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How You Can Tell That Your Body Is Inflamed? The Fleckenstein Finger Diagnosis (FFD):

September 23, 2015

Tags: order, food, water, movement, aging, air, allergy, Alzheimer’s, American, antibiotic, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disease, bronchitis - chronic, cancer, chronic disease, chronic pain, COPD, dairy, dehydration, dementia, depression, diabetes, do-it-yourself, drug – medical, drug - recreational, earlobe diagnosis, eczema, environment, Europe, finger diagnosis, finger nail, fingertips, Fleckenstein Finger Diagnosis - FFD, gastritis, genetics, gluten, halo, hand, heartburn, heart disease, high blood pressure, How Can You Tell That Your Body Is Inflamed? The Fleckenstein Finger Diagnosis (FFD), hypertension, inflammation, job - unfulfilling, Kneipp – Sebastian (1821-1897), lifestyle, longevity, microbiome, model, nail bed, nuts, obesity, observation, osteoporosis, overweight, pantry, pathology, pollution, pre-diabetes, relationship, skin disease, soil, stress, stroke, sugar, swelling, tongue diagnosis, toxin, Traditional Chinese Medicine, un-health, vitamin D deficiency, walking

Inflammation lies at the bottom of chronic disease - diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, some forms of depression and anxiety, heart disease, stroke, COPD (chronic bronchitis), osteoporosis, certain cancers, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, allergies, asthma, eczema and other skin diseases, heartburn, gastritis – and so many more. Yes, often you would not get these diseases if you didn’t have the right (or wrong) genes. But let’s face it: Most of us carry the genes for those diseases. All we need is a bad lifestyle to trigger chronic ailments. All of which make your life miserable.

Of course, the main reason for the development of chronic diseases is that we are reaching older age than we used to – we have more time to hatch illness. But it is not that old age automatically renders you invalid and decrepit. One can have a healthy old age! But it takes some luck, and some effort.

So what are the habits that trigger chronic inflammation and chronic diseases? The usual – and well-known - culprits: Inappropriate diet, too little movement (or too much!), environmental pollution of water, air and soil, psychological stress, unhappy relationships, unfulfilling jobs, drugs (medical and recreational), deficient water intake, unnecessary drugs, overweight and obesity, vitamin D deficiency, unnecessary antibiotics that kill the natural microbiome in our guts and on our skin. Another list that could go on and on.

How do you tell that inflammation is damaging your body? Well, if you already have a chronic disease - that is the proof of the pudding. But If you are at the stage before a doctor runs some tests and finally makes the diagnosis – if you are in the pre-stages of disease – you might inspect your fingers for the telltale signs of inflammation: a red halo around the root of the nail, at the area of the nail bed.

That halo can be thin and faint, and it can be thick and swollen. In some patients, the redness goes up half their digits, or higher. It is an early sign of inflammation, and one doctors usually don’t know about. In fact, I didn’t learn this in medical school – I observed it in my patients.

The beauty of it? If you clean up your act, the halos get smaller and paler – you see within a few days that you are on the way to improvement. Especially if you leave out some offending allergenic food – the most common guilty parties here are dairy, gluten, nuts, sugar.

Why is it that your fingertips can tell me the state of your health, the degree of inflammation? Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the tongue to tell about illness and well-being. My favorite European teacher Sebastian Kneipp used to base his diagnoses and prognoses on the shape and color of the earlobes; he must have come to it by simple observation, just as I did. The tongue, the earlobes, the fingertips – why those? Mainly because they are easily visible. For sure, if your body is riddled with inflammation, you will have signs of it in nearly all your inner organs. But the inner organs are hidden from direct inspection. For evaluating the tongue, I’d have to ask the patient to open her mouth. Earlobes and fingers are there for the looking. – Your fingers and nails can tell the doctor much more about your health (or un-health). But the FFD is easy for lay people.

Let me tell you right away that I don’t yet know if only food allergies can trigger the redness of the fingers, or if other toxins or pathology processes do it too. I would think so. But there has been no study yet, just quiet observation on my patients.

What I like about the Fleckenstein Finger Diagnosis (FFD): It is a do-it-yourself tool. You don’t need me to tell you something is wrong. You just need to look down on your fingertips. And if you see a reddish halo: Get up from your chair, and do something for your health: Go for a walk, and clean out your pantry!

Today is National Celiac Day!

September 13, 2014

Tags: food, order, agriculture, antinutrient, arthritis, autoimmune disease, bread, bulking up, cancer, celiac, Davis - William (born ???), depression, diabetes, diet, disease, Earth, fall, Fifties, foraging, fruit, gluten, gluten intolerance, grain, grass, greens, grub, gut, harvest, heart disease, humans, intestine, Jew, kamut, kernel, leaky gut, lectin, mammoth, medieval times, misery, Niemöller - Martin (1892-1984), nut, obesity, Our Daily Bread, overpopulation, poem, progress, rabbit, root, seasonal, seed, selection, Sixties, socialist, sowing, spelt, straw, Today is National Celiac Day!, trade unionist, wheat, Wheat Belly

For some reason – and, please, bear with me – the first thought to my mind is the famous poem by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984):

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


So, what is the connection?

First, there were the celiacs – people who could not tolerate wheat because of the gluten it contains. They were the fringe of the movement, so to speak, and not many people who were not afflicted took the sufferings of the gluten-intolerant very serious.

But now, about twenty years later, it has become clear that most people do better without wheat in their diet – not least, because the book “Wheat Belly” by William Davis has opened the eyes to the damages grains can wreak in the body.

Wheat contains gluten, and for some people – the celiacs - this gluten acts like a poison, destroying first the gut, and then nearly every other organ: arthritis, depression, cancer, and so on are related to gluten intolerance.

But wheat – like every other grain or seed or nut – also contains lectins. The other name for lectins are “antinutrients” – which gives you the idea that they might not be healthy for you. They are not. Lectins inflame the intestines, similar like gluten does in celiacs – only less so. But in the long run, the wreak havoc anyway. Sometimes lectins are described as ripping little holes in the lining of the bowels, which is a bit of a simple explanation and not quite right, but good enough if you want to understand why lectins are not good for you.

Having a “leaky gut” as a consequence of gluten and lectins sets you up for many diseases – the most spectacular is obesity – hence the “wheat belly”.

Why are there lectins in grains and seeds and nuts? Because plants don’t want their next generation to perish – they want their seeds to grow into new plants. Like animals, plants don't want to be eaten. Lectins defend the seeds by making them harder to digest. “Our Daily Bread” has made it possible to populate the Earth (overpopulate!), but it has come with a price: Disease and misery.

Our original foods were greens and roots and fruit (in season only) and some nuts in the fall, and a rabbit or a mammoth, but at daily foraging grubs were more likely. Human ingeniousness discovered that one could sow and harvest the seeds of grasses. Selection made the tiny grass seeds bigger, and made agriculture and “progress” possible. In the last fifty years, we even drastically improved on the wheat plant: shortening the stalks (straw is unnecessary) and bulking up the kernel (mostly by increasing the gluten fraction) – our wheat is nothing what it was in medieval times or earlier. Not even like anything in the Fifties or Sixties! Spelt and kamut had much less gluten than our modern “improved” varieties. Spelt and kamut also caused less disease.

First, a few unlucky people suffered from gluten intolerance. Now it has become widespread. Surprised? No. But it reminded me of the Niemöller poem.

No More Diabetes

August 8, 2014

Tags: order, food, herbs, movement, advice, beans, blindness, blood sugar, blood vessel, conventional medicine, coronary artery disease, craving, Diabetes Cure, diabetes type 1, diabetes type 2, diabetes book – mine, diabetic end-organ damage, dialysis, diet, egg, erythrocyte, exercise, eye, fats - good, fish, garbanzos, genitals, grains, gluten, gut bacteria, heart, hemoglobin A1c, impotence, insulin, kidney failure, life isn’t fair!!, lifestyle, meat, natural medicine, No More Diabetes, motivation, normal lab value, November, obesity, over-eating, paperback, publisher, red blood cell, Rodale’s, sleep, stroke, sugar, taste, The Diabetes Cure, un-athletic, vegetable, weight loss, weight maintenance

My hemoglobin A1c went from 6.1 to 5.1, in about two years.

Hemoglobin A1c is the most reliable way of measuring your blood sugar: Every time you put a sugar molecule in your mouth (not to mention a few spoons full!), this makes a permanent change on the outer surface of your red blood cells. Permanent means, it won’t go away until the red blood cell – also called erythrocyte – has reached its lifespan, about three months, and will die. Those surface changes can be measured in the lab.

A “normal” A1c used to be anything below 6.0 – which put me, some years ago, into diabetic territory. Then doctors reconvened and decided on a new “normal”: Now diabetes is diagnosed only when your A1c reaches 6.4 – which does not really make 6.0 to 6.3 “healthy”. Studies show that many people who have been just freshly diagnosed with diabetes, have already obvious damage of end-organs: Eyes (blindness), kidneys (kidney failure leading to dialysis), heart (coronary artery disease), genitals (impotence), vessels (stroke), and so on.

Natural medicine physicians consider normal between 4.0 and 5.0 – which puts me very close now to the ideal range, and makes me happy. – Why did conventional medicine upped the levels of “normal” sugars? I can only guess that the obesity and diabetes epidemic needed some curbing – if not in reality, then at least on paper …

How did I achieve this better sugar reading? By following my own advice, which I published last year in my diabetes book. In November, the publisher Rodale’s plans on bringing out a paperback version.

How much weight did I lose? None. Although most people lose weight “involuntarily” with my recommendations, I didn’t, because I didn’t need, having maintained the same weight since age twelve. In that way, I belong to the 10 to 15 percent of people of normal weight who have type 2 diabetes anyway (life isn’t fair!!). Those 10 to 15 percent nearly all have a gluten problem and shouldn’t eat much grains at all. Some few have type 1 diabetes, which is not related that much to diet and lifestyle.

Since the book came out readers have written me that they lost 50 plus pounds on my regimen, and that they even could stop – under medical supervision – their insulin. The Diabetes Cure works.

What does my Diabetes Cure entail? Lots of vegetables and good fats, some healthy meats, fish, eggs. Beans and garbanzos, and as many herbs as I can get my hands on. Plenty of sleep and very moderate movement – I have been un-athletic all my life, and will not change much at this age.

How can I maintain my motivation? Number one: Healthy foods are really tasty, so I usually don’t feel deprived. But I also looked into the reasons why we over-eat – and guess what: I found fifty reasons (and discuss them in my book)! It helps to know how the wrong gut bacteria fool you into craving bad foods.

Diseases of the Gut Show at Your Skin

September 5, 2013

Tags: food, abscess, African-American, ageing, armpit, axilla, bloating, boil, cancer, cheese, chronic diseases, dairy, diabetes, diagnosis, digestive system, Diseases of the Gut Show at Your Skin, disfiguring, female, fish oil, fistula, genetics, gluten intolerance, gut, hidradenitis suppurativa, hormones, inflammation, inflammatory, lumps, Mediterranean, non-foods, obesity, overweight, painful, pilonidal cyst, pizza, probiotics, prognosis, pus, rash, relapse, resolution, skin disease, sugar, sweating, sweat glands, sweets, swelling, vegetables, weight loss

Less than a month ago, a young woman in her mid-twenties called me for “lumps in my armpit”. Now, that can be a thousand different things, not all easy to diagnose, some with dire prognosis. So, I told her I needed to see her.

She came, and the diagnosis needed one look only: Hidradenitis suppurativa. This poorly understood skin disease can’t be confused with any other: The patient has multiple red swellings and scars in the axilla, sometimes at other areas, too. You could describe it as boils in the armpit. They are painful and disfiguring. Conventional medicine describes them as inflamed sweat glands (which is what “hidradenitis” means, and suppurativa means “leaking pus”). They are similar to boils, pilonidal cysts, chronic abscesses, fistulas and different kinds of cysts. They might be exacerbated by hormones, excessive sweating, and overweight. Genetic factors clearly play a role – hidradenitis suppurativa is more common in females, and in people of Mediterranean and African-American descend.

Medicine might not understand the cause of it, but any layperson can see that hidradenitis suppurativa is a highly inflammatory disease. This young, pretty woman was slightly chubby – not badly, indeed. But I advised her to eat more vegetables with olive oil, and leave out all sugars and dairy products, as the most inflammatory foods. She also was bloated and had a family history of gluten problems, so I asked her to leave out gluten, too; at least for a few months. I also recommended anti-inflammatory fish oil and probiotics to help her poor, inflamed bowels to heal.

What happened to the young woman? - Within two weeks, she was dramatically better and had lost some pounds, and all the bloating. I never counsel to lose weight; I recommend a better diet, and the weight loss will follow automatically. She was happy about the result.

Unfortunately, then she went to a party where she indulged in all the wrong foods, including pizza, cheese, and sweets. The boils immediately recurred. I was not worried about the relapse: It only confirmed what she had learned: That what she eats has a beneficial or not so beneficial effect on her digestive system, and her health. – Her choice, really.

I know that at this age, all the young woman wants is to look good and be able to were a sleeveless top, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I will make a prognosis – even if I might not be around to see the result: If this twenty-five year old will be able to stick to her resolutions (at least most of the time), she one day will be vibrant fifty-year old. If not, she will go the way most people go in our society that adores foods that I’d call “non-foods” – and she will experience obesity, diabetes, cancer and the myriad of chronic diseases that seem to pop out of nowhere as we age. – Let’s see which way she chooses …

Another Unproven Pearl: Fat - The Happiness Food

July 18, 2013

Tags: food, movement, Another Unproven Pearl- Fat - The Happiness Food, anti-depressant, brain, butter, butter fat, carbohydrates – simple, cholesterol, coconut oil, coffee, cream - whipped, depression, endomorphins, exercise, Europe, fat, fat-phobic, ghee, happiness, happiness molecules, ice cream, obesity, oil, olive oil, pudding, sugar, suicide, Vienna, weight, World War II

Studies have shown that higher fat deposits in the body are found in people who have major depression. But is eating fat the reason of depression? Or is it moving and exercising less? (We know that movement manufactures endomorphins – happiness molecules) Or is it that anti-depressants increase weight? (A well-known and lamentable fact).

Eating good fats – even in higher amounts – does not necessarily make you fat. Fat increases satiety, and fat seems to make people happier. At least, some people – and I am definitely among them. As a child, I would arm myself with a spoon and raid the pantry, eating butter as if it was a pudding or ice cream. As it was after World War II in Europe, and food was scarce, my family was not happy! Today, sitting in a Vienna park, I was drinking a coffee with whipped cream, I was happy. Of course, sitting in a park on a sunny day might be reason alone to feel good, but the non-sweetened whipped cream clearly added to my happiness.

Our brains are mostly fat. No wonder that my brain likes whipped cream. Unfortunately, I have not found any studies supporting my theory. Except that it is know that too low cholesterol might lead to depression and suicide. But in our fat-phobic society, many people deny themselves healthy fats: butter fat (ghee), olive oil, coconut oil - on the whole, we prefer the sugar high to the deep satisfaction of fat happiness. If you ask me, we should deny ourselves sugar and simple carbohydrates (meaning: ice cream!). But we should bathe our foods in oils and good fats, and should indulge occasionally in whipped cream. Fat doesn’t make fat. Sugar makes fat. Not moving makes fat.

Anybody who wants to study this??,

Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!

September 13, 2012

Tags: food, order, Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!, book, wheat, diabetes type II, diabetes type I, gluten intolerance, blindness, kidney failure, amputations, neurological damage, brittle diabetes, hospital, diabetes, end-organ failure, gym, garden, cello, a walking after dinner, exercises, writing a book, fresh food, fish, meat, dairy, sugar, sweetener, trans-fats, processed food, gluten, daily bread, evolution, genes, monotheism, hunter and gatherer, eating nibbling, Nature, holy, cattle, sheep, husbandry, religion, rules, timetables, schedules, Kellogg – Will Keith (1860-1951), breakfast, cornflakes, industrialization, prosperity, scarcity of food, adaptation, calories, burger, obesity, celiac disease, diarrhea, skin rash, bloating, neurologic, psychiatric, symptoms – gluten-related, gluten intolerance, under-diagnosed, lectins, Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamia, seeds, digestion, arthritis, depression, heart disease, cancer, celiac, wisdom of the body, toxicity of wheat, morphine-like substances, brain, longing, cocaine, heroin, agriculture, extinction, monotheism, guilt, over-hunting, ice-age, bison, elephant, deer, cow, gruel, ploughing, farming, corn, sugar, addiction, starvation, bread, pizza, cake, cookie, muffins, vegetables, addictive food, wheat kernel, harvest, milling, minerals, flour - white, diseases, vitamins, iron, flour - “fortified”, root vegetable, celiac, rye, barley, oats, dinkel, kamut, grains, hulls, waste, starch, bread - sprouted, gluten, sprouting, degenerative diseases, wheat, dairy, sugar, trans-fats, redemption, plant food, vegetables, herbs, fruit, beans, nuts, fish, rabbit

Not that I should luxuriate in writing blogs while I am finishing my diabetes book, but to call attention to the problems with wheat – on this occasion I just have to do it.

