, and what we mistakenly think is some kind of over-acidity is actually an under-active acidity that fails to fully digest protein, which leads to all kinds of problems as the not-broken-down-enough food heads south.

If you have trouble digesting protein (and sometimes fat), which is often a feeling of over-fullness in the stomach (sometimes accompanied by moderate pain, but really doesn’t feel like reflux) after a high protein meal, try a Betaine HCl-Pepsin supplement whenever you eat protein, especially meat or fish. After 27 years of being a vegetarian when I began eating meat I couldn’t digest it. A protease and lipase (protein and fat) enzyme helped, but it wasn’t until I added Pure Encapsulation’s Betaine HCl-Pepsin (made from beets, not synthetic, and no fillers) that I could finally eat cooked protein. This supplement also helps one utilize/absorb calcium, B12 and iron. Call Cathy toll-free @ 877-286-2970 for more info on ordering.

Lastly, in my research I have found that many alternative practitioners/sites go by the “ash” method of determining acid and alkaline values (including the article first cited); however, many of the holistic medical doctors are using the newer “PRAL” values. Yes, it can be confusing. Go  HERE  for an excellent quick explanation of the difference between the two, with lots of good links to better lists of how foods are either acid-forming or alkaline-forming in the body as we digest that food.

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Recent Research On Diabetes

I have gone through my database on diabetes, and have come up with some interesting new research.

The first article looks at the failure of pharmaceuticals, and the intriguing possibility of a short-term “fast” to “recalibrate” one’s system. Plus good caveats on who might benefit from this approach. Read about it HERE .

This short article looks at the connection between food allergies and diabetes.

And here is an article on recent research on green tea and cocoa to help control the effects of high blood sugar on longevity.

Next week we’ll look at acid/alkaline balance in the diet and body.

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If You Use Nutritional Supplements: Please Read!

The FDA is working towards further regulation of the US nutritional supplement industry in such a way that could easily make supplements both harder to purchase and more expensive. Please check out the following articles for more detailed info and action steps. Thank you!

Alliance For Health article here which talks about how the FDA is emulating Europe’s strategy of making herbs and supplements difficult to purchase and why, as well as 2 earlier articles which are linked, giving the political details (this all came down just before the 4th of July holiday).

An opinion piece by a respected health educator here which goes into the bigger picture and lots of detail. Both articles contain action steps that I recommend you take (and pass the word along) if you wish to continue purchasing and using nutritional supplements. We stopped the FDA in 1994 when they wanted to make nutritional supplements equal to drugs. Time for us to stop them once again as they try to limit out health freedom.

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Some Interesting Tidbits That Hit My Radar

For the next few posts I’ll be talking about heavy metals: why we need to pay attention to them; how to detox from them; and strategies for keeping healthy in an increasingly toxic world. Until then, here are a few interesting articles that caught my attention this week:

Sleep is increasingly becoming a precious “commodity” in our lives….check out this article on sleep deprivation for some excellent reasons why it’s now time to put a good night’s sleep at the top of our “to do” list.

A client recently shared with me that her blood test showed that she was anemic. If you are having issues with iron absorption, here is a good article on anemia.  What the article does not say, however, is that iron from meat is sometimes more easily absorbed than iron from vegetarian and supplement sources. Some experimentation may be necessary before this condition is stabilized.

For those of us who are still eating dairy products, here is an article that will hopefully nudge you into the “organic only” column. The contamination of milk  is especially important to consider if you have children who are drinking milk as part of their diet.

Are you beginning to forget as you age? Here is a new study about Acetyl-L-Carnitine and how it helps stabilize brain structure and memory.

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“Oximation:” a new concept that helps explain chronic disease

This blog is a synopsis (with some editorializing added) of Roby Mitchell, MD’s article “Hypothyroidism, Candida & “Oximation:” Toward a New Model of Chronic Disease” from the Winter 2008 issue of Holistic Primary Care. I found it fascinating, especially the artful way of combining disparate pieces of info into a holistic picture. As we age, we often see a variety of doctors/health care practitioners, have a variety of “diseases”, complaints, problems….what if they were all connected?

