Monthly Archives: April 2014

Riley Hospital’s New ICU and Family Lounge

Sign in the Riley Family Lounge honoring The Miracle Ride
Photograph Courtesy of William Mollencupp

This year is the 21st Miracle Ride. Riley Hospital directs donations from each year’s Miracle Ride to fund a specific need. Last year’s donated funds were used to build and equip a Family Lounge in a new ICU unit at the hospital. The Family Lounge provides a place for families to relax, eat, meet friends, and decompress while their child is in intensive care. The lounge is well equipped with comfortable furniture, kitchen equipment, a refrigerator, computers and other equipment designed to make the parents’ time spent there as comfortable as possible. The lounge is also very attractively decorated and does not have an institutional feel. The entire Simon Family Tower is very attractively decorated and contains bright, happy pictures from various ecosystems. The elevators even have pictures on the ceilings to help entertain and distract children lying on gurneys.

While touring the new intensive care unit (ICU) in the Simon Family Tower, I was blown away by the information the physicians shared about the unit. The impressive facts included:

  • The entire building was designed using lean engineering techniques to allow it to be multifunctional and to ensure consistency between different parts of the building. Every patient room is exactly the same. The staff shared that Riley Hospital has put extensive thought into every detail of the design of every floor and unit of the hospital. The end result is that every storage facility in the hospital has the exact same layout and stores items in the same location. This makes it very easy to staff members to quickly find what they need if they need to work on a different floor or unit. It also enables staff members to quickly find needed supplies when speed is essential.
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  • Each ICU patient room contains a computer system on wheels that allows the nurses to log and reference data from their patient’s bedside. The nurses’ external workstations are also brilliantly designed. Each work station is located directly outside of two adjoining rooms. The workstation has windows that allow the nurse(s) to see the child in the bed and view the child’s medical monitors to track vital signs, IV status and other important information. The doctors who miracleride logo2provided the tour shared that intense consideration was devoted to the design and angle of the windows to ensure the maximum level of patient care while also allowing parents to be alone with their child if desired.
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  • Best of all … each ICU patient room contains a pullout bed, private restroom and a Nintendo Wii. This attention to detail and comfort is highly unusual and will make the hospital experience much more comfortable for parents and children. The in-room restrooms will allow parents to stay closer to their child while attending to personal needs, and the pullout beds will help parents rest more comfortably during overnight stays. (When our son was in intensive care in another hospital, the ICU rooms were extremely cramped and did not have any chairs or furniture that could be used for sleeping. We wound up sleeping in a waiting room that wasn’t very close to our son’s room. The pullout beds in the Riley Hospital ICU rooms are wonderful.)
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  • The staff spent months planning the exact location of every piece of equipment and every supply item so that every action will run smoothly for patients, parents and staff. The doctors who led the tour acknowledged this focus on consistency and ease is intentionally designed to make hospital stays less stressful for parents and children alike. As an example, the doctors shared that weeks were spent figuring out where the best location would to place the hand sanitizer required to enter isolation rooms. They also shared that they created cardboard models of every piece of equipment and furniture contained in every ICU room and then tried a wide variety of layouts so they could choose the best placement for every piece of equipment, furniture and medical supply item. The end result created rooms that are functional yet comfortable and logical in their layout.
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  • The unit contains a staff training room where state of the art training mannequins will be used to train new staff members, assist with team building, etc. The training mannequins are programmed in such a way that they show the direct outcome of treatment decisions made by staff members. This means new staff members can be presented a specific medical situation and asked to create a treatment plan. Their treatment choices will be entered into the mannequin, allowing them to immediately see the results of their treatment plan. This will help medical staff quickly learn the best approach for a wide variety of medical situations. The training facility will also be used to provide advanced training to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other staff members.
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  • The ratio of patients to nurses is incredibly small compared to that of other hospitals. The maximum number of patients assigned to a single nurse is three, assuming the patients’ needs do not require more attention. The typical assignment ratio is two patients to one nurse. In cases where patients require constant monitoring and attention, it will not be uncommon for four or more nurses to be assigned to a single patient 24 hours a day for as long as that level of care is needed. I was impressed at the hospital’s willingness to ensure each patient receives the level of care his or her medical needs require.
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  • Although the hospital’s top priority is medical care, the staff devotes an amazing amount of attention to the experience each child and family has while in the hospital. The Riley Hospital Child Life program is dedicated to ensuring the child’s emotional needs are met and that each child has a chance to engage in age-appropriate fun activities during his or her hospital stay. The Child Life team consists of a huge number of staff members who ensure every child has a chance to play, avoid boredom and engage in therapeutic ways of expressing themselves as needed. The Child Life team also provides an opportunity for children and parents to tour the hospital and learn about a child’s
    Miracle Ride Committee Members

