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Following an Anti-inflammatory Diet

If your physician has prescribed an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ would you know what to eat?  Probably not. It’s one of those  “dog year” questions (relatable in practical terms.) It has to do with the pH scale’s acidic/alkaline relationship.  The more acidic one is, the more prone to illness one becomes.ph-scale

Imagine the pH scale being in a straight line from 1-14.  7 is neutral, (like pure water.) 1 is acidic, (like battery acid) and anything above is considered alkaline.  Balance is what it’s all about. Try to maintain a pH around  7.3 – 7.4.

Coffee, alcohol and soft drinks are incredibly acidic so cut down. Increase your water intake with lemon. Although you’ll notice lemon and vinegar is acidic on the pH scale, each actually metabolizes into an alkaline food. (God knew it all the time!)

The anti-inflammatory diet isn’t a “diet” as much as a lifestyle choice. One thing is certain however, not addressing your health concerns will only create larger ones down the road! Chronic inflammation is dangerous! It is not a “little” problem if you ignore will simply go away. Chronic inflammation can eventually cause intense health issues including heart disease, IBS, colitis, arthritis, dementia, kidney disease and cancers.

What causes inflammation? Stress is a major contributor and in today’s world who isn’t under stress? Find ways to relieve daily stress through exercise, relaxing bubble baths, soft music, fresh air, massages or anything that calms you besides food.

A healthy anti-inflammatory diet is on the alkaline side of the pH scale. It primarily consists of: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and whole grains such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat (kashi).  In truth, if you eat as God instructed Adam in the Garden of Eden, you’ll add a lot more life in your years.

Every meat is acidic, especially the processed meats with dyes and chemicals such as cold cuts, bacon or hot dogs, so consume lean protein like fish, chicken, sirloin and pork loin.

Sugar and artificial chemically treated foods are highly acidic. Unfortunately so are the nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. This doesn’t mean you must give them up entirely, but only consume occasionally. Balance is the key here.

Wheat, unfortunately, is on the acidic side of the scale. However whole wheat contains a great deal of fiber, so only avoid enriched breads and balance whole wheat products with more fruits and vegetables. Try to consume fiber-rich vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, squash, alfalfa, beans and lentils. The fiber helps remove toxins from your system and avoids damaging inflammation. Increase water consumption also.

One characteristic of the anti-inflammatory diet is the recommended inclusion of omega-rich fatty acids, especially omega 3’s. These consists of milled flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil (best used cold), avocados, good fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.

Avoid salt and choose to flavor your foods with healthy herbs. Garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and capsaicin are especially helpful with their anti-inflammatory properties!  And don’t worry about not enjoying any treats either. A good dark chocolate contains a great deal of antioxidants as does a glass of red wine.

Do you see the pattern here? You can enjoy so much more than you thought you could! Simply eat healthier and consume more whole foods to rid yourself of the artificially flavored, chemically processed boxed foods you might pick up at the supermarket for “convenience.” There is nothing convenient about pain and inflammation! Strive for a happier, healthier lifestyle.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Another “What Does It Mean To Me in Dog Years?” Post

My husband sat with his morning coffee, reading a magazine. After finishing an article, he shook his head and murmured, “Hmmff.” He placed a piece on health in front of me entitled  Know Your Numbers. “I bet you can tell me what’s wrong with this.”

heart-healthy-foodsGlancing through it, I read how it recommended knowing our blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol level numbers. It wasn’t long before I understood what hubby meant. It never once mentioned what those numbers were, the standard to which we should compare ourselves.

In other words, my blood pressure could be 230/150, my glucose 65 and my cholesterol 360 and it wouldn’t mean a thing! I wouldn’t know if my stats were low, balanced or dangerously high.

Even if I “know my numbers” it wouldn’t mean squat unless I knew what it meant to me in dog years? (We know if dogs are 12, they are actually 7x’s that in human years. Now we can relate to why he’s sore after climbing stairs.) How in the world could we possibly “know” our numbers when it never provided the standard in which we should compare ourselves with? 

So in case you happened to read this same article, here’s a quick overview. These are physiological standards which we should aspire to in order to remain the healthiest we can be.