Since this is my big theme presently, let me roll up the whole gluten conundrum from the diabetic side: Ninety percent of people with diabetes type II are overweight; ten percent are not. Now – what gives the ten percent their diabetes?

Genes, of course. But genes account only for part of the puzzle. Most slim diabetics have either type I diabetes (which I will not discuss here), or they have gluten intolerance. Disclosure: I am one of those ten percent, and while I don’t yet have full-blown diabetes with all the dismal consequences down the road like blindness, kidney failure, amputations, neurological damage, my number always hover at the upper border of normal or the low border of diabetes. For somebody who has brittle diabetes and ends in the hospital frequently, this seems a good place to be, and sure it is. BUT: By the time people are diagnosed with diabetes, a good third already shows sign of end-organ failure. Which means: They really already have advanced disease. I don’t want to wait doing nothing and closing my eyes.

So, what do I do? I move, for starters. I don’t go to the gym, but I work in the garden, play my cello, go for a walk after dinner with my husband, and do tiny exercises every time I get up from my chair during my long writing sessions (aaah – writing a book about health is not such a healthy thing, after all).

And I eat healthily. Fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, some fish, much less meat (but meat I do eat – and recommend), no dairy, no sugar, no sweeteners either, no trans-fats, and basically, nothing processed.

But back to gluten. We pray for our daily bread – and are not aware how recent the “daily bread” was invented – not longer than five to ten thousand years. Which is nothing in terms of evolution and our genes. Actually, our “daily bread” is around not much longer than monotheism – the belief in a single, singular god. I find that interesting: When we were hunter and gatherers, eating and nibbling and plucking from Nature wherever we went, we had multiple gods – the ones that were hidden in the groves, in the deep lakes, in the skies – and everything was whispering to us: Holy, holy, holy.

Then agriculture was invented with cattle and sheep husbandry, and we learned to sow and to reap, and suddenly there was that one stern god over us, telling to adhere to his rules – one obviously needs rules and timetables and schedules and order to be a farmer.

Forward a few thousand years to Mr. Kellogg, who gave us our breakfast cornflakes, and modern scientists who gave as bigger kernels of wheat, and then all the abundance that came with industrialization and prosperity – and here comes the modern American wave of obesity and diabetes. Where for millions of years always was scarcity – and that is what our bodies were adapted to for millions of years – now we can get the whopping calories of a burger for one dollar. Without to move out into the woods and hunt and gather.

If gluten is at the root of those ten percent of slim diabetics – so what! you exclaim, because you are fighting the pounds for most of your life. Gluten makes a few of us very sick – with celiac disease. Gluten makes a lot of us fat, with sickness down the road from the excess pounds.

Celiacs have no immune tolerance for gluten; they might get diarrhea, skin rashes, bloating, and all kinds of weird symptoms – including neurologic and psychiatric. Half of the symptoms are not showing in the belly, which is one reason gluten intolerance is still one of the widely under-diagnosed disease – even that the last ten years has turned the tide a bit.

The funny thing is: Wheat does not want to be eaten. Like basically all nuts and seeds, the wheat grain contains a family of compounds called lectins that are there to protect the grain from being eaten. The wheat plant has no interest, so to speak, to be gobbled up and extinguished. On the other hand, from the wheat’s point of view, of course, it is extremely advantageous that farmers everywhere now growing this seed that originally had a very narrow distribution, namely the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia. Somehow we managed to spread it more or less worldwide – or did the plant entice us to do its business?

Not sure. But nuts and seeds contain lectins that hinder digestion and make people sick with arthritis, depression, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so on – the celiac who runs to the bathroom ten times a day is only the tip of the iceberg. And it shows the wisdom of our bodies: To get rid as fast as possible of a toxic substance.

Wheat is addictive – it contains morphine-like substances that play with your brain and your longings just as cocaine and heroin do. I always picture how the first farmers, sitting placidly and satisfied in their hovels, invited the last hunters who came in from another fruitless hunt for something to eat (the rise of agriculture happened parallel to the extinction from overhunting the very large ice-age mammals – they had bison the size of elephants, and deer like cows at that time. The rise of monotheism happened at the same time … did we feel guilty for the overhunting??). The hunters got their bowl of gruels or their flat breads; it must have seemed heaven to them. As they never got enough of it, they came back for more and more, until they one day decided to plough a piece of land, and settle down as farmers themselves.

So, if you want to get healthy and/or slim, you first have to break the wheat (and corn! And sugar! But those are other topics …) addiction. You don’t die of starvation, if you leave out bread and pizza and cakes and cookies and muffins. You just get healthier. The food to eat: Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. And some brown rice, as rice does not seem so addictive as wheat. It just doesn’t taste so yummy, yummy that you want more and more of it.

In all of this, I haven’t even talked about what they do nowadays once the too-big, overinflated-by-starch wheat kernel is harvested: They mill it and grind it and take the good stuff out, namely the coarse outer layers that contains vitamins and ls . The make white flour from naturally brown flour, and because it is known that white flour contains nothing healthy and leads to deficiency diseases down the road, the “fortify” the flour with vitamins and iron.

Believe me, nothing is as well “fortified” as the original grain. I mean the really “original” grain which we cannot retrieve anymore because the first grains were so puny – not much more then a few hard nibs in your mouth while you were searching for the really belly-filling rabbit or root. If you want to do wheat at all (and if you are a celiac, you can’t have it ever again! Also not rye and barley; perhaps not even oats), at least stick to dinkel and kamut, some of the older grains. Not as old to go back to the dawn of times, but going back a few thousand years, to the first cultured strains. They contain more hulls and “waste”, less gluten and starch. You also can try sprouted breads where most of the gluten has been used up in the process of sprouting.

Our modern degenerative diseases have to do with mostly four culprits: Wheat, dairy, sugar, trans-fats. Our redemption lies in the plant world: vegetables, herbs, fruit. A few beans, a few nuts. Some fish. And occasionally … a rabbit.

Ethical Dilemma

June 17, 2012

Tags: order, food, addiction, bread, cheese, community, cow - unhappy, dairy, deli, dilemma, disease, Ethical Dilemma, Europe, free, fridge, Germany, gluten intolerance, Greek, hay fever, health care, hidden cost, inflammatory, milk, milk product, neighbor, obesity, pain, processed food, unhappy, upbringing, vacation, wasting of food, World War II, yogurt

My neighbors left for Europe vacation. They brought me their fridge’s contents; Several cheeses, Greek yogurt, two kinds of deli, a bread, milk. Which is kind of them. But we don’t eat food like that.

What is a woman to do? Should I throw it out – as is my initial impulse? The daughter delivered the bag of food with words that encouraged me to depose of the things if I didn’t want it – somehow, they knew these are not items I usually put on the table … Or should I hand it to my cleaning ladies who certainly would be happy to get nice things for free?

Only that those things are not “nice”. - Dairy is inflammatory, makes one fat and sets a person up for hay fever, and so much more. The deli is from unhappy cows, and highly processed. The bread we can’t eat because of gluten intolerance.

They are not “free” either. Down the line, because of the addictive nature of milk products, they cause health care costs. Someone will have to pay: The eater with pain and disease; the community for doctor.

Knowing myself, I anticipate that I will give the food to my cleaning ladies – I grew up after World War II in Germany – and wasting food is against my upbringing.

What would you do?

Bike Month

May 19, 2012

Tags: movement, accidents, back rack, balance, basket, bicycling, bike bell, Bike Month, biking, biking rules, bowel movement, car, cardiovascular health, cello, constipation, coordination, cycling, Earth, endurance, handlebar, heart health, helmet, Google Maps, immune system, Italy, Kegel exercises, longevity, May, muscle strength, muscle tone, National Biking Month, neck strain, obesity, overweight, pelvic area, racing, recuperating, reflector, rental bike, Romans, Rome, stamina, traffic, Via Appia antica, health benefits of bicycling, outdoors, mood booster, light, sunshine, vitamin D, weight problem

May is “National Biking Month”. I celebrated today to pick up my cello from the string shop (it had needed re-hairing) by bike – something I had not done before.

I had not used my bike on that route before because most of the 2.8-mile drive there is on a very busy – to me meaning: dangerous – road, with horrendous traffic. I set out anyway, and found out that there is a path along the highway, mostly hidden in the bushes, much safer than riding on the highway itself. Although it was narrow and overgrown – I had twigs whipping my face and lots of distracting dirt and debris underfoot, oh, underwheel.

But it was doable. Google Maps thought I should be able to paddle the 2.8 miles in 16 minutes. It took me about 25. But the weather was as gorgeous as one expects of May, and it gave me a wonderful work-out.

Here are my rules I stick to:

• I never go without helmet.
• I don’t bike two days in a row because I want to give my muscles a day for recuperating in between.
• I don’t bike when I am in a hurry – because that’s when accidents happen.

My bike needed a few adjustments before I could use it for errands like shopping. I had a rack installed in the back, with a basket. And I needed an old-fashioned handlebar. The original one seemed to be made for a racer – which I am not. The new one is comfortable and does not strain my neck. The other day, when we were in Rome, we took bikes along the Via Appia antica – the old road build by the Romans more than two thousand years ago. My Italian bike had one of those comfortable handlebars. And, by the way, those bikes were rented – free of charge. Wish we would have that system here! The Via Appia ride will be unforgettable!

And for the very occasional use during dusk (I don’t anticipate driving at night), I plastered the bike with a set of reflectors. And I bought a fun bike bell – just like I had as a child!

These are some of the health benefits of bicycling:
1. Gets you outdoors.
2. Improves your mood.
3. Gives you light and sunshine for vitamin D repletion.
4. Fights overweight.
5. Moves your bowels better.
6. Strengthens your heart.
7. Builds up your muscles – strength as well as muscle tone.
8. Tones your pelvic area (and is more fun than Kegel exercises!).
9. Improves coordination and balance.
10. Promotes longevity.
11. Increases endurance and stamina.
12. Boosts your immune system.

Riding a bike is one of the healthiest choices you can make for yourself and for our Earth – as long as you avoid being run over by a car!

Desperate Skin – Psoriasis

May 2, 2012

Tags: order, movement, water, food, herbs, acute disease, alcohol – excessive, allergies, alternative vs. conventional medicine, appendix - perforating, arthritis, balm of Peru, bay leaf, benzoic acid, biking, biopsy - skin, bone - broken, bowl, brain, breath, cancer, cardiac death, cardiologist, cat, chronic disease, cinnamon, citrus peel, cloves, cold shower, cooking, cortisone cream, cosmetics, curry, dairy, dead-end job, dentist, depression, dermatitis, dermatologist, Desperate Skin – Psoriasis, detoxification, diabetes, diet - “scientific”, dog, eliminating organ, exercise, expertise, feces, food allergies, fragrance, fresh food, friend, green herb, gums, gut, heart attack, hypnosis, India, inflammation, internal organs, intestine, junk food, kidney, lifestyle choices, lung, movement, Natural Medicine, nourishing, nutrition, obesity, pill, patient vs. person, pet, preservative, psoriasis, pregnancy, profit, psychological explanation for disease, rash, relationship, residency, Schuppenflechte, scientist, shampoo, shelf life, skin disease, skin allergy testing, sleep - more, spices, stroke, sweat, talking, teeth, toxic matter, turmeric, urine, vanilla, vegetable, veterinarian

Twenty-five years ago, my husband suddenly broke out in a rash: His fingertips were raw and started bleeding whenever he touched something - like buttoning his shirt. When he went on a trip to India, he could not carry a suitcase, but traveled with a backpack. When he came back, the rash had intensified, and I worried about him becoming despondent.

He consulted a dermatologist who told him he had “dermatitis” and prescribed a cortisone cream. “Dermatitis” means “inflammation of the skin” – duh! He was told these skin rashes would come and go, there was no known cause; he just had to live with it.

It is hard to live with leaving a trace of blood on anything you touch! The cortisone helped some. But the rash always came back when he stopped the cream. In his desperation, he went to half a dozen different skin doctors. The pinnacle was when a well-meaning friend gave him, as a present - a visit to a hypnotist. We should have known hypnosis wouldn’t work in a hard-core scientist …

Our friends thought it all was psychological: We were pregnant at that time, with our son, and the easiest explanation was that becoming a father was stressing my husband out. We could not really see the stress, as we were giddy with joy and anticipation. But it was true that the rash had appeared during our pregnancy.

For three years we tried to figure out what was going on, talking about it at nearly every dinner. Then one day I noticed that new plaques had appeared on my husband’s elbows. It seemed clear now that he had psoriasis. – At the same time he thought he observed that the rash on his hands always got worse when he used shampoo.

I made him ask his dermatologist for a skin testing, to look for allergies, and a biopsy, to confirm the suspicion of psoriasis. The doctor said there was no reason to do either. But because I was a colleague, the tests were done.

The biopsy confirmed psoriasis. The skin testing showed a whole angry area of patches – all related to spices: vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, curry, citrus peel and benzoic acid (a preservative). And balm of Peru – the fragrance that is in many cosmetics, including shampoos.

As a physician, I was all excited: Here was a case of psoriasis triggered by food allergies! Never in medical school had I heard of a connection between skin disease and nutrition! I talked with several dermatologists – none of them got excited. They flatly denied there could be a connection – even in the face of the biopsy and skin test results! Slowly it dawned on me that no dermatologist has any incentive to really cure his patients – as they then would be lost as patients.

We, however, implemented a new diet, leaving out the offending agents, and in no time my husband was healed. We even figured why the rash had first appeared during pregnancy: I was in the middle of residency when I got pregnant – which is usually not considered a good time for expanding your family. Because I was more tired, I cooked less and we went out eating more often. Just across the street was a tiny Indian restaurant; we became nearly daily guests there. And curry (probably the turmeric in curry, actually) was one of the problems.

In the long run, being forced to always cook from scratch I have helped the health of our family tremendously. Our son grew up knowing about the importance of fresh foods, and even turned out to be a dedicated cook!

Natural Medicine has long maintained that many diseases stem from the gut. We have basically four eliminating organs that might get rid of toxic matter: the kidneys (urine), the bowl (feces), the lungs (exhaled breath), the skin (sweat). Often the skin mirrors the health of the intestines: My husband’s body tried to get rid of the spices he was allergic too, and expelled them via the skin – which showed as a rash. Using cortisone cream only suppresses this natural way of detoxification, and pushes the problem underground – until even the internal organs are getting diseased. Never think that a skin disease is just a skin disease: The inflammation in your body might become visible in the skin, but the inflammation happens everywhere. A study showed that psoriasis sufferers have more strokes, heart attacks and cancers! It does not surprise me. But it might surprise the seven and a half million people who suffer from psoriasis in this country. For most of them it would already be curing if the eliminated all dairy products and excessive alcohol. And nobody tells them …

Of course, what is true for dermatologists is true for other specialties: Cardiac death is going down – not because of procedures cardiologists are doing but because people are paying more attention to what they eat, and they exercise more. – In obesity, the answer will not come from a little pill your doctor gives you, but from you moving around more and letting go of junk food. – Is your dentist interested in you having healthy teeth and gums – or is he interested in keeping you as a patient? – Veterinarians sell now “scientific” diet for your pets. But can that manufactured food compete with the food you cook yourself at home; I doubt it. Because that food is made for long shelf life and profits, not with the health of your cat or dog in view. – Your depression – does it warrant a pill and you being a patient instead of a vibrant, alive person? Would you do better talking with a friend about your problems, getting out of a sour relationship or dead-end job, nourishing your brain with fresh vegetables and getting up from your sofa and ride your bike?

In the last years, we have seen some physicians incorporating alternative methods into their mainstream medicine practice. Acute problems like a broken bone, an appendix threatening to perforate or a cancer definitely need a skilled conventional practitioner. Chronic problems, on the other hand, that have developed over years from had lifestyle choices – arthritis, diabetes, obesity rank high among them - do remarkably well with changes in lifestyle. No surprise there …

I am not saying that every problem goes away with better nutrition, exercise, cold showers, green herbs and more sleep. But you will be astonished how many problems will vanish into thin air. Give it a try! And don’t you worry that I am throwing out all conventional medicine! Today I am seeing my conventional dermatologist for a checkup. But I know what she can give me: expertise. Not my health. On my health, I have to work myself.

