Archive for May, 2018

Stay off the slippery slope to crisis medicine


Too often, people land in US hospitals where 440,000 of them die each year due to medical errors and hospital-acquired infections. Also, in hospitals, over 100,000 patients die annually from side effects of medications administered as prescribed. Besides those scary risks, it is just no fun!

We hope not to be hospitalized with a medical crisis, but do we really have a choice? Other than a true accident (e.g. you are sitting at a stoplight in your convertible and a piece of frozen effluent from an airplane drops on you), we probably have much more control than we realize. Hospitalization usually means that a person’s health and quality of life has taken some serious hits in the recent past. However, the trouble likely started long before that when the fixing was relatively easy.

As the name of our show implies, we are supposed to be healthy naturally if: (1) we give the body everything it needs for optimum function and (2) don’t gum up the works with excesses it can’t handle. I created the graphic above to show how subtle violations of rule (1) can accumulate over time and result in a crisis. As you can imagine, the gradual accumulation of toxicants and other excesses (e.g. stress and sugar) can follow a similar path, thereby breaking prime directive (2). Follow the colors below to explain locations on the slide.

1. GREEN – Cells are well-nourished with vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy oils, plant nutrients, good bacteria and well hydrated. The person is vigorously healthy with a positive outlook and superior resistance to immune challenges. Do you know anyone who goes to the doctor and asks her to explain why they feel so good?

2.TEAL – Nutrients are being used up faster than they are replaced, and so backup stores start to become depleted. Only specialized testing such as hair mineral analysis or red blood cell magnesium can give clues. The person probably thinks they are still fine.

3. BLUE – Bodily functions are now being subtly affected by the insufficiencies (not as severe as deficiencies). For example, enzymes function poorly or cell membranes become rigid. Nutrients are rarely measure with special functional blood tests. But, the body does give us signs such as: bleeding gums (vitamin C), nail spots (zinc), changes on tongue (B vitamins), nervousness (B vitamins and magnesium), fatigue (B12 and most others), constipation (fiber, magnesium and water), depression (vitamin D and fish oil), and high blood pressure (magnesium). I could go on and on. And note that I’ve picked some common connections, but any of the signs can be caused by other nutrient insufficiencies. The person may still think they feel pretty well and that these little complaints are not important enough to address.

4. PURPLE – The persistent insufficiencies now become serious enough to be evident with simple medical tests…if someone thinks to check. Does the doctor test blood vitamin D and know the ideal levels? Checking “serum magnesium” is nearly useless, but doc could order a “red blood cell magnesium” test which is better. Unfortunately, rather than getting to the root cause of worrisome trends in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar or digestion, the mainstream system is more likely to prescribe drugs to force the tests into line. The drug-it approach doesn’t fix the real problem and sometimes makes it worse. It also ignores that fact that the fundamental imbalance may be causing other problems as well. The person is just not feeling like themselves and probably blames age or bad luck.

5. ORANGE – By now, the dysfunctions are interfering with life. The doctor is trained to categorize these obvious symptoms into a syndrome and give it a Latin name. Congratulations! You now have an insurance billing code for a disease and at least one medication and maybe more for the side effects of that drug. Life begins to revolve around trips to the doctor and pharmacy.

6. RED – The accumulated damage can become a permanent and create disability. The person may now be in pain and is missing out on many of their favorite things. The close in handicapped parking spot is small consolation.

7. BLACKSUDDEN Death. Wow! Who saw that coming? Are the organs worth donating?

This gradual slip into trouble shows why the US trails so many other countries in preventing and dealing with chronic disease. As just one example, our surgeons are great at removing a misbehaving thyroid gland, but not at keeping it well with sufficient iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin A and so on. It makes sense to invest in staying at the top of the slide to avoid a lot of expense and misery at the bottom.

7 foods proven to put you in a bad mood

I saw this copy as a flier in the office of Dr. Andrew Shepherd. I thought it was useful and he gave me his permission to use it. Thanks, Doc! [I couldn’t resist adding a note here and there.]

“There’s a reason our stomachs are sometimes called our second brains. Our gut produces about 90% of our serotonin, the chemical responsible for making us feel good. Read below to find out which foods might be putting us in a bad mood.

Diet drinks – Aspartame, the artificial sweetener in your beloved Diet Coke, contains an amino acid called phenylalanine. In some scientific studies, phenylalanine has been shown to hinder our production of serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter that regulates mood). You (and your mood) are better off getting your caffeine fix from black iced tea [or Pique Tea] or coffee.

Cereals and snack bars – There’s no need to avoid these guys altogether, but make sure you compare labels and go with one that has 8 grams of sugar or less. Many brands contain mountains of sugar, which provides a temporary energy boost swiftly followed by a crash. When our blood sugar levels dip below normal, stress hormones are released, leading to mood swings.

Packaged sweets – It’s no secret that sugar is a culprit (and yes, the occasional doughnut isn’t going to kill you [unless it fuels an addition]). But store-bought sweets are also often made with artificial colors, which have been linked to reduced attention spans and hyperactivity — particularly in children. So, if you’re going to splurge, you’re better off going to your local bakery than raiding the convenience store aisles.

Fast food – That order of XL fries is rich in [evil] trans-fats. The partially hydrogenated oils extend the shelf life of most fast foods but also disturb your balance of omega-3s. Research from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests that low levels of the [omega-3] fatty acid are associated with pessimism, depression, and aggression.

Margarine and shortening – Fun fact: Even the humble cockroach won’t eat margarine. It’s basically pure trans-fat, which, as we’ve mentioned above, prevents you from being a pleasant human. Same goes for shortening. We hope you weren’t cooking with it, but if you were, reach for the real butter instead.

