Posts Tagged 'cleanse'

Are You Dehydrated?

Chances are that you are dehydrated and you probably don’t know it.   Studies show that 75% of Americans are dehydrated. Now we are not talking about desert island dehydration, but not consuming enough water for optimum function. When we think of “getting healthy” and cleaning up our diet most of us think of eating more fresh wholesome food, maybe cutting some calories or skipping the processed foods but rarely does anyone make mention of one of the simplest cheapest and most effective ways to improve our health… drinking more water.

The lack of proper hydration can be linked to fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, allergies, joint pains, digestive problems and a multitude of other ailments. Hydration is rarely the cause or driving factor to any of these things but is almost always contributory and improvements in treatment can almost always be seen when a patient begins to properly hydrate themselves.

Aside from just simply not drinking enough water many of the things we do drink and eat actually aid in functionally dehydrating us. Carbonated soft drinks, sugary juice drinks, alcohol as well as the morning coffee all actually cost us more water than they contain leaving us in worse shape than before we picked up that beverage.  We drink when we are thirsty but often the signal that tells us we are thirsty can be misinterpreted as hunger and we eat instead; usually something cooked and processed which further dehydrates us. This is a very unhealthy cycle to be in and may be one of the reasons for the epidemic of overeating.

The standard recommendation of 8 glasses of water a day may not be enough for a lot of us; however, it would be a sizeable help in generating better health for most the population. Of course limiting the consumption of “other” beverages and striving to meet or exceed the minimum 8 glasses a day goal is a lifestyle change to many and as such will need reinforcement of outcomes, getting hydrated doesn’t happen in one day but noticeable changes can occur relatively fast. Many people notice thinking more clearly and breathing easier as well as better sleep almost immediately while reduction in joint pains and appetite changes often happen shortly after. Drinking more water is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your health and that always makes us happy to know we did something good for ourselves.

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Excellent Documentary

Please view this documentary.  It is an excellent example of finding out where your food supply comes from and demanding it be better.

Deconstructing Food

Food is not Medicine

Or is it?  The article does not address the benefits of whole foods.  However, it is good to see this subject matter becoming more mainstream.

Don’t be misled by these food label tricks.

Dementia – I don’t understand…

The surge of dementia information in the news recently should come as little surprise, with the aging population and increased scrutiny the health of our seniors is placed under. Yes we know more people are developing brain dysfunctions like dementia and we still do not have much to do to effectively treat it, so prevention becomes the key factor. First it has to be said that many theories have been postulated and many ideas proven wrong as to the true cause of dementia. What we do know is that certain people with certain behaviors have a much lower incidence of developing dementia.

The most important thing to do is (and you’ve heard this before) to eat a nutritious diet containing primarily whole raw fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats that are as free as possible of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, etc.  And again, this diet cannot be provided by a fast food chain.  The healthy fats part probably will need to be supplemented with a clean source of omega 3 fatty acid as it is hard these days to consume enough of the right foods to create our ideal fatty acid balance. The whole, raw fruits and vegetables part is also very important because while we need these carbohydrates in our diets what is damaging to our brains (and the rest of our bodies) is the surge of insulin that accompanies the processed sugars and high levels of carbohydrates unbalanced with proteins and fats.

This eating plan has been discussed before; getting closer to nature in our diet will have far reaching benefits to every cell of our bodies and the earth around us. The next thing that we can do is to exercise regularly, both our bodies and our minds. The body exercise is simple, moving our bodies creates reactions that improve our body composition regulate our hormones including insulin and reduce our stress levels. Challenging our minds with reading, puzzles and thought provoking conversation helps to keep us sharp by constantly forming new neural connections and re-firing existing ones extending the plasticity of our brains.

Some of the other factors associated with dementia involve heavy metals in the body; specifically aluminum and mercury.  Admittedly the correlations between metals and dementia is controversial but if there is even a small chance of a link, maybe finding a safer deodorant than one containing aluminum, and would check out alternatives for amalgam dental fillings, as well as the flu shot.

So now when we read the headlines about the coming surge of dementia we can understand what we can do to give us the best possible chance of a clear minded life as we age.  We do not have to feel scared by the headlines implying that dementia is completely unavoidable.  Eat right, exercise your body and mind, and avoid toxins, especially metals, develop a supplement program that includes Omega 3 oils and antioxidants, and know that you are doing your best to protect yourself.