Vegan And Vegetarian – Again

February 13, 2012

Tags: food, animal, animal husbandry, biking, BMI, body, brain, coconut oil, compassion, cow, detoxification, duck fat, eating grubs, ethnic background, evolution, evolutionary make-up, fasting, fat, fish, flesh, free-roaming, genetics, geographical background, grains, grass, grass-fed, gratitude, green smoothie, insects, junk food, lion, living web, local, marathon, meat, nature, nutrition, obesity, olive oil, omnivores, organic, overweight, prayer, pregnancy, spirit, starving, stomach contents, vegan, Vegan And Vegetarian – Again, vegetable-broth fasting, vegetables, vegetarian, weight

We are, by evolution, omnivores, my friend. Way back we ate grubs - be pleased that I don't do that anymore. But I would, in a starving situation.

If I don't eat meat once in a while, I get weak - I tried it. I am small and slim (BMI around 21). Meat is on the table about once a week. Fish three times, vegetarian three times.

Occasionally, I do vegetable-broth fasting for detox. I cook and eat several fresh vegetables every day. I make green smoothies every day. But my body tells me that it needs meat and fats (good fats, like coconut, olive, duck). If I don't eat fat, I get voracious and crabby.

Besides, I have the same weight since age twelve ... I must be doing something right.

Having kept my weight (except for pregnancies - I gained twenty pounds with my daughter, and forty with my son, bouncing right back to my normal weight immediately - umh, with some attention and work) all my life, of course, disqualifies me to dispense advice - because overweight people think it is sheer luck that I am slim. I have a chubby sister and a heavy brother (I love them dearly – and worry about them); I have one slim brother - no, it's not genes! - he is the one who commutes by bike and ran a marathon.

My basic idea about nutrition is that we all are coming from different ethnic, geographical backgrounds and therefore really need slightly different foods. What works for me, might not necessarily work for you. What we don't need, however, is industrial junk labeled as "food".

But: In nature, there is no "vegetarian" or "vegan" animal, really. A cow in the meadow gobbles up tons of insects with the grass it is eating. A lion, when devouring its prey, goes for the stomach contents first - which contain grasses and grains.

We all belong to the same living web. Our brains don't make us superior, or different. Thinking you should be "vegetarian" or "vegan" does not make you so; it does not alter your evolutionary make-up and the ancient requirements of body … and spirit.

Lastly, having said that, I am compassionate for the animals who will die for me. The rare times I eat meat, it is organic, grass-fed, free-roaming, preferably local. The animals should be kept humanely, and killed swiftly. I say a prayer over each fish or flesh that goes through my kitchen - not a religious prayer - a prayer of gratitude.

龙年快乐Happy Dragon Year 2012!

January 23, 2012

Tags: order, food, movement, herbs, abundance, alternative medicine, anti-depressants, art, arthritis, bacon, body and soul, books, brain, brownies, California, car, career, children - playtime, Chinese, Chinese New Year, church group, coconut oil, colleague, community, computer, consumption, cookies, cravings, cream puff, dancing, dairy, depression, deviled eggs, diabetes, diabesity, diet, dragon year, Earth, eating alone, eating at a table, eggs, epigenetics, family, fat, fat phobia, feelings - hurt, fish oil, foie gras, fresh foods, food - subsidized, friends, game boy, garlic, genetics, grandchildren, grandmother, greens - cooked, happiness, health care costs, health care - evidence-based, health - real, heart disease, hen, house - heavily mortgaged, hugging, Hyman – Mark (1958 to), ice cream, icing, laughter, lifestyle, 龙年快乐, 龙年快乐Happy Dragon Year 2012!, looking good, lunch hour, meat, mother, music, national health care system, new year, obesity, olive oil, organic, outside playing, over-population, overweight, “Own Your Health”, pancake, parents, pepper and salt, potluck, problem – solution, public office, relationship, San Diego, science, Scripps Conference, Seneca (4 BC to 65 AD), Shaw - George Bernard (1856 to 1950), sleep, solution - problem, starches - white, stroke, sugar, supplements - natural, tax dollars, tears, tribe, TV, TV key, village, walking, water - clean, Weisman –Roanne (1952 to)

The Chinese New Year begins today – time for miscellaneous thoughts and new resolutions!

龙年快乐 read character by character, means “dragon year happy happy” – pronounced long nian kuai le. What I find fascinating is that both “happy” terms are spoken with a down tone. In my ear that double happy-happy sounds less than a Western easygoing, lucky-feeling happy but grimly determined: You better be happy – or else! I might be over-stating it, but to me the Chinese kuai! le! shows perfectly the difference in the Chinese approach to ours: We expect happiness, well, to “happen”, for instance in a relationship. The Chinese know it is hard work …

Just finished the Scripps Conference on Natural Supplements here in San Diego – taking advantage to me being right here in California (for only another week now!). Here are some thoughts I am carrying home from that wonderful conference:

• Listening to the results of modern science (the conference was for physicians and health practitioners and the talks were evidence-based – using modern science; no touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo). It seems, my thoughts on health have well held up during those many years I am thinking about what our bodies and souls need. The only point where I am more radical is in fat consumption: Most health practitioners are still fat-phobic. I am not talking bacon dripping fat, ice cream and cream puffs here – I am talking olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil, and never say no! if somebody puts foie gras on your plate – it doesn’t happen that often! - George Bernard Shaw (1856 to 1950) had this to say: “No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office“.

• Let’s correct that touchy-feely part: Turns out, we alternative practitioners know that body and soul belong together, and at the conference there was a healthy amount of hugging, laughter and tears going on. Because if one thing has become clear – through our old failings and brand-new science: One can’t go it alone. As a physician, I need like-minded colleagues; as a fat person, you need friends, family, community around you to make a dent in your weight – or whatever health problem you are tackling in the moment.

• Obesity is a good guess of mine because, firstly, now more than a quarter of Americans are grossly overweight – half are only overweight - and all conditions that physicians usually label as single diseases are coming together: heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis, obesity (Mark Hyman called it aptly “diabesity”), cancer – they are ALL ONE, namely a wrong lifestyle. Wrong food, heavily subsidized and advertised by your own government, with your own tax dollars. Time to take matters into your hands and “own your health”! “Own Your Health”, of course, is the title of Roanne Weisman’s book about alternative medicine. She wrote it after overcoming a stroke with the help of many different alternatives, after mainstream medicine had told her she would stay disabled and had to adjust to it. Boy, were they wrong!

• The old excuse that it is “all in the genes” cannot be used anymore. Yes, a lot of your weight might be determined by your genes – but only if you allow it to be so. The new science of epigenetics teaches us that genes can be switched on and be switched on – and guess, who does the switching? Your food does it, and you moving your butt around, that does it. Isn’t it marvelous?

• It takes a village to raise a child – you have heard it. It also takes a village, or a tribe, or your church group to change your health habits. Line up with a friend to start walking during lunch hour – five minutes in one direction, five minutes back. And be part of the solution, not the problem: Whenever you bring cookies or brownies or a potluck – don’t go to the old recipes! Explore new options without sugar, dairy, white starches. I always see that deviled eggs are the favorite of everybody – and they is nothing wrong with eggs, especially if the are organic, from free-walking hens. Bring cooked greens with olive oil and garlic, pepper and salt – they are delicious cold or hot! Educate your friends – don’t give in to their sugar-icing cravings! They will thank you.

• If we would not eat alone and always at a table (not in the car, not in front of TV, not in bed), we likely would be slimmer. In olden times, if you grabbed the biggest piece of meat, your mom would slap you and say: “Don’t be greedy!” If you asked for your fifth pancake, your grandma would say sharply: “Now is enough, dear!” And since nobody catered to their little hurt feelings, children found home less congenial than the outside and their friends. We always asked if we could go “outside” – whatever it was, it was not inside with the parents (your parents made you uncomfortable because they always wanted to prepared you for life), and it was not in front of TV, computer or game boy. When I was a child, our first TV came with a key – whatever happened to THAT technology?? - and we children could not even turn it on when the grown-ups were out working. Of course, we children soon figured out that the key was kept in the bar, behind the bottles. But it was a high-risk gamble – and TV was never half as exciting as our friends outside. We had one fat girl in class, in all of my thirteen years of school. And that poor girl, we all pitied her – but we wouldn’t play with her.

• “This body is not a home but an inn, and that only briefly.” Seneca (4 BC to 65 AD) said that. I think we have to start talking about what is needed: That people take their own health in their hands. Your doctors can only assist you – not do the work for you. So let’s start by calling fat “fat” – no more pussyfooting around it; physicians have long enough colluded with patients and avoided the “F” word: “I won’t call you fat, if you stay my patient”. The health care system is falling apart under the burden of health care costs brought about by overweight people (don’t forget – I still am for a national health care system!), the Earth is brought down under the burden of too many people who consume too much, and all our wealth so far has brought us very little real happiness it seems – if we judge by how many people are on anti-depressants.

• Bad news: Before you die of being overweight, the Earth might have died of pollution. Definitely, future generations – they are your kids, my kids, our kids and grandkids! – are in danger. Newborn babies have been found to have more than 200 industrial chemicals in their umbilical cord blood, right when they are born. The womb has not protected them. We are finding out the hard way that you can’t dump dirt there, and assume you are safe here. We all have only this one Earth – and do you want to be responsible for babies born with birth defects? Global warming is real – so is overpopulation and increasing environmental diseases.

• And what do they mean by “natural supplements”? I am glad to report that they do not mean artificially manufactured vitamins or new-fangled molecules, but they promote (mostly – no industry is perfect!) clean, whole, fresh herbs preserved in a bottle of tincture or capsule as well as possible. And if you are waiting for that miracle pill that might do the work for you – dream on! Real health is work. And didn’t you know it: Being sick sucks much worse.


Real health takes very little: A bit clean water, a few simple, fresh foods, a good night’s sleep – every night, a few herbs to treat little things early, abundance and walking and dancing and laughter with friends. Music, art, books. Ask more of this life just than a heavily mortgaged house, a car and a career!

A happy, hard-working New Year to you!

New Year’s Resolutions

January 2, 2012

Tags: order, food, beauty, bigotry, caring, cheer all year round, community, compost heap, depression, dreaming of a better world, ending war, endorphins, exercise, fad diet, family, fresh foods, friendliness, friends, ignorance, joints, lean and mean, lending a helping hand, livable, loneliness, loved ones, muscles, New Year’s Resolutions, obesity, overweight, poverty, sadness, shedding the pounds, six-pack abs, smile, state of the world, weight gain, weight loss

Most of us have probably resolved to move more, eat better and – perhaps – lose a few pounds in the new year. All very commendable. But as I am worrying about the nation’s expanding waists, I worry more about the state of the world generally. People are not only fat, but they are sad, too, and lonely. There might be a relation between being overweight and being depressed (eating fresher foods and exercising more will increase endorphins in the body and make people happier).

But a person is not an island, and I think building a better world needs the effort of many people combined. Emphasis on “combined” – as we do not amount to much alone. But together with friends, loved ones, family, community we can tackle everything.

Fad diets won’t work in the long run – but smiles and friendliness and lending a helping hand here and there will go a long way. Six-pack abs are a fantasy - a body that is healthy must not necessarily look like an advertisement - it just has to function well. And too much exercise can will ruin joints and muscles. And in the end, all beauty will end up on the compost heap anyway.

A beautiful smile and a helping gesture, however, might never be forgotten. Let’s dream of better things than weight loss – things like ending war, poverty, ignorance, bigotry, loneliness. And by distributing cheer and much-needed help all year long we might, accidentally, run around a bit and shed the pounds … unthinkingly. I want the world not lean and mean, I want it friendly and livable and caring.

A Happy New Year to you!

More About Brown Fat

November 2, 2011

Tags: movement, water, food, air-conditioning, baby, bear, belly ballast, brown fat, California, cinnamon, cleansing, cloves, cold exposure, cold stress, cold water, core temperature, coriander, depression, diabetes type II, disease, drug, experiment, fasting, Florida, food - warming, garlic, ginger, happiness, heating, hibernation, hunger stress, hypothermia, ice water, immersion, infection, insulin-resistance, La Jolla, longevity, metabolism, More About Brown Fat, Nature, obesity, onion, pharmaceutical firm, physician, pool, pounds, pre-diabetes, refrigerator - walk-in food, residential swimming pools, rutabaga, shivering, stress, stress mechanism - beneficial, stress – moderate, summer, sweating, swimming, temperature, toxin, U.S.A., water resources, weight loss, winter, winter kitchen, winter swimmer

My experiment is going on. Of course, I have no idea if it is really new brown fat that turns me into an oven every time after my daily cold laps in the pool. For all I know, I could have a not-yet-recognized infection or any other disease that makes me burn up. Only thing I know is that I feel terrific – for the moment.

But for the sake of an interesting exploration, let’s stick with my brown fat hypothesis. This is what I have learned about about brown fat so far:

1. It used to be thought that only babies (protecting them from hypothermia) or bears (keeping a reasonable core temperature during hibernation) have brown fat. It turns out that traces of brown fat are still around in adult people. – A little aside: Other ways to increase body temperature are increasing surrounding temperature, moving about, shivering, and eating certain “warming” foods like cinnamon, ginger, onions, garlic, rutabaga, coriander, cloves – interestingly foods often used in the winter kitchen. But there is no hint that those foods increase brown fat. Or a shred of a proof that a so-called "Brown Fat Diet" will increase that precious tissue in your body.
2. Brown fat can help weight loss by increasing metabolism speed.
3. Brown fat also can decrease elevated insulin-resistance (also called pre-diabetes) and a diabetic situation.
4. Brown fat can be induced to increase by cold exposure – be it by swimming in cold water, immersing in a tub filled with ice water, or dancing in a walk-in food refrigerator (don’t you wish you had one of those at home??).
5. Needless to say, there are already pharmaceutical firms are already working on drugs that might trigger growth of brown fat, without going through the ado of cold exposure. The easy way out, I call it. And definitely not an interesting way, if you ask me.

I like to think about cold-induced brown fat as one of the benefits of moderate stress. We all know that stress is bad for you, don’t we? Not necessarily though. Moderate stress might be what makes the body function in the way Nature intended it. With heated dwellings with forgo the winter cold stress – and get sick for it, lacking brown fat. With air-conditioning in the summer, we miss out on the sweating which give our body a good cleanse of all the toxins – and get sick for it. Occasional hunger stress (fasting!) is another beneficial stress mechanism. Not only do we get healthier on occasional fasting, and live longer with less belly ballast, it also seems we get to be happier with fewer pounds – and less depressed.

One estimate is that there are about three million residential swimming pools in California (I am not even mentioning the pools in Florida and all across southern U.S.A.). If these pools are anything like our pool here in La Jolla, all those turquoise eyes should be gazing at the sky, basically unused. All, of course, using up precious water resources. How about using them? If you are in decent health (ask your physician), you start by doing a single lap across your pool. Tomorrow two, and every day one more until you reach twenty-one laps. The brown fat will appear very fast – and will help you lose weight.

Putting on brown fat, however, might mean walking a fine line: You want to increase your metabolism by cold exposure. But you don’t want to get where most winter swimmers end up: with more fat on their bodies. Fat (of any kind) protects against cold, and makes you better able to withstand long swims in icy water. Don’t go there!

Brown Fat And My Californian Pool

October 31, 2011

Tags: water, movement, addiction, arms, baby, back, belly fat, blanket, blood vessel, brown fat, Brown Fat And My Californian Pool, California, calories, chlorine, coconut oil, cold exposure, cold - minor, cold shower, energy factories, exercise, fat - brown, fat – yellow, hand, husband, hypothermia, itching, knee bend, medical curiosity, metabolism, mitochondria, muscles, newborn, obesity, oxygenation, pool, posture, rash, skin, stubbornness, swimming, tea - hot with fresh ginger, warmth, water book, weight loss, yellow fat, iron, Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897), Kaltwasserkur, Cold Water Cure, winter, Danube River, tuberculosis, frailty

The experiment is still on: How long into the winter will I succeed to keep up my daily twenty-one laps in the pool?

So far, so good. The water is much colder now, but the days have been sunny and friendly – the fog lifted while we were at the East Coast.

Truthfully, lately it has been harder to face the pool: I am still battling a minor cold, and every day I have to decide if it is prudent to swim with the cold, or if I should just snuggle up in a warm blanket. But the exhilarating feeling after my daily swim – I seem to be addicted to it. I look full of vigor. My posture definitely is straighter. I am building up muscles where I never had any – on my back and my arms. Plus, the tiny belly I had is getting smoother (not smaller).