    Photograph Courtesy of William Mollencupp

    upcoming procedure prior to coming to the hospital for the procedure. This “medical play” allows the child to see exactly what will occur during their stay and is designed to reduce the child’s fear. The Child Life team also works to help parents express and deal with their fears and concerns. Depending on the procedure, a Child Life team member may be present during a procedure to coach the child through the procedure using techniques to reduce pain and fear. The Miracle Ride has a long history of supporting Patient Life Programs to ensure each child and family has access to fun activities and emotional support during their hospital stay. 

Riley Hospital went out of their way to make the evening we spent there comfortable and enjoyable. After the dedication ceremony, the staff treated us to a delicious dinner and hosted our monthly Miracle Ride Committee Meeting. The Miracle Ride is still in need of volunteers and donations for the event on May 31st – June 1st. Please visit the Miracle Ride website to learn more.

If you would like to make a donation to The Miracle Ride without riding in the ride, you can! Visit The Miracle Ride’s page at First Giving to make a donation and support Riley Hospital.

10 Surprising Facts About Blood Sugars

Many people assume the only people who need to pay attention to their blood sugar are those who have diabetes, hypoglycemia or who are grossly obese. The truth is that everyone should be aware of how blood sugars affect their overall Glucose meter and vegetableshealth and wellness. Glucose is one of the body’s primary sources of energy, and is the only fuel the brain can effectively utilize. It is therefore very important for everyone to have a basic knowledge about blood sugars. Insulin resistance is a common syndrome that causes the body’s cells to have difficulty absorbing insulin. The person’s pancreas works fine and secretes plenty of insulin, but the body cannot use it correctly. For more information about insulin and insulin resistance, please read: Surprising Facts About Insulin and Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome.

The following facts about blood sugars may surprise you:

  1. Blood sugars impact emotions in huge ways:  A blood sugar that is even mildly low or high changes brain chemistry enough to influence emotions. Low or high blood sugars tend to increase irritability, anger and may even cause feelings of paranoia. Two studies done in 2010 found that couples who had the highest degree of aggression and antagonism toward each other also had the lowest blood sugars. The study leaders concluded that maintaining stable blood sugars was a key to a happy marriage. That may be a stretch, but I believe they are on the right track.
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  2. Exercise sometimes raises blood sugars:  Most people assume that exercise lowers their blood sugar. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Exercising without eating a meal, or exercising when blood glucose levels are already above 250, may cause the body to release glycogen (a potent form of sugar) from the liver. Why does the body do that? Because it does not feel it has enough energy to fuel the exercise. Exercising without eating an hour or so before a workout sends the body into emergency mode and may result in higher blood sugars. Many Type 1 diabetics (myself included) can vouch that blood sugars may rise to dangerous levels if exercise is engaged in without providing adequate fuel. This is also pertinent to those trying to lose weight, as glycogen causes a healthy pancreas to secrete high levels of insulin, and insulin is a hormone that signals the body to store fat. It is therefore advisable to eat a snack containing a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat prior to working out. An apple with almond butter is a perfect choice.
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  3. Dehydration raises blood sugar:   Those of you who follow me know I recommend that everyone drink half their weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily. Drinking this much water ensures cells remain hydrated. When dehydration occurs, the sugar in the blood stream becomes concentrated. This causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin. As I explained above, insulin is a fat storage hormone that has negative effects on weight loss or weight maintenance. Drinking water is a simple fix to helping maintain stable blood sugars.
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  4. Intravenous Vitamin C can cause false readings of high blood sugar:  IV Vitamin C is commonly used in a variety of nutritional IV therapies. Those with blood sugar imbalances need to be very careful following the administration of a Vitamin C IV, as blood sugar readings will appear high when they actually are not. This can lead to taking excess insulin, thereby causing dangerously low blood glucose levels. If receiving intravenous Vitamin C, work with your practitioner to track glucose readings and determine how to adjust your bolus and sliding scale.
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  5. Hormones other than insulin impact blood sugars:  Most women with diabetes know their sugars tend to run high during the week prior to their period. Although this affects women with diabetes most strongly, the effect also occurs in women who do not have diabetes. The hormones released prior to menstruation tend to decrease insulin sensitivity. The end result is higher than normal blood sugars. For best results, cut back on carbohydrates and increase exercise to naturally reverse this effect of PMS.
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  6. High cholesterol is usually caused by high blood sugars, not by fat consumption:  People who have high cholesterol levels should always ask their doctor to check their blood insulin level. (See The Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for more info.) When the body has excess sugar in the blood stream which it cannot lower due to insulin resistance, the body will – in simple terms – convert the sugar to fat. This conversion tends to cause high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When people reduce their carbohydrate consumption and improve their insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and triglyceride levels often return to normal fairly quickly.
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  7. A lack of sleep can raise blood sugar levels:  According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care, people who get less than 4 hours of sleep a night often have decreased insulin sensitivity and increased blood glucose levels. Again, this effect negatively affects everyone, not just diabetics.
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  8. Hot temperatures affect blood sugar levels:  On a very hot day, blood vessels dilate, which can increase the speed of insulin absorption. This can cause lower than normal blood sugars for many people. Other people experience very hot days in the opposite extreme. The stress caused by extremely hot conditions cause their body to excrete glycogen to provide energy to deal with the stress. This raises blood glucose levels and will cause a rise in insulin secretion in those who do not have Type 1 diabetes.
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  9. Coffee raises blood sugars, even if nothing is added to it:  The caffeine in coffee causes a spike in blood sugar coffeecupthat may last throughout the day. The caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands, which in turn stimulate the liver to secrete glycogen. (See a trend, here?) The glycogen causes blood sugars and insulin levels to significantly raise. This can have a negative effect on anyone trying to lose weight. For best results, drink organic, Swiss Water Process decaffeinated coffee without added sweeteners or creamers.
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  10. Some foods lower blood sugars:  Some foods are known to contain insulin imitators that effectively lower blood sugar. The lowering effect may be minimal depending on the quantity eaten and the person’s personal physiology, but these foods are known to be helpful for weight loss and for blood sugar control. (Please note that these foods should never be substituted for insulin injections.) The following foods are known to contain insulin imitators:  avocado, cinnamon, fenugreek, Jerusalem artichokes, bitter melon, and nopal (prickly pear) cactus.

 Did any of these surprise you? Which one was the biggest surprise?

 

 

References:

Unhappy Marriages Due to Low Blood Sugar?

How to Dye Eggs Using Natural Easter Egg Dye

Naturally dyed Easter eggs

Picture courtesy of the Bloom Blog

When my children were much younger, one of my favorite Easter activities was dying Easter eggs. The fun the kids had experimenting with different decorating techniques and proudly displaying their works of art created many precious memories. We attached a significant event to each color as one way of teaching the wonder of the Easter story.

As the years passed, I began to have concerns about the ingredients used in commercial egg dying kits. Does it really matter that egg dyes contain artificial ingredients since we don’t eat the shells? Yes, as the vinegar added to the egg dye tablets makes the shells more porous, thereby allowing the dye to potentially soak through. On top of that, we all know how common it is for eggs to crack during the boiling stage, and have all eaten brightly colored eggs as a result. My preference is to therefore use natural Easter egg dyes to avoid any exposure to potential toxins. 

Commercial egg dye ingredientsAs can be seen in the graphic at left, the ingredients contained in the most common OTC egg dying kits include artificial dyes and a variety of artificial chemicals and foaming agents. The artificial foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate is a known irritant with suspected mutagenic properties that is known to remain in the body’s tissues for an extended period of time. Since we avoid eating foods or using body products containing these ingredients, it therefore makes sense to avoid them in egg dyes.

