Blog#93 A Thankful Attitude Can Help Make the Holidays Happy

                   Blog#93:  A Thankful Attitude Can Reduce Holiday Stress

 There are many reasons why people feel stressed during the winter holidays.  Busy schedules, tight budgets, tense personal relations, food overload, and traveling or receiving guests are just some of the issues.  However, the end of year holidays can give us inspiration and support inner calm and happiness even in the face of challenging situations. 

 Let’s start with All Hallows Eve, All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead and similar holidays. From October 31st to November 2nd, people of diverse countries, religions and cultures renew their connection to deceased family and friends with special foods, decorations, costumes, altars, and other celebrations and rituals.  The living receive guidance from the dead and show appreciation and respect for friends and relatives who have crossed over.  The living celebrate the lives of the deceased and also give thanks for their own ongoing lives.  Death is not seen as a tragic ending or loss, but rather as transition, transformation and continuance for which to be thankful. 

 Following this holiday, Thanksgiving helps remind us how essential the earth, plants, animals, and other people are for our survival.  Thanksgiving Day and similar holidays are celebrated on varying dates and places throughout the world, including the U.S., Canada, some Caribbean islands, Liberia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan.  A common theme is giving thanks for the harvest that will sustain celebrants for another year. Thanksgiving dinners often provide massive quantities of food.  Centuries ago, there was likely a good reason for these large meals.  Then, food often was scarce and people could not be sure how much nourishment they would be able to obtain between autumn harvest and the following spring, when the earth once again became prolific.  Eating big meals in autumn, when food was available, helped people put on a little extra fat, which the body could burn off in the dead of winter. 

 Finally, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Kwanza, New Years, and similar holidays all share a similar theme – celebrating the returning of light after maximum darkness. Whether we thank Christ, the savior for bringing us peace and salvation (Christmas), whether we regard with wonder the Sun God gradually returning more light to the world as we start moving toward spring (Winter Solstice), whether we commemorate the miracle of the Festival of Lights, when one cup of oil kept a poor woman’s candles burning for eight days (Chanukah), the themes of enlightenment, blessing and miracles are present.  And the New Year – celebrating the birth of another life cycle, and Kwanzaa – commemorating survival of African culture and traditions throughout the world both embrace survival and rebirth.  

 Looking at things from the perspectives of treasuring friends and family, living and deceased, thanking the earth for daily survival, and celebrating the return of light into our days, and mercy, grace and peace into our lives, we could conclude that we have much to be thankful for, and that we can do much to make the holidays happy.  A thankful attitude can help reduce physical and emotional stress and help increase the joy in each day.

 This blog’s offer:  please accept my best wishes for happiness, prosperity and health for the coming yearly cycle. 

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Blog 92 Care-givers and Burnout

Blog #92 Burn-out and How to Avoid It

Recently, I have noticed that many of my patients suffer from exhaustion due to taking care of ailing or dying relative and friends.  Sometimes, these care-takers perceive that they have little or no time to care for themselves during these stressful months or years, and end up experiencing such physical and emotional pain and exhaustion that they have difficulty resuming their normal lives.

It is so important to care for yourself, even during the stressful and demanding times that you function as a care-taker.  Making sure that you eat nutritious food is essential, as is staying sufficiently hydrated.  Some people forget to eat or drink for many hours or even for a day or more.  And though occasionally, fasting is beneficial for health, it is advisable to fast during times when you can rest more than usual and when you are not under significant stress.  Recently, one person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and caring for a close relative with severe dementia sent her blood sugar spiraling out of control because she was only eating one handful of potato chips a day.  She was unable to sleep and was having headaches, abdominal pain, constipation and almost constant leg cramps.  Fortunately, she was drinking plenty of water.  When she broke her fast sensibly, by first eating a salad and later on, half of a sandwich, her blood sugar returned into a safe range, her sleep returned to normal, the leg cramps, abdominal pain and headaches dissipated, and her bowels resumed moving normally. 

When care-taking responsibilities continue for long periods of time, people can eventually suffer from adrenal exhaustion, depression, and severe fatigue.   Some may develop food sensitivities or an autoimmune illness such as fibromyalgia or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  Others may develop chronic back pain and degenerative spinal changes may accelerate, sometimes contributing the development of bulging or herniated spinal discs. 