On the negative side is my skin. No outright rash or itching yet, but I have the suspicion that my skin looks a bit older, notwithstanding the coconut oil I slab all over me after each bath.

For a few days, I had been getting extremely cold after each swim, and couldn’t get warm at all. If you ever read my water book, you know that staying cold after water exposure is not a good idea. But with my inborn stubbornness (which might just get worse with age …) and medical curiosity, I kept doing what I should not have done: go swimming. And got colder and colder. In spite of the knee bends, blankets and hot tea with fresh ginger. Two nights in a row, I didn’t get warm all night – certainly not a healthy state!

Until yesterday. Shortly after I went swimming, had taken my short cold shower to get rid of the chlorine, had done my exercise, had rolled up in my blanket and imbibed the tea, I got really warm. Even my hands felt tingling with warmth. This lasted all night, and is still going on. I suddenly had the feeling that, for the first time in my life, that I was getting on the warm side in life. Like, where my husband always is.

Looking around for an explanation, I stumbled onto brown fat. Brown fat gets activated by cold. Brown fat is supposed to be healthier than yellow fat that just stores superfluous calories. Babies have more brown fat because it protects them from hypothermia – a constant threat for newborns.

Brown fat is not so much fat but is related to muscles. Brown fat is brown from the mitochondria and their iron contents; mitochondria are tiny energy factories. Brown fat has also more blood vessels for better oxygenation and is metabolically more active than yellow fat – it actually burns calories instead just storing them.

So, by swimming in the cool pool, I must have tapped into my brown fat – I can’t come up with any other explanation. And did you know? Brown fat is implemented in weight loss. Yes! Brown fat can make you lose weight – IF you have enough brown fat.

Sebastian Kneipp, the father of the Kaltwasserkur (Cold Water Cure) is famous for jumping into the wintry Danube River to cure his tuberculosis. Later, he modified his approach because he observed that some weakened patients were not able to withstand the bitter cold he himself had applied to his body. One could say he watered down his original approach … I had always repeated what I had been taught: that too much cold might be hazardous to your health. Which still might be true for frail people.

But I might be onto something here … I will let you know how this will work out.

P.S. After today's laps, I have very warm hands.

Laying It On For The Hard Times To Come

October 7, 2011

Tags: food, order, anise star cookies, autumn, berries, bikini season, candy stick, cranberry sauce, December, dieting, fall, fruitcake, gefillte fish, gingerbread, glazed onions, ham, holidays, Laying It On For The Hard Times To Come, leaves turning, machine – the body is not a, marshmallow, meat – braised, natural rhythm, obesity, organic, plum pudding, pumpkin pie, raisins, red cabbage, rhythm - yearly, rugelach, seasons’ flow, starvation, stuffed goose, walking, weight gain, weight loss, winter, winter solstice

Studies show that people put on a few pounds more in the fall – and they lose some come bikini season.

You don’t want to increase your weight even more? Basically, that is a good concept. But laying on the pounds in the fall used to be a mechanism to help people cope with the starvation that inevitably came at the end of the winter.

Now, of course, starvation never comes (we hope!). What is a person to do?

Don’t fight it, is my advice. Count on that you will (and should) gain a few pounds now. Don’t start a diet right now. Eat the autumn goodies like braised meats (in moderation!), the pumpkin pies (better of course is the pumpkin without the pie!) and the berries now. After the holidays in December is the time to naturally slim down.

This is not a free pass to putting on pounds like a whale. My educated guess is that should be one, two, three pounds – never more than five!! But to fight the natural rhythm will only bring you defeat: We are hard-wired for weight gain during this season.

During the holidays, nibble a bit of everything: gingerbread men, plum pudding, stuffed goose, glazed onions, rugelach, gefillte fish, fruitcake, red cabbage with raisins, honey-soaked ham (organic!), cranberry sauce, anise star cookies. Let be all real, fresh foods – no candy sticks, no marshmallows – but don’t pig out on all these because with the winter solstice comes the turn in the year and the turn in your body: Then starvation – or dieting – should set in.

Your body is not a machine, and you shouldn’t will it to go against its yearly rhythm. You will only lose … but not pounds. Go with the seasons’ flow – to a degree. And go for a fall walk and watch the turned leaves.

To The Other Coast

October 2, 2011

Tags: order, airport, barefoot, California, cat, cello, character, East Coast, food, obesity, ocean, Otto - the cat, sabbatical, San Diego, sun, tomcat - castrated, To The Other Coast, traveling, vet, West Coast, Black Beach

We relocated to the other coast, yesterday – for a few months. We will be in San Diego for a sabbatical. Swapping places makes it possible.

Otto, the cat, turned out the best travel cat ever. He also turned out to be too heavy (which the vet had just told me, while I had bristled – after all, Otto had been even fatter when I got him. Besides, what does a castrated tomcat have to live for but food??). I schlepped him through three airports.

My friends all envy me – going to California, into eternal sun, to the fun state. Me, on the other hand, I am not really a California girl – can’t take much sun, and what I like for fun – I will have to see ... This morning, I took a cold sitzbath – but the water was not really cold. One makes up for sitting longer – no fun, really.

But because it is Sunday and the real work will begin only tomorrow, we walked along Black Beach barefoot. Lots and lots of people. The wonderfully cold ocean made me at last arrive here with my heart, too.

Now I will pick up a cello that a friend of a friend will lend me for the time here. What is not to love in California?

Everybody Gains Weight When They Marry

September 23, 2011

Tags: food, movement, water, biking, birthday cake, black tea, breakfast, butter, cheese, cooking course, cream, dairy, dinner, diving, Everybody Gains Weight When They Marry, flour, green tea, herbal tea, hiking, hugging, immune system, juice, kissing, marriage, milk, nourishing, nutrition, nuts, obesity, outdoors activity, picnic, rowing machine, sex, snacks, soft beverages, spouse, stationary bike, touching, TV, Viennese walnut cake, walking, wedding, weight gain, yogurt

You probably heard it: On average, people gain fifteen pounds in the first few years after their wedding.

It is only natural that we want to pamper our spouses and want to feed them – the birds and the animals do it. The point is to put the right and healthful morsels in your spouse’s mouth. Because food can hurt. And food can heal.

Also: Get moving – together! Because marriage can be more than watching the same TV programs for fifty years from the same sofa.

Here a few ideas:
- Attend a cooking course together
- Alternate who prepares breakfast and cooking dinner - and then discuss after which meals you feel better
- Stop all snacks, preferably before you have children who will follow your example
- Plan an outdoors activity every weekend: a hike, a bike tour, a walk, a (healthy) picnic, a dive - whatever moves you
- Have sex often – it’s good for the marriage and good for the immune systems
- Take turns on a simple rowing machine/stationary bike in front of TV
- Eliminate all dairy (butter, cream, yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.) most of the time – and experience the difference
- Find recipes for a sinful birthday cake made without flour (hint: Viennese walnut cake - made of nuts and cream)
- Don't spend your money on juices and soft beverages; stick to water, herbal teas, green tea, black tea.

Hug and kiss and touch often – and have a happy marriage!

Taking Care Of Oneself

September 5, 2011

Tags: order, food, advertisement, aging, appetite, Asian cultures, care of oneself, economy – bad, elderly, food industry, French, health care costs, high blood pressure, jail, natural laws, nursing home, obesity, overweight, parents - indulgent, responsibility, starvation, Taking Care Of Oneself, weight

At a dinner, I came to sit beside a beautiful French lady of a certain age, elegant and sophisticated. Always looking for good stories and good advice, I asked her what she did to keep her weight. She gave me that long look, shrugged her shoulder and said: “One takes care of oneself.”

I have often thought of the French lady’s remark. It sounds so easy – “One takes care of oneself.” But it involves a lot. It obviously is easy in these times and age to gain a lot of pounds as we are getting older. Some folks even seem to think that aging itself puts pounds on the scale, so “normal” is it to gain weight with every additional birthday. Similar to what we physicians thought about blood pressure: It was “normal” to have higher blood pressure with higher age. So normal actually that physicians had a formula for it: 100+age, the systolic blood pressure was to be. It turned out it was only “normal” in a statistical sense: Most older people had indeed higher blood pressure. But not “normal” in a healthy sense: Healthy people should stay around 120 over 80 – no gain with age. High blood pressure hurts the heart and the arteries, the brain and the kidneys – nothing “normal” in it.

The same goes with weight. In some Asian cultures, the grandparents helped with raising the children, but they tried not to be a burden on the families. They voluntarily ate less. Because the thinking was older people need less food. I am not sure they need less food if they are still active. But in those Asian cultures it was “normal” that older folks got skinny.

Presently, we hear much about self-reliance and self-care. It doesn’t come out of the blue. It comes from bad economic times and the realization that overweight, obese people not only eat more than they need, they also gobble up a bigger share of health care costs.

Taking care of oneself should not take the form of starving oneself – which is never healthy. But to make oneself knowledgeable about which foods pack on the pounds and leave us with a ravenous appetite right after we have eaten might be a way to go. It is easy to blame advertisements, the food industry, indulgent parents, or what not. But in the end it comes down to ourselves who make the decisions.

One doesn’t wake up one morning, and all of a sudden, with no forewarning, one has gained fifty or more pounds. It is a daily process, and we should look at our face in the bathroom mirror and should take a long look at what the bathroom scale shows. We harvest what we sow. The natural laws apply to all of us – no one is exempt. That’s what the French lady wanted to say, I guess.

Society has ways of dealing with people who can’t care for themselves: We are caring for the very young and for the very old, and usually that caring is fairly benign. We also put people in mental institutions and, in extreme cases, in jail if they can’t care for themselves. When States want to make laws restricting sugary drinks or forbidding smoking in public places, there usually is an outcry that rights are taken away. To me, who always was deathly afraid that somebody might take over my life and make decisions for me, it only seems consequent that laws have to take over personal responsibility in certain situations.

One doesn’t let oneself go. One shouldn’t be the problem but the solution to the problem. One takes care of oneself.

You Are What You Eat

August 20, 2011

Tags: World War IIfood, amniotic fluid, baby, epigenetics, father, genetics, hunger, metabolism, mother, Netherlands, obesity, overfeeding, overweight, pregnancy, sperm, taste, underfeeding, World War II, You Are What You Eat

Science is telling us that the adage "You are what you eat" is truer than we ever thought:

Recently a study showed that what mothers eat during pregnancy shows up in the amniotic fluid around the growing baby, giving the baby a taste of what the mother eats - and forms later preferences for food that it already "knows."

We know already that mothers who are obese will have overweight children; that might be genetics, or as we are finding out more and more, epigenetics. One study from the Netherlands showed that women who were going hungry during the poor years during and after World War II had overweight children later down the line. - Apparently under- and overfeeding the mother is changing something metabolically in the unborn baby.

And now the newest insight comes from studies on male sperm: How the man is fed during building of his sperms also influences the weight and health of his future off-spring.

It seems that, when we are eating, we are responsible not only for our own health, but also for the health of our unborn children. Amazing, isn't it?

More About Vitamins

July 7, 2011

Tags: food, beta-carotene, cancer, carrot, Colbin – Annemarie, food – organic, fructose, heart disease, honey, megadoses vitamins, More About Vitamins, Nurses’ Study, nutrition, obesity, Pauling – Linus, soil depletion, sugar, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin delivery system, vitamins

Glad that we are getting an interesting discussion going here … if only I didn’t have a day job – or several ...

We can agree on several things, namely

1. that food is not as good anymore than it was. We certainly have depleted soils in some agricultural areas. BUT the main problem with food today is not that we can’t get good food (we can, if we grow our own, and if we buy mostly organic); the problem is that, as a nation, we usually choose the wrong food. Hence the obesity epidemic, and heart disease, cancer, and so on. One could actually make a point that we can get much better food today than fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago.

Well, I wanted to agree with my ardent critic – but then thought the better of it. Let’s see the next point:

2. that vitamins are no substitute for food: totally agreed.
3. that we can get “better brands” of vitamins, and that they will be the real thing. Here I disagree. I wrote yesterday that the sudden overload in vitamins is detrimental for the body. And there have been several studies in the last few years that seem to corroborate this. In those studies (The Nurses’ Study is a famous example), they first look what people eat. They find that those who have the highest intake say, of vitamin A, judged by food diaries, have the least cancer. So far so good. In a follow-up study they give vitamin A (or no vitamin A) to people. And then the outcome is: More cancer in the vitamin arm than in the arm where people eat normal food. Now, such studies have been done for vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E. It seems to prove that vitamins are not the same in food as in the bottle. Notwithstanding that they are chemically the same. The difference lies in the delivery system: To digest a vitamin, to use it in your metabolism, you need many more chemicals that are not present in the vitamin bottle, but come in whole foods. As my friend Annemarie Colbin once said: If you pop a vitamin A pill in the morning, your body is searching for the rest of the carrot the whole day ….

Honey? I have never recommended honey much – you are right that it is mostly sugar, and fructose at that. Therefore one should use it only sparingly. Apart from that most of our honeys have been heated and made worthless.

And Linus Pauling? Great scientist. But I can’t follow him into his vitamin fixation. Some people are convinced that vitamins will save their lives. Some are not – it probably is not useful to discuss it forever. Why some arguments seem true to us, and others not, is highly individual. For me, one man who made it to 93 is no proof that he did everything right regarding nutrition. Without his mega-doses of vitamin C, perhaps he would have made it to 107??

Nothing will get me away from good, whole, fresh foods!

Fast Will Not Last – A Step-By-Step Weight Loss Program

May 4, 2011

Tags: food, water, movement, herbs, order, allergies, anti-cancer, arthritis, asthma, bedtime, belly, beverage – diet, beverage soft, bisphenol A (BPA), BMI, breakfast, butter, cancer, carbon filter, celeriac, chard, cheese, chemicals in water, church, clean out the attic, cooked food, dairy, deli, diet beverage, depression, diabetes type II, dinner, dinosaur kale, environment, Fast Will Not Last – A Step-By-Step Weight Loss Program, fat - good, fish, fluoride, friend, gardening, garlic, grains, green leafy vegetable, gym, heart disease, herbal tea, inflammatory substance, kale, Kant - Immanuel (1724-1804, kohlrabi greens, legumes, light, lunch, lunch hour, margarine, meat, milk, obesity, olive oil, Own Your Health, play with the kids, political campaign, politics, protein, putter in the garden, reading project, red beet, reverse osmosis filter, ride a bicycle, root vegetable, rutabaga, sausages saving the world, shelter, sitting, sleep and weight loss, soft beverage, soup kitchen, spinach, spreads, starches, stevia, sugars, sweeteners, tap water, turnip, vegetable, vitamin A, volunteering, walk a dog, walk - daily, water - bottled, water – filtered, weight loss – fast, weight loss – realistic, Weight Loss Program - Step-By-Step, Weisman - Roanne, whole grains, winter, wrist bone, yoghurt, yo-yo dieting

Fast Will Not Last – A Ste

After politics, I better return to my own turf. My forte is one-to-one talking with on people, not saving the world.

Ali - on Roanne Weisman’s blog Own your Health - has asked me this question: How can I lose weight fast?

Truth is: Fast will not last.

Most common request seems to be: “Now it is May – can you help me lose fifty pounds till September, because I will marry in September.” My answer is always: “No!”

Weight loss should be really slow so that the body does not go into survival mode and defies weight loss. As disappointing as this may be, it is the only way to success. Yo-yo dieting has been shown to be especially detrimental to the heart, so don’t even start that process!

Here are my rules:

• Do not lose more than two pounds per month!
• Weigh yourself every morning.
• If you inadvertently lose more than two pounds per month, don’t gloat about, and don’t be disappointed if you regain some of that weight.
• Once you have lost those two pounds, put your focus on keeping off those two pounds. The real challenge is to not regain any pounds during the month.
• Weight loss does not happen by diet alone, and not by sweating hours in the gym. Weight loss comes from a healthy lifestyle.
• One of the most important parts of that healthy lifestyle is getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to high stress hormone levels in the body, which leads to cravings and overeating.
• The next day is won the evening before: Prepare breakfast and lunch, and plan dinner for the next day, then go to bed early. Don’t hang around in front of TV or computer beyond your “tired point” – because then you get a second wind and can’t fall asleep. Best bedtime is between 8.30 and 10.00 pm. If you think you can’t do that every night, give it a try one evening per week – and observe the difference in how you feel.
• Below is the step-by step program. Take a new step either every week or every month, or when you feel you need to do more for your health, or when the weight loss progress stalls.
• The most important question: Is your weight loss goal realistic? If you are of Dutch ancestry, you might never get to be a dainty as many Asians are (only a rule of thumb – there are small Dutch people, and large Asians!). For that look up your BMI - for instance here: http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-05-2010/bmi_calculator.html?CMP=KNC-360I-GOOGLE-HEA-FIT&HBX_PK=bmi&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=bmi&utm_campaign=G_Health&360cid=SI_148921798_7430108821_1.
• Your BMI will give you a weight range. If you are small-boned, you should be at the lower part of that range, if you are big-boned, at the higher end. How do you know about your bones? Compare your wrist bones with those of other people to get an idea where you stand.
• If you still have a protruding belly, you are not at your ideal weight.
• In every meal have some protein and some good fat. Legumes provide protein.
• Most important is your intake of vegetables, which should be mostly cooked, especially in the winter.
• Cut down on meat to once a week, and do not eat deli and sausages at all. Have some fish – preferably small fish.