C’mon, fill your lungs with free radicals.

We have all been bombarded with advertisements and media reports about antioxidants in various forms being heralded as everything from the fountain of youth to protection from our own bad habits.  Along with the news on antioxidants comes the message that free radicals (what antioxidants neutralize) are evil and we should do everything we can to stop their production.  Stopping the production of free radicals in your body is easy.  So easy in fact, that all you have to do is stop breathing forever… it’s that easy.  Obviously we are not supposed to completely stop the production of free radicals, so this must be one of those situations where a delicate balance must be achieved.

So why all the hype?  First, free radicals are substances that have an unpaired leectron which enables them to be highly reactive and in some biological situations, highly damaging.  Antioxidants are substances that have reduction capability and thus end the free radical chain reactions and in effect neutralize the radical intermediates of oxidative reactions…blah blah blah.  All that big chemistry talk means is that if free radicals are a fire spreading out of control, then antioxidants are the water used to control and eventually put the fire out.  Free radicals happen every day during normal chemical reactions in our bodies; their production is accelerated during times of stress, illness, exercise or toxic exposure.  A healthy, varied diet of whole, raw, live foods, espeically with a rainbow of colors, should be all that is needed to provide an ample dose of antioxidants to combat a normal production of free radicals.  Few of us however, live a life devoid of stress, illness, and exercise or toxic exposures.  These necessitate a supplemental increase in our antioxidant intake.  Most of us also do not consume a rich and varied diet of brightly colored raw foods on a regular basis.  The market is saturated with the next big miracle antioxidant.  What we have to realize is that certain antioxidants work in certain circumstances and under certain conditions to neutralize certain free radicals.  We need a variety of antioxidant nutrients from a variety of sources to combat all the free radical variables (i.e., ones we ingest, breath, absorb, etc).  It’s not enough to take a big load of Resvertatrol and think that it is taking care of all your antioxidant needs.  As the saying goes “variety is the spice of life.”  An antioxidant supplement that is whole food based and provides many different types of antioxidants is the best bet to combat the free radical onslaught of daily life.

A Kwik Note About Vitamin K

Vitamin K is known to most of us as something that helps clot our blood.  Its most useful and wonderful benefits are certainly not well known to the general public.  Certain forms of Vitamin K have proven to be able to build bone and clean the plaque out of arteries.   Sounds great, right?  So,where do we get Vitamin K, and especially Vitamin K2?

Our gut bacteria, or probiotics, actually manufacture Vitamin K2 for us.  Without a healthy gut population, we go without this vital nutrient that has so many important functions.  The two really interesting benefits of Vitamin K2 are really one in the same.  The bone building is intimately partnered to the artery cleaning.  It sure is great how everything in the body works together and seemingly small lifestyle choices have far reaching effects – it’s really all one process.  One of the steps involved with depositing calcium to your bone is called “carboxylation,” and without Vitamin K present that step is unable to proceed.  The calcium that seemed destined for bone strengthening now has to go somewhere else.  The answer is that it floats around in the blood stream until it comes upon a damaged or an inflamed portion of artery and there it is deposited as part of the arterial wall.  Voila! Arterial Calcification.   This reaction is supposed to be mediated by our bodies in part by Vitamin K as it directs extra calcium to bone growth and therefore pulls it out of the bloodstream. Let’s reemphasize that Vitamin K2 actually has the ability to take calcium out of the arterial walls where it is very bad for us and put it into the bone which is very good for us.  At no point in our story of cleaning the arteries and building bone did we mention the need for Lipitor, Vytorin, Crestor, Zetia, Zocor, Fosamax, Actonel, Boneva or Evista.  Those drugs simply address the symptoms of atherosclerosis and bone loss.  The real issues go much deeper.  Taking care of our gut health is the real answer.  Maintaining a healthy probiotic level and avoiding such toxins as caffeine, carbonation, alcohol, excessive sugars and processed foods which negatively affect our gut health.  Healthy probiotic populations will create all the Vitamin K2 that we need leading to proper carboxylation reactions of shuttling calcium to the bone while removing it from the arterial walls where it causes problems.