Even though eating properly, staying hydrated, getting sufficient sleep, and periodically obtaining emotional support and physical assistance with tasks may feel like an impossibility, the alternative, self-neglect, will usually cost much more inconvenience time, money and suffering in the long run.  We sometimes feel that the entire world rests on our shoulders and that a loved one will perish if not for us.  However, the world around us shows a very different picture: life will continue on and people will survive even when we pass away.  But we won’t get a chance to experience life anymore, nor will we get the chance to offer help and inspiration to others if we are incapacitated or our lives end due to extreme self-neglect. 

Some people find someone to prepare food for them, find a nutritious food service to deliver meals, or make time for food preparation.  Everyone must allow themselves sufficient time to sleep at night, and also sometimes to rest during the day.  Listening to enjoyable music, reading uplifting literature, or meditating is important, as is getting some exercise, such as yoga, tai chi or walking on a daily basis.  Of course, sometimes care-taking is labor intensive on its own and can be good exercise. 

Over the years, I have noticed that many people develop a significant illness within a year of a loved-one’s death.  One way to prevent this or at least to reduce the severity is through regular self-care.  Often, it is advisable to also obtain supportive care from one or more holistic health professional, such as a chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, herbalist or nutritionist.  Counseling may also be helpful.  All of this may sound self-evident, but when we are in the midst of overwhelming responsibilities, or in the throes of exhaustion afterward, we often forget all about self-care until it is too late. Then we may end up needing intensive care ourselves. 

This blog’s offer:  consider making an appointment for some supportive health-care, including chiropractic, acupuncture, dietary suggestions, nutritional supplementation, or even Chi Gong instruction.

 

 

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Blog #91 Kidney Health

                                             Blog #91 Kidney Health

 Recently, two friends and I had a conversation regarding kidney health.  Standard medical assessment has indicated that all three of us are in kidney failure.   All three of us have varying contributing factors to the diagnosis.  One person has a history of hypertension, which can damage the kidneys.  Additionally, several kidney stones have the harmed the kidneys.  A third factor is this person’s very sensitive nature, which can result in much stress on the body, including the urinary tract.  A second person has similar and different factors involved. Several medications and supplements likely are stressing the kidneys.  Aging also is having an effect.  This person’s  sensitive nature coupled with an unwanted and unexpected career shift is yet a third factor.   In my case, I appear to have been born with weak kidneys.  Repeated urinalyses since I was six years old indicated the presence of protein and glucose in the urine.  This means that since that early age, my kidneys were doing a poor job of handling protein and glucose.  The pediatrician’s other diagnostic tests did not reveal any structural abnormalities. He said to my parents: “We can’t find anything wrong at this time, but she might have problems with her kidneys when she gets older.”  He did not offer any nutritional advice, such as reducing protein intake, especially animal protein, or reducing sugar intake, especially processed sugars.  Both protein and sugar can stress the kidneys, as can high dietary  intake of potassium, sodium, phosphorous, and more, depending on the cause of the disease and the stage of kidney failure.  So in my case, a combination of either very early urinary tract infections or constitutional kidney weakness, along with aging, stress, and inappropriate nutrition (I had begun eating more protein when I had begun some weight training) were likely the main factors. 

Other contributors in kidney malfunction are poor diet – fast, junk and processed foods, foods high in sodium, potassium, phosphorous, sugar and/or protein.   Diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, chronic dehydration, excessive fluid intake, and too infrequent urination can also be important causes.   A blow or other injury to the low back can also result in organ failure. 

 The kidneys are located in the low back, on either side of the spine.  These endocrine glands constantly work to help with detoxification, proper mineral balance, maintaining strong bones and proper water balance, pH balance, blood pressure regulation, and more.  They help support the body’s energy level as well as help in the extraction of certain vitamins and minerals from food.  Kidneys help in the extraction of usable Vitamin D from food and sunlight, and at the same time can be harmed by too much supplemental Vitamin D.  People in severe kidney failure may live up to several years receiving dialysis, which performs at least some of the kidney’s vital tasks.  Other people may receive a donated kidney.  If they tolerate the strong anti-rejection medications, they may survive for quite a few years. 