Nature provided many wonderful alternatives for making natural Easter egg dyes. The table that follows shows which common kitchen ingredients can easily be used to create beautiful dyes:

Color Products Used
Blue Pureed blueberries; red cabbage; 
Orange (light) Turmeric; carrot tops; 
Yellow Yellow onion skins; chamomile tea; 
Lavender Grape juice; red cabbage; 
Red/Burgundy Red wine; paprika; cherry juice; raspberry juice
Tan/Brown Coffee; tea;
Green Grass (yes, the stuff growing in your yard); spinach; liquid cholorophyll
Pink Hibiscus tea; diluted red wine; beet juice; cranberry juice; 

The most important issue with using botanicals and other natural ingredients for natural Easter egg dyes is to make sure the ingredients are all edible. As I said before, egg shells are somewhat porous, so you want to be sure your dye ingredients are edible. If they are not, please only use the eggs for decoration and do not eat them.

Some people like to hard boil their eggs at the same time they make their dye, while others make their dyes and then color the eggs. I prefer the latter method, as it creates less mess and brighter colors. 

To dye eggs:

  1. Hard boil the number of eggs you wish to dye. Allow to cool and store them in the refrigerator until your dyes are ready.
  2. Choose which colors you wish you make and gather the necessary ingredients. Plan on needing about one cup of plant material for each color; 1-2 tablespoons of powdered spices; or 1/2-1 cup of juices. The more colorant you use, the more vibrant the egg color will be.
  3. Boil each botanical or spice in a separate pot of 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar for about 20 minutes. A longer boil will create a more vibrant color.
  4. If using juices for colorant, there’s no need to boil them. You can use one cup of straight juice and two tablespoons of white vinegar, or can blend the juice with one cup of water and two tablespoons vinegar. I recommend experimenting with straight juice before adding water so you can find the right blend for the perfect color.
  5. After boiling, strain the plant material or spices out of the liquid and pour the liquid into a ceramic/glass bowl or measuring cup. Be sure to use non-porous bowls that will not be stained by the dyes.
  6. Gently drop the eggs into the containers of prepared dye. They need to sit in the dye for a minimum of 20 minutes, but letting them sit overnight will achieve the brightest hues.
  7. When the eggs reach the color you wish, remove them from the dye and gently blot dry with a paper towel.
  8. The eggs will not be shiny, but you can rub a tiny amount of liquid oil on the eggs to create a shine.

For added fun, make designs on the eggs with a white crayon before putting in the dye solution, or use rubberbands to make wild patterns on the eggs before dying. Both techniques will create white spaces where the dye did not come in contact with the egg shell.

To see how others made natural Easter egg dye, I recommend visiting these sites:

The Bloom Blog, Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Live Science, Coloring Eggs with Natural Dyes

Serious Eats, How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally without Buying a Kit

That’s it! Making and using natural dyes is very simple and easy. Have you tried this before? If so, please share pictures of your creations on the Good Works Wellness Facebook page!

 

Important Information About the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is one of the most important systems in our body, yet it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Our Lymphatic System - Thymuslymphatic system plays a primary role in detoxification and immunity, and some have said the lymphatic system is just as important as the circulatory system. The truth is that we have four times as much lymphatic fluid as blood. In spite of that, very few medical professionals encourage their patients to pay attention to their lymphatic system. The goal of this article is to explain the importance of the lymphatic system and to share simple techniques you can use to support it.

The lymphatic system’s primary job is to protect the body from bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other pathogenic invaders. The lymphatic system uses cells called “lymphocytes” to protect us. Lymphocytes are white blood cells whose job is to kill pathogenic cells. In a healthy human body, lymphocytes make up 20-40% of all blood cells. Lymphocytes’ main job is to determine what type of immune response is needed and to implement that response. Lymphocytes originate in the bone marrow and are found in various organs of the lymphatic system, including the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, etc. Lymphocytes work by binding to pathogenic cells to neutralize them and eliminate them. For every pathogen we may be exposed to, we have a specific lymphocyte whose role is to bind to it and neutralize it. There are two main types of lymphocytes:

  • B Lymphocytes:  Also called “B Cells.” B Cells handle immunity controlled by antibodies. B Cells remain in the bone marrow, where they mature into cells that spring into action when we are exposed to an invader. Some types of B Cells create antibodies that play an important role in immunity, as they develop in response to a pathogen (antigen) and work to neutralize it. Excesses in lymphatic reactions can lead to antibody imbalances such as allergies.
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  • T Lymphocutes:  Also called “T Cells.” T Cells travel to the Thymus gland, where they mature to become either helper, regulatory, cytotoxic or memory T Cells. Helper T Cells stimulate the B Cells to turn into plasma cells to produce antibodies. Regulatory T Cells work to control immune reactions; while Cytotoxic T Cells work to bind to and kill cells infected with pathogens. Killer T Cells are the body’s primary defense against cancerous cells. Memory T Cells retain a memory of past immune responses. Memory T Cells remain in an inactive state until they are needed, at which time they quickly mobilize to combat the pathogen using the same approach that was effective previously. (Our body is pretty darn amazing, isn’t it?)