And here are the weight loss steps:

Step # 1: Buy a green leafy vegetable (chard, spinach, kale, dinosaur kale, kohlrabi greens, etc), cook it with olive oil and garlic - and eat it.

Step #2: Leave out all soft beverages - including "diet" beverages.

Step #3: Drink herbal teas when you are thirsty. Or plain (or filtered) tap water. Don’t drink bottled water.

Step #4: Leave out all dairy (cheese, milk, yoghurt, etc). Milk is a highly inflammatory substance, totally alien for people beyond infancy, that leads to all kinds of diseases besides obesity: diabetes, arthritis, depression, cancer, allergies and asthma, heart disease, and so on.

Step #5: Buy a root vegetable (red beets, celeriac, turnip, etc), cook in salt water until just soft enough to pierce with a skewer. Serve with olive oil, pepper and salt as a warm salad. Rutabaga, because it is usually waxed, needs to be peeled before cooking. Cut in cubes, boil with a bit of water and pepper and salt.

Step #6: Go for a daily walk. Best is during lunch hour, for the anti-cancer effect of light. Ten minutes in the beginning is fine. Go with a friend – so that you may stay with this habit.

Step #7: Leave out all sugars. And don’t use any sweeteners. They fool the body into thinking you get sweets – and then your body wants more food. Besides, most sweeteners except stevia carry their own health concerns.

Step #8: Find a new vegetable every week in your supermarket – try out what you don’t know (most vegetables are delicious with garlic and olive oil). Some fat is required with all vegetables because otherwise you cannot absorb the vitamin A in them.

Step #9: Leave out all grains and starches until you have your ideal weight. Then you might re-introduce some whole grains – but only if you are not regaining.

Step #10: Observe how much you are actually sitting during the day. Sitting is detrimental to your health – and of course, we are a sitting culture. Think about ways to move more: Putter in the garden, clean out the attic, walk a dog, play with the kids, ride a bicycle. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant recognized this principle and kept his handkerchief at the other end of the room, so that he had to get up from his desk to blow his nose. Try to come up with your own – and better - movements!

Step #11: Stop all margarine, spreads and butter. If you still eat bread, dunk it in olive oil.

Step #12: Volunteer somewhere – in a shelter, a soup kitchen, a church, a political campaign, a gardening project, a reading help for youngsters –to get out of the house and do good!

P.S. This is a long entry. But it boilds down to two points:

1. Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables - eat more, and more varied!

2. Put more movement into your day - little movements here and there.


P.P.S. Recheck this blog - I might add new points as they come up!

My Food Pyramid Is Topped By Freshness

February 20, 2011

Tags: food, arteries – hardening of, beet - red, blueberries – frozen, bok choy, butternut squash, cabbage – white, caraway, cell repair, chard – red, cauliflower, chana dal, cilantro, cod, development – stunted, diabetes, dill, eating well, fats – hardened, food - enhanced, food - enriched, food - improved, food - manipulated, food - processed, food - ready-made, food ersatz, food pyramid, food substitute, freshness, garlic, Government, green sauce, hake, high blood pressure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, My Food Pyramid Is Topped By Freshness, obesity, olive oil, parsnips, pineapple mousse, quinoa – red, ribs - grass-fed, salt, shelf-life, split peas, sugar, vegetables

If the Government would ask me for my opinion of redesigning the food pyramid – which they won't because they go the food industry – this single principle would guide my food choices: Freshness.

There actually is no other food than fresh food; everything processed, enriched, manipulated, enhanced, improved, ready-made is not food but inferior food substitute. “Food ersatz” cannot build and repair cells as fresh food can – the outcome is stunted development and disease in the long run.

If you think you are doing yourself a favor by eating, for instance an apple-flavored nutritional bar – think again. That bar has too much sugar and salt, to start with, promoting obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure – cornerstones of the metabolic syndrome. Its ingredients are made to have a long shelf-life. Why would you want to eat something even mold doesn’t want to touch? Its oils a hardened to make them not go rancid quickly – and in turn those hardened fats will harden your arteries. Its apple flavor is artificial and does not what a daily apple does so well: Keeping the doctor away.

Good health is very easy: Move a bit every day, eat well and get enough rest. Then, love a bit – and you are all set.

The devil of course is in the fine print. What does “eat well” mean? Your mind starts spinning if you listen to all the advice in books, online and on TV. But all you have to know is: freshness. Go to a supermarket aisle and buy four different vegetables. Preferably organic (But organic is second on the list; freshness is first). Prepare a meal today with two of the veggies; another meal tomorrow with the other two.

Here is what we had for dinner yesterday: red beet salad (made from scratch, of course), Chinese baby bok choy, cod with cilantro and dill, split peas; frozen blueberries for desert. Today we will have red chard with garlic and olive oil, butternut squash puree, hake fillet with green sauce, red quinoa; pineapple mousse for desert. Tomorrow I will slow braise grass-fed ribs and white cabbage and parsnips with caraway, and serve it with cauliflower and chana dal; for desert the rest of the pineapple.

None of this takes long cooking (the green sauce I have frozen from last time). But we will have a great dinner every single evening. Ordering a pizza would not give my family the same health benefits.

Have You Coddled Your Hippocampus Lately?

February 2, 2011

Tags: movement, water, herbs, food, Alzheimer's, blood fats, bone loss, brain, brain function, cold – common, cold shower, cold stimulus, daylight, diabetes type II, flu, freezing temperatures, Have You Coddled Your Hippocampus Lately?, high blood pressure, hippocampus, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, ice, immune function inflexibility – mental, junk food, longevity, lunch hour, memory, menopause, metabolic syndrome, mood, mood booster, muscles, New England, obesity, osteoporosis, pebbles, plasticity – mental, Parkinson’s, PMS, snow, vitamin D, walking, weight

A recent study shows that brisk walks boost memory in older adults. And makes your hippocampus swell visibly on MRI. I bet this also applies to younger people.

The hippocampus is a worm-like structure deeply buried in your brain that is involved in memory formation. In Alzheimer, it is the part of your brain that will show the first signs of degeneration. A youthful hippocampus gives you mental plasticity, the opposite of which would be the obnoxious inflexibility that some older people show. About six to nine miles a week in this study was linked to better brain function. Walking even more did not seem to have more effect on the brain.

It comes down to walking ten minutes in one direction, turning around and walking back ten minutes, which can be done during lunch hour.

Another study showed that people who walk faster live longer. That bodes badly for me – I am a slow poke. But we can safely deduct that people who don’t walk will not make it long at all.

Walking also boost mood. If I would be a moody person (which I am not), I would do three things: go for a daily walk during daylight, end every hot shower with a cold one, and take herbal preparations – in women particularly, herbs against PMS or helping with post-menopause. Not to mention that I would turn to fresh, nourishing food and away from junk.

Walking per se is good for you. Two other studies have shown, that the effect is even better if you walk on uneven surface – like on pebbles, at a beach or in hilly terrain. Walking on pebbles decreases high blood pressure, and makes you less likely to get Parkinson’s. Using more muscles and consequently more brain can explain these results.

The most dramatic effect, I think, that daily walking can have – besides on memory, longevity, hypertension, Parkinson’s and mood – is that light boost vitamin D production under your skin – even if it is just the pale little area of your face reaping the rays. Vitamin D has become an important research focus as it wards off bone loss, cancer, multiple sclerosis and infections.

Walking will also lead to less weight and fight the dreaded metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood fats and hypertension) better sleep – all exercise does. And better sleep has been shown to increase overall performance, mood and resistance to infections.

In New England presently, walking the icy streets among huge snow banks is not that enticing. But I bet snow shoveling has all the above benefits, too – if you avoid hurting your back and don’t slip on the ice. At least I hope. Because I spend the morning digging out our walkway and garage driveway. At least this I know: The cold stimulus is a trigger for better immune function: Snow-shoveling in freezing temperatures improves my ability to better fend off flu and the common cold.

Winter Health – Thoughts From the Workshop

January 31, 2011

Tags: order, water, movement, food, herbs, Andrographis paniculata, anis, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant stimulus, appetite, arm shaping, arterial disease, artificial molecules, ashwaganda, aspirin, astragalus, back health, bacteria, balance, ball - small heavy, bayberry, bicycling, blueberry, boneset, botulism, breast-feeding, breathing difficulties, broth, butter – pros and cons, cabbages, calendula, Cetraria islandica, chamomile, chicken soup, children – herbs for, cloves, coconut oil, cod liver oil, cold applications, cold dunk for babies older than four months, cold shower, cold sitzbath, cold stimulus, cold wash, cold wraps, colorings, compounds in a plant, computer, cough, covering sneeze, cytokine storm, dairy, decongestants, drinking warm or hot fluids, echinacea, eleuthero - formerly named Siberian ginseng, elderberry, elderberry flower, enhancers, eucalyptus, Eupatorium perfoliatum, evolution, extracts – herbal, fats – vegetal, fennel, fever, fever over 104 F in children, fish, fish oil, flavorings, flu epidemic, flu outbreak, flu season, fresh food, food – cooked vs raw, fruit – fresh or as compotes, fungi, GAIA Quick Defense, games – outdoor, Gan Mao Dan, gargling, garlic, germs, getting to the ground once a day, ginger, Ginkgo biloba, goldenseal, Great Britain, GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract), hanging out, greens, headache - enormous, herbal tea, herbs, herbs - fresh or dried, hiking, high blood pressure, home cooking, honey, honeysuckle, Honeysuckle-Forsythia Detoxifier, horehound, horseradish, hot liquids, hot water, hypertension, Iceland moss, immune system, immune system – exuberant, juice, juniper berry, knee bends, lamb, legumes, lemonade, lemon balm, licorice, linden flower, lingering cold, Manuka honey, marshmallow root, mask over nose and mouth, meat, microbes, microwaving, mucosa, mullein, mushroom preparation, mustard, myrrh, neem, obesity, olive leaf, olive oil, omnivore, oregano extract, Oreganol (an oily extract of oregano), Oregon grape, organic, osha, patented medicine, pathogen, pau d’arco, Pelargonium sidoides, pelvic health, peppermint, phyto-caps, physiology – our ancient, pneumonia, point mutation, pregnancy, Prepare – Protect – Pull Through, preservatives, PrimalDefense, probiotic, qi, Raynaud’s, repair of damaged cells, repair time between 11 pm and 1 am, resistance, respiratory infection, resting, ribwort plantain, rinsing nose with saltwater, roots, rose hips, rotation of foods, rotation of herbs, sage, sauna, sinusitis, sleep, sleeping with windows open, slippery elm, snow shoveling, sore throat, spices, standing on one leg, starches - white, steam inhalation, stiff neck, stinging nettle, stomach flu, strength, stress - good and bad, stuffed nose, sugars, sun light, sweetener, Swine flu, synergy, tea - green or black, tea tree oil, teenager, tepid water, thyme, tincture, tonic herbs, TV, Tylenol, umckaloaba, urinary tract infection, UTI, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian, Vick’s, violets, virus, virus exposure, vitamin C, vitamin D, walking, warm rooms, wash hands often, weekend, winter, Winter Health – Thoughts From the Workshop, twisting movement, warm rooms, Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian, yoga, yoga ball, young adult, zinc lozenges, Zyflamend

Introduction:
[These are my notes – they are a refresher for the workshop attendants. But might also be useful to look something up when one needs it]

What happens through the winter: A depletion of reserves leads to increased susceptibility to infections. Decreased movement. Holiday foods – not healthy.

It takes two to get sick: A virus and a run-down immune system.

“Huge outbreak” of Swine flu in Great Britain: 24 deaths as of 1/29/11 – compared to the more than 35,000 deaths annually from “normal” flu in the US (which is nothing).

Cold and flu:
• Prepare: Get your immune system into perfect shape
• Protect: Shield yourself during an actual outbreak
People are less prone to respiratory infections if they have more contact with people, and hug more. Exception: Little kids – they schlep everything home. But in the long run, it might be beneficial. But in a flu outbreak: Stay away from people as much as you can. Wash hands often. Don’t be sneezed at. Avoid public transportation. Don’t hug and kiss. Avoid touching public doorknobs, telephones and similar surfaces with unprotected hands.

• Pull through: Survive even if you come down with it.

• Water
• Cold stimulus – compare to anti-oxidant stimulus – good stress and bad stress
• Warm rooms: More obesity, more colds
• Cold Shower/cold wash/cold dunk for babies older than four months
• Cold sitzbath
• Sauna
• Sleeping with windows open
• Drink enough warm or hot fluids – hot herbal teas are perfect. Juices are not.
• Don’t do cold applications with an acute cold/flu, uncontrolled hypertension, arterial disease (Raynaud’s)

• Movement
The only thing for increasing qi and against cold is movement. But excess is as detrimental as laziness.
• Yoga, of course
• Daily outside walk – importance to get sun light and vitamin D
• Hiking, bicycling, games on weekends
• Snow shoveling:
Break down the task
Take small loads
No abrupt movements
Cherish twisting movements – but they also can be the source of strained muscles.
• Yoga ball (back)
• Small heavy ball (arms)
• Getting to the ground once a day (strength)
• Knee bends (strength)
• Hanging out (back)
• Standing on one leg (pelvic health)

• Food
• Fresh foods – home cooking: Vegetables, legumes, small portions of fish and meat (lamb!), fresh (or dried) herbs. No microwaving.
• Vegetarian/vegan against omnivore
• No dairy, sugars, white starches, sweeteners, artificial molecules: colorings, flavorings, enhancers, preservatives, etc
• Predominantly cooked – more so in the winter
• Fats: More is better – but they have to be vegetal: Olive oil, coconut oil, ??butter
• Organic: Good but fresh is more important
• If you have a cold/flu: You should always force hot liquids on a sick person but never food: Respect if there is no appetite, and respect if there is. Just nothing sugary. Fruit – fresh or as compotes – is probably the best. Or hot elderberry/blueberry soup (also good for acute stomach flu and urinary tract infections). Blueberries are much cheaper.

• Herbs
Herbs have been with us throughout evolution. Their mechanism fit into our ancient physiology like a key into a lock. We always ate herbs from the wild, and now that we have for the most part stopped, a little bitter green, cabbages or strong root might just be what your body needs to find back to balance.

Bacteria and viruses do not easily develop resistance against herbs. That is because a single herb contains hundreds or more of compounds, and many of these compounds work on killing off the germs - not only one. Since point mutations in bacteria can only develop one by one, it is less likely that an herb becomes ineffective against a pathogen because there will be other compounds to destroy the microbes first.

Synergy is the reason why I recommend whole herbs (tinctures or so-called phyto-caps with extracts of the whole plant) instead of “taking the best” from several pants, and making a patented medicine. Patent medicines exist because natural plants can’t be patented, and so firms try to make money by taking single compounds from a plant, combining it with other single compound, thus producing a “new” medicine that allegedly is better. The truth is, mostly it is not better because you cannot improve on nature

• Prepare: During cold and flu season, take tonic herbs like stinging nettle, astragalus, ashwaganda, or eleuthero (formerly named Siberian ginseng) to strengthen your immune system. Rotate them every three weeks.
• Spice up your food with herbs and spices because they kill microbes (the plants developed the strong-tasting compounds to protect themselves against the invasion of bacteria, viruses and fungi). Pregnant and breast-feeding women as well as little children should go easy on herbs and spices.
• When you go out, use an Echinacea spray every hour or two to protect your throat, the entry port of viruses. Again, GAIA makes a good one
• Mushrooms boost your the immune system – eat them often, or take a mushroom preparation; Whole Body Defense by Gaia is one.

