The Price of Health – part 2

Last week I outlined those factors that I believe are responsible for our chronically poor health. This week I have elaborated on some of these points

1)    Our food has been bastardised. Foods that we take for granted such as bread and milk, are a far cry from the bread and milk that were widely available fifty years ago.
Milk is pasteurised and homogenised rendering it not only devoid of its health-giving enzymes and some of its vitamin content, but it is structurally altered too making it hard or even, for some, impossible to digest.
Meat is often full of chemicals and other additives. Vegetables and fruit are treated with chemicals and are devoid of nutrients as they are grown on nutritionally poor soil.
Microwave meals have become the norm instead of an occasional time-saver. There are many more examples but this blog is not just about food.

2)    Medications. Oh dear where do I start? Chronic illness needs a drip-feed of medication for ever – and these drugs can cause other chronic states.  Good for the pharmaceutical companies but a disaster for good health. (I am not including emergency treatment for life-threatening illnesses.) It is difficult to overstate this factor. Millions of pounds are invested in new drugs by the pharmaceutical companies and this has to be recouped. In the U.S., television advertisements showing the “benefits” of these medications are commonplace, but there are many ways of encouraging doctors to prescribe specific drugs here too.
Keeping it topical, consider the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Twenty years ago, no one had heard of them. Now they are obtainable over the counter. This state of affairs has come about through the (pseudo) “science” that insists that high cholesterol is bad. So we now have a drug (and there are others) which is freely available and millions of us are taking them, which is based on bad science. Make no mistake – there are massive health problems with this – both with reducing blood cholesterol and with the sometimes devastating side effects of the drugs themselves.

3)    We have been told to stay out of the sun. On its own, this may be responsible for many chronic illnesses. With the cholesterol in the skin, the sun creates huge quantities of vitamin D3 which the body uses for a multitude of functions. This happens because nature requires it for our existence. Those of you who have read my blogs before will know my feelings regarding this imperative vitamin. I will keep banging on about it until the message has reached the widest audience possible. Your vitamin D levels will only be good enough if you sunbathe.

4)    We have been told to eat a diet that is largely unsuitable for humans. Since this is the topic that I write about the most, I will keep this brief and to the point here.
Our genetic make-up has changed around 0.01% in the last 40,000 years. Our diet has changed around 90%. I invented that figure, but you get my gist. You only have to look around a chemist to see all the medications for gut disturbances to know that the situation is very wrong now.

As I seem to have written quite a bit, I will, after all, have to make this a three-part blog! So, until next time – good health!

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The Price of Health – part 1

Success is always measured by money isn’t it? We all need money to live and I’m not knocking it, but cheap food is not a good investment in our health. Apart from anything else, if you haven’t got your health, you will have nothing – maybe not even the ability to work.

file0001911591111Many diseases are on the increase. Auto-immune diseases such as Crohn’s disease,  multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis; gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food sensitivities; allergies such as asthma and to peanuts; even rickets (due to vitamin D deficiency) has returned and the list goes on and on.

What has happened? Why, when we “know” so much, are we seeing more chronic illness? The answers are simple but they are interpreted wrongly (accidentally or intentionally).  In so many instances, the information released to the public becomes very complicated.  It is usually given in sound-bites (eg. in newspaper articles) and the research on which information is given is often flawed. This of course means that the advice will change in a few years, by which time much damage is already done. (Remember how we were told to eat polyunsaturated fats instead of butter? Not now!)

Before I explore why good health has become complex and elusive and why you have to spend more money on food, I will itemise the reasons why I believe chronic illness is now a way of life:

1)    Our food has been tampered with

2)    Medications

3)    We have been told to stay out of the sun

4)    We have been advised to eat a diet which is largely unsuitable for human beings

5)    We over-exercise or not at all

6)    Famous people are putting their names to big brands

7)    Greed for money and power, has overtaken our population

8)    Smoking

9)    Overuse of germ killing household and personal products

There are many other factors involved but as I want to keep this reasonably brief, I will not be expanding on them. They include vaccinations which have been written about extensively – some articles are here.