 Treatment can vary greatly, depending on the severity of the problem, the health of the person involved, and the cause of the kidney damage.  Some basic approaches are below:

 Limit protein intake, particularly animal protein and protein powders.  Make sure the protein you do eat is high quality.  Some examples of high quality protein are wild-caught salmon or sardines, eggs from organically raised or biodynamically raised ducks or chickens, a mix of organically or biodynamically raised beans, legumes and/or grains, such as lentils and whole oats, a green salad with several other vegetables such as cabbage and radish, and pumpkin and squash seeds. 

 Eliminate processed sugars from the diet.  Fresh fruit in moderation is acceptable, but sugar (glucose sucrose and fructose) puts stress on the kidneys, as does uric acid, derived from various foods, such as red meat, rich and fried foods, and some sea foods.  Additionally, fruit high in fructose, such as dried fruit, juice, pomegranates, melon apple, cherries, pineapple and mango give rise to purines when broken down, which in turn, can result in high uric acid levels, which can stress and harm the kidneys. 

 Eliminate all added salt from the diet and keep sodium intake otherwise low.  High sodium stresses the kidneys and also gives rise to high blood pressure, which can further damage the already delicate blood vessels in the glomeruli – the filtering units of the kidneys. 

 Eliminate certain nutritional supplements from the diet, especially those containing potassium and large quantities of vitamin D.  These can be hard on the kidneys. 

Avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and recreational drugs will take a load off your kidneys.  Castor oil packs are sometimes used to detoxify the body and protect the liver, which is vulnerable when the kidneys are not functioning well. 

 Avoid foods that contain large quantities of phosphorous.  Dairy products red meat, sea foods, dark sodas, beans and nuts are all high in this mineral.  Not only does it stress the kidneys, but when the kidneys are unable to filter enough phosphorous from food, this mineral goes back into the blood and the resulting imbalance will result in calcium being pulled from the bones to balance out the extra phosphorous.  This, in turn, can lead to weakened bones and osteoporosis. 

 Keep fat consumption low, and avoid trans fats, such as margarines, corn oil and soy oils, completely.  Some saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are necessary for continued health, and long term survival. 

 Do not overeat, but stop when still a little hungry.  Excessive nutrients from food will also stress the kidneys, since they will need to work more to deal with the excess.  As long as there is a natural appetite, it is bet to wait to eat until hunger is noted.  Relax, eat slowly, and chew food well. 

 Find out what foods, if any, you are allergic and/or sensitive to, and avoid these.  Examples could be gluten, soy, or dairy. 

Some specific supplements can sometimes help slow the progress of kidney damage and disease.On the other hand, too many supplements will often over-tax the kidneys, so be careful regarding nutritional supplements.  Some herbs, including licorice, cats-claw and wormwood are particularly hard on the kidneys.  Some symptoms may be hypertension, fatigue and body aches.  Nettles, on the other hand are almost always beneficial, as is fresh-squeezed lemon juice in water first thing in the morning and possibly throughout the day. High quality turmeric herb can be helpful for kidney health.  A high quality pine bark extract can also be helpful for the kidneys.  I personally use two products from Standard Process – Arginex and Renafood.  However, depending on the severity of your kidney dysfunction, these two could possibly cause problems for you, so I urge you to work with a health care practitioner who has specific knowledge about kidney health and kidney disease.  A diet or supplements to prevent or counteract kidney stones is vital when stones are a major causative factor.  Individual with high risk for kidney stones may benefit from reducing or eliminating spinach, rhubarb, okra, beets, nut butters, fries, and potato chips from the diet.  Daily apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water, frequent consumption of basal and regular consumption of real sauerkraut all may be helpful in preventing kidney stones, as will losing weight, if needed, and sufficient hydration, with water. 

This blog’s offer:  feel free to contact me regarding anything in this article about which you have questions. 