• Protect: (if you had exposure, or suspect you had): If there is a bad flu epidemic: Chew a raw garlic clove, several times a day
• Take a lick of unheated honey (Manuka is the best) every hour or so – kills germs (not for children under three years – danger of botulism!)
• Rinse your nose prophylacticly with saltwater to kill germs (carefully rinse mouth afterward with clear water if you have blood pressure issues)
• Prophylactic and curing: Hot elderberry tea, hot blueberry soup
• Importance to wash hands and cover sneezes and coughs, preferably with a sleeve cough – not your hands
• Take as supplements: A probiotic (I like PrimalDefense), fish oil and cod liver oil

• Pull through: In cold and flu: Immediately when you come down with the flu: REST!
• Fever over 104 F in children, and a cold lingering more than a week should be seen by a physician. Also if you have unusual symptoms like stiff neck, enormous headaches, breathing difficulties, and so on.
• Against cold: Easiest, most expensive: GAIA Quick Defense. It contains Anagraphis paniculata – best cold medication I know (hard to find as a single extract)
• Against cold and flu: Echinacea, olive leaf, osha, pau d’arco, licorice – all as extracts in a bottle. Mix together in hot water like a tea.
• Other herbs that have been found beneficial in colds and flu: bayberry, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), calendula, goldenseal, Oregon grape, juniper berry (chew a dried berry every few hours, not more than five a day, and not for longer than a week), umckaloaba (Pelargonium sidoides)
• A ready-made anti-viral concoction is the Chinese Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian, also called Honeysuckle-Forsythia Detoxifier. It might be a good idea to have some of those pills at hand when you get sick (get them from a reputable source).
• Lingering (more than a week) colds and bacterial infections: GSE extract (but consult your physician to make sure it is not pneumonia)
• Sore throat: Swish a few drops of oregano extract (nips whatever is coming in the bud, if you take it early enough) in your mouth and swallow, or zinc lozenges (science is a bit wobbly on zinc)
• Sore throat: Gargle with saltwater or warm water with one drop of sage, myrrh, oreganol, neem or tea tree oil. Not for children under six.
• Stuffed nose/Sinusitis: Rinsing nose with saltwater – frequently, if necessary
• Stuffed nose/Sinusitis: Eat mustard, horseradish.
• Stuffed nose/Sinusitis: Steam inhalation helps with a running or stuffed nose. You can add chamomile, thyme, eucalyptus or a pea-sized piece of Vick’s. You can also use Vick’s on older children (check the label).
• Cough: Gan Mao Dan Chinese pills (20 per day in divided doses), or make a tea of peppermint, honeysuckle, ginger, cloves and/or horehound, slippery elm, violets, fennel, anis, marshmallow root (the real one!), Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica), ribwort plantain
• Fever is mostly good – it kills the germs. Therefore, no aspirin or Tylenol. In children, do cold wraps or dunk babies in tepid water
• If you get the flu, start Ginkgo biloba will start repair damaged cells
• Also: No decongestants as they tend to dry out mucosa and increase stuffiness in the long run
• Increase hot fluids: hot water, hot broth (chicken soup has been researched – and it really works!), hot herbal teas (linden flowers, elderberry flowers, honeysuckle, fennel or thyme, sage, green or black tea, thyme, ginger, rose hips, mullein, lemon balm, peppermint - in all combinations) are good – but so are many other. Hot lemonade is also beneficial if made with fresh lemons and preferably with unheated honey
• If you use vitamin C, use a low-dose kind – and only in the first few days of a cold
• Don’t use all the herbs at once – get familiar with a few, one after the other.
• There is no such thing as” That herb does not work in me!” There is only “That herb does not work against this or that germ”

• Order
• Cherish the season – don’t fight it
• Preventing: GET ENOUGH SLEEP! In a flu outbreak, be in bed by nine pm every night – no TV, no computer. The body repairs itself during about two hours the time around midnight — if you are asleep then, that is.
• During a bad flu season, consider wearing a mask over nose and mouth

The causes of death in influenza are of two different origins: Older people die of the virus and its consequences like pneumonia; their weakened immune system cannot fight the virus anymore. Young people succumb to an overreaction of their still exuberant immune system – they produce what we call a cytokine storm, and usually die within the first two days. Consequently, both groups should be treated differently. In young people (older teenagers and young adults) I therefore would add an herbal anti-inflammatory, namely Zyflamend as soon as the young person gets sick.

How the World Plays Your Brain

December 1, 2010

Tags: order, food, bacteria – gut, brain, computer, cortisol, electronics, fatigue, gut, How the World Plays Your Brain, insomnia, junk food, obesity, overweight, rest, sleep, sleep-wake-cycle, TV, weight gain

In the past, I have written about junk food that feeds the bad bacteria in your gut – and how this makes you think even more of unhealthy treats: You eat a hamburger, then suddenly you crave a donut (or a bag of donuts), and then you needs some twinkies and a soda to flush them down.

I have likened this process to a computer virus: The bad gut bacteria send messages to your brain, sidetracking your best intentions for healthy eating.

There are a few other players who fiddle with your brain, make you fatter and fatigued, and thus prevent you from reaching your goals in life.

Too little sleep is one of those players. If you haven’t gotten the amount of sleep your body needs – and the individual requirements differ, usually between seven and nine hours. If you get away with five to six hours a night, chances are you are using up your bank account of health.

Too little sleep produces stress hormones the next day, and stress hormones like cortisol make you eat more – ergo, weight gain.

A day is made or broken the night before: Can you find into bed early enough – or are you staying up too late, get unrestful rest, and have a sleep-deprived hangover the next day?

And here are two more players that wreak havoc with your brain: computers and TV. Both keep you busy and interested much longer than they should. Captivated as you are, you don’t heed your body’s little signals that it is time to go to bed. You go on working, watching, playing – and so the next day is spoiled because you have to run on less energy. Once you creep into bed, you have a hard time falling asleep. Or you wake up too early. Because staying up late disrupted your sleep-wake-cycle.

Being tired produces more stress hormones. And those makes you eat more.

The holiday season is a time of high stress and tons of running around because you want to bring joy to your loved ones. This year, try this sneaky little trick: No machines (TV, computer, electronic games) after dinner. Take a book, read, listen to music, ease into slumber time – between eight and ten o’clock. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t toss and turn. Take this gifted time for thinking what you want to do with your life, what is important to you. And snuggle back into the pillows.

Next day, observe how you glow and function at your personal best! You regained your brain!

The Old Boring Calcium Question

October 25, 2010

Tags: movement, food, bone health, boron, British Medical Journal, calcium, cancer, chromium, dairy, diabetes, fruit, grains - whole, heart attack risk, heart disease, hugging and kissing, legumes, light, manganese, magnesium, milk, nuts, obesity, osteoporosis, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, skin – dark-skinned people, sleep – sufficient, sulfur, sun, supplements, The Old Boring Calcium Question, vegetables, vitamin D

Chances are you are taking a calcium supplement because are health-conscious?

But do you really need it – or are you even harming yourself with your calcium pill?

It is true that bones need calcium for growth. What is not true is that calcium alone gives us stronger bones. Bones need far more than just calcium: Other minerals like potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, chromium, sulfur, selenium, boron – and others – are necessary for bone health. Without these other minerals, calcium alone is pretty useless.

Besides, calcium pills – those fat bummers that are hard to swallow because of their size – are also hard to digest. As a physician, I have seen my share of undigested calcium pills popping up on x-rays, somewhere lying in the bowels, useless.

That milk is an unsuitable source of calcium, you have heard here before. Besides being an unhealthy food, the calcium from milk is also not as readily available as the calcium from vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains and nuts. The plant world is so abundant in calcium that adding vitamin D to milk as a selling argument comes close to a joke: Dairy is a cause for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and so on.

For good bones you need a host of minerals – all conveniently available in plant foods – plus sun and exercise. Not so much sun, actually, as light. Even on an overcast day, a midday outdoors walk will trigger the necessary amount of vitamin D production beneath your skin. Inner-city people with dark skin are mostly at risk of osteoporosis because they need more sun exposure.

And if you don’t move, you will lose your bone strength fast. A little known fact: We are losing some bone every night, from being inactive during sleep. An active person will rebuild that loss (and more) the next day. An inactive person won’t.

A study in the British Medical Journal recently found that calcium supplement could increase the risk of a heart attack by thirty percent. Clearly, we have to rethink health: Health does not come from pills. It comes from a lifestyle that uses our body for which it is intended: joyful activity, fresh foods, sufficient sleep. And hugging and kissing, if you ask me.

Gluten-Related Symptoms and Diseases

September 24, 2010

Tags: order, abdominal pain, acanthosis nigricans, Addison’s disease, ADHD, alcoholism, alkaline phosphatase (bone) elevated, allergic rhinitis, alopecia areata (patchy hair loss), amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period), anemia, anemia – iron deficiency, anemia – refractory, anemia - vitamin B12 deficiency, anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA), anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA), anti-tissue-transglutaminase antibodies (tTG), antiphospholipid syndrome (frequent miscarriages and other problems), anxiety, aortic vasculitis, apathy, aphthous ulcers, appetite – poor, arthritis, arthritis – enteropathic, arthritis - juvenile idiopathic, asthma, ataxia, ataxia - progressive myoclonic, atherosclerosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), autism, learning disorders, autoimmune cholangitis, autoimmune diseases, autoimmune hepatitis, autoimmune thyroid disease, balding – premature, bipolar disorder, Bitot’s spots (foamy patches on whites of eye), bleeding – unexplained, blepharitis, bloating, blurred vision, bone fracture, bone pain, brain atrophy, brain fog, bronchiectasis, cachexia (general wasting), calcium – low, cancer - small cell of the esophagus, cancer (adenocarcinoma) of the small intestine, cancer of the esophagus, cancer of the pharynx, Candida infections – recurrent, cardiomegaly, casein intolerance, cataracts, cerebral perfusion abnormalities, cheilosis (cracked lips and corners of mouth), cholesterol – low, chorea, chronic bullous dermatosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, common variable immunodeficiency, complications during pregnancy – labor - delivery and post-partum period, congenital anomalies, constipation, copper deficiency, coronary artery disease, cortical calcifying angiomatosis, cow mill “allergy”, cutaneous vasculitis, cutis laxa, cystic fibrosis, dairy intolerance, delusions, dementia, depression, dermatitis herpetiformis, dermatomyositis, diabetes Type I, diabetes Type II, diarrhea, disorientation, Down syndrome, dry eyes, duodenal ulcers, dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods), dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse), dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), early menopause, easy bruising, ecchymosis, eczema, edema, Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL), epilepsy, erythema nodosum, esophageal motor abnormalities, eyes – dry, eyes – bloodshot, erythema elevatum diutinum, failure to thrive, fatigue, fatty liver, folic acid (folate) deficiency, food allergies - blood-mediated and cell mediated, food cravings, gall bladder – impaired motility, gas, gastric emptying – delayed, gastritis, GERD - Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, glucose abnormalities - too low or too high, gluten, Gluten-Related Symptoms and Diseases, Grave’s Disease, growth retardation, gums – bleeding and swollen, hair loss, hallucination, headache, heartburn, heart disease, hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis - idiopathic pulmonary, hepatic granulomatous disease, high blood pressure, homocysteine elevated, hyperactivity, hyperkeratosis – follicular, hyperparathyroidism, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, hypocalciuria, hypogonadism, hypoparathyroidism, hyposplenism (atrophy of spleen), hypothyroidism, hypotonia, ichthyosis – acquired, pulmonary hemosiderosis – idiopathic, IgA deficiency, IgA nephropathy, impotence, inability to concentrate, infertility, insomnia, intrauterine growth retardation, iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy – severe, irritable bowel syndrome, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, keratomalacia, kidney stones, lactose intolerance, lassitude, late menarche (late start of menstrual periods), leaky gut syndrome, liver enzymes elevated, loss of memory, lymphadenopathy, lymphoma - B-cell non-Hodgkin’s, lymphoma - cryptic intestinal T-cell (refractory sprue), lymphoma – non-Hodgkin, macroamylasemia, macrocytosis (red blood cells larger than normal), macrolipasemia, magnesium - low, malabsorption, melanoma, memory loss, migraine, miscarriage, monoarthritis – recurrent, multiple sclerosis (MS) – a possible link, muscle pain and tenderness, muscle spasms and cramps, muscle wasting, muscle weakness, nail problems, nausea, nervousness, neuropathy – peripheral, neutropenia (low white blood cells), nightblindness, nosebleeds – unexplained, obesity, occult blood in stool, ocular myopathy, osteitis fibrosa, osteomalacia, osteomalacic myopathy, osteonecrosis, osteopenia, osteoporosis, pancreatic insufficiency (poor digestion), panic attacks, parathyroid carcinoma, penicilllin V impaired absorption, phosphorus – low, pityriasis rubra pilaris, plasma proteins low, Plummer-Vinson Syndrome, PMS, pneumococcal septicemia, pneumonia – recurrent, polyglandular syndrome, polymyositis, potassium - low, premenstrual syndrome, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, prolactinemia, prothrombin time prolonged, prothrombinemia, prurigo nodularis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, puberty – delayed, purpura – idiopathic thrombocytopenic, rhabdomyolysis – hypokalemic, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, sarcoidosis, Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders, scleroderma, seborrhea, short stature, Sjögren’s syndrome, skin rash – itchy, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, smell - loss of, sperm abnormalities, spina bifida, sprue – refractory (see: gluten), steatorrhea (pale, malodorous, floating, hard-to-flush stools), stomach ulcer, stroke – premature, sugar intolerance, swelling, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), taste - loss of, tetany, thrombocytopenic purpura – idiopathic, thyroid disease - juvenile autoimmune, tongue – red and/or burning, tremors, tuberculosis - increased susceptibility to, Turner’s syndrome, urinary tract infections – recurrent, urticaria - chronic hives, uveitis, vaginitis, vasculitis, vasculitis of the CNS (Central Nervous System), vitiligo, volvulus (twisted intestines), vomiting, weight gain – unexplained, weight loss – unexplained, xerophthalmia (dry eyes), zinc – low

Nearly one in one hundred people have gluten intolerance (gluten enteropathy, sprue, celiac sprue). In only fifty percent of them does the disease show with gastro-intestinal symptoms - the rest has non-intestinal symptoms.

Be aware that many of these symptoms can also have other causes - this list does not replace a doctor who sees you!