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It may be interesting for you to see the pattern in the illnesses frequently suffered:

Wrong diet as children +
Lack of the sun +
Persuasion to eat wrong foods (No.4 as above) +
Too little exercise
Equals -
Insulin sensitivity – obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation
and could equal
Loss of vision, infections, loss of sensation in feet, gangrene, strokes, heart disease etc.

Whilst treatment for chronic symptoms may prolong life, they will not cure. They will almost certainly produce side effects which range from unpleasant to downright dangerous.

Is this what we want? Or how about this one? – another frequently seen scenario:

Bottle-fed as a baby +
Carbohydrate (nutrient-poor) based diet +
Antibiotics for repeated ear/throat/other infections +
Lack of sunshine +
(possibly the contraceptive pill later in life)
Could equal
Asthma, food sensitivities, more infections/antibiotics, intermittent diarrhoea/constipation, thrush
Could equal
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), further sensitivities and allergies
c
ould equal
Autoimmune diseases – Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease
could equal
Dependence on steroid drugs and/or invasive surgery to remove part of the bowel and create a colostomy.

Part two next time, in which I will expand on those factors that have lead to chronic illness and why it is folly to buy cheap food.

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Bariatric and Other Weight Reduction Surgery

I have thought for as long as this surgery has been available for extreme obesity, that it can only do harm.

Maybe barbaric rather than bariatric surgery would be a more apt name. There is evidence to show that removing visceral fat (internal abdominal fat) reverses diabetes – and of course it would. This type of fat is injurious to health so removing it solves the problem right? Wrong! Remove the fat and change the diet yes, but people want quick fixes so that they don’t have to change their behaviour.I saw a programme about bariatric surgery a while ago and one of the patients just continued to eat pizza, but in frequent and smaller amounts!

Nature has given humans the correct gut for the correct diet, just as it has for cats, snakes, flies and lobsters. Our digestive systems for receiving and digesting food will be different (not substantially different from cats) but they are perfectly designed for the foods nature intended us to eat.

I have said this many times before – how on earth do wild animals know what to eat when they don’t have dieticians, nutritionists, books and the internet to refer to? I’m being facetious of course, but consider the point. The only wild animals (domesticated animals are fed by us and therefore have no choice in the matter) that appear to us fat are the ones that need to be for their lifestyle – nature intends it that way. How would a duck stay afloat without a good proportion of fat on its body? It would sink if it was all muscle. How do seals and whales stay warm if not for their fat stores?

Humans need a covering of fat for a variety of reasons, but the dangerous excess that we are now seeing is due to the wrong diet which can lead to many illnesses – type 2 diabetes being one of the most common. If the diet is corrected, the excess disappears as do the health dangers. It really is that simple. There may very occasionally a genetically inherited reason for obesity eg. Prada Willi syndrome.

As the only diets generally available to help obese people lose weight involve calorie restriction and therefore hunger, they are doomed to fail. Hunger will always win. So bariatric surgery was invented – and very lucrative it is too (as are the slimming, bariatric equipment and diabetes businesses).  There are various operations available but all have the same aim – to reduce the stomach’s capacity for food. This is downright madness. People who became obese from eating the wrong foods usually have severe malnutrition – that is, low intake and blood levels of the essential nutrients for life. So when their stomachs are reduced to an egg-cup size, they simply cannot eat the correct quantity of the correct food needed to obtain sufficient nutrients. No doubt supplements are given, but they are not well absorbed. The long term (if there is a long-term) effects of this are yet to be seen. Sadly as this study shows, surgical intervention is very risky.

There is another way. Before this surgery is ever considered for obesity and diabetes, nutritional advice should be given and the diet overseen by a professional who truly knows what humans need and not what governments recommend.

Update July 2014. “An expansion of weight loss surgery in England is being proposed to tackle an epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” BBC News reports. Complete and utter disaster.

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Coeliac Disease

I meet people every week who have digestive problems. These conditions can vary from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), to bloating, flatulence, cramping and diarrhoea. Most sufferers believe that these are discomforts that they have to live with and manage in order to live their lives and many will learn by trial and error the foods that create or worsen these symptoms as this piece of research shows.