Inflammation is a common denominator of many degenerative and auto-immune diseases (partial list: diabetes, most cancers, hypertension, irritable bowel, allergies, eczema, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis…even obesity and autism). There is an apparent confluence of  chronic Candida/yeast overgrowth, hypothyroidism, and metabolic dysregulation creating various inflammation-related problems that many of us deal with, either in a low-level form or as a major impingement on our enjoyment of life.

There is cause to believe that microbial pathogens drive chronic inflammatory diseases…and our laser beam focus on bacteria and viruses has blinded us to the possibility of fungal overgrowth in our system (and all the antibiotics that are prescribed usually result in fungal overgrowth as they kill the “good” bacteria along with the “bad”).

The most powerful disease intervention at our disposal is our diet (and I would add herbs, as they can be both food and medicine). Regardless of the inflammatory disease state, there is almost always a positive impact when cow’s milk (especially pasteurized agribusiness dairy), red meat (especially corn-fed feedlot cows), grains (especially wheat, and other gluten-types, and even more so in bread), and sugar are reduced/eliminated. When this is combined with increasing intake of colorful vegetables, beans, and fruits, which just happen to be loaded with phytochemicals that are anti-fungal, well you can see where this is headed: starve the fungus and you reduce inflammation, and all sorts of problems can get better.

The connection between oxidation and degenerative disease goes back to the 1950’s when oxidative cell damage was observed after exposure to free radicals. A researcher named Denham Harman proposed that aging was due to an accumulation of these oxidative “hits.” Later research in immunology has shown that immune cells produce free radicals that attack and kill microbes, as well as create some collateral damage to healthy cells.

Oximation is Michell’s combination of the words oxidation and inflammation. His theory suggests that loss of cellular integrity (at 4 key sites: cell membranes, cell DNA, mitochondrial membranes and mitochondrial DNA) is the genesis of disease. As thyroid and other hormone levels decrease with age, local areas of hypoxia begin to form, which then invite fungal overgrowth. Eating a lot of carbs (which can become excess glucose in the body) feed the fungus. ENT specialists at the Mayo clinic found that in 96% of the cases of sinusitis, the baseline infection was fungal, not bacterial.

 Focusing on our internal environment rather than any specific disease may be helpful. Hydrochloric acid (which often decreases with age), garlic, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, resveratrol, Echinacea, olive leaf, oregano and other spices, and probiotics: all these are anti-fungal, and add other important nutrients to the diet. So eat your colors (and that goes for beans, too); try the pseudo-grains: quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth; and consider eating yams, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and plantains as bread substitutes.

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Rethinking Cholesterol

I was at my Internist’s office yesterday discussing my shingles improvement, when he asked about my getting blood work–specifically a cholesterol test as mine was from years ago.  My answer was: the research I’ve done seems to support the fact that the numbers are not nearly so important as whether or not our cholesterol is oxidized, and if it is nice and plump or really small particles. He looked at me a moment and replied: we (the practice he is part of) discussed this very situation last year. Evidently there isn’t (yet) a decent blood test for that purpose. Can you imagine my shock at being heard with an alternative view…that maybe is not really so out in left field after all….we only have drugs when there is a test to prove we need that drug.

This does not mean that cholesterol is unimportant. Too much or too little (yes, you can actually have too little! Hormones and your nervous system and all cells need cholesterol) can certainly negatively affect our health. So here a few of the basics:

Solution #1 – Stop Forcing Your Liver to Manufacture Excessive LDL cholesterol     This is basically a 2 part process: first, remove the junk food from your diet (sugar, fried fats, fast food, ingredients you can’t pronounce), and secondly (and this one is the kicker) don’t overeat good food either.

Solution #2 – Decongest Your Stagnant/Fatty Liver     This step is about losing weight around our middle, eating more fiber, and de-gunking our liver (ooh, back to the detox section).

Solution #3 – Stabilize Cell Membranes, Reduce Inflammation      Here we are asking ourselves to do some serious stress management, eat more fresh food (especially leafy greens and berries), and look at how we can bring balance into our lives so that our over-all inflammatory markers stay down. All these steps, by the way, are from an article I will highlight at the end of this post. This article goes into greater detail about:  explaining cholesterol and how it works in our body and what strategies and supplements to use to assist us in following these steps.