• Abdominal pain
• Acanthosis nigricans
• Addison’s disease
• Alcoholism
• Alkaline phosphatase (bone) elevated
• Allergic rhinitis
• Alopecia areata (patchy hair loss)
• Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period)
• Anemia
• Anemia – iron deficiency
• Anemia - refractory
• Anemia - vitamin B12 deficiency
• Anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA)
• Anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA)
• Anti-tissue-transglutaminase antibodies (tTG)
• Antiphospholipid syndrome (frequent miscarriages and other problems)
• Anxiety
• Aortic vasculitis
• Apathy
• Aphthous ulcers (mouth sores)
• Appetite – poor
• Arthritis
• Arthritis – enteropathic
• Arthritis - juvenile idiopathic
• Asthma
• Ataxia
• Ataxia, progressive myoclonic
• Atherosclerosis
• Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
• Autism, learning disorders
• Autoimmune cholangitis
• Autoimmune diseases
• Autoimmune hepatitis
• Autoimmune thyroid disease
• Balding – premature
• Bipolar disorder
• Bitot’s spots (foamy patches on whites of eye)
• Bleeding – unexplained
• Blepharitis
• Bloating
• Blurred vision
• Bone fracture
• Bone pain
• Brain atrophy
• Brain fog
• Bronchiectasis
• Cachexia (general wasting)
• Calcium – low
• Cancer - small cell of the esophagus
• Cancer (adenocarcinoma) of the small intestine
• Cancer of the esophagus
• Cancer of the pharynx
• Candida infections – recurrent
• Cardiomegaly
• Casein intolerance (cow mill “allergy”)
• Cataracts
• Cerebral perfusion abnormalities
• Cheilosis (cracked lips and corners of mouth)
• Cholesterol - low
• Chorea
• Chronic bullous dermatosis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Colitis
• Common variable immunodeficiency
• Complications during pregnancy, labor, delivery and post-partum period
• Congenital anomalies
• Constipation
• Copper deficiency
• Coronary artery disease
• Cortical calcifying angiomatosis
• Cow mill “allergy”
• Cutaneous vasculitis
• Cutis laxa
• Cystic fibrosis
• Dairy intolerance
• Delusions
• Dementia
• Depression
• Dermatitis herpetiformis
• Dermatomyositis
• Diabetes Type I
• Diabetes Type II
• Diarrhea
• Disorientation
• Down syndrome
• Dry eyes
• Duodenal ulcers
• Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods)
• Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
• Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
• Early menopause
• Easy bruising
• Ecchymosis
• Eczema
• Edema
• Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL)
• Epilepsy
• Erythema nodosum
• Esophageal motor abnormalities
• Eyes – dry
• Eyes - bloodshot
• Erythema elevatum diutinum
• Failure to thrive
• Fatigue
• Fatty liver
• Folic acid (folate) deficiency
• Food allergies - blood-mediated and cell mediated
• Food cravings
• Gall bladder – impaired motility
• Gas
• Gastric emptying – delayed
• Gastritis
• GERD - Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease
• Glucose abnormalities - too low or too high
• Grave’s Disease
• Growth retardation
• Gums – bleeding and swollen
• Hair loss
• Hallucination
• Headache
• Heartburn
• Heart disease
• Hemochromatosis
• Hemosiderosis - idiopathic pulmonary
• Hepatic granulomatous disease
• High blood pressure
• Homocysteine elevated
• Hyperactivity
• Hyperkeratosis - follicular
• Hyperparathyroidism
• Hypertension
• Hyperthyroidism
• Hypocalciuria
• Hypogonadism
• Hypoparathyroidism
• Hyposplenism (atrophy of spleen)
• Hypothyroidism
• Hypotonia
• Ichthyosis - acquired
• Pulmonary hemosiderosis - idiopathic
• IgA deficiency
• IgA nephropathy
• Impotence
• Inability to concentrate
• Infertility (in both sexes)
• Insomnia
• Intrauterine growth retardation
• Iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy - severe
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
• Keratomalacia
• Kidney stones
• Lactose intolerance
• Lassitude
• Late menarche (late start of menstrual periods)
• Leaky gut syndrome
• Liver enzymes elevated
• Loss of memory
• Lymphadenopathy
• Lymphoma - B-cell non-Hodgkin’s
• Lymphoma - cryptic intestinal T-cell (refractory sprue)
• Lymphoma – non-Hodgkin
• Macroamylasemia
• Macrocytosis (red blood cells larger than normal)
• Macrolipasemia
• Magnesium low
• Malabsorption
• Melanoma
• Memory loss
• Migraine
• Miscarriage
• Monoarthritis – recurrent
• Mouth sores
• Multiple sclerosis (MS) – a possible link
• Muscle pain and tenderness
• Muscle spasms and cramps
• Muscle wasting
• Muscle weakness
• Nail problems
• Nausea
• Nervousness
• Neuropathy - peripheral
• Neutropenia (low white blood cells)
• Nightblindness
• Nosebleeds – unexplained
• Obesity
• Occult blood in stool
• Ocular myopathy
• Osteitis fibrosa
• Osteomalacia
• Osteomalacic myopathy
• Osteonecrosis
• Osteopenia
• Osteoporosis
• Pancreatic insufficiency (poor digestion)
• Panic attacks
• Parathyroid carcinoma
• Penicilllin V impaired absorption
• Phosphorus - low
• Pityriasis rubra pilaris
• Plasma proteins low
• Plummer-Vinson Syndrome
• PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
• Pneumococcal septicemia
• Pneumonia – recurrent
• Polyglandular syndrome
• Polymyositis
• Potassium - low
• Primary biliary cirrhosis
• Primary sclerosing cholangitis
• Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
• Prolactinemia
• Prothrombin Time prolonged
• Prothrombinemia
• Prurigo nodularis
• Psoriasis
• Psoriatic arthritis
• Puberty - delayed
• Purpura – idiopathic thrombocytopenic
• Rhabdomyolysis - hypokalemic
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Rickets
• Sarcoidosis
• Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders
• Scleroderma
• Seborrhea
• Short stature
• Sjögren’s syndrome
• Skin rash – itchy
• Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
• Smell - loss of
• Sperm abnormalities
• Spina bifida
• Sprue - refractory
• Steatorrhea (pale, malodorous, floating, hard-to-flush stools)
• Stomach ulcer
• Stroke – premature
• Sugar intolerance
• Swelling
• Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
• Taste - loss of
• Tetany
• Thrombocytopenic purpura – idiopathic
• Thyroid disease - juvenile autoimmune
• Tongue – red and/or burning
• Tremors
• Tuberculosis - increased susceptibility to
• Turner’s syndrome
• Urinary tract infections - recurrent
• Urticaria - chronic hives
• Uveitis
• Vaginitis
• Vasculitis
• Vasculitis of the CNS (Central Nervous System)
• Vitiligo
• Volvulus (twisted intestines)
• Vomiting
• Weight gain – unexplained
• Weight loss – unexplained
• Xerophthalmia (dry eyes)
• Zinc - low

I will add to this list as I come across new links –keep checking!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

September 6, 2010

Tags: food, order, water, allergy - blood-mediated, allergy - cell-mediated, apple, allergies – fast and slow, autoimmune disease, back pain, blood test for allergies, cancer, chocolate, citrus, constipation, corn, craving, dairy, depression, diabetes type II, diarrhea, drugs – medical, eggplant, eggs, flavor enhancers food allergy, food colorings, food intolerance, fruit, gluten, heartburn, HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), infection, irritable bowel syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome?, joint pain, lectins, mental fog, MSG, nightshades, nuts, obesity, pain, peanut, peppers - bell and hot, pills, potato, preservatives, prescription medication rash, recreational drugs, runner’s diarrhea, seafood, skin problem, skin test for allergies, soy, stomach ache, stool – floating, thirst – excessive, tomato, yeast

In my thirty years in medicine, I have never diagnosed anybody with “irritable bowel syndrome.”

Not that I didn't want to make the diagnosis. But it always seemed to be the last resort - if there wasn't a better explanation for the patient's symptoms. And there always was.

If my patients came with the label, I quietly looked for a more appropriate diagnosis, mostly some kind of food intolerance and/or infections. And if they came with any of the myriad of gastrointestinal complaints, they deserved a thorough workup.

Food allergies: Physicians differ between food allergies and food intolerance. For the patient the difference is minimal: The only action that will help is leaving out the offending food.

Allergies are mediated either through blood – then they show up in blood tests. Or they are cell-mediated, which means they can’t be detected by blood tests; skin prick test is the way to go then.

If you usually feel good (or even just better) in the morning before you eat, food problems are likely. – Floating stools point to a food culprit, too.

There are rare and dangerous diseases, therefore a doctor should eliminate serious diagnoses. But this is what you can do yourself:

• Write a food journal. Everything that goes into your mouth should go in here – including beverages, pills and chewing gum. A pattern might become clear once you regularly record everything.
• In my experience, these are the most common food offenders: dairy, soy, nuts, gluten, corn – especially HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), nightshades (tomato, potato, eggplant, bell and hot peppers), citrus, seafood, lectins, food colorings, preservatives, flavor enhancers (like MSG), eggs, apples and other fruit, chocolate (though probably less common than people think – it usually are the non-cacao ingredients that cause trouble), yeast. And don’t forget: prescription medication! Recreational drugs.
• Read labels! Of course, foods without labels – like kale and carrots – are healthier anyway because only processed food is required to be labeled.
• Has anybody in your family a bowel disease? You might have the same.
• Jot down pains, headache, heartburn, stomach ache, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, slow urination, skin rashes, blocked nose or ears,
• Don’t eat after dinner – and don’t have dinner late. The sheer bulk in your stomach may create the discomfort; besides it prevents the cell repair that should be taking place nightly – but can’t happen when your body is busy digesting.
• Are you very thirsty – especially during and after a meal? That might be a sign of a food allergy. Don’t suppress your thirst – this is how your body gets rid of the offending food: by diluting it.
• If you suspect food allergies, leave out the whole list above plus whatever you suspect for a week. Then one by one, every few days reintroduce another food from the list. – Sometimes only repeated exposure shows the problem – that happens mostly with cell-mediated allergies.
• Blood-mediated allergies are the quick ones – that can bring you to the emergency room - like peanuts. Never try to force your body into accepting any food that it doesn’t want!
• Slow allergies make you sick over time – by the chronic inflammation in your body. That causes for instance cancer in the long run.
• Take a probiotics regularly. I personally like Primal Defense (this is not an endorsement – only an idea to start with. Begin with a small dose, slowly take more. If a probiotic does not agree with you, change the brand.
• Most people benefit from fish oil – to counteract the constant inflammation that comes with food allergies.
• Chew well.
• Eat vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. Not only are they good for you – they also seem to cause fewer allergies.
• Serious runners suffer from a curious disease called “runner’s diarrhea” (about fifty percent of them.
• Obesity might be a sign for food allergies: We tend to crave exactly the foods that are worst for us.
• And most importantly: Don’t eat it if it hurts you!

Unfortunately, you can even have a bowel disease without any gastrointestinal complaints: About fifty percent of gluten intolerance (celiac sprue) patients never notice anything wrong with their belly. But they might have joint or back pain, diabetes, autoimmune disease, mental fog, depression – and a host of other problems.

Cat Food

August 15, 2010

Tags: food, order, beef, carrots, cat, cat food, Cat Food, chicken, dander, diabetes in cats, dill, dog, fish, fish oil, kidney failure, liver, liver - fatty, liver disease, meat, oats, obesity, Otto, parsley, predator, Rivka, thyroid disease, turkey, vegetal

This morning I marveled at Otto’s silken black fur and how he has changed in ten short months into a purring bundle from a frightened, grimy cat with dander flying all over the place. I got him from a shelter last October, after our last cat Rivka had been carried away by a Maine eagle – or so we think; she left no trace.

The first thing I did was to add a capsule of fish oil (prick the capsule and dribble the fish oil over the food) a day to his food, for a month, against the dander.

I am not a veterinarian but, like humans, cats are part of nature and thrive on natural foods. Canned and dried foods are unnatural and unhealthy for our pets (all this applies to dogs too, but I don’t know much about dogs. I would think that dogs can handle a slightly higher portion of vegetal matters in their diets). Why do we have so many cats with diabetes, obesity, kidney failure, thyroid disease? It is not only that we over-feed our pets; diseases also stem from unnatural, stale food with ingredients that are alien to cats. In the wild, cats are predators with a predominantly fresh meat diet.

Only when we travel does Otto get canned or dried food. Once in a while, he gets a few dried morsels when he is good. The fresh food I cook for him, I freeze until it is used. This is what Otto eats twice a day:

• Meats. Buy something cheap like chicken, turkey, beef, not too fat. Preferably two different kinds. No bones.
• Liver. If I forget the liver (which I have at times), Otto sulks. Usually I get chicken livers. Make sure they are not yellow. Yellow indicates fatty liver - a liver disease.
• Fish. Any ocean fish will do – I take what’s on sale. No bones.
• Plant matter: Either a handful or two of rolled oats. Or a small bag of carrots. Or a bunch of parsley. Or dill. The emphasis is on “or” - cats are no vegetarians; they need a little bit of plant material, but not too much.

Cook until the meats are very soft. Puree. Serve. Love your cat.

News from My Summer Reading Pile

August 14, 2010

Tags: water, order, adrenals, arterial disease, breathing - improved, chronic fatigue, circulation, cold shower, detoxification, diabetes type II, exercise, fatigue, Georges Simenon, glands, gout, high blood pressure, hangover, hemorrhoids, immune function, James Bond, lungs, Maigret - Commissaire, mood enhancer, mystery, News from My Summer Reading Pile, obesity, ovaries, pain - chronic, pituitary, respiratory health, rheumatic diseases, Simenon - Georges, skin health, testes, thyroid, varicose veins

Remember my summer reading list? Slowly I am making my way through, devouring one Commissaire Maigret after the other. This is what I found:

“He had a bath, followed by a cold shower, and ate a substantial breakfast while watching the rain fall as continuously as on a November morning. At nine o’clock he had the ballistic expert on the line.” (Excerpt from “Maigret and the Surly Inspector”)

Not only James Bond – Commissaire Maigret also is fond of cold showers! Georges Simenon wrote this story in 1946. Something that was once common wisdom, namely that a cold shower does one good, has mostly been forgotten.

Just as a reminder – here are the benefits of ending each hot shower/bath with a cold shower (don’t do it if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure and/or arterial disease).
A daily cold shower

• boosts immune function
• lifts your mood
• fights fatigue and hangover
• normalizes your blood pressure
• decreases chronic pain
• trains and improves blood circulation – arterial and venous
• detoxifies the body
• deepens breathing, relieving obstructions in the lung
• tones subcutaneous connective tissues
• improves lymphatic circulation
• rejuvenate and heals skin
• regulates the activity of all glands (pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, ovaries/testes
• enhances motivation for physical exercise
• is helpful in diabetes, obesity, gout, rheumatic diseases, chronic fatigue, varicose veins and hemorrhoids
• regulates sympathetic/parasympathetic nerve system (the non-voluntary part of the nerve system) to an optimum

Now that the water is summer-warm it is the perfect time to begin cold showers. In February, it will be murder – I am screaming every time I have to get into the cold shower. But I do get in!

Always Eating Time

June 25, 2010

Tags: food, Always Eating Time, arthritis, beef, breakfast, cell repair, cheese, eggplant, fast - nightly, lasagna, lycopene, Nature's laws, obesity, peppers - bell and hot, pizza, potato, sandwhich, school lunches, spaghetti with meatballs, subs, tomato, wheat

Good chance that I bore you to tears - but: There is an obesity epidemic. Already little children are overweight; many young people are rejected by the military because they are not passing muster. Our future lies in the hands of these children who go into life already burdened with extra weight.

School lunches are atrocious: pizza, spaghetti with meatballs, subs, hamburger, sandwich, lasagna – the usual menu.

Did you notice that these are not really different foods? They are the same foods disguised: always wheat, cheese, tomato, beef. None of the four items is especially healthful (yes – I know, tomatoes contain decent lycopene. But to eat tomatoes as the only vegetable, is not good. To eat them daily, is asking arthritis in your body. Tomato belongs (with potato, eggplant, bell and hot peppers) in the nightshade family, and should be eaten sparingly.

So, children eating wrong foods. But a bigger problem is that food is constantly offered (and bought). We as a culture teach the children that one needs always to eat. Times away from the table seem to ask for a snack, and times at the table are accompanied by TV. It seems there is a constant need to be fed, to be entertained, to be rewarded, to be cajoled, to be kept quiet – always with food.

The message is: It is always eating time.

If one eats constantly, the body is always busy with digesting, and has not time for repair and rebuilding – that is especially true at night. We call our first meal breakfast, don’t we? Meaning: You break the nightly fast. If one raided the fridge in the wee hours, one never fasts.

Nature has laws. One is about ebb and flow. Constant eating is like always having high tide. One might think that moderation is an unfashionable idea, outdated since long. But our bodies are old – ancient even. They live and function by the old laws of Nature.

If the body all the time is busy with digestion, it cannot run well, sleep well, think well … live well.

Syndrome X Everywhere

June 22, 2010

Tags: order, food, movement, water, apple form, central obesity, cold shower, Depression, diabetes type II, disease, HFCS, high blood pressure, high fructose corn syrup, hyper-cholesterolemia, hypertension, lipids, obesity, pear form, race distribution, shower - cold, sleep, syndrome X, Syndrome X Everywhere, vegetables

Nearly half of US adults have diabetes, hypertension, or hyper-cholesterolemia - these three conditions make up Syndrome X. Plus, the definition includes a fourth condition, namely “central obesity”: a big belly.

To make the diagnosis does not take a degree from medical school. One can SEE if people are healthy – or unhealthy. Their "love handles" give them away.

In the study, white people were found to have more often only one of the conditions, whereas black and Hispanics were more likely to have two or all three.

Have you ever seen photos of the Thirties? The people look outright … unreal. Slim. We had the Depression then, granted. Barely anybody was fat. As an aside, look at their faces: They also seem happier. America then was hard at work to get itself out of the bad economical times.

Central obesity is what is also called the “apple form”: Extra weight gathers in the middle, as opposed to dragging down the bottom – which is called the “pear form.” For reasons not yet totally understood, the “apple” is the dangerous one. Probably because the “pear” connotes some genetically programmed weight gain, and the “apple” is all – what shall we call it – cultural fat.

Physicians used to think that slab of belly fat just sits there, unmovable, unchanged, forever. Now they have found out that belly fat is extremely active – like a stealth factory churning out secret molecules that make people eat more and build up more fat. That is why belly fat kills.

Slimmer is not a question of beauty but of health. A disclosure: My father was hefty. I loved it. Still love compact people. But it does not make them healthier. It only means that I will go through the heartbreak to lose them earlier – statistically speaking.