What is not generally realised is that these seemingly mild conditions are not only related to, but can be symptoms of more serious gut disorders. In addition, if allowed to continue, the mild conditions can become outright illnesses.

Coeliac disease is a condition whereby an individual cannot tolerate (it’s not a true allergy) gluten – a protein found in many grains including wheat. Symptoms can include all of the above, but these may not be apparent at all. Constipation, weight-loss, anaemia, mouth ulcers, muscle aches and depression can also be symptoms of this disease. Those who suffer gastrointestinal issues will often reduce their intake of bread and cereals voluntarily, as this will decrease the symptoms. However, whist it is very possible that they could be suffering from coeliac disease, there are other factors regarding grains that maybe causing the symptoms.

file1181249314967Modern grains (and therefore the flours produced from them), have been genetically tampered with over the years. Add to this the fact that bread and breakfast cereal manufacture has become a rapid process instead of a slow one, creating products that are hard to digest at best and make us ill at worst.

 

I would advise reducing grains in the diet for all. Many people have some degree of gluten intolerance, whether or not it is coeliac disease. Reducing grains will have many health advantages and not just to do with gut health. If you do include them occasionally here are a couple of tips; use organic, old varieties of flour for traditionally produced breads (or buy a good quality sourdough bread) and if you use porridge oats, make sure you soak them overnight in milk and/or water with a blob of natural yogurt, to help neutralise the toxins that interfere with digestion.

This interesting story also contains a recipe for home made sourdough bread.

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Coconuts

The coconut palm and its relatives have been in existence for millions of years, in fact all of the time that we have been evolving.

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Primitive hominids undoubtedly used coconuts for food and the shells would have been employed as drinking vessels or receptacles for collecting shellfish/berries/nuts etc. Even the palm leaves would have been used in building shelters, wrapping foods for cooking and so on.

Today, the coconut itself yields even more “products”. The flesh as it is or grated and pressed to make coconut milk and cream. Oriental and Indian cookery often feature these to flavour and thicken sauces. The milk can be cultured into “yogurt”.

The oil that the coconut produces is highly saturated. It won’t spoil, it is not harmful to health and it is very stable – even at high temperatures. Coconut oil is also quite unique in its nutritional components. Lauric acid can increase the “good” cholesterol in the blood stream. This in addition to capric and caprylic acid provides a very effective prevention or treatment for harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeasts (ie. Candida) whether they are on the skin or in the gut. A pot of organic coconut oil can be extraordinarily useful! Use it in stir-fries or curries or in smoothies and other recipes.
Make sure you keep some in the bathroom too – it makes a great face and body moisturiser, hair conditioner and a brilliant toothpaste when mixed with baking soda. “Oil pulling” is a traditional way to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth. Take a teaspoon of the oil and when it is in your mouth it will melt. Then just swoosh it around your mouth and “pull” it through your teeth. Spit it out after a few minutes.

The water in the centre of a coconut is wonderfully refreshing any time but is also a great sports drink. It has minimal sugars but has lots of quickly absorbed electrolytes, which are lost through sweat during exercise.  It would be a good supplement for those with stomach upsets, when other food cannot be taken.

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Try using coconut flour in baking – it is very high in fibre and nutrients. It is important to remember that coconut flour can’t just be substituted for wheat flour in a recipe. Due to its high fibre content, it will absorb lots of moisture. For this reason, it is better to find recipes specifically for coconut flour – there are lots on the net. Coconut flour has no gluten, making it ideal for those who are gluten-sensitive. Bread can be made but not a yeasted bread – eggs and baking soda will give the rise.

Coconut palm sugar is derived from the sap of the coconut tree. It is a superior product to white sugar as it does keep a few of its nutrients during the processing – some of the B vitamins and the minerals zinc, iron, calcium and potassium.

Coconut products have nourished us for all of our time. Most are inexpensive – even if they are organic. Time to put this wonderful food back into our diet!

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Candida Albicans

How a Common Fungus Knows When to Attack

Have you ever noticed how easily and rapidly mushrooms and toadstools grow? Or how quickly warm water sugar and yeast start to bubble? Yeasts and fungi have the most amazing ability to capitalize on optimum conditions. In nature these conditions are often fleeting and in order for the organism to survive, it has to procreate at a rate of knots. Spores are also able to remain viable for great lengths of time.