 

 

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Blog #90 Sleeping Well

 Blog#90 Sleeping Well

One of the most important things we can do for our health and longevity is to sleep well.  This means to sleep soundly and for the amount of time that our body and mind need. Different people require varying amounts of sleep, depending on their age, health, activity level, toxicity level, stress level and more.  However, most people need about 8 hours of sleep a night in order to maintain optimum health, energy and mental focus. 

 During sleep, your body is not burdened and stressed with things like new meals to digest, conflicts to face, strenuous exercise, challenging intellectual problems, emotional highs and lows, and other waking activities. Of course, sometimes dreams can be stressful, but usually not to the extent that waking challenges and activities are.  Because of the opportunity to rest from many activities, the body has the chance to repair damage to tissues and organs and also to help detoxify from foods, mental and emotional stress, injury from exercise, and challenges from environmental toxins.  This is why, if you follow the guidelines for good sleep below, if you are in relatively good health, and if you wake up at the end of, rather than in the middle of a sleep cycle, you usually will feel refreshed and rested upon awakening.  One way you can usually avoid waking up before the end of a sleep cycle is to go to bed early and let yourself wake up on your own. I realize that this is a luxury, but you can work to allow yourself to do this at least some of the time. Self-hypnotic suggestions at bedtime regarding allowing yourself to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle can be helpful.

 There are many ways in which sleep quality, onset and duration can be disrupted.  Some of these ways are noisy neighbors or roommates, lights shining through the window blinds, television or computer screens left on after bedtime, electrical or other energy fields from appliances that are not fully turned off, smart phones tuned on and placed near the bed, proximity to power lines or “EL” tracks, and computer modems operating anywhere in your home.  Some other things that can interfere with sleep include looking at LED lights or computer or other similar screens too close to bedtime, eating a heavy meal late in the evening, living a sedentary lifestyle, reading, watching or listening to disturbing information soon before bed, and consuming alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or other drugs or chemicals too soon before trying to fall asleep. 

 Going to sleep and waking up at about the same time during every 24 hour cycle can help support a good night’s sleep.  Your body gets used to patterns and will expect and accommodate your desired schedule.  If you must look at computers or other blue screens soon before bedtime, then use glasses that filter out some or even all of the blue light.  Blue light interferes with the pineal gland’s synthesis and secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps encourage sleep.  The pineal gland begins secreting melatonin a couple of hours prior to bedtime and the onset of darkness.  Melatonin supplements tend to not be as helpful as the natural hormone secreted in conjunction with healthy and well-timed sleep patterns.  Just as it is best to avoid bright lights soon before bedtime, it is desirable to encounter bright lights, especially sunlight, in the morning, especially soon after awakening.  This helps set the body’s natural clock to be awake and energetic during the day and relaxed and sleepy at night. 

If you are required to work all night and to sleep during the day or if you have an irregular waking and sleep schedule, then it is important to keep the room totally dark and quiet while you sleep.  Ear plugs and sleep masks may be necessary, as may placing black sheets over curtains, turning all phones off, and unplugging any modems in your home.  Always helpful are self-hypnosis for relaxation, listening to calming music, inspirational reading, counting your many blessings, or positive prayer just before bedtime.  You may have to pay attention to how you respond to various foods or take some food allergy tests and avoid some of the foods you may eat, such as fast foods, processed meats, deep fried foods, foods containing gluten, dairy, and deserts sweetened with refined sugar or other refined sweeteners, such as corn syrup or rice syrup. 

There are many other topics related to sleeping well, but at least this scratches the surface.  My offer with this blog is to encourage any questions you may have about sleeping well. I will answer them to the best of my ability. 

 

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Blog #89 What an Organic Diet Can Do

                                 Blog #89 What Eating Organically Can Do

Adhering to an organic, whole food diet can help not only the planet, but individual health. Organically grown produce means little or no pesticides, and the pesticides used, if any, are not toxic to humans.  Additionally, raising organic crops and using organic fertilizers results in soil that is more alive, healthy, and richer in nutrients.  These nutrients are absorbed by vegetation which in turn are eaten by animals higher on the food chain.  Because these crops are low in toxins and high in nutrients, they will help contribute to the growth of healthier animals, including humans.  At this time, many pesticides are found in mother’s milk.  Fish and other seafood contain pesticides as well.  The higher on the chain an organism feeds, the more pesticides it will have in its body. 

