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The Importance of Sleep, Heavenly Sleep

 “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”  (Psalm 127:2)

sleepy personHave you ever had a friend or acquaintance who worked shift work, had too many activities to sleep, or joked, “Well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”  First of all that’s bad theology and second, they didn’t recognize the importance of sleep!  Sleep is essential for life’s regeneration and for renewed mental health and weight control.

Even God insisted on rest: Genesis 2:2. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”  A God of Balance, right?

In this high-tech world of computers, Kindles, iPods and cell phones, if we didn’t recharge our battery-operated devices every so often, they would eventually run out of steam.  Same with our physiological electrical systems as well.  In order to work properly, our bodies need recharging and sleep is how we do it. Sleep boosts our immune system, reduces stress and restores energy levels.

Our pineal gland, located in our brain, releases the hormone melatonin which monitors our sleep cycle. As we get older, our hormone levels and other systems start to decline. Thank Adam and Eve for that.

When one can’t sleep, it creates stress. We tend to toss and turn and our minds can’t relax! This produces physiological changes, increasing the risk of heart disease and a weakened immune system.

For sleep, we can take melatonin supplements but I recommend them only for a short amount of time, 1-2 weeks. Here’s why:  Current research is professing that if the body is receiving hormones from pills, medication and supplements, the body will stop creating its own hormone and begin to rely on outside sources. So be cautious about using any hormonal supplement for too long a period.

Some foods naturally contain melatonin so  I would highly recommend getting your supplementation naturally.  Melatonin is an amazing hormone and isn’t simply for sleep. It’s powerful benefits include antioxidants, cancer & heart disease fighters as well as anti-aging properties.

Here a list of nutritious foods to incorporate into your diet to get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Cherries! It’s cherry season and this wonderfully delicious fruit contains a great deal of natural melatonin. Try consuming a handful of cherries about an hour before bedtime.
  2. Having a small bowl of magnesium rich cereal has been known to help some people fall asleep at night.
  3. Tryptophan,a calming amino acid found in milk and turkey, is a solution too.
  4. Black and other beans, bananas, dark green vegetables contain a lot of magnesium which relaxes the body.
  5. Salmon, (also chicken, wheat bran, peanuts, apricots)  helps convert vitamins B3 and B6 ( found in bananas, rice, shrimp, carrots) into melatonin.
  6. Add oats, sweet corn, tomatoes, barley, chicken broth, avocados to your diet.
  7. Herbs like lavender, lemon balm, juniper or passion-flower will produce a soothing relaxation to your bath water.
  8. Having a cup of chamomile or Sleepy Time tea in the evening has seen results as well.sleeping baby

Sometimes our bodies can’t rest because we have too much on our minds. So have a piece of paper beside the bed, write down your anxious thoughts and get to them in the morning!

Best of all, when you can’t rest; pray, count your blessings or sing a hymn in your head and it’s amazing how quickly you’ll fall under His protection and sleep like a baby!

What in the World is Metabolic Syndrome???

If your doctor ever told you had metabolic syndrome, you probably wondered what that means. The term metabolize is simply how your body processes calories for energy. But what is metabolic syndrome? Is it good or bad? If diagnosed with it, you might be wondering, how did I get it and what can I do about it?

Let me provide a simple illustration to help you understand this term:

Have you ever seen dominos set up in intricate patterns before? Think about how those dominos line up and then fall after the first domino is pushed over.

Now relate the domino effect to health because it’s similar to how metabolic syndrome works. Many factors are involved in creating this pattern.

For example, the first domino could represent insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone which regulates blood sugar. Insulin resistance is the term for insulin’s failure to be utilized (metabolized) properly. This can eventually lead to diabetic challenges, diabetes produces nerve damage, nerve damage leads to stress, stress to weight gain, which creates heart disease and on and on. One health challenge advances to many others.

This exact pattern can be applied to those who continually eat fattening foods, creating plaque which hardens and narrows arteries, which then creates extra stress on the heart, causing heart palpitations, chest pains and eventually heart attacks.

“Scary stuff. Okay, I’m in – how can I change my risk pattern?”

If you truly want to see improvement, change your lifestyle. Only you can do that; and only if you’re ready! As much as I want you to be healthy, you must want it more!