Our insides are teeming with bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeasts. In a healthy body they are kept in balance and our health is at its best but in an unhealthy body everything gets out of hand and we suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food sensitivities and other gut problems.

Carbohydrate foods – pasta, rice, cereals, potatoes, bread and sugar, as far as your body is concerned, are all sugar. We break these foods down during digestion to the simplest molecule to absorb into the blood stream – glucose. If your diet consists of lots of these foods, you maybe nourishing yeasts, usually Candida (sometimes called thrush) more than you are nourishing yourself.

Read Micaela’s Story

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Wellbeing for the Mind – part 3

Stress -  “when life changes from normal to something abnormal to us”

Coping with life seems to cause us many problems. At the end of the day, this is what often causes our moods to change – when life changes from the normal to something abnormal to us – the life experiences. Here are some examples; illness, moving house, separation and divorce, the death of someone close and then life without that person, redundancy, retirement and so on. On an even more serious level, there is abuse, violence, deprivation, disability (although the impact of this will vary between individuals), homelessness etc.

All of these situations fit into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see part one) so in my view, the best way to tackle treatment is at this grass roots level. I am not a therapist with experience in this area and I believe that in some of these situations, help is going to be needed in one form or another and often from another person/people. Sadly, the usual sequence of events is that you feel out of control, you have time off work, you feel guilty about this so you see a doctor. You are given medication. This gives you hope and you return to work – who may be pressurising you to do so, but the very basic issues have not been addressed. It is highly likely that your problems will resurface at some time. The drugs have side effects which are at best unpleasant and at worst, detrimental to overall health. This report shows that drugs may not be necessary.

LotusWhen times are tough, be good to yourself. These measures do not have to be expensive. They don’t sound powerful in the way that drugs do, but their effects are far-reaching if you approach them in the right way. If you are given medication, you expect it to work don’t you? You must approach other measures in the same way – they will work and you will benefit but for the long-term, not just for the course of tablets. Time is a great healer and whether you are on a course of tablets or doing something less risky – putting space between you now and an adverse event holds the most benefit. You may as well do something positive for your overall health.

This is a passage taken from the link above, about the Key Factors to Overcoming Depression:
(“Me” and “my” refer to Dr. Joseph Mercola – not me personally)

 

Exercise – If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain.

Address your stress — Constant stress can lead to depression which is a very serious condition. However it is not a “disease.” Rather, it’s a sign that your body and your life are out of balance.

This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as a “mental illness,” you think you need to take a drug to fix it (and so do doctors). In reality, all you need to do is return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress.

Meditation or yoga can help. Sometimes all you need to do is get outside for a walk. But in addition to that, I also recommend using a system that can help you address emotional issues that you may not even be consciously aware of. For this, my favorite is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). However, if you have depression or serious stress, I believe it would be best to consult with a mental health professional who is also an EFT practitioner to guide you.

Eat a healthy diet — Another factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another powerful tool in addressing depression. An important observation has been made regarding people suffering schizophrenia and their gut health. The same has been observed in people diagnosed with a condition on the autistic spectrum.

Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats — I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be a very important factor in helping depression.

Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. One previous study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

I couldn’t have put it better so I have just cut and pasted it. I would add a couple of things too. Use your friends and talk to them – just as you have done for them and will do in the future. Revisit hobbies or maybe even go to an evening class. Not only will you make friends, but you will learn all the time – this is positive. Join in – even if it’s helping at your church or joining a walking/art group. Use distractions.To the diet recommendations, I would add fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir. These can help normalise the gut microbes. Dysbiosis (“difficult life”) in the gut is associated with many health issues, including the health of the mind.

For exercise why not just walk? It’s free and always interesting – whether it’s country or town. Observe all the while – don’t just look around you, really see the birds, gardens, people and so on. These give you connection and belonging. Don’t forget to greet the people you meet – this connection can make an enormous difference, not just to you but to them as well. Walking barefoot has huge health benefits too – a physical as well as spiritual connection to the earth.