I’m going to relate two personal experiences in this blog today.  I’ll start with my puzzlement at my own transient feelings of depression un-based in any life experiences.  The one correlation I could find was that each time, I had just eaten Mahi-mahi, a medium to large sized dolphinfish that swims close to shore, in areas that tend to have a lot of debris.  They especially are found tropical and sub-tropical gulf coasts.  Since there is a positive correlation between depression and mercury poisoning, and since I have had a lot of mercury exposure in the past, from many mercury fillings, and since Mahi-mahi are the most mercury toxic fish I have eaten, I think there likely is a correlation between my brief feelings of depression (lasting less than 24 hours) and consumption of that type of fish.  Additionally, since Mahi-mahi tend to swim in waters that are cluttered with debris, this would make them likely to absorb more than their share of some environmental pollutants.  These pollutants would then be transferred to the animals higher on the food chain. 

Farmers, who work with pesticides regularly and at higher levels than the general population, have an above average rate of depression.  According to a study published in The Annals of Epidemiology, year of publication 2002, Aug 12 (6) p. 389 – 94, farm workers exposed to pesticides had an almost six fold increase in depression compared with the average population.  Organophosphates are especially widespread and toxic and have been documented to be correlated with depression.  One organophosphate is Round-up. 

I will relate one more incident that demonstrated to me and also to one of my friends how important it can be to eat organically.  One of my friends, an MD and biochemist, called me several years after she had moved to New Jersey and told me that she had become very ill and no one could discover why.  After several years of housebound existence, one perceptive physician tested her for Lyme’s disease.  She came up positive.  Several courses of antibiotics and other treatments started my friend on the path to recovery.  After a couple of years, she recovered most of her energy and was able to work outside her home part-time.  The diabetes that  developed with the onset of Lyme’s cleared up.  Finally, she just had one notable remaining symptom, which would not budge, no matter what she tried.  My friend is very knowledgeable about Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, but she did not respond to these treatments.  After working in vain on this problem for about a year, she remembered that I always tried to eat organically.  She had thought this was kind of silly, but had indulged me.  Now, she decided to try eating 100% organic to see if this would help her skin.  Three weeks on an 100% organic diet and her skin cleared up completely.  She called me with the news. 

Although it amazed her, it was no surprise to me.  The body is always being exposed to, creating and eliminating toxins via the urine, feces, and sweat.  Other paths of elimination are through phlegm, sputum and respiration (carbon-dioxide and other substances are expelled with each exhale).  Sometimes, however, the body is so overwhelmed with toxins that they overtax the blood and lymphatic systems, and consequently must find their way out of the body via the skin in the forms of pimples, boils, rashes, cysts, and more.  This is what happened to my friend.   Then, when her toxic load was reduced, her kidneys and liver could handle the toxic load by themselves.  To this day, she eats totally organic and continues to be in good health, with clear skin. 

This blog’s offer:  feel free to contact me with questions about dependable sources of organically, biodynamically and otherwise responsibly raised foods.  If you are willing to keep a food diary for a week, then for a small charge, I will give you some suggestions based on your history and food diary.

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Blog #88 Eight Ways to Help You Feel More Energized

Blog #88 Eight Ways to Help You Feel More Energized

 

  1. Only eat when you are hungry and stop eating before you feel completely full. This might mean that you eat significantly less than you have been.  As long as you don’t have a serious health issue that’s fine.

 

  1. Sleep regular hours, as closely as you can to when it gets dark and when the sun starts to rise. This may not be possible most of the time, but get as close to this as you can.  It may be absolutely impossible for some people, due to work schedules.

 

  1. Stay well hydrated. Water or raw organic vegetable juice are the best beverages, though you may want to filter your water if it comes from the tap.  Aim for six to eight glasses of water or organic vegetable juice per day, but don’t make yourself uncomfortable in the process. 

 

  1. Adhere to a diet that is high in plant based foods. For many people, vegan or vegan/pescatarian is best.  Others do better with more animal protein.  Avoid processed foods, and avoid consuming too many sweet-tasting foods, except fresh fruit. Processed foods often come in boxes or other packages, and may be canned or frozen.  If you can not obtain any fresh foods, frozen is usually preferable to canned. 

