Angelina Jolie’s recent announcement that she had a double mastectomy as a preventive measure against breast cancer has everyone wondering what her true risks were and whether her decision was warranted or extreme. Please let me say I very much respect her decision and her desire to protect herself out of love for her children. Any decision related to cancer and other health matters is highly personal. There are no “right” or “wrong” decisions. I applaud Ms. Jolie for taking control of her health and making the decision which was right for her. I also strongly encourage other women to do thorough research before making a similar decision.
Her decision was reportedly based on her family history of breast cancer (her mother died at age 57 after battling the disease for a decade) and the fact she was tested for and told she has a mutation in the BRCA1 gene.
What are BRCA1 and 2 Gene Mutations?
In their normal state, the BRCA1 and 2 genes help stop abnormal cell growth. They provide a natural form of protection against breast cancer. When these genes are mutated – typically by environmental toxins and other lifestyle factors, not solely heredity – they stop providing the protection they were designed to. If left unchecked, this may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. If is important to note that only 2% of breast cancers result from a BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation, and that less than 0.25% of the population has such mutations. While researching this article, I spoke with and read quotes from multiple MDs and surgeons who are frustrated that many women are getting elective double mastectomies who do not have the BRCA1 or 2 gene defect.
Why Preventive Mastectomies Often Fail
Unfortunately, the following factors may make the decision to have a preventive mastectomy an extreme measure offering little or no protection:
- Only 2% of breast cancers involve BRCA1 or 2 genes; and approximately only 0.25% of the general population has the mutation.
- Women who had preventive mastectomies often get breast cancer in spite of having little or no breast tissue. Tumors form where breast tissue was previously.
- Women who have preventive mastectomies often believe they are “safe” and therefore fail to make simple lifestyle changes that greatly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
- Genes are activated and inactivated by environmental and lifestyle factors. Having the gene may statistically increase the likelihood of cancer developing, but it is not guaranteed and the likelihood can be diminished.
- One study found the risk primarily increased when women with a BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation had their breasts exposed to radiation – such as that from a mammogram. This is significant because women with known BRCA1 or 2 gene mutations are often advised to get a mammogram every three to six months. Although this recommendation is intended to help, the excess exposure to radiation can be very harmful.
- An article published in 2011 in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported the link between the BRCA genes and breast cancer was grossly overstated. The study found that preventive surgery, at best, may only add 3-6 years of life. This low gain in life expectancy exists because preventive surgery does not provide 100% protection from breast cancer, offers no protection from other cancers, and provides no protection against other causes of death.
What Are Other Options?
The cancer industry in the US treats cancer as an “inevitable” disease that cannot be prevented instead of encouraging people to live in a way that reduces the likelihood of cancer developing. The following tips for preventing and reducing the likelihood of developing breast cancer are based on scientific data and research:
- Have thermograms done to check for breast abnormalities and tumors instead of mammograms. Thermograms are an alternative form of scan with significantly lower risks and radiation exposure. Thermograms are also known to provide higher levels of detection.
- Eat your veggies. Several studies proved cruciferous vegetables contain a phytochemical which actually turns off mutated BRCA genes. This study found as little as one serving per day of cruciferous vegetables greatly reduced cancer risks. Indole-3-Carbinol (IC3) in broccoli has also been shown to reduce the activity of the BRCA genes.
- Get out in the sun. Multiple studies have identified a connection between breast cancer and low Vitamin D levels. A study done in 2009 determined 30% of breast cancers could be prevented if men and women would maintain adequate Vitamin D levels. (On a side note, a more recent study which concluded Vitamin D was of no benefit cannot be trusted because the study used a flawed protocol. The study did not use a high enough dosage of Vitamin D to make any difference in health outcomes.) One cancer study estimated that as many as 600,000 cases of breast cancer each year could be prevented if adequate Vitamin D levels were maintained. Vitamin D plays a powerful role in genetic expression and is also known to cause the death of cancer cells. Its value in treating and preventing breast cancer should not be underestimated. (It has been proven beneficial in preventing over 16 different cancers. Are your levels adequate?)
- Maintain normal weight and insulin levels. It is commonly recognized that obesity and insulin resistance (resulting in excess amounts of insulin in the bloodstream) are connected to breast cancer. Eating a diet low in high-glycemic carbohydrates can help with weight maintenance and may help improve insulin resistance. Regular exercise is also known to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.
- The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that about 40% of breast cancer cases in the US – or approximately 70,000 cases per year – could be prevented using simple lifestyle changes such as making better food choices, exercising more, and choosing a diet high in natural foods. Some experts think these numbers are actually a low estimate and that significantly more cases of breast cancer could be prevented by improved lifestyle habits.
- Consume adequate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and limit intake of Omega-6 fatty acids. Multiple studies have shown a connection between Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies and breast cancer. These studies also found higher rates of breast cancer among women who had excess levels of Omega-6 fatty acids compared to their Omega-3 levels. Good food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include wild salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, sardines, olive oil, hemp seeds and eggs. Taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement is also a valid option. I prefer Krill Oil due to its purity and because its fatty acid content provides other benefits.
As I stated previously, decisions related to health are very personal. I encourage you to do extensive research before making extreme choices.
BRCA Genes In Breast Cancer Chemoprevention, Eliot Rosen, National Institutes of Health
High Penetrance Breast and/or Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Genes, National Cancer Institute, 3/4/2013
BRCA1 and BRCA2 as molecular targets for phytochemicals, British Journal of Cancer
Research Interests, Donaldo Romangolo, Bio 5 Institute, University of Arizona
Comparison of Effect Sizes Associated With Biomarkers Reported in Highly Cited Individual Articles and in Subsequent Meta-analyses, John P. A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc; Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011;305(21):2200-2210. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.713
Vitamin D for cancer prevention: global perspective; Garland, C.F., et al. 2009
Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis; Garland, C.F., et al. 2007
Estrogen and Insulin Crosstalk: Breast Cancer Risk Implications. The Nurse Practitioner. 2003
Opposing effects of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on mammary carcinogenesis: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2003
Regulation of tumor angiogenesis by dietary fatty acids and eicosanoids. Division of Nutrition and Endrocrinology, American Health Foundation. 2000
Graphics: All graphics in this post courtesy of Tips Times
“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is known to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.
Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.
The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.
The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:
- Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
- Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
- Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
- Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
- Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
- Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
- Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
- Low Testosterone in men
- Abnormal development in children
- Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme
If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome
The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:
- Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
- Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
- Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
- Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
- Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
- Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey
This article is a follow up to Top 11 Reasons I Refuse to Get a Flu Shot. Please read the information shared in that article before reading this one.
The media has created a frenzy of fear related to the flu. I speak to many people on a daily basis who are fearful of getting the flu and who know little about how to successfully protect themselves against infection. The truth is we don’t get sick because we are exposed to a bacterial or viral pathogen, we get sick because our lifestyle and eating habits have weakened our body’s defenses to the point they cannot protect us from pathogens. There’s a huge difference. If merely being exposed guaranteed infection, then no one could step foot into a Walmart without dropping dead three to five days later. You are exposed to a wide variety of bacteria and viruses every day you are never aware of because your body “kills” and neutralizes them very effectively. The key to avoiding infection therefore lies in strengthening your body’s natural defenses.
Following are my tips for preventing the flu, followed by steps you can use to shorten the duration of any viral illness.
We all know what we should do to avoid illness, but very few people actively make an effort to strengthen their immune system. Following is a short list of simple things we can all do to strengthen our ability to resist infection:
- Wash your hands frequently (All soap is antibacterial, so do not bother exposing yourself to the toxins in antibacterial soaps.)
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep
- Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day
- Exercise moderately 1-4 times per week
- Avoid sugar
- Eat a wide variety of foods rich in antioxidants, which generally includes brightly colored fruits and vegetables
- Eat lots of probiotic rich foods, such as coconut water kefir, fermented vegetables, etc. (Yogurt and dairy kefirs provide fewer benefits because your body uses most of the probiotics they contain to digest the proteins and sugars in them. Fermented veggies and water kefirs provide greater benefits due to their lack of sugars and proteins.)
Top Three Supplements to Avoid the Flu
The following supplements are my top 3 to prevent the flu. One nice thing about these is they can be taken on a daily basis even if you chose to get a flu shot.
- Vitamin D: A minimum of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis has been shown to be 500 times more effective than a flu shot at preventing the flu. The bonus is that it has multiple other benefits and provides protection against ALL flu strains and many other viruses and bacteria. Vitamin D3 is an oil-soluble vitamin, so I prefer taking it in an oil-based form to improve absorption. I use: Carlson Vitamin D3 Softgels. Please note that a dose of 2000 IU/day is a very low dose. Many people take higher doses.
- Elderberry Extract: Elderberry is one of the strongest agents known to effectively kill viral flu cells. It is also a natural immunity booster, so it can be used both as a preventive and during an active viral infection. I recommend taking 500-1000 mg of extract daily to help prevent infection. I share my recommendations for use during an active infection below. The brand I like is: NOW Foods Elderberry Extract. I also like liquid elderberry extract for children, as it tastes great and they enjoy taking it. My favorite for kids is: Quantum Elderberry Extract. (Follow instructions on bottle.)
- Vitamin C: The body uses Vitamin C to create white blood cells, which are essential for combating bacterial and viral pathogens. Humans are one of few animals who do not produce their own Vitamin C and must maintain their levels by ingesting it. Sadly, few people in the US eat enough fruits and veggies to maintain sufficient levels of Vitamin C. Additional issues such as smoking, eating a highly processed diet, alcohol consumption, malabsorption, taking acid-blockers such as Prevacid, and other lifestyle factors can cause inadequate Vitamin C levels. (The disease Scurvy occurs at very low levels of Vitamin C, but it is possible to have inadequate levels before Scurvy develops.)