There will be times when professional help is needed. It is of course, your choice where this comes from but do consider this – here is a link to the Human Givens Institute. Their help is very much based on problem solving and does not usually require more than a couple of appointments.

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Health Research – Gut Bacteria

Sick from Your Stomach: Bacterial Changes May Trigger Diseases

“The gut is the largest immune organ in the body.”

The Father of medicine, Hippocrates, knew this without today’s science when he said “All disease begins in the gut”. I have to say that most poor health starts this way and in time, I believe that science will show that immunity is responsible for all poor health.

This area of research is vital. Today, according to the Confederation of British Industry, it was estimated that 175 million working days were lost at a cost of £13 billion in 2010.

From a parliament publication – “IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) ranks close to the common cold as a leading cause for absenteeism from work as a result of illness”.

The gut disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, cause pain and misery. Often sufferers will see their doctors, have tests – all to no avail as the disease has few if any signs, either on blood and stool tests or invasive examinations. At the end of all the tests, a “diagnosis” is usually given. The sufferer goes home believing that they have to “live with it” and thus begins a life of dependency on over-the-counter or prescribed medicines. This is unnecessary.

My tip this week is to look after your immunity.  In particular, look after your insides – these things do not usually get better on their own. They tend to indicate a health “slippery slope”.
See my post on Immunity for some advice.

If you have a gut problem, perhaps you should come and see me!

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The Getting of Immunity

An elderly relative recently moved into a nursing home and I was offered some of her effects. During the clear-out of her home, I was shocked to see the amount of cleaning products that she was using. These products always have warnings on them, but that means they contain toxins!

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We are led to believe that we need a different product for every job and the ads are obviously very effective. In fact go into any large supermarket and you will see a whole aisle of these products and they are not cheap. Quite apart from the fact that they are largely unnecessary, what about the chemicals? These are not innocent and can be hazardous when wrongly used and/or for people with respiratory or skin problems. Good old soap and water will do a great job without upsetting the delicate microbial balance. It is quite amazing what can be done with vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice!

Potentially, the biggest problem with many of these substances is their germ-killing ability. In a hospital, it is essential to keep infection to an absolute minimum – for obvious reasons so their use is necessary to prevent cross-infection – ill people are very vulnerable. It is at the very least a contributory factor that the nation’s generally poor immunity generates the need for stronger and stronger antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. Chronic illness such as asthma, eczema, autoimmune diseases, gut problems and so on are increasing year on year are whilst our immunity is decreasing – thus making us that much more susceptible. What is missing is a robust immunity.

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When we are born, we inherit the gut microbes of our mothers – whether they are good or bad. Most often they are the beneficial to health and they need to be nurtured. This piece of research highlights the importance of building a healthy immune system – the best insurance policy for a child’s future life. Allowing children to walk bare-foot, having pets, playing in the garden and digging the soil – are all measures that allow a healthy immune system to develop. Work-surfaces must be kept visibly clean – but not sterile.  It is possible that when an immune system is busy naturally making antibodies to antigens, it won’t be bothered with a bit of cat fluff, feathers or pollen.

We are also rather paranoid about food beyond its sell-by date. Maybe it is prudent with packaged foods as there is no way of knowing how long they’ve been on the supermarket shelf – but foods like cheeses, meat and vegetables need considered opinion. My mother used her sight, sense of smell and sometimes even taste to see if a natural raw food was still edible. Many natural foods contain enzymes and other substances beneficial to the immune system – cheeses for example. Naturally fermented foods such as cheeses and yogurt, sauerkraut, (properly prepared) salami and so on are teeming with beneficial bacteria. The inclusion of these foods into the diet can help build good immunity.

Lastly, here is a little experiment for you. Have your usual shower and use a sponge/flannel but no shower gel. You will not smell! It is fine to use a little, two or three times a week but it is the water that cleanses you. In this way you will leave the skin to care for itself (which it does exceptionally well), the ph is intact, the oil isn’t stripped and the microbes are left to protect you.

We are supposed to live in harmony with microbes – we can’t exist without them so let’s stop the massacre!

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