Our blood pressure should consistently be within the 120 systolic and 80 diastolic range under normal circumstances. That means in a non-stressed atmosphere. Like not being chased by a rabid animal or being in a job you don’t enjoy. By constantly being provoked, the heart remains under constant stress, increasing blood pressure. Therefore find ways to distress with soft music, bubble baths, exercise, fresh air . . .

Our blood glucose should remain between 90-120 before meals. Glucose is brain/body fuel. Consuming well-balanced, fibrous mini-meals throughout the day will keep our metabolic engine running efficiently. Skipping meals will make us susceptible to bingeing for quick energy and the fastest energy is sugar! Sugar enters our system within 15 minutes but burns up very quickly, dropping insulin levels. We then become extremely hungry and sugar cravings begin again.

High glucose levels are more dangerous to us than simply weight gain. Consistently high glucose levels can cause kidney, nerve and eye disease or even amputation of limbs. To stabilize blood sugar consume lean protein and a high fiber diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs. Try to consume from 25-35 grams of fiber daily. (4 grams equal approximately 1 teaspoon.)

Cholesterol is more complex. There is “helpful” cholesterol (HDL) which protects the heart and transports bad cholesterol out of the body.  HDL should remain above 45 mg/dl. (Milligrams per Deciliter.) LDL, “lousy” cholesterol, creates plaque,clogging arteries. LDL should remain lower than 100 mg/dl. Beneficial fiber (with water) clears our arteries like Roto Rooter.

Stay away from high protein diets which contain a higher cholesterol rate. Also stay away from sugary donuts and processed desserts which raise triglycerides which should remain lower than 150 mg/dl.

If we eat unhealthily because we demand instant gratification, how could that ever please God? As Christians, God provides a Biblical standard which we judge ourselves against. The Bible contains Absolutes, to which we should aspire: “Be holy for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16.) If we didn’t, we’d have no moral compass and would reap the unhealthy lifestyle which we ourselves sowed. To paraphrase Judges 21:25, “everyone would eat what was right in his own eyes,” regardless of consequences.

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2)

Aging Gracefully Through Nutritionally Wise Choices

What facial features do people usually complain about most?  Wrinkles right? wrinkly-pupsWe all start out cute and wrinkly but how we end up is our choice. Why spend a fortune on face creams when if we only ate better, we’d save a lot of money?!

Daily free radicals age us while wind and sunshine steal oxygen from the skin.

How does one fight the aging process when tough seasonal elements aren’t helping?! 

Nutrition plays a huge role in creating a vibrant you. Choosing colorful, nutrient-dense foods containing anti-oxidants as much as possible will ward off that damage. Studies have shown that those who consume fibrous fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, omega-3’s and nuts naturally look younger.

Did you know that residents of certain countries have fewer wrinkles due to their diet? Scientists conducted a lengthy study of elderly people living in Greece, Australia and Sweden. They found those whose diets included high amounts of fruits, vegetables and legumes and less processed foods had fewer wrinkles. I’d urge adding salmon and other omega 3′s to that list like milled flaxseed.

In contrast, countries who sustained a diet high in meat, dairy, sugar and butter were linked to more wrinkled skin. That makes sense because the harder your body works to sustain its system through clogged pathways, the more worn out it becomes. Just visualize how your automobile would function if you never changed its oil.

As we age, a build-up of toxins affect our bodily systems. Our body loses some ability to absorb nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract. We tire easily, can’t think clearly, feel sluggish and our skin looks haggard.  We need to flush out our system so we can absorb nutrients again.

 Try consuming cleansing foods with a high water and nutrient content:

  • Green leafy vegetables, kale, green teas, alfalfa, asparagus, colorful fruits . . .  If you have a Juicer, try juicing for a few days. This detoxifies the liver, allowing it to metabolize fat easier.
  • Vitamin C, zinc and copper foods restore elastin and build collagen in your skin. Good news, dark chocolate contains copper . . . and so does broccoli.
  • Consume vitamin E and C foods together to repair sun damage.
  • Alfalfa, brown rice, soybeans and green leafy vegetables contain silica which is beneficial for collagen formation as well.
  • Eat lots of dark fruit such as blueberries,      blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.  Packed with vitamin C, it builds and restores collagen found in the skin. Purchase frozen during the winter season.
  • Caffeine is a natural diuretic and although fine in moderation, will deplete water from the skin. So simply cut down on the consumption of coffee and tea. Avoid sodas which contain abrasive chemicals.
  • Sodium pulls water from the cells and makes us look older, more tired and places bags under our eyes. Hydrate with water!