There are a multitude of opinions about which type of Vitamin C is best. The primary concerns focus on fears ascorbic acid, the most common form of Vitamin C, is overly acidic and has a negative effect on body cells. Recent research found that most people’s bodies effectively balance the acid in ascorbic acid and that using this form of supplemental Vitamin C is beneficial. Personally, I prefer to use the Calcium Ascorbate form for large doses and a food-sourced form for smaller doses. I also prefer to use a capsule form to ensure higher absorption. The food-based forms tend to come in smaller doses, but their absorption and bio-availability is higher.
My favorite Vitamin C supplements include: NOW Foods 1000 mg Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids (Calcium ascorbate, capsules); Vitamin C Gold (food sourced and organic).
How to Shorten the Duration of Viral Illnesses
If you use the techniques and supplements mentioned above, you should not have to worry about getting sick. The information I shared below will allow you to help anyone who hasn’t followed that advice.
The following supplements are often used to shorten the duration and severity of a viral illness:
Elderberry Extract: Most Elderberry Extract supplements have instructions for use as a preventive and for use during an active infection. For adults, I recommend taking 500 mg every 3-4 hours for three to five days. (The advantage of Elderberry Extract is that it has no known side effects. Diabetics should use the liquid extract with caution and check blood sugars frequently; capsules should not affect blood sugar.)
Vitamin C: During illness, the body’s capacity to absorb Vitamin C dramatically increases. The body will quickly absorb high amounts of Vitamin C and use it to bolster its defenses. I have known people who took more than 100,000 mg daily of Vitamin C while ill without developing any negative symptoms. (Diarrhea quickly results from taking more Vitamin C than the body can absorb.) I do not recommend taking such high amounts. For most adults, taking 5000 mg of Vitamin C every 4-6 hours will help the body fight the infection. Vitamin C also helps repair damaged cells and is an anti-inflammatory, so it can help decrease the duration of an illness and may help decrease the symptoms.
Influenzinum or Oscilococcinum: These two supplements are homeopathic remedies which are known to bring quick relief to flu symptoms. They contain a combination of homeopathic remedies which stimulate the body to heal itself and which help diminish symptoms. Most people feel better very quickly after starting on either remedy, but they are usually only effective if started within one day of symptom onset. Follow package instructions.
Please note: For best absorption, do not eat or drink anything other than water for 10-20 minutes before or after taking these remedies. (They are pellets which you allow to dissolve on the tongue.) Do not chew mint gum or use mint toothpaste within an hour of taking a dose, as mint closes the remedy’s receptors in the mouth’s mucus membranes.) Links for each remedy follow:
For more information on shortening the duration and severity of illnesses, please see Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold.
What are your favorite remedies for the flu? I wish you well in avoiding it this year!
I recently heard an extremely ill woman comment she couldn’t figure out why she was so sick. She went on to say she had gotten a flu shot, and obviously believed that should have protected her. My research has led me to conclude otherwise. I need to confess this article is extremely long. I felt the importance of the information warranted a longer format.
I want to state very clearly that getting vaccinated is a very personal choice. I support everyone who chooses to get the vaccination, and encourage those who are undecided to do further research. I am not “anti-vaccine,” I am simply pro-research.
I am one of the people mainstream medicine insists “must” have a flu shot. I’m considered “high risk” because I have Type 1 Diabetes and have multiple other auto-immune conditions. I do not get flu shots and never get sick. In fact, I spent the last five years working in environments where I was exposed every day to multiple people who had active flu infections. In spite of that, I never became infected and never had so much as a sniffle. Unfortunately, mainstream media and mainstream medicine use a wide variety of scare tactics to convince people they will become sick if they are not vaccinated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following are my top eleven reasons for not getting a flu shot:
- Infection is based on lifestyle, not exposure: The belief that everyone who gets exposed to the flu becomes ill is outdated and untrue. If it were true that exposure causes illness, none of us could enter a public place without becoming ill. The truth is that our lifestyle and our body’s environment are what determine whether or not we get sick. This is why my teenagers got sick in 2008 with a nasty case of the flu, but neither my husband nor I became ill while caring for them. Their lifestyle and high-sugar eating habits lowered their body’s ability to fight the flu, while ours provided natural immunity.
- Low probability of correct strains used in vaccine: There are close to 300 different strains of flu, yet each year the CDC chooses 3-5 strains of Influenza Type A and 1-2 of Influenza Type B to include in the flu vaccine. They use scientific methods to try and predict which strains will be the most prevalent each year, but they are often wrong. Additionally, flu strains constantly adapt and mutate. This means the likelihood of the CDC choosing the correct strains is less than 5%. The CDC admits: “In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness.”
- Those who were vaccinated have higher infection rates than those who were not: More than seven studies proved flu shots do not reduce infection rates and may actually increase them. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in Canada , shared findings proving increased infection rates were consistently found for two years following vaccination in both humans and ferrets who received flu vaccines. These findings were true across seven different studies done on flu vaccines for 2008 and 2009. The findings agreed with statistical comparisons of over 30,000 people. The vaccines used in 2008 and 2009 are very similar to those being used today. (Ferrets are used in influenza studies because their physiology most closely mimics that of humans’ in influenza infections.)
It also needs to be pointed out that pediatric deaths due to flu were dropping prior to 2003. The decrease in deaths can be attributed to improved health conditions, better nutrition programs in schools and preschools, and other lifestyle improvements. Pediatric deaths caused by flu skyrocketed after the CDC insisted that all children older than six months of age receive a flu shot. The increase in death and infection rates following the CDC’s mandate is not coincidental and is too large to be ignored.
- Zero science to support effectiveness of flu shots: A review of 5707 articles and 31 studies found little evidence to prove that flu vaccines actually reduce infection rates. The researchers also found that although the vaccines provided “moderate” protection some years, they provided little or no protection other years. The researchers also found that flu vaccines offer zero protection for anyone over age 65 or younger than age 7. Another group, the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, studied 41 clinical studies and concluded the data showed flu vaccines provide zero reduction in infection or death across all age groups. The Cochrane group also studied 260,000 children between the ages of 23 months and six years and found the flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo at preventing illness. In 2009, many providences in Canada stopped recommending flu vaccines for anyone under 65 years of age. Their infection rates have not increased.
Commenting on other studies proving the ineffectiveness of flu shots, Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Director of the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance said, “We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine … It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
- Most illnesses called the “flu” actually are not: Researchers found that only 6-8% of illnesses called “flu” were actually caused by a true flu virus. The other illnesses were caused by other viruses or bacteria, none of which would be included in a flu vaccine. Additionally, the CDC drastically increases their statistics by making the assumption that all deaths caused by pneumonia originated with a flu infection. This is simply not true. Although having the flu can increase the likelihood of a pneumonia infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, pneumonia is a bacterial infection and flu is a viral infection. Not all cases of pneumonia are caused by the flu, which means the CDC’s statistics are grossly inflated and are designed to create fear.
- The “Original Antigenic Sin” Argument: This term refers to the fact that a vaccine only protects you against specific illness strains, whereas catching an illness provides immunity against that illness and against multiple others with similar chemical structures. In other words, if you get a flu shot which claims to protect you against Strains A and B, that’s all you have protection against. If you catch Strain A, you wind up with immunity against Strain A and potentially against hundreds of other flu strains which contain similar proteins. This may be why flu vaccines are virtually worthless for anyone over age 65. They have already been infected with and exposed to enough flu strains that they have naturally occurring immunity against a wide array of flu strains.
- Flu vaccines suppress the immune system: The ingredients in flu vaccines stimulate the immune system to combat a few strains of flu, yet suppress it against all other viral and bacterial invaders. This is why so many people get sick with colds and other illnesses shortly after receiving the flu vaccine. Based on the other evidence shared in this post, it makes little sense to lower the body’s overall ability to fight infection by receiving a flu shot.
- Increased risk of cardiac problems and oxidized cholesterol: A 2007 study found that flu vaccines cause an inflammatory response that increases the risk of cardiac problems and which also causes oxidation of the low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). The oxidation of LDL cholesterol means that the very small cholesterol molecules capable of passing through vessel walls become oxidized, or hardened, in arteries, which directly contributes to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other coronary disorders. This potentially deadly effect only lasts for a maximum of fourteen days, but needs to be considered by anyone having a pre-existing cardiac condition. The inflammation can also cause a condition called “Arteritis,” in which the walls of large arteries become inflamed. Depending on the body region affected, arteritis may cause visual disturbances, headaches, jaw pain, and more. A study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that pregnant women are especially susceptible to the inflammatory effects of flu vaccines and that receiving a flu vaccine led to higher rates of pre-eclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and increased complications following birth.
- Toxic ingredients: Most flu vaccines contain one or all of the following -
- Mercury (Thimerosol): Thimerosol is a common preservative used in vaccines. Most flu vaccines contain enough mercury from Thimerosol to be deemed toxic by the EPA if they are taken by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Because mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, this information should be regarded with concern by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Note: There are a few vials of vaccines made without Thimerosol, but they are typically saved for children and pregnant women. You have the right to request them, and definitely should if you weigh less than 265 pounds, are pregnant, or are having your child vaccinated.
- Adjutants: Adjutants are ingredients added to vaccines which serve to stimulate the immune system. The most common adjutant used in flu vaccines is Aluminum, a heavy metal which is associated with many neurological illnesses. Primary among the neurological illnesses associated with aluminum toxicity is Alzheimer’s.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. When combined with aluminum (as it is in the flu vaccine and many the vaccinations), formaldehyde is known to increase the likelihood of neurological damage.
- Eggs: Although not directly a toxin, all flu vaccines are grown on cultures from chicken eggs. This means the vaccines could be deadly to anyone having a severe allergy to eggs. Please be aware of this. The incidence of severe allergic reactions to flu vaccines is rising at an alarming rate, largely because many of the people administrating vaccines are not trained in their side effects and are not in a facility equipped to deal with anaphylactic shock. If you choose to get a flu shot, please get it in your doctor’s office and not in your local grocery store.