 

  1. Exercise daily. Walking, tai chi, yoga, yard work, house work, some weight lifting and Pilates are all exercises that would be beneficial.  Also, jumping on a trampoline can be helpful for the lymphatic and circulatory systems.  Trampoline should not be used by those who have serious spinal or other musculoskeletal problems. 

 

  1. Receive some holistic treatment on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, quarterly, it’s up to you, and also based on your health requirements. Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, Feldenkrais all qualify as appropriate therapies.  Feldenkrais is both a therapy and an exercise.  June and July are the two months when acupuncture treatment is especially tonifying.

 

  1. Before falling asleep and/or right after awakening, give thanks for at least ten things in your life. For example, having a roof over your head, being able to see, hear and walk, having the opportunity to be in contact with the natural world – lakes, woodlands, deserts, etc., being able to read and write, having enjoyable human and (non-human) animal connections, having the opportunity to explore some interests and gifts, such as photography and music, having enough food for sustenance, having a job or other source of income, having a sense of humor, receiving this wonderful blog – I think that is ten things.  You get the idea.  Make this a habit and it will help you sleep better, improve your relationships, open you to discovering and attracting more things for which to be thankful, and generally enrich your life.  All this, in turn will help reduce stress and improve energy level.

 

  1. Take regular breaks from technology. For 24 hours, once a week, or more or less frequently, as you are able, avoid computers, cell phones, television, radio, and other forms of technology.  Walk or bike rather than driving or using public transportation.  Disconnect your computer modem or construct or buy a Faraday Cage to help protect you from signals emitted by our modern technology. 

 

This blog’s offer:  Contact me with any questions about these eight suggestions.  I can give you reasons and ideas for implementing these suggestions.  I wish you success.

 

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Blog #87 Forward Head Posture – Problems and Solutions

                Blog #87 Forward Head Posture – Problems and Solutions

 Since May is Posture month, this blog will discuss forward head posture.  This is just as it sounds – instead of being optimally positioned and balanced, the head and neck are positioned forward, to a greater or lesser degree.  Texting, sitting at a desk, reading a book, riding a bike and driving a motor vehicle can all lead a person to hold their head and neck forward on their torso.  Ideally, the head, torso, pelvis and lower extremities should all be aligned.  This provides the best balance and stability as well as the least stress on the joints.  The further the head is held forward of the torso, the more stress is placed on the bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles of the neck and upper back.

 Experiment with something weighing about ten pounds, which is about what the average adult human head weighs.  A ten pound bowling ball would be best, but short of that, choose something that you can hold up in your palm, in front of your body with your elbow bent at 90 degrees.  Then slowly bend your arm forward.  Notice that the object feels lightest when held with the elbow at 90 degrees, and when the arm bends forward, increasing the angle at the elbow, the object feels increasingly heavy. You would feel more strain at your shoulder and elbow. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments associated with these joints would also be more stressed, and would be more likely to tire or even sustain an injury than they would if the weight was more balanced and stable. 

 The same is true of your head and neck.  The further your head is forward, the heavier it feels and the harder the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones have to work to support it. Over the years, this can cause inflammatory changes in the neck (arthritis) and will speed up degenerative changes in the cervical spine.  With spinal degeneration can come injuries to spinal discs, including bulging and herniation. 

 Students and desk-workers tend to be particularly prone to developing forward head posture.  Some of the most effective ways to prevent, counteract and reverse this imbalance are practicing Strong Posture exercises daily, becoming aware of posture and maintaining awareness at all times, and making changes in habits, home, and work environment, such as using a standing work station, sitting on a large exercise ball, adjusting computer screen and keyboard to posture, and taking regular breaks from sitting and reading. 

This Blog’s offer:  contact me for more information about Strong Posture evaluation and training.  Classes are inexpensive and can help increase energy, reduce or eliminate pain, improve performance in sports, and help improve quality of life at all ages.  The introductory session, which lasts 15 to 20 minutes is complimentary.

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