Unfortunately our skin gets thinner as we age, making it difficult to retain moisture. Therefore, try to limit sugar-rich foods, because through the metabolic process of glycation, sugar attaches to molecules in our bloodstream, forming harmful new molecules and dehydrating skin. Ironically these are called: (AGEs)  “advanced glycation end products.”

Our skin also loses valuable collagen and elastin which keeps our skin firm and elastic.  The more processed sugar we eat, the faster we’ll age! Is that daily donut worth it?

Focus on a life that is vibrant and full of energy, honoring our Lord!

“Instead, it should be the inner disposition of the heart, consisting in the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which God values greatly.” 1 Peter 3:4 (ISV)

How Nutrition Assists Those with Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has been around since 1975. It’s an intense inflammatory disease primarily caused by bacteria and living with it is a challenge. Symptoms range from severe headaches, memory loss, fatigue, debilitating joint pain and heart palpitations (mimicking Chronic Fatigue and Epsom Barr Syndrome.)deer-tick

The common misconception is that the disease is only spread by the deer tick. Recent studies have discovered however that not only ticks but fleas, mosquitoes, spiders and even lice spread the disease. How well one lives with Lyme disease is determined by many factors but foremost is how healthy one’s immune system is previously to  acquiring it.

We live in a deteriorating world far removed from Eden. Many new-found plagues, like the Zika Virus, will be prevalent during the end times. (Yet another reason to consume a healthier diet.) Our body constantly hosts a myriad of illnesses within us, including cancer cells. So the question remains: why are some susceptible to certain illnesses while others aren’t? The answer: hereditary genes, environment, lifestyle, Second Law of Thermodynamics – in other words, you name it!

To combat inflammation, we should keep our bodies slightly on the higher end of the pH scale (7.2 – 7.4.)  If water is pure at 7.0, acidic foods are below 7.0 and alkaline foods are above 7.0. Once again we need balance in our lifestyle and dietary habits.

Alkaline foods are very anti-inflammatory so consuming more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs is imperative to fight this. Anything’s fine in moderation but limiting one’s daily meat intake to 4-6 ounces would go a long way to improving health.

Since the disease is a bacterial one, ensure you consume a good quality natural yogurt such as Dannon Natural or one with no fillers, preservatives or junk added. Fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi or fermented vegetables contain probiotic’s and essential enzymes. Without enzymes the body can’t walk, breathe, talk or do any other bodily function!

Garlic has always been a natural defense agent protecting us against disease. Containing allicin, it antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, destroys parasites and strengthens the immune system. A side benefit is that it’s a mood elevator.

Flavoring our foods with herbs like parsley, basil and oregano detoxifies our liver. Most herbs are anti-inflammatory and these three are especially great! Pesto over a white fiber pasta, anyone?

Turmeric (also curcumin found within turmeric) increases bile production in the liver which transport toxins out of the body.

Pineapple is a fabulous anti-inflammatory agent. Containing bromelain it increases a natural killer cell of bacteria called CD57.

Green drinks with chlorophyll, are excellent detoxifiers. Adding green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuce and of course many cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cabbage and Brussels Sprouts should regularly be on the menu.

Only use quality oils. Try coconut oil which resists bacteria and will last up to 6 months after opening. (And a little goes a long way.)

Omega 3’s is imperative. Fish oil, salmon, tuna, avocados, milled flaxseed. It’s easier to look up a list of these beneficial choices rather than rattle them off now but all lower inflammatory symptoms. The Mediterranean Diet is very saturated with omega 3’s!

One last item you can try if you find it is called Bentonite clay. It tastes like milk of magnesia, binding toxins and removing them from your system.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s a debilitating illness but always hang on to hope – some people discover their symptoms subside over time. Eating well might help diminish painful symptoms.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

 

The Benefits of True Health

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

healthy decisions

Health is important, being skinny isn’t! Oh my, did a Nutritional Counselor just say that? Shocking! However I won’t tell you what your “itching ears want to hear”  (2 Timothy 4:3) and  as some false prophets of dietary health profess. True health comes from the inside out. Be mentally, physically and spiritually fit!

Have you ever asked yourself why you really want to be ‘skinny’?