- Negative reactions: Flu vaccines are known to cause the following reactions, some of which are deadly and some of which can cause permanent disability: injection site reaction, fever, convulsions (especially in children), narcolepsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralytic auto-immune neurological condition which can result in permanent disability), allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock, increased risk of heart attack, encephalitis, neurological disorders, thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder causing low platelet counts, fatigue and potential blood loss from bruising or internal hemorrhage), and more..
- Studies found Vitamin D more effective than flu shots: There is a good reason the flu only occurs during the winter months. Even in tropical climates, flu rates increase during the rainy season. The common factor? Sun exposure. Unprotected exposure to sunlight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D. Studies conducted by John Cannell and associates found a direct connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and increased respiratory illnesses in adults and children. The studies also found that as little as 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis could prevent the flu and other respiratory illnesses 500% more effectively than flu vaccines. Another study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Vitamin D deficiency caused higher infection rates of flu and other respiratory illnesses. Per Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, ”The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu.” Vitamin D stimulates the body to produce over 300 different antimicrobial peptides which help the body combat viral and bacterial infection. My personal recommendation is that anyone living in a cold climate should take a minimum of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis and should get their blood serum levels checked at least once each year. Ideal blood serum levels should be maintained between 50-80 nmol/L.
Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines: a systematic review and meta-analysis - Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection - Linus Pauling Institute
Few topics inspire as much confusion as the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy. The two issues can both cause digestive distress, but each has a very different cause.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient lactase, the enzyme required to digest the sugars in dairy. The enzymes is lactase, dairy sugar is lactose. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be as mild as a bit of gas or bloating, or may be extreme enough to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Each person will lactose intolerance will respond very differently. The symptoms result because the enzyme lactase is needed to break milk sugar (lactose) down into simpler sugars which can be absorbed and metabolized. If the lactose is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it and will experience digestive distress. Some people with lactose intolerance may also experience fatigue due to the strain caused when dairy is ingested. The amount of dairy required to cause a reaction in someone who is lactose intolerant varies from person to person. Some people must consume large amounts of dairy, while others can safely consume small amounts before experiencing symptoms.
Lactose intolerance may occur in infancy, but more commonly develops later in life. Lactose intolerance can be inherited and may run in families. It can also develop as a secondary challenge resulting from digestive disorders that damage the colon, such as Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, etc. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed through a Hydrogen Breath Test in adults or via a Stool Acidity Test in children.
Most people can counteract the effects of lactose intolerance by limiting dairy consumption or by taking a digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lactase when they eat dairy. My favorites include:
Dairy (Casein or Whey) Allergy
Dairy allergies are an autoimmune reaction to one or more proteins found in dairy. Casein is the most common dairy protein that causes a dairy allergy. (A dairy allergy may also be the result of an autoimmune reaction to other chemicals in dairy, but casein and whey are the most common.) Reactions to a dairy allergy may be very mild or may be life-threatening, and can affect every body system. There are over 200 symptoms that may be caused by a dairy allergy. The symptoms may include severe or mild digestive distress, skin reactions, respiratory distress, cognitive and emotional issues, and many more.
The reactions occur when the body comes to regard chemicals in milk as “foreign invaders” that must be attacked and neutralized. To neutralize the invader, the body releases antibodies. These antibodies get carried throughout the body via the bloodstream and can therefore cause reactions in any part of the body. Dairy allergies are typically the result of one or more autoimmune genes getting turned “on.”
Dairy allergies can occur at any stage of life. Babies are sometimes born with a dairy allergy. Other people develop a dairy allergy much later in life. Dairy allergies often appear to develop very suddenly. Causes of dairy allergies have been linked to Candida overgrowth (click link to learn more), feeds containing genetically modified produce fed to dairy cows, genetics, environmental toxins, and many unknown causes. Sadly, the incidence of dairy allergies is rising at a rate that is much higher than population growth.
Dairy allergies require the affected person to completely avoid all foods containing dairy. This can be difficult because many processed foods contain ingredients that can set off a reaction but whose ingredient list does not contain words associated with dairy. Some people can reverse their dairy allergy by strictly avoiding dairy for six to twelve months, but others cannot. Some children outgrow a dairy allergy, while others do not. Because most allergies result when a gene is turned “on,” it can be very difficult to reverse milk allergies. Reducing or reversing a dairy allergy must include steps to also heal the digestive tract. Extreme measures are typically required to reverse the allergy, but it is possible for some people to eventually eat small amounts of dairy very occasionally without a negative reaction.
I personally had a dairy allergy so severe that I vomited multiple times per day and was extremely ill for many months. Before recognizing my allergy, I lost over 30 pounds, was extremely weak, had hair loss, was extremely grumpy and irritable, had severe acne, and had explosive diarrhea that made leaving the house difficult. To put it mildly, I was miserable. My dairy allergy was identified by a test called the ELISA Allergy Test. This is the test I recommend to my clients who have symptoms indicating a food allergy.
Food allergies can be identified through blood tests, elimination diets, or muscle response testing. I do not recommend using “skin prick” testing for food allergies, as that form of testing is very inaccurate and often incorrect. Blood testing is also often inaccurate unless dairy is consumed within 72 hours of the blood draw, but there are tests which can identify the presence of dairy antibodies without recent dairy consumption.
One of the most popular ways of reversing dairy allergies is by following a diet called the GAPS diet. “GAPS” stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome or “Gut and Physiology Syndrome.” Click the link the view copies of the book that describes the protocol to be followed.
If you have digestive issues, constant congestion or cough, or other symptoms you have been unable to remedy, you may have a food allergy or sensitivty. I have helped many people with food allergies and would love to help. Please contact me via email or by calling 317.489.0909 to schedule a consultation.
Have you dealt with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy? How did you figure it out? What tips can you share about coping on a daily basis?
I’ve never been much of a “follower,” but it appears the expected thing to do at the start of a new year is to create a top 10 list. This is mine. Following are the articles I wrote in 2012 which received the highest number of views and which focus on topics which are frequently searched for. Some of the articles that made the list surprised me. Based on the titles included in the top ten, it is obvious everyone loves lists.
As always, if there is a topic you would like me to cover, please let me know! I am here to serve you.
Top Articles of 2012
- Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones: Truth or Hype?
Shares important information about whether or not these popular supplements actually work. Also shares important warnings on side effects and potential negative consequences of using them.
- Signs of Zinc Deficiency and Ways to Increase Zinc Levels
Discusses ways to spot a zinc deficiency and the best ways to boost your zinc levels. The statement, “You need zinc to think,” is very true!
- Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients
Provides details on simple ingredients you can add to a bath to create a pampering detoxification experience and boost health.
- Top Seven Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight
An inability to lose weight is not always due to lifestyle issues. This article discusses physiological imbalances that can make weight loss impossible.
- Top Five Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care Products
What are you putting on your skin? Read this to learn which skin care ingredients can have negative effects.
- Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold
A helpful article that shares simple steps to take to make any cold or flu less severe.
- Important Facts About Chia Seeds
Chia seeds rarely get the respect they deserve. This article shares important information that may make you appreciate them much more.
- Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion
Many health practitioners consider digestion the most important determinant of health. Read this article to learn helpful ways to improve digestion and absorption.
- Best Tests for Sources of Vitamin B12
B12 deficiencies are very common. This article discusses ways to spot a B12 deficiency, which forms of B12 are most effective at reducing deficiencies, and which tests are the most accurate.
- Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes and Solutions
Dark circles under the eyes are not merely a cosmetic issue, but have a physiological cause. This article provides helpful information on recognizing why you have dark circles and steps you can take to diminish them.
I want to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous night of celebration and a very Happy New Year. Please celebrate with caution and be careful! This post is dedicated to ways to avoid hangovers.
- Alcohol causes dehydration, which leads to inflammation and feeling generally horrible.
- Alcohol contains two highly toxic compounds: acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde. These two chemicals create massive cell damage throughout the body. The damage caused by these chemicals is so severe it resembles the damage caused by radiation. There’s a good reason you feel so bad!
- Alcohol lowers blood sugar and can cause hypoglycemia. Typical symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, dizziness, nausea, and more. Sound familiar? If you ever notice someone acting far drunker than their consumption warrants, chances are they have a low blood sugar. Get them something to eat!
If needed, use the following ten tips for avoiding hangovers:
1) Don’t drink. (This is the only certain way to avoid hangovers. You know it.) Please don’t waste your money on products claiming to be a hangover “cure.” There is no such thing. The only way to avoid hangovers is to not drink, or to drink very small amounts of alcohol.
2) Alternate every alcoholic drink with a big glass of water or other beverage. Dehydration is one cause of hangovers, so drinking a non-alcoholic beverage between each alcoholic beverage will help limit your intake and will help keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding hangovers.
3) Add trace minerals to every drink. In addition to replacing essential electrolytes, trace minerals help counteract alcohol’s acidic effects. My favorite trace mineral is I like this one: Premier Polar Mins, but drinking coconut water is also an excellent way to replace trace minerals. It makes a good mixer, so it’s a win-win.
4) Don’t mix different types of alcohol. Stick to one type. Mixing beer and wine and distilled liquors puts a heavy load on your body’s ability to metabolize both the alcohol and the other ingredients in the drinks. There’s no guarantee that only drinking one kind of alcohol will avoid a hangover, but it may diminish the symptoms.
5) Drink lighter colored forms of alcohol. Darker alcohols (bourbon, dark rum, etc.) contain higher amounts of congeners, the toxins in alcohol which cause hangovers. Cheap booze also has higher amounts of congeners, so splurging on name brands which are more expensive may reduce hangover symptoms.