Solution #4 – Restore Cellular Oxygen Utilization, Fix Thyroid Problems      We gotta keep moving! Exercise is not just about going to the gym…our ancesters didn’t have gyms. We worked. We walked and lifted, and moved around A LOT. Recently I read that for those of us who are sedentary (at that computer all day) were much more likely to have heart attacks because we weren’t moving around enough.

Solution #5 – Reduce Your Toxic Burden, Especially from Your Own Digestive Tract     We’re back to more detox, as well as adding plenty of probiotics to our diet. This can include yogurt and supplements, but also fermented foods like (unheated) sauerkraut and kim chi.

Piqued your interest? Want to get off statins? Want to address/ balance your cholesterol numbers? You can click  HERE to read the entire article. Any one who, after reading this article, would like to order any of the supplements mentioned, call me toll-free @ 877-286-2970, and we can talk about excellent quality at excellent prices.

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Statins

Statin drugs, when taken after a first heart attack to prevent a second heart attack, have shown to be useful (if you wish to take a pharmaceutical drug in the first place). However, statin drugs, when taken to prevent a first heart attack, have come under increasing scrutiny, and basically the studies do not support its use for prevention  of a first heart attack. You can read a very good synopsis of the studies and data supporting this  HERE

And then there are the significant side effects: the GreenMedInfo folks have kindly collated a truly horrifying compendium of what can go wrong if “susceptible’ individuals use statins. For a detailed list (with references) visit this page before you use or continue using statin drugs. Oh, and what constitutes “susceptible”, you might ask? When you experience the side (meaning unwanted) effect, then you are “susceptible” to that (unwanted and usually negative)  effect.

If you are taking statin drugs, and wish to continue, then please take at least 50 mg of Co Q10, as statins severely deplete this nutrient…. which coincidentally helps our hearts….Also, the GreenMedInfo folks have compiled some interesting info on a natural alternative/Red Yeast Rice to statin therapy. You can read about it here.

Next week we’ll take a look at the daunting issue of cholesterol…which may be as much a friend as a foe.

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Radiation: a special info alert

Please check HERE for an excellent article (very specific info on iodine and anti-oxidant supplements) on how you can help protect yourself from radiation’s effects on our bodies. This is not just about the awful disaster in Japan.  We modern folks are using radiation technology increasingly to detect tumors, etc. Many people are over-radiated in the name of health. 

 Herbs that assist with dealing with ionizing radiation include Burdock root,  Dandelion root, American Ginseng root, and Milk Thistle seed.  Foods that are particularly helpful include all berries, especially blueberries and strawberries.

May all sentient beings be peaceful, happy, and healthy.

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Some Thoughts About Fasting

As the calendar moves towards Spring equinox, and at least some of us are experiencing harbingers of spring (bluebirds and daffodils perhaps) one starts seeing articles appear about fasting, a traditional (as well as a favorite of many alternative health care practitioners) way of acknowledging and aiding (for health purposes) the transition from winter diet to spring diet.

Many of us gain weight over the winter as we eat more calories (often in the form of fat) to keep warm, and don’t / aren’t able to exercise as easily.  Because of all the holidays, we often have eaten more sugar than usual or is wise. With the stress of winter storms we might not always have been able to prepare well-balanced meals, gotten to the store in time, and therefore we ate more fast food.

A common response to the sluggish feeling arising from this situation is “I gotta make a change.” Great.  However, plunging into a major fast can be daunting, even if you find a good one (which means under the auspices of a reputable health care provider, and often in a group, because real fasting is difficult and can precipitate uncomfortable detoxification).

Here are my suggestions, based upon years of experience (and yes, I have done some major fasts and cleanses, and experienced some nasty effects, mostly because I was headstrong and ignorant and much younger).

First: what is your goal? Is this a major revamp of your entire diet, or just a tune-up? Either way, you can make this really simple for yourself by trying my common-sense fast: eat only real food. And let me spell that out: whole grains (rice, millet, corn, etc. ), “pseudo-grains” (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth), nuts and seeds, free-range humanely raised meats, raw milk cheese,  fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and other pulses (if soy, eat only miso and tempeh),  fish (especially herring, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon), healthy fats  (extra virgin cold pressed olive and coconut oils, and ghee, which is a clarified butter and great to cook with) and tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams).