  • Is it because you dislike your appearance and want to look like a supermodel?  (God designed you. If you’re God’s child, you’re beautiful to Him no matter what size you are!)
  • Is it because someone keeps nagging you?  (Strive for health because honoring God is the right thing to do, not what someone else expects it of you.)
  • Is it simply because you’re self-conscious by the looks people give you when you walk by?  (Well, people stare no matter what size you are!)
  • Or is it because you know God expects a disciplined, sincere testimony and you are rebelling against His command of 1 Peter 1:13-16? Jonah also tried to run from God’s commands. (You can’t  hide from God) Eat nutritionally balanced because it’s the right thing to do.

Thin isn’t always healthy. Being FIT is healthy! The ability to climb stairs or play with your children without exertion is healthy! Being mentally balanced and alert is healthy! Exuding a countenance of  JOY is healthy!

I’ve met many who despise their looks and put themselves down. Whereas some, exhibiting the other side of the coin, continually post selfies, seemingly expounding upon, “I’m so beautiful aren’t I . . .  but enough about me, what do you think about my beauty?”  Looks are simply the “luck of the draw” you did nothing to earn it –  true beauty comes from within. Kindness, patience, helpfulness are all attributes to strive for, resulting in true beauty that endures. That’s beauty God recognizes!

Real change must come from a personal desire to succeed and please our Lord. Is that self-destructive addiction too dear to you?

No one has an easy, stress-free road. Life can get discouraging at times. We then fill the empty void with other idols which leads to addiction because it numbs the pain. Food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, drugs or other addictions will never fill the void that is in your soul. Only God can change lives! Will you allow Him to change yours?

After embracing the Christian lifestyle and experiencing what TRUE joy brings, most people have no desire to return to the decadent, self-deprecating days in which they used to live. Granted that pull will always be there; the same enticement a drug addict, alcoholic or smoker encounter as they struggle each day to remain faithful.  God remains faithful. He’ll help you endure.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect but sometimes we expect it from ourselves. When facing tough times,please don’t give up and exclaim, “Why bother? It’s not worth it!”   Because upon conquering addictions, (that ‘old man’ way of life) you’ll wonder,  “Why didn’t I overcome this sooner?” There is no feeling as victorious as conquering a destructive habit.

We’ll never find that eternally peaceful life in anything this world has to offer.  That’s only found in Christ! Love yourself as God loves you. Realize you have worth simply because you are!

Ephesians 4:24, “Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy.”

Caffeine, Friend or Foe?

caffeine addictionCaffeine is in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and other items but how does it affect us and is it good or bad?

As in any food, moderation is the key. Caffeine is a drug and like any drug can change body chemistry. So here’s the good, the bad and the ugly on caffeine:

The Good:

  • Caffeine affects two brain transmitters called adenosine and acetylcholine. These are stimulants which wake us up, begin to jumpstart our metabolism and regulate our day.
  • Caffeine helps prevent cognitive impairment and recent studies have shown it can ward off Alzheimer’s as well as Parkinson’s disease. I truly hope that helps overcome those debilitating diseases!
  • Taken while studying or before a test, it can boost memory recall.
  • A little caffeine improves our mood.
  • Caffeine can dilate your bronchial tubes and therefore open our airways. This is helpful if we have a lung disease such as asthma or COPD.
  • The stimulant affect of coffee can lead to a more regulated digestive system.
  • Caffeine by itself contains no calories (but also has no nutritional value.) Chocolate, coffee and teas do contain many beneficial nutrients and are fine in moderation.
  • I believe the coffee bean was found in the Garden of Eden and therefore, like anything created by God was originally “very good.”

The Bad:

  • Caffeine is a natural diuretic and interferes with vitamin absorption.  By washing away valuable B vitamins, one cannot convert food into energy. If you find yourself gaining weight, cut down on your caffeine intake, but do so gradually to lesson withdrawal symptoms.
  • Caffeine is extremely addictive. One patient of mine consumed thirty cups of coffee each day and it took months to wean her off it.
  • Caffeine will remain in your system three to twelve hours. If I consume a cup of coffee or iced tea at noon, I won’t be able to sleep until midnight. My husband on the other hand can fall asleep immediately after drinking caffeinated products.
  • Too much caffeine dehydrates and ages, causing wrinkles and dry skin.
  • And how many can actually sit down and have a cup of coffee, cola or tea without having something to go with it like cake, cookies or potato chips?