6) Avoid bubbly mixers. The gases in bubbly mixers can cause alcohol to enter the bloodstream more rapidly and may make it more difficult for the body to eliminate the toxins in the alcohol. Instead of carbonated mixers, use coconut water (loaded with electrolytes), fruit juice, water, etc.
7) Eat before you start drinking. Eating slows the absorption of alcohol and helps your body eliminate alcohol’s toxins. Eating a meal high in healthy fats is known to reduce hangover symptoms.
8) Order drinks on the rocks. The ice will melt and dilute the alcohol and will help keep you hydrated.
9) Ask for a larger glass. Ask your server to put your drink in a 16-ounce glass and fill the empty space with water.
10) Use supplements. Yes, supplements can reduce the effects of a hangover. Many hard core alcoholics know that taking Lecithin and Milk Thistle before, during and after drinking can help reduce hangover symptoms. The added bonus is that these also help repair the liver, so there is some value in using them.
Alcohol depletes the body of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium and other essential nutrients, so taking a multi-vitamin before you drink and a B Complex vitamin can help. Taking potent antioxidants can also help prevent the damage done by alcohol’s damaging chemicals. Taking all of the previously mentioned supplements as soon as you wake up may also help.
Have you chosen a New Year Resolution yet? How likely are you to achieve your goal as a result? Although I applaud the attitude and desire that motivates New Year Resolutions, I’m not sure the “overnight sensation” approach is a good idea. Most New Year Resolutions become failed resolutions fairly quickly as people embrace unrealistic expectations, set impossible goals with impossible timelines, and soon become overwhelmed or frustrated and give up.
I recently asked my followers on social media if they make resolutions and whether or not they are successful when they do. Most people responded they do not make resolutions because they typically fail, while others said they make resolutions but only attain them about half the time. My favorite response came from a friend who said he tries to improve every single day instead of waiting until the start of a new year to create change.
The problem with most New Year Resolutions are that they are “all or nothing” propositions that wind up being made with little forethought and which wind up being very temporary. Creating true lifestyle change that permanently alters habits takes a different approach.
Here are my recommendations for creating lasting change:
- Identify why you want to change: Many people say they want to lose weight, but if you ask them WHY, you get a wide range of responses. Some will say they want to look better, others will say they want to be healthier, some will say they want to have more energy, and many will look at you as if you just asked the world’s stupidest question. Having a goal isn’t sufficient unless you can identify the reasons you want to reach the goal and can state what you will gain by attaining the goal. I recommend writing down your reasons so you can use them as motivation as you work toward your goal. Recognizing why you wish to reach a goal will also provide greater satisfaction when you reach your goal. One word of warning: Reaching a goal does not always have the outcome you thought it would. Recognize the benefits you gain even if they are not what you expected.The most common new year resolution is to lose weight. Unfortunately, some people want to lose weight because they believe being thinner will make them more popular, allow them to meet the man or woman of their dreams, or bring about other positive social changes in their life. One of the secrets of having a full social calendar is to love and appreciate yourself just as you are. Loving who you are and being content with where you are at creates a confidence and joy that other people enjoy being near. The type of people who are attracted to others simply because they’re thin aren’t the type of people you want in your life, anyway. Trust me.
- Break your primary goal into smaller steps: For most people, it makes sense to ease into your goal, using baby steps to reach it. For example, instead of setting a goal of not drinking caffeine (out of a desire to lower blood pressure or improve pH), set a smaller goal each week that will gradually build to create your final goal. For instance, give up energy drinks the first week, soda the next, and coffee the following week. In addition to making your goal easier to achieve by “chunking” it into smaller pieces, this also lessens the shock on your body and your psyche. Lessening the shock (or detoxification process) on your body will help you feel better and will again make it easier to stick to your plan and achieve success. It also lessens the emotional shocks that come with creating new habits. This approach can be used with any type of lifestyle change and is not limited to giving up food or drinks. There are times when giving up a food or beverage ”cold turkey” is desirable, such as when a food allergy has been identified or when a health condition makes it necessary. However, making changes slowly and steadily brings a higher level of success when illness is not your motivator.
- Set a start date: Setting a target start date allows you to prepare mentally and emotionally for establishing new habits. Setting a start date also provides the opportunity to identify and eliminate any triggers that led to failure in the past. If you broke your goal into small steps or milestones, attach a time limit to each step. After you set your start date and subsequent milestone dates, use the time leading up to it to encourage yourself on a daily basis, to strengthen your commitment to meeting the goal, and to addressing any negative thoughts you have related to the goal. Use positive affirmations, write down your goals and review them daily, ask friends and family for encouragement and support, or use whatever motivational technique works best for you. Being prepared emotionally will make it easier to rise above and resist any temptations that come.
- Celebrate your successes: Reaching goals is a huge accomplishment. CELEBRATE your success and reward yourself! When identifying your goals and milestones as mentioned in Step 1, attach a reward to each one. Pick rewards that are not food-oriented and which do not include anything you’re working to eliminate. Your rewards may include a pampering experience such as a massage, or may be as simple as allowing yourself (and asking your family to give you) one uninterrupted hour to read a book. Your rewards do not have to cost money. Be creative and choose rewards that will make you feel truly rewarded.
- Don’t let a single slip derail you: Nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be. If you slip and step outside of the boundaries you created, use that slip as an opportunity to learn. Ask yourself what motivated the slip and how you could have avoided it. Learn from the slip, consider how you will resist similar situations in the future, and move on. Some people view a single slip as evidence they can’t succeed and use it as an excuse to abandon their entire plan. Don’t give into that temptation. If you deviate from your plan, learn from it and move forward without looking back. Beating yourself up about it won’t accomplish anything positive, so don’t do it.
The bottom line is that there’s more success in choosing to make tiny changes on a daily basis than in trying to accomplish a great change overnight.
Did you make a resolution this year? If so, what was it?
This holiday season, my prayer for you is that your days will be filled with abundant joy,
That you will know unlimited contentment in every moment,
That everyone you encounter will treat you honestly and ethically,
That your body will overflow with abundant health and your accounts with sufficient wealth.
I pray your household will be filled with peace, your heart with joy, and your outlook with hope.
I pray you will know no sadness, stress or anger in the year to come.
I pray every light will be green and every line short.
I pray doors of opportunity will open wide while any door of despair slams in your face.
I pray your weekends will be filled with sun and your weeks with productivity.
I pray your your vehicles carry you safely and your appliances never fail.
I pray every meal will strengthen you and be gently heated by the warmth of family and friends.
I pray your wardrobe always flatters and your shoes never hurt.
I pray your wisdom grows and your fears fade.
May every day begin with a smile of expectation and end with a sigh of satisfaction.
May you always feel confident and never hear voices of doubt.
May each joy multiply and every sadness shrink.
May every raindrop create bouquets and every cloud sprout a rainbow.
May each day be full and each night peaceful.
Most of all, I pray your heart never doubts you are loved deeply.
Your support blesses me. I sincerely pray this season is filled with much joy for you and those you love. May God richly bless you now and always
With Much Love,
The holidays should be a time of joy. Unfortunately, many people get so caught up in holiday ”shoulds and musts” that their season becomes a time of stress instead of a time of joy. Following are my recommended top ten ways to reduce holiday stress so you can enjoy your celebration.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations: Unrealistic expectations are the primary cause of disappointment and sadness during the holidays. Although it may be difficult, take time to consider which of your expectations are unrealistic and to accept the truth. Making the best of reality is a quick way to de-stress. Acceptance leads to joy!
- Recognize that you are the source of your stress: It is tough to admit, but the stress you feel is genuinely all in your head. When you feel holiday stress, stop and ask yourself WHY you are stressed. If you can change the situation, do. If not, accept it, make the best of it, and stop stressing! (Refer back to point one if needed.)
- Get creative: Sometimes a little creativity is all it takes to eliminate holiday stress. Think outside of the box and come up with simpler ways of doing things. (Hint: It’s fine to have dinner catered or to buy the sides. I swear no one cares you bought the cheese ball instead of making it yourself. It’s fine to change the family meal to a pitch-in or go to a restaurant. Giving an occasional gift card is also acceptable. I promise.)
- Keep a sense of humor and realize none of the fluff matters: When all’s said and done, none of the holiday fluff really matters. If things don’t go the way you planned, be flexible, laugh it off, and move on.
- Just say NO: Most holiday stress is caused by overcommitment. Existing in a constant state of exhaustion is no fun and leads to illness. Instead of saying “yes” to every invitation, prioritize your commitments and say no to those which do not bring joy or which are too difficult to fit into your busy schedule.
- Schedule time to do nothing: Take a day during the holiday season and dedicate it to doing absolutely nothing. Commit to spending the day with your family doing peaceful, stress-free activities. You owe it to yourself to take a day to recharge and refresh! If it’s impossible to commit an entire day to doing nothing, schedule a few hours each week and firmly devote them to being good to yourself.
- Discuss changing traditions with your family: As families grow and mature, their needs and dynamics change. Take time each year to evaluate traditions and to openly discuss how traditions can be modified to better meet everyone’s needs. Things to discuss include drawing names instead of buying for each individual, meeting on a date other than Christmas day, making a communal donation to a charity instead of exchanging gifts, volunteering at a shelter instead of having a family meal, etc.. Consider meeting in January to completely eliminate holiday stress. If some family members are not willing to change, try to find a compromise that is not offensive to those who take comfort in tradition.
- Use technology: Take advantage of time savers offered by technology. A few options include shopping online, sending an email card or newsletter, or getting together via a Google+ Hangout. The Hangout feature lets you connect “in person” with people all over the world.
- Look outside of yourself: Proverbs 11:25 says it best: “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Take the focus off of receiving and concentrate on giving. Giving your time and compassion has far more value than any material gift. Teaching your children to bless others and to appreciate the joy of giving is a gift that will multiply through the years.