Metabolic syndrome is usually linked to obesity s0 improve your eating habits.Begin today to clean up your menu with more fibrous whole foods which will escort toxins and bad cholesterol out of your system. No need to suffer. Eat sensibly and balanced. (Avoid quick-fix, fad diets!!!) Add flavor with healthy herbs and spices instead of fat.

Do you consume many fast-food meals, donuts, and fatty meats like cold cuts or sausage? How about processed snacks like potato chips, Twinkies, or Cheez Doodles? STOP! This raises dangerous LDL cholesterol levels.

“LDL? HDL? What??? It’s Greek to me!”

Good cholesterol, HDL, (healthy) protects the heart and blood test results should be over 60mg/dl. (LDL (lousy) should be kept low. Strive for 130-150 mg/dl in a real world. Triglycerides are the blood fat levels created by consuming donuts, pies and other sugary snacks.

High blood sugar insulin is usually a sign of early diabetes. I’ve lowered many a diabetic patient’s levels simply by increasing their high fiber food intake; whole grains, beans, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, sweet potatoes . . . Still on the Adkins or Paleo Diet? Get. Off. It!

Another change I’d recommend is to incorporate sufficient exercise into your lifestyle. Finding exercises that are enjoyable to you is essential: dancing, swimming, tennis, walking, badminton, etc. If you get your children involved, the entire family benefits.

With each fall of a domino your risk of Metabolic Syndrome increases. I’d rather not play Russian roulette with my health and highly endorse the pure enjoyment of a high-energy lifestyle. Sure, sometimes there’s a genetic factor involved but don’t get discouraged. I inherited my mother’s osteoporosis and father’s familial cholesterol. Therefore I take medication, but also fight to be healthier with weight bearing exercises, avoiding dangerous fats while consuming a balanced Mediterranean diet.

“I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” (Psalm 139:14  HSV)

Your life, your choices. Please choose an abundant life!

What in the World Does . . . Eating “Cleanly” Mean???

A new buzz word has been circulating the country for several years now; “clean” . . . a clean budget, clean fitness, clean health care bill, clean living . . .  isn’t it getting to be a cliché? No wants to eat “dirty” food.


 

Recently someone asked me what a clean diet actually means. So let me explain this concept as simply as I can: it’s God’s diet plan from the beginning: Genesis 1:29 & 9:3.   End of blog. Short and sweet. Okay, okay . . . I’ll clarify.

Solomon stated it best when he proclaimed in Ecclesiastes  that there is nothing new under the sun.”

“Ecclesiastes 1:10 ” Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.”
Now even those diet gurus who claim there is no God, are advocating consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Throw in lots of pure water and you’ve got a “new diet” plan that’s over 4,000 years old!! Wow, who knew?  Well, God did.

God told us in  Genesis 1:29 what to eat. After the Flood, He added meat to our diets. Then again in 1 Corinthians 10:23, confirmed that any food was fine in moderation but advocated that some were more beneficial to our health than others.

As Christians, you wouldn’t place illegal drugs into your system, because you would destroy your temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s not God-honoring.  But God doesn’t want you to ingest lots of over-the-counter drugs either!  And yet we continue to purchase and consume processed, chemically laden foods with intricate sounding names like Propyl P Hydroxybenzonate,  Norbixin, Sodium Metabisulfite, Orthophenyl Phenol, Polyxyl Stearate and Disodium Guanylate.

Names as difficult to pronounce as the kings of Genesis 14!
Those confusing names above are but a small sampling of additives, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and flavor enhancers added to today’s foods.  These will chemically transform a body into one that’s susceptible to asthma, ADHD, allergies, hyperactivity and different cancers. The body becomes a chemistry tube. Look at your children’s faces before you reach for that fast food or packaged convenience food and decide which you love more, convenience or your family.  No contest right?

Years ago, manufacturers discovered that they could lengthen the shelf life of grain products by removing the germ, which was the good fat in grain, and bran which was the fiber and then add preservatives. However essential nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and fiber were lost in the process until they were “enriched” with vitamins and minerals again (but usually not fiber).  It’s important to realize that enriched doesn’t mean ‘better than’ it simply means ‘up to’ standards.

And eating cleanly doesn’t necessarily mean organic either. (Sorry, my dear nutritionist friends) If an organic farm is next to a regular farm, then it depends upon the water source or the spraying that occurs on the neighboring farm. I grew up on a dairy farm and ate a lot of dirt in my childhood. I’m hardly ever ill now and I still consume great amounts of regular farm produce – but I sure miss the taste of a flavorful, farm grown (New) Jersey tomato.