Second: fast from fast foods. If it is in a box, can, bottle or fried, it is processed. You are going to be the “processor”. You may stir-fry, make soups, eat raw salads, ferment, steam, bake your own bread. Play with marinades. Find your grandmother’s recipe for chicken soup. But only use real food that is recognizable as food, with no unpronounceable chemicals and NO SUGAR.  Try this traditional way of eating for at least two weeks (more if you are feeling bold).

Third: 80% compliance is fabulous. You do not need to be perfect. It is usually self-defeating and no fun. Do your best, eat with gratitude, and enjoy. Chew well, try a digestive enzyme. Drink enough good water. Move your body. Get enough sleep. Am I sounding like your (grand) mom? “Old wives’ tales” are usually based upon deep truth. Eating is a communal act, even if only you are at the table. Invite all the beings who helped put that food on your plate, and you will not be alone.

Last but not least: try fasting from TV, from TV News, from your cell-phone, from email, from being available to anyone anytime. Try just one day a week away from this merry-go-round we moderns call our lives. See what arises.

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Six excellent sites for cutting edge alternative health info

The Internet is an incredible place for information…and as most of us have realized, not all info found here  is accurate, factual, useful, understandable, or relevent. Many of the  most popular health info sites on the Web are dominated by Big Pharma, the AMA, The Gates Foundation, and others allied to the current “sick-care” industry mis-named health care. 

Since the mid-70’s, when I helped start a rural natural food buying club in southwestern Virginia, I have been studying many aspects of alternative health and lifestyles. The truth that consistently arises is:  prevention is less time-consuming and less expensive than treatment. And way easier said than done!  Also, many strategies for becoming and staying healthy have been marginalized, vilified, or ignored in the mainstream press. This is not to say that the alternative movement is perfect! We have our fair share of  folks whose reach exceeds their grasp.

So here are six helpful sites I use, and my opinion (and me just say up front that it is an opnion, not absolute truth, whatever that might be) about each one. Notice that one is well served by an open mind and a sense of humor concerning  the diversity of those who self-define as being “alternative.”  AlterNet is a great source for news; their health info is both semi-main stream and many shades of alternative.  Often excellent investigative reporting is presented about related health subjects (like food and water) to give one the “back story” or help explain why what is, is.  For a good recent example click  here to read about whistleblowers and food safety.  Also at AlterNet (this was a good day for big picture info) is a story about our food growing system (the political aspect of farming). To read about it, click   here.

Prevention may be key, but most of us are already dealing with “issues.” This next site addresses both. The GreenMed Info newsletter is always thought-provoking, and iconoclastic, as well as one of the most densely researched on the web. Click  here  for the issue on wheat, which will open a veritable Pandora’s box.  GreenMed Info hosts the largest study-based, peer-reviewed alternative health data base on the internet, and it is free.  With over 10,000 useful entries, this database has already helped a client of mine find the best supplement to take for his situation (and it is helping).

The Organic Consumer Association puts out a newsletter called Organic Bytes. This issue focuses on GMO, and what you can do to participate in campaigns to confront, halt, label, and educate. In case you are wondering what genetically modified food could have to do with health….well, check out this site, or the next two for way more info than you really want, but do need.

The next 2 sites are the most well-known, have the most advertising, and reflect the values of their authors.  Both of these men do their homework,  say what their opinion is up front, and cite their research. I may still quibble a bit here and there (both are prone to hyperbole), and you can find out a tremendous amount of info on a very wide range of health issues including healthy food (from the vegetarian and vegan point of view as well as the organic and free-range meat eaters), exercise protocols, supplements, herbs and healthy sleeping habits, as well as the more controversial and political issues like  GMO, vaccines, pesticides, cell phone radiation problems, etc.

For an excellent article on  Lyme disease check  here from Health Ranger Rick’s  naturalnews.com. For a comprehensive look at drinking water check  here  from Dr (MD) Mercola’s  mercola.com.

Last but not least is Byron J. Richard’s Wellness Resources. He always seems to come up with fascinating research (that he quotes and sites) often from mainstream sources. Click here for how the bacteria in our guts affects our brains.  He also has a full range of info on his site. Like the other 2 men above, he is trying to sell you supplements.

OK, now for my 2 second infomercial!  I have a supplement buying club that has a few openings. At some point later in blogdom I’ll elaborate. However, if you have read this far, take supplements, and would like a free 15 minute consult, call me toll-free @ 877-286-2970,