- Ditch the materialism: Gifts and food have no lasting value. Concentrate on the spiritual side of the holidays. In my family, we take special effort to focus on the fact we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. We blend all the other activities into this focus to give them higher meaning. Your celebration does not have to contain a religious focus in order to more enriching. Focus on gratitude, family and blessing others instead of gifts and food.
How do you avoid holiday stress? Please share a comment and let us know! Your ideas will help others de-stress and have more fun.
This time of year, there are typically a glut of posts related to maintaining weight and making healthy food choices during the holidays. Many of the recommendations are trite and share the same information that’s been shared for years. We’ve all heard the advice multiple times to eat something healthy before going to a party and to fill your plate with veggies before indulging in other goodies. It’s wise advice, but it’s time to breathe new life into holiday health tips. Eating fewer carbohydrates is a good place to start. For advice on how to eat fewer carbs on a daily basis, please read my post: Simple Ways to Cut Carbs from Your Eating Habits.
- Cut yourself some slack: Nothing is worse for your health than having unrealistic expectations of yourself, your family or your celebrations. Unrealistic expectations create a feeling of failure, which leads to beating yourself up for being normal. Negative emotions have been proven to cause health problems by causing inflammation and acidity. These factors can ultimately lead to cell damage and disease. Maintaining a positive outlook is essential to good health. My advice for the holidays is to not be overly strict. I share tips on how to maintain food balance below, but my best advice is to give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday festivities but to make wise choices and enjoy moderate serving sizes. When you splurge, enjoy and savor every bite to the fullest and then move on without looking back. (This advice naturally needs to be heeded with care for anyone dealing with blood sugar issues, food allergies or with health abnormalities caused by foods.)
- Focus on the people, not the food: Many people focus more on the food they’ll eat during the holidays than on the extra time they’ll have to renew relationships and to enjoy their friends and family. Maintaining the perspective of “living to eat instead of eating to live” can make a huge difference in how you eat and drink during the holidays. Focusing on catching up with friends and family instead of fixating on food will help you make good choices and avoid the buffet table. Instead of thinking about what you’ll load your plate with, choose instead to entertain the little ones (so their moms can enjoy a moment of peace), help the host and hostess, spend time with the grumpy relative no one else dares to, organize a group game, etc. I know from experience that when I focus on the people I’m with, food temptations fade into the background.
- Focus on giving instead of receiving: This is another simple change in perspective that positively impacts body, mind and spirit. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to serve others. Volunteer at a local community agency, offer to help elderly neighbors with holiday chores, babysit for friends who have little children, reach out to people who do not have family nearby, or serve a meal at a homeless shelter instead of eating your own holiday meal at home. The end result is that you will most likely eat less, will drink less alcohol, and will receive an emotional and spiritual blessing that will positively impact your body chemistry. It is an undeniable truth that “he who refreshes others is himself refreshed.” When we tap into the freedom that comes from focusing on blessing others, we inevitably find that we are the ones who wind up being blessed.
- Maintain moderation in all things: One piece of pecan pie isn’t going to destroy your health, but five pieces could definitely have a negative impact. As I said previously, give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite “splurges,” but put boundaries and limits on the frequency and serving size. Let yourself enjoy a single, small piece of pecan pie or whatever indulgence will bring you the most pleasure. Put boundaries around your splurge, enjoy and savor every single bite, and then stop. Research measuring the release of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) during meals found that we enjoy the first bite of any meal more than any other bite. Take advantage of this by accepting a small to moderate serving and putting special focus on that first bite. Chew it slowly, savor it and enjoy it. You may find that you won’t even need to finish the entire piece if you put extra effort into enjoying and savoring the first few bites. (Offer the remainder to Uncle Bob … he’ll love you for it!)
- Counteract the Bad: Taking supplements is not a substitute for eating well, but there are some supplements that can help maintain health during the holidays. My favorite supplements to take during the holidays include (click the links to see examples):
- Do the obvious: You know the drill … drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, wash your hands frequently, avoid the sour cream dip that’s been unrefrigerated for eight hours, eat more veggies, don’t have unrealistic expectations of friends and family about a “perfect holiday,” etc., etc. Do what’s best for you, not what’s best for everyone around you. Make your health a priority.
- Detox after the holidays: One of my standing traditions is to use January to cleanse and detoxify. I choose a different approach and use different techniques based on what my toxic exposure was each year, but know that starting the year off right with a detox definitely improves my health and helps eliminate any harmful toxins consumed during the holidays. Even doing something as simple as eliminating all coffee, alcohol and sugar for 3 – 7 days can be very beneficial. I will soon launch a Life Transformation Cleanse which will be a 30-day detox regiment you can easily incorporate into your schedule. Stay tuned for details!
Those of you who know me, know I have a deep passion for helping anyone affected by any form of diabetes. This is partly because diabetes has become an epidemic, and partly because I have had diabetes since 1967. I’m blessed to say I’ve lived on both sides of the “diabetes fence” and have learned a thing or two along the way.
The first thing I learned about dealing with diabetes is that what my doctor and diabetes educator told me frequently did not work. Their recommendations seemed to guarantee I used excessive amounts of insulin, had sky high blood sugars and never truly felt well. More than once I’ve had a client storm into my office, slam a sheaf of papers on my desk, and exclaim: “She’s trying to kill me!” They were referencing the dietary plan provided by their diabetes educator. This post explains why the mainstream approach often fails. (Please note the photo used in this post is courtesy of DeathbyBrokeh and is not a picture of one of my blood sugars.)
NOTE: Please follow your physician’s instructions. Do not make any changes to your care protocol without first discussing them with your physician and care team. Type 1 diabetics must use extreme caution and test blood glucose levels frequently when making any change to lifestyle or eating habits.
Before I dive into criticism, let me say the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has come a long way in the past forty years. They have ceased recommending a single dietary approach and are beginning to recognize that alternative eating styles “may” (in their words) have value. They admit a low glycemic eating style improves control, yet refuse to endorse it or encourage its use. They believe people with diabetes won’t comply with a diet rich in low glycemic foods, and they fail to recognize the other benefits gained from this eating style. The battle to overcome tradition in mainstream medicine is huge, so I’m encouraged to know the ADA is starting to cautiously embrace eating styles different from the status quo.
Let me also say I am NOT a fan of extreme eating styles which claim to reverse all forms of diabetes. I have seen many people’s health harmed, sometimes irreversibly, by following diets that greatly restrict nutrition. These extreme attempts at healing scare me. I prefer to use a much more balanced approach that supports the body’s own healing ability and which allows the body to rebuild and rebalance itself. It is also important to state that many people are able to reverse Type 2 diabetes, but there are less than 20 documented cases of Type 1 diabetes being reversed. I believe it’s possible, but I do not believe we know enough about autoimmune illnesses to consistently combat Type 1 diabetes and restore pancreatic function. I help people reverse Type 2 diabetes every day in my practice, but each person is very different. Not everyone is able to reverse it, and extreme caution must be used. I have tried many extreme eating styles. Each extreme style has benefits, but almost all ultimately create systemic imbalances which harm health.
The standard eating style endorsed by the ADA recommends that every diabetic, regardless of age, sex, weight, activity level, or type of diabetes, eat a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. A single serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, so consuming 130 grams of carbs every day equates to eating 8.7 servings. This is a lot of carbs! The large amount of carbs recommended concerns and shocks me. I eat 2-4 servings of carbohydrates every day. Doing so allows me to avoid gaining weight, maintain normal glucose levels, and use less insulin. (Please read Surprising Facts About Insulin for information on the damaging effects excess insulin has on the body.) I currently maintain A1C’s* between 5.5-6.0 and have no diabetes complications. I am extremely blessed to enjoy vibrant health in spite of having had diabetes for more than 46 years.
* In simple terms, the Glycosulated Hemoglobin (A1C) is a blood test that measures blood sugar averages. Normal is considered 4.5-6.0.
The concept of encouraging diabetics to eat high amounts of carbs and then telling them to take large amounts of insulin to counteract the effects those carbs have on blood sugar makes no sense.
The primary reason the ADA form of eating does not work is that it does nothing to improve insulin sensitivity and fails to combat the cause of high blood sugars. Effectively controlling all forms of diabetes requires maintaining adequate insulin sensitivity and eating in a way that does not greatly elevate blood sugars. The ADA style of eating tends to decrease insulin sensitivity in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics because it encourages eating large amounts of high-glycemic carbohydrates. (Insulin resistance is as large a problem in Type 1 diabetics as it is in Type 2 diabetics.) This approach often leads to higher levels of diabetic complications.
The ADA recommends such high amounts of carbohydrates because it fails to recognize how the body converts food to energy and believes carbohydrates are necessary for normal brain function and normal energy levels. This is simply not true. The body’s best source of energy is fat. Yes, fat. Healthy fat, not hydrogenated oils and inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. The body converts fat to energy 80% more efficiently than it converts carbohydrates to energy. Fat is essential for the health of cell membranes, neurotransmitters in the brain, and cardiac cells. My next article will share more information about the necessity of fat in the diet. Until then, please read Surprising Facts About Cholesterol for more information.
The fact is our bodies don’t need carbohydrates at all. Your body can very effectively function if you never eat a single carbohydrate that affects your blood sugar. (I did it for two years, so I know this to be true.) The ADA believes carbohydrates that raise blood sugar are necessary for proper brain function. This is not true. The brain runs on pure glucose. Diabetics do not need to eat carbohydrates to maintain adequate levels of glucose in the blood stream. The only time a diabetic truly requires carbohydrates is when his or her blood sugar falls below normal levels. Again, the concept of encouraging diabetics to eat large amounts of carbohydrates and then making them take high amounts of insulin to counteract the effect on blood sugars is counterproductive.