Of course we recognize that current lifestyles tend to make it hard to maintain healthy probiotics, much less rebuild the population.  So supplemental Vitamin K2 can be especially useful in turning around a degenerative situation and helping us back to a more sustainable level of health.  It is important to notice the form of Vitamin K that we want is K2.  Vitamin K1 is the kind in leafy green vegetables and K3 is a toxic synthetic.  K2 is produced by way of probiotics in us and in some fermented foods.  In partiuclar an Asian staple called natto.  It is important when considering calcium supplementation that K2 is one of the nutrients included for proper utilization of the calcium.

Fructose and Semantics – Natural (processed) Born (man-made) Killer (killer)

A current media blitz would have you believe that fructose, specifically high fructose corn syrup (HFCS for short) is not only “healthy in moderation” just like any caloric sweetener but is also chemically the same as table sugar to your body.  Both statements are flat out wrong and misleading.  Sort of like a publicists spin story on a compromising photo of a celebrity that has been splashed across the internet.

First lets get the chemistry out of the way. Your body runs on glucose, a simple sugar.  Fructose is another simple sugar, but here is the shocker, as you can see from the spelling GLUcose and FRUCTose, these two similar simple sugars are not in fact the same thing. Scientists like to name things and whenever new and different things are discovered they get a new name.  So, in fact researchers long ago confirmed that there is a difference between these two molecules and they were given different names. We know when we put glucose into the body certain things happen, a few highlights would be that insulin is released and another hormone called leptin is secreted.  The sugar is then taken into the cells by the insulin and metabolized for energy. Insulin and leptin both signal our brain to stop eating as we have sugar in the blood and therefore any more is excess and thus we are satiated. Many millions of other things happen as well but these two points will help show the case against fructose. When fructose is put into our bodies it is absorbed primarily in the jejunem and processed by the liver never triggering a proportionate insulin release and is readily converted into triglycerides and spurs an increase in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).  No leptin is released in response to fructose so with little insulin and no leptin your brain does not know you are full and more calories are consumed than needed. Fructose also raises our bodies levels of uric acid, and lactic acid neither is a good thing to have more of in you blood, this has damaging effects on the heart and kidneys and liver.

One very important fact about fructose in relation to insulin is that it has an effect on the target cells insulin receptors.  It causes a down regulation so when we do consume glucose we have to pump out more insulin.  This is called “insulin resistance” and this directly leads to diabetes syndrome X and other health problems. As to the idea that HFCS is natural and just like table sugar, both are a mix of fructose and glucose, however HFCS is a mix of the two simple sugars, table sugar is sucrose a disaccharide made of 1 glucose bound to 1 fructose. This bonding makes them behave very differently in our body as we have seen. This is not to say sugar is a good thing to consume in any quantity just that sugar would be preferred over HFCS due to the reasons above. If you are consuming predominatly whole, raw, live, fresh foods then you will not have to worry about this as HFCS does not exist in nature, though it is considered and labeled “natural.” It is natural in the sense that it does at some point come from corn but it is heavily processed and modified from the corn starch from which it started. Mind you, it is not a simple extraction process to make HFCS.  The heavy processing and stripping of other nutrients both micro and macro have much to do with making this sweetner such a harmful product.

We are now seeing another fructose sweetener in processed foods and drinks called “crystalline fructose”.  This is really just like HFCS only with the dial turned up to ten.  It can be much worse for you and can even be found with traces of heavy metals and other poisons in it like arsenic and lead. We should also mention that almost all the HFCS in our food supply is made from genetically modified corn. GM corn is a big problem as the Bt toxin (pesticide) in the plant promotes an allergenic response and many more people are presenting with corn allergies these days. The big issue is that once someone develops an allergy to GM corn then they are also allergic to natural organic corn, and since some form of corn is in almost every meal Americans eat, this becomes a big problem (hence so many different reactions to foods). A little bit of anything can generally be accepted by the body and handled while maintaining health but USDA stats show that HFCS consumption has skyrocketed.  Between the years 1970 and 2005 the average American increased their HFCS intake by 10,673%, that is not moderation. Many correlations have been made between this rise and the rise in modern diseases of degeneration like heart disease, cancer and of course diabetes.  Many factors coexist to nutritionally harm us and lead us down the path of disease but nobody can argue that the huge amount of sugar and in particular HFCS has had nothing to do with our nations health issues.  Not even a great publicist.