Although lymphocytes play a primary role in the functions performed by the lymphatic system, the lymphatic system is responsible for much more. The organs included in the lymphatic system include:

  • A network of 600-800 lymph nodes and lymph vessels
  • The thymus gland*
  • Bone marrow
  • The spleen
  • The Peyer’s patches in the digestive tract
  • The tonsils and adenoids
  • The appendix. (It is important and is not disposable.)

When you consider the fact that lymphatic organs exist from head to toe in virtually every portion of the body and that the lymphatic system plays a key role in protecting us from invading antigens, it’s hard to believe we aren’t encouraged to take better care of it. Each of the organs in the lymphatic system plays an important role in white blood cell production and in protecting the body from invaders. The lymphatic system also collects toxic debris from cells and carries it to the bloodstream for removal. Lymphatic fluid is the body’s mobile garbage system, so it’s important to keep it moving.

*On a side note, your thymus gland is located in the center of your sternum, about two inches below the ends of your collar bones. The thymus gland is highlighted in red in the graphic above. Tapping the thymus gland stimulates it to create lymphocytes and boosts immunity. I recommend tapping your thymus anytime you’re in an environment where people have contagious illnesses. I tap it frequently when I fly.

One of the challenges the lymphatic system has is that the system has no pump to move the lymphatic fluid throughout the body. The only way to get the fluid moving is via exercise, deep breathing or massage. This is just one more reason we should each engage in some form of movement on a daily basis. Our immunity and body’s detoxification efforts rely on some form of daily movement.

You can help your lymphatic system work most efficiently by:

  • Exercising daily in a way that gets arms and legs moving up and down and back and forth.
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  • Drinking plenty of water.
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  • Eliminating as many toxins as possible from your eating habits, skin care products and environment. Eliminating toxins will mean your lymphatic system will not need to work as hard to eliminate toxins.
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  • Bouncing on a mini-trampoline for a few minutes daily, or simply bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet for a few minutes daily.
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  • Getting a therapeutic lymphatic massage. If you have lymphatic blockages or stagnation, be sure to tell the massage therapist about it and request a specialize lymphatic massage.
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  • Sweating in a hot bath or sauna, or using detoxification methods such as an ionic foot bath or far infra-red session.
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  • Eating more healthy fat! The lymphatic system needs fatty acids to function correctly. Load up on healthy fats such as avocados, raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, organic butter, extra virgin coconut oil, organic eggs and bacon, etc. (For more information on why fat is healthy, please read Six Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.)
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  • Breathing deeply! Deep breathing is known to help circulate lymphatic fluid and to help the body use the lymphatic system for toxin elimination.
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  • Dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing is a method of stimulating lymphatic flow using a natural bristled brush. Always brush toward the heart. If you don’t have access to a natural bristle brush, you can use a dry wash cloth to accomplish the same thing. Start at your feet, working upward and always brushing/stroking toward the heart.
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  • Detoxification. I recommend doing a total body detoxification every three to four months. To learn more about detoxification, please read How to Know You Need to Detoxify, How Your Body Detoxifies Itself and How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis.
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  • Eliminating tight clothing. Tight clothing restricts the flow of lymphatic fluid, so do yourself a favor and switch to comfortable clothing that allows your body to move freely.
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  • If necessary, herbs such as nettles, burdock, yellow dock, or goldenseal are known to support the lymphatic system. Please work with a trained professional to help you choose the best option for your specific needs. 

Your lymphatic system is your friend. Treat it well and you’ll benefit!

How to Successfully Address Low Testosterone

The new glut of “Low T” commercials has my head spinning. “Low T” is the new fad diagnosis sweeping the country because
Happy Senior African American Couple on Beachso many pharmaceutical companies stand to make such a huge profit. It goes by many names: “Low T,” “Andropause” and “Male Menopause” are just a few names given to low testosterone levels in men.