If organic works for you, great, I’m not advocating giving it up. I like organic too, but find it expensive. I view eating only organic, the same way I view the doctrines of some churches; if it doesn’t affect Salvation and isn’t spoken of directly in the Bible, then I live under grace and have the liberty to choose without condemnation.  God can judge – I can obey.

“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  (1 Corinthians 6:20)

The Most Inspiring Young Lady I Know!

This post is dedicated to one of the bravest young ladies I know. She battles an illness many others would never reveal and does so with strength and courage. Can you imagine standing up and resisting any friend who pushes delicious (but harmful to her) foods like fried chicken, donuts, potato chips, soft drinks or spicy foods? That demonstrates incredible perseverance in resisting peer pressure and setting priorities! She’s truly independent and strong and I’m very proud of her!

Diagnosed last year with ulcerated colitis at age 9, she has shown remarkable determination and dedication to healthier living. UC is an inflammation of the colon causing bloating, gas, intense pain, bloody diarrhea and other embarrassing biological responses. Maintaining a strict diet is the only way to endure this debilitating illness.

One of her biggest daily challenges is consuming valuable nutrients which will remain in her system. Now vital nutrients are carried away without infiltrating the digestive system. The body  derives much of its nutrient balance through the intestines. Therefore it’s imperative to consume valuable vitamins, minerals and protein. But if one is constantly dealing with diarrhea that’s tougher. Consuming mini-meals and lots of water to avoid dehydration throughout the day will help.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Chew your food!

Chewing releases enzymes. Digestion can’t happen without enzymes.  No vitamin, mineral or hormone can work without enzymes. Without enzymes one can’t breathe, walk or complete any other function! Think of enzymes as the moving men who distribute boxes to the right room in your house; except enzymes move nutrients to the correct part of your bodily home.

Lipase is the enzyme which moves fats throughout the digestion system and is released through the intestines. If one is constantly battling diarrhea, digestion is poor and even the best eating plan won’t work, fatigue, weakness and anemia could occur. Consume good fats like avocado, coconut oil and milled flaxseed.

Probiotics

To build up the immune system eat probiotic and prebiotic foods. These foods will increase good bacteria in your gut so enzymes can work properly. Find these in garlic, onions, tomatoes (mmm, Italian food anyone?) They are also found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, sour cream, cheeses and yogurt.

Let’s talk about yogurt. Most contain too many fillers, chemicals and sweeteners and should be labeled junk food! It’s the beneficial bacteria that’s important and these contain little if any! Also avoid “light” yogurt which contain artificial sweeteners.

A good yogurt is one that states there are active cultures inside. This is the beneficial bacteria which keeps your colon healthy while fighting our body’s harmful bacteria. The label usually will have names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles along with active cultures.

I purchase Dannon Natural Vanilla but these brands are also good:  Fage, Stonyfield, Liberte’, Mountain High. Always check the label for “active cultures.” Add your own fruit, honey, milled flaxseed or cinnamon for flavor. You can also create smoothies with cultured yogurt, bananas, oranges, coconut, smooth peanut butter or other creation.

Those with UC have a harder time metabolizing insoluble fiber because it passes without breaking down, (think corn, seeds, apple skins.) Strive to consume soluble fiber which becomes a gel and won’t incite flare-ups. Applesauce, stewed pears, Guacamole, oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes are suggestions. Baby foods, Ensure or Boost will help when you’re having an especially tough day.

Bottom line, eat for nutrients and reduce stress. Keep a food diary and recognize what works and doesn’t. Unfortunately there is “no-one-size-fits-all” diet plan. Resist discouragement and don’t allow the devil to steal your Joy! Count your blessings in all God has allowed you to do!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

 

 

 

 

 

Revving Up That Old Clunker: Metabolism

If you’ve been feeling more like a 1971 Pinto than a Ferrari, perhaps it’s time to rev up that old metabolism. Start modifying your engine. I know it seems like an impossible task but there are many easy lifestyle habits to incorporate into your routine to change for the better.

Let’s look at creating a healthy ritual:

First thing in the morning, consume a glass of water. This starts the digestive track moving and awakens your entire system. When your digestion is working better, nutrients can be absorbed more effectively.  Why does that matter? Because all vitamins have a purpose and B vitamins especially, convert carbohydrates, protein and fats into energy. Absorption means better metabolic function.