The Ugly:

  • Caffeine is a stimulant which if taken in excess can cause sleep disturbances, rapid heartbeat, mood changes, migraines and tension headaches.
  • Since caffeine is a drug, it psychologically affects the mind. Coupled with its diuretic effects it can even be dangerous if consumed in excess. Thiamine and Niacin, two B vitamins influence the calming aspect of our personality. Do you know that people have actually gone crazy after niacin depletion occurred?  Yes food is that powerful! Which makes me question whether young people who consume so many caffeinated energy drinks today, are unknowingly influenced by that fact when school violence occurs today.
  • Caffeine depletes water soluble minerals, magnesium, potassium and calcium which regulate heart rhythms. Too much caffeine causes heart palpitations, increases blood pressure and weakens the heart muscle. It can also cause jitters and nervousness.
  • By depleting calcium, it affects bone loss, creating dangerous osteoporosis.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.”  (1 Corinthians 6:12)

My husband can drink caffeinated products and fall asleep easily. If I consume coffee at noon, I’m awake past midnight. We all have different chemical make-ups.  Today we live under grace and anything is fine in moderation. Choose what is good for you. Drink caffeinated products sensibly and in balance.

If We Want to Be Great at Anything . . .

Recently I read an exceptional article by author/blogger Anne R. Allen entitled: “Don’t derail your writing career before it starts” found at http://annerallen.com.  Totally inspirational! I trust it will inspire you too!

Seeing life through a Spiritual lens, I instantly recognized a correlation between writing successfully to our Christian walk and/or healthier lifestyle.writing a novel photo

Anne R. Allen began: “We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn. But some mistakes have the potential to end a writing career before it starts. Today I’m talking about the things a lot of writers do that can keep them from having a career—or derail it for a long time. How do I know about them? I did a lot of this stuff myself.”

Ms. Allen, a brilliant, accomplished author, is humble regarding her successful career. She didn’t brag about being the best novelist since Charlotte Bronte; rather she gives credit to those around her who encouraged and assisted her toward that success. She infers how we don’t live in a vacuum; it truly takes a team to create a well-rounded work. I also acknowledge that without other friend’s expertize advising and cheering me on, my most recent work, Casey’s Journey, would have been a struggle.

Have you seen the movie, Becoming Jane or Little Women? Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott weren’t successful overnight were they? They had plenty of rejections, tossed away pages and rewritten manuscripts. Thankfully however, they never quit. But what if they had given up, discouraged by those rejection letters? We never would have the masterpieces we have today!

Compare this with any lifestyle endeavor. Please don’t derail any healthy lifestyle quest by giving up, feeling defeated or quit out of fear. As a nutritional counselor, one remark I often heard was, “Why did I wait so long to do this?!” Expecting perfection, fear of failure or even fear of success holds us back. (After all, if I’m successful in this, they’ll expect more from me!)

That victorious feeling after conquering challenges and insecurities is worth the struggle. (Which coincidentally is one theme in my first novel, Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime, shameless plug.) We’ll continually make mistakes so learn from them and move on, strive for excellence not perfection.

It takes practice to write well. Don’t expect perfection right away or ever. My first manuscript took forever to finish because I was afraid of embarrassing imperfections and grammar mistakes. It’s been decades since I’ve attended school and punctuation has changed over the years. If we want to succeed, we must keep working at it! As a Christian, I’ll never be perfect so please don’t look at me, look to Christ.

We’ll make mistakes in our lifestyle challenges too. Regarding physical and spiritual health: Always look for Truth. Notice all the fad diets over the years? And yet if you compare those with sensible physiology, (truth) we can disregard 99% of them as fads (untruths!) It was extremely satisfying recently to discover health “experts” declaring the Mediterranean Diet as the Best of the Best. Really? I’ve been saying that for twenty-five years. It’s the Biblical Diet from Genesis 9:3 which God gave us first; Physiological Truth!

Last but not least, Anne proposed: in order to be a great writer, we need to be avid readers. If I want to write intelligent works I must read intelligent novelists. Likewise, if we desire a healthier lifestyle, we must compare current health claims to the Great Physician’s Manuscript, The Bible.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” (Colossians 3:23)