Sebastian Kneipp (1821 to 1891), one of my medical heroes, once said: “Big dinners fill coffins.” He knew what he was talking – he carried a paunch himself. Interestingly, he was a vegetarian. He did himself in with dumplings.

Which brings us to food. I will not give you a long lecture about healthy eating. Avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a minimum, and stick to vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. Occasionally have some fish and (organic) meat.

We have the best health care system in the world?? Medicine makes us healthy??

We have a disease care system; doctors “manage” diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid abnormalities, and so on, but they don’t cure you. Why should they? They’d lose a patient. So they are going on “managing” your diabetes, high blood pressure, high lipids. If you want health, you have to do it yourself. The old-fashioned way: more sleep, fresher food, cold shower, a daily walk – one step at a time.

Bowel Health I: Probiotics

June 9, 2010

Tags: order, food, acne, addiction, advertisements, antibiotics, arteries - clogging of, arthritis, barley, bitters, boredom, bowel health, Bowel Health I: Probiotics, casein, cholesterol - high, colon cancer, dairy, dementia, depression, diabetes type II, diarrhea, frustration, gluten, gut, heart, heart attack, Helicobacter pyloris, high blood pressure, inflammation, intestines, joints, kidneys, mineral absorption, multivitamin, nutrition, oats, obesity, opioids, pancreatitis, probiotic, psoriasis, rye, Standard American Diet (SAD), stroke, urinary tract infection, vegetables, vitamin absorption, wheat

In Natural Medicine, we work with the four elimination organs: kidneys, bowels, lungs and skin. If one is blocked or diseased, the body as a whole suffers.

With the Standard American Diet (SAD), foremost our bowels are ailing. We live in a state of constant intestinal inflammation – and from there the infliction moves to skin (pimples, psoriasis), brain (depression, stroke, dementia), joints (arthritis), heart (heart attack, clogging of arteries. The two diseases that are “systemic”, namely affecting about every single organ in the body, are diabetes and obesity – and they are linked, as we know.

It is not difficult to conclude that the only remedy that will work, is cleaning up our act of how we eat – but for some people, this seems extremely hard. While there a several reasons to collude in making us overeat like advertisements, genetics, boredom, frustration, depression – the biggest reason is addiction. If one does not understand that food can be addictive, one cannot learn to avoid the offending foods like the pest.

Two of the main food culprits – I have mentioned them before – are gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats) and casein (dairy). Interestingly, they are chemically related. Interestingly, both are broken down into opioids – compounds that make you feel good and make you crave more.

To improve bowel health, we have to eat better – and the better eating mostly consists of vegetables, vegetables, vegetables (see, how I am repeating myself). Bitters help better digestion.

Aside from improved nutrition, a daily probiotic may be your best bet for bowel health. Probiotics are healthy bowel bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms – bowel bacteria – that belong in your intestines, but are not there because they have been killed off by antibiotic use (which you might have ingested without knowing with animal products) and/or poor diets.

These are the benefits which you might gain from a healthy gut flora: Reduced inflammation across the board, enhanced resistance to all kinds of infections like diarrhea, urinary tract and Helicobacter pylorus infections, increased mineral and vitamin absorption, protection against colon cancer, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol – to name a few.

Probiotics are not for very small children (before their first birthday) or for patients with acute pancreatitis. Initially, probiotics might cause mighty rumbling in your bowels – so start low, with one capsule/pill per day, and slowly work your way up. If one brand does give you indigestion, try another one. And the more you can down (and afford), probably the better; think about reforesting: taking one capsule can be likened to planting a single tree.

We know that probiotics work – but we don’t know how. One study seemed to suggest that it does not matter whether the bacteria are alive or dead – they worked anyway. And they don’t seem to have lasting effects – only as long as one takes them.

But if you take a single natural supplement, forget multivitamins – take a probiotic!

Dairy III: Raw Milk

June 7, 2010

Tags: food, adulteration, allergen, antibiotics, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disease, bacteria, butter, cancer, casein, cream, dairy, Dairy III: Raw Milk, depression, diabetes type II, E. coli, food processing, gluten, hay fever, heart disease, homogenization, hormones, infants, inflammation, listeriosis, milk, milk - raw, sinusitis, milk - organic, milk - skim, milk - whole, milk - raw, mucus-producing, obesity, pasteurization, pesticides, pus, toddlers, tuberculosis, yogurt

Raw, organic milk might be the last chance the dairy industry still has. Milk is an unnatural, adulterated and inflammatory agent that should not be eaten. Consuming raw milk, without adulteration, might redeem milk and milk products at least a little – it’s last stand, so to speak.

Let me say it again: Dairy is a highly inflammatory, hormonal, mucus-producing, allergenic food that adds to the burden of asthma, hay fever, chronic sinusitis - not to mention obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, arthritis, autoimmune disease. I certainly would not give raw milk to infants and toddlers.

We are neither cows nor calves, and cow milk is an unnatural food for children and grown-ups. But the industry does not want us to talk about it. Dairy adds nothing to bone health - on the contrary. The simple truth is that calcium occurs abundantly in vegetables, fruit, nuts and whole grains - PLUS, plants contain the other minerals that are needed for strong bones like magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorus, boron, copper, etc. and which are lacking in dairy.

"Organic" milk is ultra-high pasteurized for longer shelf-life. That is lamentable. But at least organic does not contain bovine growth hormone, antibiotics and pesticides. Pasteurization and homogenization, on the other hand, change the milk molecules and make them less recognizable for the body – hence have higher inflammatory potential.

So what is it about raw, organic milk that makes it - slightly - better? It is less processed. Which means it contains less antibiotics, pesticides and no added hormones. Therefore it is less inflammatory, less allergenic and probably causes less cancer. Since the cows are healthier, the milk contains less pus and fewer bacteria. On the other hand, without pasteurization, diseases can be transmitted through and extreme cleanliness and chilling are required for the whole process. With E. coli found repeatedly in lettuce and burgers, we know that we are susceptible to widespread epidemics from contaminated foods. Listeriosis is a real threat for pregnant women and their unborn children; the different strains of tuberculosis transmitted by cattle cannot be talked way. Still, I think that raw milk is probably not as dangerous as some people are telling us.

I discourage the consumption of milk (see my earlier blogs). But if you insist - at least, have raw milk.

So, if you have milk – which are the healthiest products? Top, in my opinion, are yogurts because they provide healthy bacteria for bowels – but the yogurt has to be plain, without sugar, fruit or any other additives – you might serve it with freshly cut fruit, of course. By definition, skim milk contains, relatively, more proteins and less fat, and since the proteins (eighty percent of which is the glue-like casein that is, chemically, related to gluten) are the inflammatory agent in milk, I would think that whole milk is better. Along that line of argument – and that might come as a surprise – cream and butter are the healthiest. In moderation, of course.

Moderation is one of the problems: Casein breaks down in opioid-like substances, making all dairy addictive.

Dairy I: Basics

May 24, 2010

Tags: food, acne, addiction, allergies, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disease, cancer, cheese, childhood, dairy, Dairy I: Basics, fortification - with vitamins, growth hormone, homogenization, infections, dairy, dementia, depression, heart disease, infants, inflammation, milk, obesity, pasteurization, vegetarianism

Milk is unnatural, slow-poison food for grown-ups.

Mother's milk is a food designed to put fast weight on newborns, making breastfeeding essential. But we are no babes anymore; we are no calves, either. Therefore, we don’t need milk.

Worse: Milk makes us sick. Milk is linked to pimples, obesity, heart disease, dementia, allergies, asthma, cancer, depression, arthritis, autoimmune and a host of other diseases. On top of it, it tastes terrific and is addictive.

Why is dairy linked to so many diseases? It is highly inflammatory, wreaking havoc in your body, in virtually every organ.

I used to admire my vegetarian patients – until I found out that pizza, donuts and ice-cream are considered vegetarian. Nothing healthy in that fare!

When people settled and became farmers, leaving behind the hunter-gatherer days, milk was a life saver - at that time, starvation was the killer number one (childhood infections came later, when communities had grown big enough to have a virus going around for a long time; in the small hordes of hunters/gatherers, viruses had not chance of surviving long). But we long left behind starvation times; now the opposite is the problem: an abundance of calories, the whole day long.

As if the onslaught of calories from dairy were not bad enough, modern milk is even worse because it is greatly adulterated by pasteurizing (perhaps unavoidable), homogenization, adding of vitamins (notably D and A) and, since 1993, growth hormones. Growth hormones help you “grow” (which you might want to avoid) and helps grow cancer cells (which you certainly will want to avoid).

Diabetes - The Voracious Disease

May 8, 2010

Tags: order, food, alcohol, amputations, arthritis, blindness, cancer, cravings, dementia, depression, diabetes type II, Diabetes - The Low-Energy Disease, Diabetes - The Voracious Disease, energy, exercise, exhausted, fatigued, heart disease, hunger, impotence, kidney failure, moderation, obesity, over-eaters, overweight, pre-diabetes, stroke, vegetables, voracious

Diabetes is the disease that makes you eat and eat and eat.

Before, I termed diabetes the “low-energy disease” because it saps you of all strength (see my article on Roanne Weisman’s health blog). Today let's talk about diabetes’ voracious aspect.

With diabetes (or pre-diabetes) you are hungry all the time. Food is on your mind constantly. Why is that so? Several reasons, two which I find most compelling in understanding the disease diabetes:

The more you eat, the fatter you are – the more famished you feel. In olden times, when food was scarce, this was a survival trait: If, by chance, suddenly a whole mammoth had to be devoured, people had to fress beyond feeling full so that the bounty would not spoil and they put on fat for leaner times. Those leaner times always came. The problem, of course, is that nowadays they never come.

A second mechanism by which overeating occurs is that, on one level, it is really not you who is craving food – the bacteria in your gut are. And they signal “hunger!” to your brain – liken it to a computer virus. Studies found that overweight people have different bacteria in their guts than lean people. So, if you are eating the wrong foods – and too much of them – you are feeding the bad bacteria, and they get more greedy. If you would change to a healthier diet, better bacteria would grow, and you would be less hungry.

Most over-eaters eventually develop diabetes type II. Which, for me, is one of the worst diseases because it is absolutely, totally avoidable (ahem … at least in ninety percent). Diabetes leads to blindness, kidney failure, impotence, amputations – not to mention that it is linked to heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, dementia and depression.

There's no magic bullet to cure our cravings besides being aware of it, avoiding the foods that foster cravings (sugar - alcohol is a sugar, too! -, sugar substitutes, bad fats, white starches), and loading up on vegetables – the bitterer, the better. The more, the better. The greener, the better. Moving around more certainly helps. Personally, in the clutches of one of those hunger pangs, I convince myself that I am not falling down dead from starvation if I now don’t grab anything edible right now.

P.S. Those unfortunate ten percent of people who get diabetes and are not overweight, often have gluten intolerance or similar metabolic problems - they can be helped, too!

Food “Allergies”, Anyone?

April 29, 2010

Tags: food, allergy, arthritis, asthma, bleeding gums, bloating, cramps, breast soreness, bulemia, bursitis, celiac disease (see: gluten), coffee, corn, cravings, dairy, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, eczema, eggplant, eyes - itchy, fatigue, food allergy, Food “Allergies” - Anyone?, food intolerance, food sensitivities, gluten, gluten enteropathy, headaches, heartburn, interstitial cystitis, itch, joint pains, listlessness, low blood pressure, migraines, mouth sores, muscle weakness, nightshades, nuts, obesity, pain, peppers, phlebitis, potato, sinus problems, skin problems, sprue (see: gluten), tendinitis, thirst - excessive, tickling in throat, tomato, urine flow - slow, wheat

What we often call food “allergies” might be forms of intolerance with different pathways, physiologically speaking. The poisonous effect of wheat gluten in gluten enteropathy worked via a different mechanism than dairy-induced asthma; or the poison ivy dermatitis; or likely immune-complex regulated arthritis. Science has not totally elucidated these mechanisms; food “allergy” might be the incorrect term but has become common.

The diagnosis is difficult to make and to confirm; but if you don’t even think of allergy, the diagnosis can’t be made. Many physicians are not trained in this. However, you might need professional help if self-observation does not solve the problem. Since all of these conditions can also be caused by far more serious diseases, by all means work with your doctor.

Here is a list of signs that should make you wonder if you have an unrecognized food issue:

Food cravings: The more you like a food the more likely it is that you are allergic to that food. The more frequent you eat a certain food or a food group the more likely is that you will develop an allergy to it.

Fatigue: After a meal you are tired. We all are tired after a heavy meal; but if you are extremely tired even after a smaller meal you should search for an allergy.

Abdominal discomfort after a meal - often within minutes but unfortunately it can even take a day or two - you feel bloated and distressed in your stomach. Diarrhea is already a more severe sign and, if chronic or intermittently recurrent, should be evaluated by a physician. Heartburn seldom is recognized as stemming from food allergies – but it often goes away when you stop eating nightshades (tomato, bell and hot peppers, eggplant, potato), nuts or dairy.

Weakness: About fifteen minutes after a meal lift your arms: If they feel heavy or ache more than usual - compared how light you felt in the morning - this might be a case of allergy.

Musculo-skeletal system: joint, tendon and muscle problems, bursitis, etc. Leave out nuts and dairy. Get evaluated for celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

Mouth: Burning in your mouth, tickling in your throat or sores in your buccal mucosa or on your tongue might signal an allergy.

Bladder: Slow flow of urine can be a sign of food allergy, due to a swelling of the urethra. Or burning of the urethra in males. Or recurrent signs of urinary tract infections – with or without bacteria growing out in culture. Irritable bladder (interstitial cystitis) might respond to leaving out coffee and certain foods.

Thirst! If you are thirstier than other people – always running around with a water bottle in your hand – think allergy.

Other diseases and complaints that might be caused - but not necessarily - by food allergies headaches, asthma, swollen glands, bleeding and inflamed gums, abdominal discomfort and bloating, diarrhea, skin problems and itching of perfectly normal looking skin, recurrent infections (sinus, UTI, etc.), itchy eyes, listlessness and mild depression, obesity and bulimia, anal itch and/or rashes, low blood pressure, dizziness, breast pain - a long list that is probably longer, recurrent phlebitis.

Most common food "allergies" I have encountered in patients: dairy, nightshade (tomato, potato, eggplant, all peppers except black pepper, chili, cayenne, paprika), nuts, wheat, corn, beef, food dyes and food preservatives. But basically every food can become a culprit. If you have pinpointed one food item as allergenic for you, compare it with other items in the same botanical family (like nightshade).

Sleepless - And Unrepaired?

April 20, 2010

Tags: order, balance, cancer prevention, cell repair, cortisol, DNA repair, dreams, insomnia, obesity, stress, repair, sleep before midnight, Sleepless - And Unrepaired?, sleeplessness, weight

Can’t fall asleep? Toss and turn? Wake up at three and never be able to get some more winks?

Research about circadian rhythms has borne out what our grandmother’s told us: Sleep before midnight matters. The major repair work in the body happens from around eleven pm to one am. Repair means: Mending muscles, replacing worn-out cells, rewiring brain connections, restoring broken DNA before cancer can develop.

That repair will not happen if you are not in bed, not asleep.

Try basic sleep hygiene:

• Go to bed latest at ten. It helps to read some books – uplifting books rather than thrillers. But whatever works for you.
• Do not eat after dinner – preferably not after six pm. Because, if your body has to digest your stomach contents, it has less time for repair.
• No stimulants after noon (coffee, tea, coke, chocolate, etc.).
• Sleep with window open (if your neighborhood is not too noisy). Indoor pollution is usually worse than outdoor pollution, and you don’t want to re-breathe you own spent air all night.

Second thought: If we don't get enough sleep, we are stressed out the next day. Fact is that the quality of every day of your life is decided the evening before: Did you get to bed in time? Stress elevates cortisol in our body, and high cortisol makes us ravenously hungry. The stress hormone cortisol links poor sleep and obesity.

Last thought: When we were still living in caves, in the darkness, without electricity, we would be confined to our communal sleeping on and under bear skins for about twelve hours a night. Obviously, nobody can sleep that long. So, we woke up after four hours and had a little sex (took about five minutes). Then we would lie awake a while. Toward morning, we would sleep another four hours.

Question: What did we do during those unused three hours fifty-five minutes? We would think. Think a bout the meaning of the lingering dream that the Gods had sent. What did they want us to learn from this dream?

Nowadays we want to sleep effectively: eight hours per night, without waste of time. But something got lost along the line: The reflecting.

Next time, you can’t sleep, think about what is good in your life, and how you can do better. Remember what you wanted your life to be when you were a kid. Dare to dream!
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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