Salty snacks – Check the ingredient list the next time you open a bag of chips or canister of peanuts. Many contain MSG (or monosodium glutamate), a flavor enhancer commonly found in processed foods, which can give you a terrible headache and cause you to feel weak and fatigued. [This short article in my Library shows that it also goes by many other names.]

Canned food – Canned beans and soups can also hide MSG and excess sodium, but if you’re feeling a slump after your bowl of chicken noodle, check the label again. Look for BPA-free cans. Some studies have shown it [and probably the so-called improved substitute, BPS] interferes with areas of the brain that regulate mood and formation of memory (scary!).”

Bottomless cup of disease?

The cup pictured above is a marvel of technology. It contains a chip that tells the coke machine to let you have as much as you want, as often as you like of the dozens of soft drink choices it dispenses at the push of a button. Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer this cup as part of their soft drink package good just for that cruise. Since the deal costs upwards of $10 a day with gratuity, I’m guessing people would refill that 16-ounce cup often to get their money’s worth. (It is possible to upgrade to the $55/a day package that also includes all the alcohol you can stand and premium coffees. I opted for the bottled water package.)

Although there are other concerns with sodas such as tooth damage and osteoporosis due to the acids they contain and questions about the effects of the chemicals on our microbiome (gut bacteria), the big deal is the sugar. The photo below from shows how much is dissolved in that beverage.

You’ve heard me rant about sugar for years, but the scientific evidence continues to roll in showing that it is a major cause of all manner of degenerative diseases. And it certainly isn’t just the calories. Here is a recent article that explains “Not all calories are created equal: Calories from sugar-sweetened drinks cause more weight gain and increase your risk of disease than bread or potatoes.” (This is the study.) By the way, this is not to imply that bread and potatoes are good for you…they are just not as bad as sugar.

So, are fake sweeteners the answer? Not by a long shot! They have NOT been shown to help you lose weight (maybe do the reverse) or to slow diabetes (maybe do the reverse). They are shown to be detrimental to the cardiovascular system—STUDY. Now, at least in an animal study, they mess with brain health and function—STUDY. These chemicals also seem to harm the crucial friendly bacteria that help run most systems of our bodies—STUDY. (I didn’t take the time to find the very best studies. I just grabbed some samples from among the many.)

When I think a soda pop might taste good, I take a slug of sparkly slightly sweet Kombucha. A bottle lasts me a week or more. (I’ve never had the nerve to make my own. There are several good brands and a variety of flavors.)

On the lighter side

The picture below was taken from the lunch buffet on a 5-day cruise that Bill and I recently took from Puerto Rico to New Jersey. (No, it wasn’t the booby prize in a contest—just inexpensive and served a purpose for us.) This sign made me laugh.

Health-giving tea that is purer, better tasting and uniquely convenient

Just as there are dog people and cat people, it seems there are coffee people and tea people. I understood the benefits of tea and herbs and that is why until recently I had a cupboard full of open (stale) tea boxes. I remained one of those coffee people. About the same time that I decided coffee was giving me the jitters and might cause other negative effects*, I met Simon Cheng. He introduced me to a whole new way of thinking about tea. I still love the smell of coffee, but I am now mostly a tea person. Below are some of the reasons why:

  • The health benefits of tea have not only been valued by many cultures for millennia but have also been confirmed in hundreds of modern studies. One of the newly discovered advantages is that tea helps feed our intestines’ friendly bacteria.
  • The energy provided by tea is calmer and more sustained than coffee’s. There are a couple of reasons for that. The caffeine in tea is bonded to catechins (a type of antioxidant). Because it takes the body longer to break down that compound, even with a smaller amount of caffeine, we get a time-release energy effect over 4-6 hours. Also, tea contains an amino acid, L-theanine that has a very calming effect. This amino (found only in tea) can be purchased in capsules, but tea is more fun…and surely, I have enough pills.
  • Simon’s innovative creation is Pique Tea that comes in slender tubes of instant crystals. I can now make tea very quickly, easily, inconspicuously, neatly and anywhere. For example, I had some earlier today on an airplane—I just asked for hot water. The flight attendant was interested, so I gave her the empty tube.
  • Pique Tea tastes fresh, clean and has flavors that are much richer than the bag teas. The careful selection of premium organic teas and herbs translates into taste. Also, the cold brew crystallizationTM process captures the plant’s essence and stabilizes it. I noticed that the material of the bags of standard tea contribute a flavor that I don’t care for.
  • I think it also helps the flavor and, more importantly, the health benefits that Pique Tea screens the source materials three times and purifies them to make sure the tea is free of toxins such as pesticides, heavy metals and mold. Other tea companies don’t do that. Few even screen twice and unfortunately some may not screen at all!
  • I don’t miss the hassle of tea bags. They get stale and it is hard to know how long to leave them in the hot water. Too short a time makes weak tea. Brew too long and the tea tastes bitter…a bit like I imagine that grass clippings mixed with cigar ashes would. When I take the bag out of the water, I never know quite what to do with the drippy thing.

Of course, you can search for leaves as pure as Pique’s and brew tea in a pot. Nah, I know me. I won’t go to that trouble. So, for sustained energy, reduced stress, antioxidant benefits and even improved gut health, why not give Pique Tea a try? By the way, just for going to the website you can download a Tea Healthfulness Guide. You know I always try to get you a deal. With any purchase, you will be entitled to up to 3 boxes free and a free e-book.

If I sound excited, it is because I am. You should know that Pique Tea is a new sponsor of Healthy by Nature. But remember, I don’t brag about something or someone because they are a sponsor, I search to find sponsors that I want to brag about. With every purchase you help support our mission.

*Coffee is known to create a false energy (a strain on the adrenals?), insomnia, elevated blood pressure and urinary urgency as examples.

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