So what style of eating is best for diabetics? The simple fact is that each person’s style of eating must be customized to their metabolism, lifestyle, schedule and many other factors. There is no single style that works for everyone. Each person with diabetes or metabolic challenges must work to find the best style of eating that works for them. In general, an approach that does not encourage excess carbohydrate consumption and one which focuses on using low-glycemic carbohydrates work best for most diabetics.
I am committed to helping diabetics improve their control and live life more abundantly. I have high success rates because I have diabetes and have an intimate familiarity with what it takes to successfully incorporate diabetes control techniques into daily life. I’ve lived both the good and the bad of diabetes. Nothing brings me more joy than helping others achieve increased control and health. If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your options, please contact me via email or call 317.489.0909.
A study at the University of Michigan found people with diabetes have a 35% higher chance of having Glaucoma than people who do not. The study went on to say the reason for the higher rates of glaucoma in diabetics is “unknown.” My purpose for writing this article is to explain the nutritional reasons that diabetes and glaucoma often go hand in hand.
Before going further, let me state this very clearly: The purpose of this article is to provide education. Both diabetes and glaucoma are serious conditions requiring medical intervention. All eye conditions must be diagnosed and treated by an ophthalmologist. It is imperative that everyone with diabetes have an eye exam including a retinal exam and a glaucoma screening once yearly at a minimum. Never change your medication dosage without consulting your MD and/or ophthalmologist. If you wish to reduce the amount of glaucoma medication you take, consult with your ophthalmologist. Ask him or her to check your ocular pressure every three months, adjusting your dosage as needed. Failure to work with your ophthalmologist could result in blindness. Please do not take matters into your own hands. None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any health condition.
I was diagnosed with glaucoma in April of 2000. I reversed my glaucoma in less than six months using simple lifestyle changes and it has never returned. (I know it has not returned because I continue receiving ophthalmologic care on a yearly basis.) As someone who has had diabetes for over 45 years, I have dedicated my life to researching the biochemical effects of diabetes and to helping those who have it avoid complications. My research led me to draw distinct conclusions about why diabetics are more likely to have glaucoma.
In the simplest terms, glaucoma is an increase in the internal pressure of the eye. (This is known as the “intraocular pressure.”) In the most common form of Glaucoma, Open Angle Glaucoma, the increase in intraocular pressure often occurs because the eye’s drainage system, the trabecular meshwork, fails to drain excess fluid from the eye. This creates increased pressure within the eye. Left untreated, the increased pressure harms the ocular nerve, causing loss of peripheral vision in the early stages and blindness as the disease advances. Glaucoma typically has no symptoms. Those who have it rarely notice its effects until it progresses to the point it harms vision.
Why do diabetics have such high rates of glaucoma? Some suspect it’s due to peripheral nerve and vessel damage caused by high glucose levels. This may be true, but if we dig into the chemistry of diabetes – and insulin – a much simpler cause comes to light. Glucose has a very similar molecular structure to Vitamin C. When cells become resistant to and stop absorbing insulin, they therefore also may stop absorbing vitamin C. (Insulin resistance occurs in Type 2 Diabetes due to excess insulin produced by the body; and in Type 1 Diabetes due to the need to inject high amounts of insulin.) What is one of the first effects of a Vitamin C deficiency? Increased interocular pressure. (For more information on insulin, read: Surprising Facts About Insulin.)
Other deficiencies known to contribute to increased intraocular pressure include deficiencies in vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, iron and others. All of these deficiencies are very common in people with diabetes. The fact that nutritional deficiencies contribute to or may cause glaucoma cannot be denied. Scientists in Russia have known this for years and very successfully treat glaucoma using a much different protocol than what is used in the US. Quite frankly, the US is one of few countries where glaucoma is treated purely with prescription medications. Other countries combine prescription medications with nutritional support.
Multiple studies showed taking oral Vitamin C reduces interocular pressure by as much as 30% within half an hour. In spite of this being a known fact, very few ophthalmologists tell their patients to take a Vitamin C supplement. For many patients, taking 500 – 2000 mg of Vitamin C on a daily basis reduces their interocular pressure to the point they no longer need prescription medication. One study found Vitamin C was very effective at reducing eye pressure even for patients who did not respond to prescription medication.
So can we reduce ocular pressure simply by taking Vitamin C? In part, yes; however, additional change must occur to allow the body’s cells to adequately absorb the Vitamin C. A key factor to allowing the body’s cells to absorb Vitamin C is to reduce the amount of insulin needed (or being produced by the body) and to improve the cells’ insulin sensitivity. This is typically accomplished by eating a low-carbohydrate diet, eating high amounts of antioxidant-rich foods on a daily basis, and other lifestyle changes.
I recommend taking oral vitamin C throughout the process of improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin levels. Some people use vitamin C eye drops to bypass the digestive tract and get the vitamin C directly to the eye tissues, while others use intravenous vitamin C to deliver it directly to the blood stream. Although all three delivery methods are known to be effective, taking vitamin C orally is certainly the most convenient.
Vitamin C is known to benefit diabetics in a variety of ways. In addition to aiding glaucoma, the antioxidant effects of vitamin C are known to help prevent cataracts by preventing the formation of compounds that can lodge in the lens of the eye. Vitamin C is also known to be beneficial for diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic complications. Vitamin C has also been shown to be effective at helping reduce high blood pressure when used in conjunction with other lifestyle changes. The use of vitamin C for both diabetes and glaucoma is beneficial in most cases.
For me personally, the combination of high doses of oral Vitamin C, a strict low-carbohydrate eating style, and high intake of antioxidants quickly restored my intraocular pressure to normal. Since then, I continue eating limited amounts of carbs and still eat high amounts of vegetables, but reducing the amount of insulin I take on a daily basis seems to have been the key to permanently reducing my intraocular pressure. Reducing the amount of insulin I need on a daily basis allowed my cells to absorb Vitamin C and naturally decreased systemic inflammation. One of the greatest joys of my life is knowing I was able, by God’s grace, to permanently eliminate my need for glaucoma medication.
I’ve had diabetes for over 46 years. I’ve lived on both sides of the “medical fence” and have devoted my life to helping other diabetics and anyone dealing with metabolic disorders. I have helped 100′s of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics improve their glucose control, reverse their need for medication, lose weight and more. I have higher success rates than other practitioners because I live this on a daily basis. I know I can help you. Please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Virno M, Bucci M: Oral treatment of Glaucoma with Vitamin C, The Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Monthly, Vol. 46, 1502-1508, Dec. 1967
Liu KM, Swann D, Lee P, Lam KW . Inhibition of oxidative degradation of hyaluronic acid by uric acid. Curr Eye Res 1984;3:1049-1053
Schachtschabel DO, Binninber E. Stimulatory effects of ascorbic acid in hyaluronic acid synthesis of in vitro cultured normal and glaucomatous trabecular meshwork cells of the human eye. Z Gerontol 1993;26:243-246
This post is a very personal one. I’d like to share a tale of what happens when an insured diabetic needs medication but can’t get it.
Current estimates show there are over 90 million people in the US who have diabetes or pre-diabetes. That equates to almost 30% of the population. Approximately 8 million people have diabetes but are not aware of it. The end result of this epidemic is that diabetes has become a huge liability for the mainstream medical community. In the midst of trying to help everyone they can, the medical community has developed a fear their efforts will result in someone’s death. (This fear exists for other medical conditions, but nowhere is it stronger than in diabetes.)
Three weeks ago my insulin pump stopped working. The manufacturer replaced the pump, yet 12 hours later the same problem occurred. Still assuming the problem was related to equipment, I insisted the pump manufacturer replace the insertion sets I was using. Insertion sets attach the insulin pump to the body and have a short tube – a “cannula” – which sticks into the skin to a depth of about ¼ – ½”. (See picture. The cannula is the tiny piece of plastic at the far right.) Unfortunately, the new box of insertion sets had the same problem. After about 12 hours, the insulin pump returned error messages stating it could not deliver the insulin. The area where the cannula entered the skin was always inflamed, a bit itchy and very painful, but had no indicators of infection.
I experimented with multiple locations on my body and always had the same problem. Final conclusion? I had developed an allergy to the plastic used in the insertion set’s cannula. This meant I had to take a “pump holiday” and return to using injections to control my blood sugars while I researched insertion sets with a stainless steel cannula. Not using my insulin pump presented a problem because the only insulin I had a prescription for was fast-acting Humalog, which has a lifespan of about two to four hours, This short duration of effectiveness meant I had to inject insulin every two to three hours. It also meant controlling my sugars while I slept was virtually impossible. I needed a prescription for Lantus, a long-acting insulin with a lifespan of approximately 24 hours. This is where the story gets interesting.
I called my GP, who told me she would not give me a prescription for Lantus because the liability was too high since I had never taken it before. I offered to come in for an appointment, but she refused. She told me to go to an emergency room. I called an emergency room and was told the physicians there would be unwilling to prescribe Lantus for a patient whom they had no history on and for whom they could not follow as an in-patient. I called my endocrinologist, whom I had not seen for almost two years*. I knew they could not prescribe for me without seeing me, and I begged for an appointment. The best they could do was to “squeeze” me in ten days later. They also suggested I go to an emergency room to get the insulin I needed.
*Please note: The fact I had not seen my endocrinologist for over two years does NOT mean I was not receiving care. I adjust my insulin levels as needed, and I was getting necessary blood work such as A1C, thyroid profile, etc. from my GP. I was staying on top of things and consistently maintain A1C’s between 5.7-6.0. I want to clarify that I maintain very strict control over my diabetes and always get the blood work needed to monitor my control. I was recently told my experience was “my fault.” Please know it was not and that I was doing everything necessary to maintain perfect control of my glucose levels.