An interesting side note is that “Low T” is considered a “disease” and testosterone creams for men are therefore covered by insurance, but hormonal imbalances in women are not considered a “disease” and are not covered. Let’s chat about that some other time.

Please note it is imperative to measure testosterone levels before boosting them. Low testosterone levels have many vague symptoms that can mimic many other physical challenges. NEVER take any supplement designed to boost testosterone levels without first using a saliva or blood hormone test to measure your testosterone levels. Adjusting hormone levels without knowing what specific deficiencies and excesses exist can have very negative results. Please do not try to adjust hormone levels on your own, and please thoroughly discuss your test levels with your physician.

Moving on … it is perfectly normal for testosterone levels to drop as men age. Thirty years ago, the natural drop was minor and did not produce the severe symptoms men are experiencing today. Symptoms of low testosterone levels may include:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy and motivation
  • Loss of libido
  • Erectile dysfunction, softer erections, less ejaculate, etc.
  • Hair loss
  • Inability to build muscle and/or a loss in muscle mass
  • Weight gain and an increase in body fat
  • Depression and other mood changes
  • Decreased facial hair, “man boobs,” shrunken testicles, etc.
  • Loss of height due to losses in bone mineral density

The main reasons testosterone levels are dropping to lower levels and men’s symptoms are stronger today than they were in years past include:

  • We are surrounded by xenoestrogens, or estrogen imitators, that negatively impact hormone balance in men by artificially elevating estrogen levels. These xenoestrogens exist in plastics, chemicals sprayed on crops, body products, and other common products.
  • Our food system is overloaded with soy and soy derivatives. Soy is a known phytoestrogen which elevates estrogen levels and therefore decreases testosterone levels in the body.
  • Obesity can cause the body to produce less testosterone.
  • Insulin resistance, which often precedes Type 2 diabetes, is known to play a role in lowered testosterone levels.
  • Meat and dairy raised in mainstream farming operations are raised with high levels of hormones that may impact the body’s normal hormonal balance.
  • Physical imbalances and illnesses such as pituitary disease may impact testosterone production. Many of these conditions are severe and require medical intervention.
  • Steroid use is known to decrease testosterone production.
  • Sedentary lifestyle habits also decrease the body’s natural production of testosterone.
  • Chronic inflammation can affect testosterone production by inflaming the cells responsible for producing testosterone. We live in a world where ingesting inflammatory substances such as food additives, alcohol, etc. is common and even encouraged.

For men dealing with low testosterone, here are a few approaches known to help:

  • Test to make sure your symptoms are caused by a testosterone deficiency and not by other physical illnesses. The symptoms of low testosterone can mimic many other illnesses. Make sure you’re addressing the correct cause of your symptoms.
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  • Clean up your diet. Eliminate all processed foods, all white flours and sugars, all soy, soda pop, hydrogenated oils, etc., etc.
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  • Insulin resistance is one known cause of reduced testosterone levels. Work with a trained professional to reduce and target carbohydrate consumption and improve insulin sensitivity.
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  • Exercise! Exercise is known to boost testosterone levels and to improve testosterone receptors. There’s just no getting around the fact we all need to exercise. Start slowly and work up very gradually. Try to combine small amounts of cardio or walking with weight lifting for best results.
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  • Switch to stainless steel drink containers instead of drinking bottled water. BPA – common in plastic water bottles – is a known xenoestrogen. Avoiding canned food is also a good way to avoid BPA.
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  • Clean up your body care by switching to all-natural soaps, shampoos, lotions, body washes, etc., to reduce your exposure to additional xenoestrogens.
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  • Sleep more. Men who get less than six hours of sleep per night tend to have reduced testosterone levels. This is in part because their body is tired and diverts its energy to tasks it considers more important than hormone production.
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  • Check for nutritional deficiencies. Deficiencies in Vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients are all known to be causative factors of low testosterone.
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  • Check Candida levels and address any overgrowth. Candida tends to cause systemic inflammation that can cause the testicles to produce less testosterone.
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  • Switch to a non-inflammatory eating style. As mentioned above, inflammation can directly impact testosterone production by causing inflammation in the testicles. Reducing toxins is a first step to reducing inflammation. Identifying food allergies, eliminating night shade vegetables, avoiding processed foods and drinking adequate water may all help reduce systemic inflammation.
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  • Consider herbal alternatives. There are a number of herbal supplements known to boost testosterone production. I’m not going to discuss them here because some have severe side effects, I do not believe they are appropriate for everyone, and because I feel it is dangerous to take supplements that affect hormone levels without first checking to see if any hormonal imbalances exist.