Drinking enough water is essential because this allows your kidneys to remove toxins and the liver to metabolize fat. Add a slice of lemon, lime or apple cider vinegar  to water during the day as well. Why? It will create a more effective alkaline pH.  A slightly higher alkaline pH protects you against disease and reduces stress. Stress destroys B vitamins (see above.)

Enjoy your cup of coffee without guilt. Anything is fine in moderation but too much destroys B vitamins.  Adding a bit of cinnamon or turmeric actually improves the health benefits.

I’m often asked when is the best time to exercise. Short answer: anytime! Exercise will rev up your metabolism for hours so try to get some in several times a day. For example, stretch and do leg exercises in the morning. Walk the dog or run up and down stairs, garden, vacuum, clean your home, etc. during the day, lift light weights watching television in the evening. Don’t feel like it? Do it anyway! It feels victorious to conquer lazy habits!

Exercising in the fresh air increases serotonin levels and is a great stress reliever. Stress increases cortisol and other destructive hormones, making you hungrier, increasing cravings. Another benefit of exercise is building muscle. Muscle burns fat. Get your BMR to a healthy rate. (Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories it takes to maintain individual normal bodily functions.)

Consuming a healthy breakfast is imperative! Your body has been without food probably ten hours or more. Therefore it must “break-its-fast” or your brain will believe you are ill and will compensate by slowing down metabolism. A body protects itself at all costs so you’ll never starve yourself healthy!

It’s imperative to begin your day with a balanced diet containing all three food groups at every meal: protein, complex carbs and healthy fat.

What does “balanced” mean exactly? Well here’s some breakfast examples: Create an egg, cheese and veggie omelette. 2. Consume yogurt, berries, an ounce of walnuts and milled flaxseed. 3. Buckwheat pancakes with pecans, sliced bananas & drizzle of pure maple syrup, or 4. any fiber-based (5+ grams) healthy cereal, berries and 1% milk (which is 20% fat.) Each suggested example is balanced with all three food groups. Eat proportionately during lunch and dinner as well. (example: 60% complex carbs, 20% lean protein and 20% healthy fat.)

Balanced snacks should also be consumed throughout the day: peanut butter on a small apple or banana, white cheese (white has less cholesterol) and fruit, sliced avocado, turkey or ham on fibrous crackers, etc. You and your auto shouldn’t run out of gas during the day.

Hot spicy foods such as cayenne, wasabi, horseradish, spicy mustards revs metabolism and releases serotonin to the brain which reduce cravings.

God has given us a cherished gift. Life. What you cherish you take care of, so cherish your incredible, unique body! Don’t allow bad habits to overrule what you know is right!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

 

 

Keeping Our Bones Stronger Throughout Life

When I developed osteoporosis, I tried to argue that the test was inaccurate. I eat too well! I protested. I exercise daily, walk, lift weights, . . . so the test must be wrong. After all, as a nutritionist, I know what to eat and practice what I preach! But as the verse goes, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

I had inherited my mother’s bone structure. I was arguing with God and one shouldn’t argue with our Maker. I should be grateful for how He created me.

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)

God’s smarter than me.

Did you know that there is a simple way to determine your bone size? Wrap you thumb and your middle finger around your wrist. If you can overlap your fingers, you are small-boned. If your fingers just meet, you are medium and if your fingers don’t touch, you are large-boned. The smaller the bones, the more susceptible to osteoporosis. (Recently some dispute this method but it works for me.)

As in everything with God’s Handiwork, balance is the key to healthier living.

Calcium is essential for regulating the passage of nutrients in and out of cells and need to be taken with food. Vitamin D should be consumed alongside calcium, magnesium and boron (grapes, apples, nuts) for maximum effect.

Anyone over 18 should consume approximately 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium, spaced throughout the day. Too much calcium could manifest in kidney stones. Too little and you’ll not only develop osteoporosis but insomnia, nervousness, an irregular heartbeat, hypertension, aching joints, irritability, leg cramping and brittle nails.

Calcium assists with insomnia and is a natural tranquilizer. It’s one reason why stressed-out people run to creamy foods such as macaroni and cheese or ice cream when under pressure. Their body is crying out for calmness amidst life’s storms. Our protective hypothalamus in our brain is informing us this nutrient will help. (Fresh air  calms us too.)