In the midst of this, my blood sugar control went haywire. I typically awoke with sugars higher than 500, even if I got up at 3 am to take insulin. During the day, I had to inject every one to two hours in order to maintain decent control. I quit eating carbs completely and still had to inject frequently. My energy levels plummeted, and I began to fear my poor control would have a permanent effect. At this point, I had gone almost two weeks without my pump. The early days were spent negotiating with the pump manufacturer; the later days were spent begging providers for a Lantus prescription.
Determined to get what I needed, I went to an immediate care center. The triage nurse told me the doctor would not be willing to prescribe what I needed. I begged and confess I bullied a tiny bit. Luckily, the on-call physician was in the reception area and heard my tale. He asked me a few questions and agreed to prescribe what I needed. He was the first physician who had shown more concern for my health than for his own liability. I am forever grateful to him.
Let’s review: I’m fully insured. My glucose levels were above 500, meaning I was in an emergency situation and desperately needed different medication. I have 45 years of experience controlling diabetes, so I am not a new diabetic who presents a large risk. I’m a Naturopath who speaks nationwide on endocrine disorders and controlling diabetes, so I have knowledge and training most people with diabetes do not.
In spite of all of that, not one of the MD’s I spoke with was willing to prescribe what was obviously a medically-necessary medication. Failure to prescribe this medication could have resulted in my death. Even when I shared that my glucose levels were running above 500, no one was willing to incur the liability of prescribing the medication that was desperately needed. My best option for care would have been to allow myself to go into a diabetic coma, at which point they would have gladly assisted. I instead chose to take matters into my own hands and be my own advocate in a very strong way.
If I had any other condition, physicians would have prescribed what I needed without question. ALL medications have side effects. ALL medications can result in death if not taken correctly. Only a diabetic would be denied care due to physician’s fears of liability. Physicians regularly prescribe narcotic pain medication to patients, often without providing adequate instruction. Those narcotics could just as easily cause death from overdose as insulin could, yet getting them is incredibly easy.
There’s something wrong with this picture.
The current medical system has put so many shackles on physicians that a patient in desperate need of care cannot receive it. When an insured patient is refused care by an emergency room, solely based on fears of liability, there is a desperate need for change. Based on current trends, I predict things are going to get worse, not better.
What are your thoughts?
Soap is a common ingredient in every household. How many times each day do you use it? Most of us use it five to ten times each day, yet few of us pause to think much about it. The following facts may give you a new appreciation of and perspective on soap. It’s not just a bunch of bubbles!
For information on why soap is better than hand sanitizer, please read: Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer.
Did you know the following facts? Which ones do you find surprising?
These Facts May Surprise You
- Soap was first used as a medicinal agent.
- The Egyptians regularly bathed, using a soap made by combining animal fats with wood ash.
- Real soap is created by combining a strong alkali (lye) with oils and fats.
- Real soap made with natural ingredients often has a healing effect on acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.”
- The soapmaking process, called “saponification,” separates the oils’ fatty acid bonds and combines them with molecules in the lye to form a salt. This salt is what we refer to as “soap.” (Yes. Not all salts are hard.)
- Most commercial soaps are not true soap, but are a combination of chemical detergents, artificial lathering agents and toxic chemicals.
- After a perfectly balanced saponification process finishes, the soap no longer contains lye or fat. Both are “consumed” during the saponification process.
- The best soapmakers add extra oils to their recipes. Doing so means that some of the oils do not saponify and remain in the soap. This is called “superfatting” and creates a very moisturizing, nourishing bar of soap.
- Glycerin, a natural moisturizer, is a natural product created during the soapmaking process. Commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin, replacing it with artificial detergents and other chemicals. This creates a soap that is very drying to the skin.
- A single bar of commercial bar soap may contain over 20 toxic ingredients, many of which have been connected to cancer, endocrine issues, skin problems and more.
- The lather, hardness and moisturizing qualities of a soap are dependent on the various oils used in the recipe.
- A simple, moisturizing soap can be made using nothing more than olive oil, lard and lye. This soap can be made using common kitchen equipment. Nothing special is needed!
Learn to make your own soap … it’s easy!
It is surprisingly simple to make your own soap. No special ingredients or equipment is needed. If the facts shared above make you want to learn how to make your own soap, stay tuned for my ebook and for upcoming classes on soapmaking.
- Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.)
- Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
- 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
- The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3
- The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
- Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it
- Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
- Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
- Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
- Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
- Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
- Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
- It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
- Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
- Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
- Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
- The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
- The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
- The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
- Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more
Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.
If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)
Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.
Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures
Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.
Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy
We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.
Insulin signals the body to store fat
Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.
High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.
Insulin delivers magnesium
One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.
Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness
Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.
Insulin lowers blood glucose levels
Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.
Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.
Most of us know someone with a chronic illness, but many people do not know how to support someone who has one. Assumptions and misconceptions about chronic conditions can create communication patterns that weaken relationships. Supporting your friend or family member will require strong communication along every step of the journey.
It is important to note that not all chronic conditions make someone look “sick.” Your friend or family member may look perfectly healthy. He or she may not feel bad every day, or may have physical and emotional issues that are not consistent. The fact the person does not look “sick” does not mean the condition does not exist. The fact you can’t see the condition or its effects does not mean it is imaginary.
Here are my tips for supporting a friend or family member who has a chronic illness:
Ask how you can best support your friend of family member
The simplest way to find out what sort of support your friend or family member needs is to ask, “How can I best support you today?” Note that the support he or she needs can vary from day to day, so stay on track by asking more than once a month. There may be days when your friend does not want to discuss the issue or acknowledge it exists. Respect that. Depending on the chronic condition being dealt with, your friend or family member may simply need encouragement and emotional support, or may need assistance with physical tasks. Find out specific ways you can provide support.
Note that some people with chronic illness want you to treat them as if they do not have a chronic illness. The best way to support and encourage your friend or family member may be to treat him or her the same way you treat everyone else.
Learn about the chronic condition
Take time to learn about the condition your friend or family member is battling. Do some preliminary research, but discuss what you learned with the person you are trying to support. The information you found online may not paint a clear picture of the specific condition your friend is working to control and alleviate. Ask him or her to explain the condition to you. You may want to ask about how the condition affects him or her, how it impacts daily life, what the treatment options are, what testing was used to make the diagnosis, etc.
Drop the pity
Your friend or family member needs your support, NOT your pity. Trust me that your friend or family member has grown to hate the pitying looks that come when someone learns of the health condition. Pity is offered in kindness, but it is not an empowering emotion. Pity dismisses the abilities and strengths of the person receiving it. Your friend or family member is still capable of providing value. Do not diminish that potential by offering pity instead of support.
Don’t make assumptions
Never assume anything. Most importantly, do not make assumptions about how the person feels emotionally. Do not assume you “know how the person feels.” You do not. Even if you have the same condition, you do not know how your friend or family member feels. Please never assume you do. It is also important to not assume your friend is not physically capable of performing tasks or attending social events. Always invite your friend to events and get-togethers. Never assume he or she won’t feel well enough to attend.
Gently intervene when necessary
Depression is a potential side effect of any chronic condition. If you believe your friend or family member is sinking into a depression, please encourage him or her to contact a health professional and to seek assistance.
Do you have a chronic condition? Please share how you want your friends and family members to support you. Let’s help them help you! Please also feel free to share funny stories of support gone wrong. (I know you have them.)
I was able to write this post based on what I learned while dealing with chronic illnesses. I am blessed to say i was able to reverse most them, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, multiple auto-immune conditions and more. Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of conquering your own health challenges. Please visit my Classes page and my Free Downloads page to start equipping yourself.
Image courtesy of Q. Thomas Bower
Many people seem to have a difficult time distinguishing between Bach Flower Essences, Essential Oils and liquid Herbal Extracts. This is probably because these remedies are liquids and are packaged very similarly. In my practice, I use each of these, so I wanted to share information to help explain what each of these supplements is, how it is used, and how the remedy is made. Each description contains links to some of the most popular remedies of that type. Please consult a trained practitioner before using any of these remedies. As always, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, are shared for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Let’s go!
Bach Flower Remedies/Flower Essences
Dr. Edward Bach first began using flower essences in the 1930′s when he realized that his patients’ emotional state directly affected their ability to heal physically. Through his research, Dr. Bach identified 38 different negative emotional states and developed a flower remedy for each. Bach Flower Remedies are used to address emotional states such as depression, obsessiveness, bitterness, etc. The essences are made by infusing flower petals from specific flowers in brandy. (Non-alcoholic versions are available for children and pets.) The beauty of the flower essences is that they have a very gentle impact and do not interact with prescription medications. (The Bach flower remedies cannot be used with prescription Antibuse due to their alcohol content.)One of the most popular Bach Flower Remedies is Rescue Remedy, commonly used during times of extreme stress. Rescue Remedy is often used in emergencies to help people calm down. It is also known to be highly effective for pets who have separation anxiety or storm fear. (Pet Rescue Remedy is alcohol free and very effective.) I often find the Bach Flower Remedy Gorse to be very helpful when addressing long-term depression. Most practitioners use a specific set of written questions to identify which Bach Flower Remedies may be best for emotional issues and then create a customized blend in mineral water that is taken four times daily. It is very important to work with a trained practitioner when identifying which Bach Flower Remedy is best for specific issues. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, please read my post: Stop Seasonal Affective Disorder Now.
Essential oils are the highly concentrated volatile aromatic oils that give plants their aromas. They are highly medicinal and can be used for physical issues and emotional issues. (The chemicals in essential oils can have very powerful and positive emotional effects because they cross the blood-brain barrier.) Essential oils are so versatile they also have culinary uses and a wide variety of uses for cleaning and scenting. The oils are distilled or pressed from the leaves, flowers, stems, barks, roots or seeds of a plant, tree or bush. Essential oils are highly concentrated and have such strong medicinal powers that they must always be diluted before use.