There are times where physical injury, vasectomy, pituitary disorders, exposure to extreme toxins or other issues can cause testosterone levels to drop so low that medication is needed. I believe testosterone creams are often prescribed without doing adequate testing and without making the necessary lifestyle changes first. In extreme cases, testosterone pills and/or injections may be required to return levels to normal. When testosterone medications are used, it is important to test hormone levels frequently to ensure hormone levels are where they should be.

There are a number of side effects with the creams, so they must be used with caution to avoid exposing women and children to the hormones in the cream. Use caution and research heavily before agreeing to use them.

Most of all, don’t lose hope. Low testosterone levels can be improved naturally or via medication. Take the time to do adequate research and receive correct testing before choosing the program that is best for you.

A Good Time Was Had By All

I was honored to be invited to attend the 2014 Indiana Artisan Marketplace last weekend and to write about my experience. GoodiesIn exchange for these blog posts, I was given a set of tickets to give away and one set to use for myself. I was not compensated beyond that. These opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review, nor were my opinions influenced in any way.

I attended the Indiana Artisan Marketplace on Sunday, March 30. I went by myself so I could wander as slowly or as quickly as I wanted. Going by myself also allowed me to give away another ticket to one of my readers, so it was a win-win. The show was held in the Exposition Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Having been to many other events and shows in that building, I was impressed with the show’s layout as soon as I walked in. The aisles were wide and traffic flowed smoothly. 

I loved this show and highly recommend attending next year’s event. The organizers have already announced that next year’s show will be held March 28-29, 2015. It’s definitely worth marking in your calendar now.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed the show so much was because it was a juried show, meaning each vendor had to submit samples of their craft which a committee reviewed. Only the best artisans and food crafters were invited to have a booth. The quality of the handcrafts at each booth was phenomenal. I was also impressed at how well the show organizers ensured booths selling similar goods were spaced far away from each other. Every row held a wide variety of different items, which meant that each booth provided a new surprise. The food and beverage artisans were interspersed among the handcrafted item artisans in a nice way.

I had a great time chatting with the artisans, admiring handmade jewelry, sampling a few wines and seeing many old friends. I also picked up a few treats, most of which were for my hubby or for Christmas gifts. The picture I shared shows a few of the goodies I picked up. I’ve highlighted some of those artisans below.

Here’s a summary of a few of my favorite booths:

Functional Ceramics:  Artist Kris Busch’s pottery uses a unique glazing technique that makes her items appear to have multiple layers of color. Every item offers a perfect blend of art and functionality.

Litterally Divine Chocolates:  My friend, Suzanne Litteral, makes some of the best truffles and toffee I’ve ever tasted. Best of all, she uses mostly organic, vegan ingredients. Her chocolates are truly divine.

Lisa Atchison, Touch of Glass Designs:  Lisa Atchison makes her own beads, but does it in a very unique way. She grows crystals in unique patterns which she then forms into incredible works of artistic jewelry. I spent quite a while chatting with Ms. Atchison while admiring her jewelry. I wound up wishing I had significantly more money in my jewelry budget!

SACS & Company:  SACS & Company makes custom-blended, handmade soaps and other body products. As a soapmaker myself, I can vouch that their products are extremely high quality. They also have fantastic aromas!

240 Sweet:  I was not familiar with 240 Sweet prior to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace. One taste of their marshmallows make me wish I’d heard of them sooner. They make artisanal marshmallows in a wide variety of flavors, but they do not use corn syrup. I picked up a package of their Guinness marshmallows for my hubby. 

Willow by Greg Adams:  I stopped by Mr. Adams’ booth to admire the furniture, and wound up leaving with a big bundle of willow branches to fill a lonely vase in my office. He makes unfinished and finished furniture, frames and a wide variety of other wares that are all wonderfully unique.

As I said, if you have a few hours to spare March 28 and 29th next year, I highly recommend stopping by the 2015 Indiana Artisan Marketplace!