What Foods Contain Calcium?

  1. Did you know skim milk contains more calcium than regular milk? (316 mg. versus 290)
  2. Consume vegetables such as: Arugula, kale, spinach, broccoli, Bok Choy, acorn squash, dandelion, collard, mustard or turnip greens.
  3. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of beneficial calcium. So are whole grains, bread and cereals, so watch out Paleo Diet activists. You are playing Russian Roulette. For God knows our frame and how our bodies work. (Psalm 103: 14)
  4. Almonds, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds can be eaten in moderation (2 tablespoons daily.) Excellent on rich garden salads!
  5. Consume seafood: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovy, cod fish, oysters and crab.
  6. Calcium rich fruits are figs, kiwi, and fortified orange juice.
  7. Cheeses: Mozzarella, parmesan, Swiss, Laughing Cow. (The lighter the cheese the less cholesterol.)
  8. I usually recommend alfalfa tablets which can be found very cheaply. The roots of the alfalfa plant grow so deeply that they naturally contain many nutrients, including calcium.

It’s also important to consume foods high in the amino acid lysine along with calcium for maximum absorption. This is found in eggs, cheese, potatoes, red meat and soy. Amazingly, some of the foods forbidden on certain “diets.” Perhaps a mistake has been made? Is God or man correct? I’ll choose God every time, won’t you?

Bottom line: Calcium helps us lose weight, improves our mood and  keeps us healthy and younger looking! God knew it all the time! That’s good enough for me.

So Many Diets – So Little Truth!

“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” (Romans 8:9a)

LTSTEBC high resolution cover for TwitterWould you trust a pastor who only consulted outside sources for Biblical Truth?  What if his sermons professed “truth” using his horoscope, a crystal ball, Nostradamus or the New York Times? What if he counseled you in his office using People magazine? Would you trust and follow what he preached? Basically he’s feeding you cornflakes; food with little fiber or substance.

Traveling extensively, my husband and I have sat in many a church pew and heard powerful sermons. However, we have also seen ministers never open the Bible or reference Scripture.  One sermon consisted of the man’s entire vacation, yippie, how motivating. Our young people are floundering, thirsting for clear Biblical direction and they don’t hear Truth from the pulpit! Where can they go for Spiritual Truth? Usually they give up, discouraged; believing the Bible is simply not relevant to their lifestyle.

Therefore I trust you’ll understand my frustration when I hear Christians announce triumphantly at the beginning of each year that they are trying the Atkins, Paleo, carb-free, fat-free, grapefruit or some other gimmicky diet before they ask me for direction, a certified nutritional counselor who worked alongside primary care physicians.

I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve heard, “I don’t understand why I can’t stay on a diet?!”  as they flit from one flawed diet plan to another. There’s a specific reason and it’s either a mental, spiritual or Spiritual one. “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese . . .”  gets to that source.

Desperate people spend hundreds of dollars on special boxed-foods, caloric formulas, videos and even bariatric surgery before they ask me for advice. (My average patient attempted six different plans before they came into my office.)  I’ve counseled all types in my twenty-plus years as a healthcare practitioner.  One truth I’ve always stressed is: Health begins from the inside out! Get to the heart of the “why” and improvement begins.

New Creations Ministries is just that; my ministry. I’m happy to help anyone who has questions for free, but sadly, I am not omnipresent. So using clearly defined illustrations and applications, I created a practical, motivational guide urging all who desire true health to become their most vibrant self . . . and it’s less expensive than a doctor’s visit!

“Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese . . .” (Nutritional and Life Lessons God Teaches Us) is printed in different languages. It contains a study guide and is available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, (or Google it.) An e-book only $7 and the 234 page print version is only $14.95.

LTSTEBC addresses nutritional and life situations we all encounter. Using Biblical principles you’ll finally understand the true Joy of living a healthy, vibrant lifestyle. Health is significantly more important than  the number on the scale.

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want his children to suffer any more than we want ours to. Why survive on rice cakes with no nutritional purpose? Eat for nutrients, not for grams and caloric formulas. And learn what that means to you in relative terms!

Please don’t settle for second best and present that self to God. You’re better than that! God wants us to enjoy His Bounty but not make food our god. “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”  (Philippians 3:19) 

Eat nutritionally sound. We wouldn’t throw trash on the floor of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem so why do we trash our bodily temple?