Very few essential oils are suitable for internal use. There are a few applications that do not require dilution, and several essential oils that can be used internally, but only highly trained practitioners should use essential oils in those manners. Additionally, some essential oils can actually be harmful to health when incorrectly used. Please never use essential oils without consulting an expert or doing extensive research. (On a side note, I am aware there is a network marketing company which claims their essential oils are such high quality they can always be used internally and without dilution. I STRONGLY disagree with this company’s teachings and feel they encourage very dangerous usage of essential oils.)The medicinal effects of essential oils can be gained through inhalation, balneotherapy (bathing), diffusion, massage, compresses, etc. Essential oils do smell good (most of them, at least) and can be used for scenting, but their potential extends far beyond that. My two favorite essential oils, which I consider “essential” for every home first aid kit, are Lavender and Tea Tree oil. For more information on essential oils and their uses, please read Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes.
Liquid Herbal Tinctures (Extracts)
Most people now use the term “tincture” to refer to any liquid herbal extract, but this term is actually incorrect. My definition is that a tincture is made using fresh plant materials and extracts are made using dried plant materials. However, everyone seems to have their own definition to distinguish between liquid tinctures and extracts. Since the term “tincture” is commonly used to refer to all liquid extracts, that’s the term I use in this post. Liquid herbal tinctures are concentrated forms of medicinal herbs that contain the beneficial properties of the herb extracted into a liquid. Tinctures are typically made by placing an herb or herbs in a natural solvent, such as alcohol, glycerin or vinegar, and allowing the mixture to infuse for three weeks or longer. The amounts of herb, solvent and water used are very specific and are dependent upon the herb being used. (Some herbs require higher amounts of solvent, some require lesser amounts.)
It is actually very easy to make your own herbal tinctures. I make them frequently and love being able to make my own in the comfort of my kitchen. For detailed information on how to make herbal tinctures and other herbal products, I highly recommend reading Richo Cech’s book, Making Plant Medicine. The book provides ample information about herbs and provides detailed information about how to use herbs in a variety of ways. Herbal tinctures can be used for any and all conditions which are treated with herbs. They are typically taken internally, although some people use them topically in poultices. Some people even add anti-bacterial herbal tinctures to their neti pot. Why use an herbal tincture instead of drinking teas or taking capsules? Because a therapeutic dose of the desired herb can be obtained in a tiny amount of the tincture instead of having to eat pounds of the raw herb or drink gallons of tea. My personal preference is to use liquid tinctures instead of dried extracts in capsules because I believe they are stronger and because it avoids consuming “fillers” commonly used in capsuled products. Herbal tinctures can have a very strong taste, but diluting them in a bit of water or juice effectively modifies the taste.Glycerites are herbal extracts made in glycerin Glycerin is a very sweet vegetable liquid that is often used to make liquid herbal extracts for children. The glycerin is used so that the extracts taste good. The problem with glycerites is that (for most herbs) glycerin is not as strong a solvent as alcohol, which makes glycerites weaker in terms of their medicinal potential. However, glycerites are a good compromise for anyone who cannot tolerate the taste of alcohol tinctures. (For detailed information on one of my favorite herbal tinctures, Goldenseal, please read The Wonders of Goldenseal.)
Have you tried or used Bach Flower Remedies, Tinctures or Essential Oils? What was your expereince? Please share!
My passion is helping others improve their health using a natural approach to wellness. If you are interested in feeling better and reversing symptoms by addressing their cause, please feel free to contact me. I will work with you to help you reach your goals. I will not let you fail!
The most obvious conclusion I’ve drawn from writing this post is that I need to write many more posts about the uses of specific Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils and herbal extracts! Stay tuned for more!
Photo used by permission courtesy of LaWendula Photography
I want to send a huge shout-out and thanks to my friend Rocky Walls of 12 Stars Media. Last week, Rocky casually suggested to a group of friends that sharing case studies about successes in our business was a great way to let people know what we actually do on a daily basis. That recommendation was a light-bulb moment for me. I realized I spend a lot of time sharing health information, but rarely talk about what I actually DO to help people. Starting today, I intend to share more information about the types of challenges I work to resolve. Please note I will never use real names and all case studies are shared with permission.
I met a charming little boy – let’s call him “Chris” – about a year ago. He was happy and healthy, but his mom brought him to see me because his teachers were threatening to have him removed from their classroom. Chris was a bit rambunctious and had difficulty focusing. The same child who could sit and play video games for hours couldn’t seem to concentrate for more than 30 seconds on school work. He had poor impulse control, spoke out of turn, and could not sit still. Although he was popular with other kids, he was sometimes overly rough during play and sometimes over-reacted when conflicts occurred. His teachers and the school administrators insisted that Chris needed medication. Chris’ parents had researched their options and were firmly committed to not putting their child on any medication.
When I talked to Chris about the challenges he was having, Chris said, “I want to do what I’m told, but I just can’t! My brain doesn’t do what I want it to!” (For the record, I focus on the child and usually ask him or her more questions than I ask the mom during a consultation. Most kids, regardless of age, have amazing insight into their health and behavioral issues. Letting a child know up front that I consider him the most important part of the team helps gain his trust and increases his willingness to participate in the adjustments I recommend. I often receive additional information from the parents before, during and after consultations.)
Physically, Chris appeared to be very healthy, but did have the following:
- He often did not sleep well
- His nose ran and he frequently cleared his throat due to post nasal drip
- He had dark circles under his eyes
- He had eczema
- He caught every cold and flu that went around and had frequent ear infections
- He alternated between normal, very loose stools and mild constipation
- He had occasional stomach aches
- His mom commented that he had mild tremors in his hands, but that they weren’t consistent
When I reviewed Chris’ eating habits, I noticed wheat and dairy were part of almost every meal. When I asked Chris when his tummy last hurt, he told me it “hurt bad” the last time he ate pizza. Tiny warning bells started to go off in my head. When I asked his mom when she first noticed his eczema, she told me it started shortly after Chris stopped breastfeeding. The warning bells in my head now became screaming sirens. I asked a few more questions about diet and was thrilled to hear Chris and his family ate almost 100% organic foods. The exception to this was the days when Chris ate the school lunch. His mom and his teachers recognized that Chris’ behavior was worse on the days he ate the school food.
As I began reviewing Chris’ physical appearance, I noticed he had white spots under his fingernails, had many hangnails, had a thick yellow coating on his tongue, had puffy lips, and had inflamed gums. He also had some unusual color changes in the irises of his eyes. At this point, I asked Chris a surprising question: “Do your feet smell?” He giggled and shouted, “YES!” while his mom agreed emphatically. I also noticed Chris moved his hands in a way that seemed to indicate his joints were stiff. When I asked about it, he said his hands “worked fine.” I tested his hand strength and ability to make a fist, which made it very obvious his hands were not working the way they should. His finger joints also looked slightly inflamed. His mom commented that his handwriting was horrible.
I then gave Chris a teaspoon of a liquid Zinc supplement and asked him to swish it around in his mouth and tell me what it tasted like. He swished it around and said it tasted like water.
Based on what I observed and the matters Chris and his parents were hoping to address, I made a variety of recommendations involving dietary changes, techniques Chris could use to stop fidgeting and pay attention, and ways nutritional deficiencies could be addressed. The main recommendations I made included:
- I asked Chris to stop eating wheat and dairy for one month.
- I recommended three supplements designed to alleviate nutritional deficiencies for which Chris had indicators. I also recommended one supplement which has been used successfully as a substitute for ADD/ADHD medications. I recommended the final supplement be used on a very short-term basis.
- I suggested his mom request three specific blood tests from their doctor. (They were working closely with a functional medicine MD who ran frequent tests anyway, so adding a few more was not difficult.)
- I recommended that Chris receive a thorough screening for food allergies. I can do food allergy screening using an EDS unit, but it takes over an hour and is not always a good option for children with short attention spans. The blood test I recommended would provide very rapid results on a wide range of potential allergens.
- I asked his mom to stop allowing Chris to purchase the school lunch. I made a variety of recommendations of healthy lunches she could pack. I also recommended increasing several foods in his diet to boost his nutrition and alleviate potential nutritional deficiencies.
When I saw Chris two weeks later, he was starting to see improvements in how he felt, how he slept and in his ability to concentrate in school. He told me the techniques I had shared with him were helping him do better in school. (I often teach kids to use behavioral techniques to help them focus better.) I reviewed his food allergy test results and made further recommendations. As the months continued, I met with Chris and his family several more times made additional recommendations.
Within three months, most of the issues Chris was addressing had disappeared. He no longer had eczema, he was sleeping better, the dark circles under his eyes were gone, his digestion had improved, his hands no longer trembled, his post nasal drip had vanished, and he had not had any colds or missed school due to illness. The best part was that his grades had improved and he had far fewer behavioral issues in the classroom. Chris still had occasional struggles with paying attention in class, but he was able to maintain his focus much more easily. He also had fewer conflicts with his friends and no longer had outbursts when conflicts arose. After seeing so many improvements, I made a few additional recommendations which included some therapies designed to eliminate additional imbalances that became apparent.
I’m happy to say Chris now has no behavioral issues at school and always gets high grades in Class Behavior.
I see “miracles” like this occur every day. The teachers Chris worked with commented that he “was a new boy.” I cringe when I hear statements like that. Chris was the same boy, but he was a boy who no longer suffered from food allergies and nutritional deficiencies. Addressing the cause of his physical and emotional challenges eliminated them. This approach to problem resolution is called “root cause analysis.” It simply means it is to solve a problem without identifying what caused the problem. It is a model that has sadly disappeared from mainstream medicine. It is, however, a model that is highly effective at reversing health challenges and creating lasting change. This is the model I use in my practice.
I hope you enjoyed reading about how I helped Chris reach his goals. To discuss your health challenges or your child’s, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Photo used with permission of Rhino Neal