Chronic Diseases

February 5, 2007

The World Health Organization has released a new study on chronic diseases. I was surprised to learn that twice as many people die from chronic diseases as from all infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria), maternal and perinatal diseases and nutritional deficiencies combined. Wow! To follow the general news, you would think it’s just the opposite. Actually, I have a problem with throwing in the nutritional deficiencies, since I think most, if not all, chronic disease is the result of nutritional deficiencies, just a slower version. Why else do we see different ethnic groups, each emphasizing different types of food groups, having lower levels of certain types of chronic disease? We see lower incidence of heart disease among groups who include healthier fats, lower levels of cancer when there is a high level of fruits and vegetables, etc. Just because we don’t see full-blown Rickets in our country doesn’t mean we’re receiving optimal levels of Vitamin D — especially with the current fear of sunrays.

When I go to a regular grocery store, I find myself wanting to beg people not to buy, or eat, most of the food they put into their baskets. Things loaded with sugar, white flour, bad fats and preservatives. They are often overweight and show visible signs of undernourishment, as do their children. Their bodies are starved for real food full of real nutrients.

Several years ago we were on a trip to Hawaii with our nutrition company. One thing that struck us, since we’d been to relatively few company meetings, was the number of octogenarians in our group. These folks looked and felt young for their age. They had sharp minds, and a love of life. You could find them out at midnight enjoying an evening stroll with a sparkle still in their eyes. It was inspiring! Many of these individuals had been sick, some seriously so, for many years. But, after applying good eating habits, and good nutritional supplements, they had regained their health, and in fact were out-living most of their contemporaries — and enjoying it!

I believe we can avoid the chronic health problems by learning how to eat healthfully, including exercise in our daily routine, and taking nutritional supplements for optimum health!

Curry to Warm and Heal

January 23, 2007

The ice pellets are tapping at the windows today — highly unusual for our geographical location! The ground is frozen, ice cycles are lengthening from the eves, and from out tear-drop Christmas lights, and chicken soup is simmering on the stove. But, I might save the chicken and stock for tomorrow, and make a cauliflower soup tonight. I saw a recipe with apples and curry in it that sounded wonderfully warming. I’ll let you know how it turns out! Curry is an interesting herb, with more and more research showing its benefits. Check out these articles to see some of the benefits listed: here and here. I find the research about Alzheimer’s treatment, and Cystic Fibrosis to be the most exciting. Here’s a link to an article about CF.

God is faithful. He provided us with a creation rich in good things for nutrition and healing. It’s encouraging to see research taking place in the areas of vitamins and herbs. While we can be thankful for some of the prescription drugs and what they can do to save lives, I’ve read that over 90% of diseases have no cures. And often times, the drug used to treat a malady has a list of side effects, which then require additional drugs. How much better to apply healthy eating and exercise habits, take high quality supplements, drink clean water, and be grateful in all things.

My Wildly Messy Garden

August 22, 2006

The heat here in South Texas is penetrating to the marrow of my bones this week. But, there is a certain happiness to those sunrays. God created the sun, and it is not the enemy. It gives life. Still, I’ll admit, it also gives headaches! We’re in August, and reaching new levels of intensity; I’m fighting to keep my flowers, herbs, and general landscaping alive. I don’t know what the watering system was for the earth before things broke, but I’m sure it was consistent — unlike our Texas thunderstorms lately.

I’ve been thinking about my garden, because this is the first year in seven that I’ve felt great satisfaction in the tiered beds that I attempt to cultivate. I was thinking of the delight I’m finding in each plant. It’s an odd mixture. Some things I don’t even know the names of, I got them at a “distressed” sale for as little as 24 cents. And, they’re thriving. I made a choice to break with convention and mix roses in with the rest. I love roses, but I really don’t enjoy the sterile looking beds that they are typically placed into. Very boring. Instead, I have all sorts, and sizes, and shapes of plants jumbled together. (Not at all English, must be that messy French and Irish in me!) Some of the taller things are growing in front with wild orange somethings scattering from seed year after year. Unless I transplant them, they’re free to grow where their roots sprout. There are numerous herbs mixed into the flowers, so when I water there are lovely fragrances that make their way through the moist air. Several things that I nearly pulled out, or that I actually hoped would die, have grown into lush green additives, blooming beyond their season.

A thought occurred to me, that my garden is messier than I intended. I really planned to lay it out in a proper order, but it’s a jumble of odd combinations of color, texture and scent. And I realized that I love my messy garden, because it’s like real life. Life is a messier thing than I would like, or plan. It’s wilder than I expected. I love the line in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where the beaver says, “He’s not a tame Lion, you know…” Life is like that — not at all tame, but good.

As much as I try to control my garden, or my life, for tidiness, calmness, goodness, rightness, there are things that surprise me. Things that won’t go away, that I really want to go away. Like some of my plants that I really wanted to die, without me actually being responsible. There’s ugliness and deformity from bugs that look for their sustenance in my hard work, and the never-ending mosquito plague. I can count on getting 1-5 bites every time I go out the door. I don’t like to wear bug spray all day, so I take the bites. I take the attack. Attacks are never fun, but I have to put up with it if my garden is going to survive. Even that life-giving force, the sun, can feel destructive when I see my crop wilting at two in the afternoon from unrelenting beams.

So, I’ve collected an odd assortment of plants in my garden, and in my life. Things that I didn’t plan to be there. I was going to have a very tidy garden, and a very tidy life. But, God in His mercy had a different plan, and those plants I wanted to go away, were put in the ground, to grow and thrive, and bloom. And, that messy garden gives joy. As I’ve been writing this entry, thunderclouds have accumulated as I’ve been running (in between paragraphs) to move the water, and scoop more peat moss into the soil. Once again, my plans are caught in the wild, spontaneous messiness of life. What joy!

A Little Rant

May 18, 2006

Reading the news can be less than uplifting. I know, I used to have quite an addiction. Currently, I read the news periodically, since I realized it was preventing me from making my own news. Good news like: “Mom makes breakfast for hungry family,” or “Wife found planting flowers,” or, how about, “Neighbor delivers food to shut-in.” Making your own news means you’re living, and living takes effort. Reading the news can easily deflate our enthusiasm for living, even for life itself. Where am I going with this? Well, today, I read the news. Here’s my take on the sunshine issue.

Headline: Skin Cancer On The Rise In Kids!

Summer is upon us, and so are the fear mongering news reports! Here are some realities you might want to consider:

  • You die without sunshine!
  • You need sunshine to create Vitamin D, which is essential to your skin, bones, immune system, and muscles.
  • People are happier when they get sunshine. (Sing with me, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…” )
  • A healthy tan is a nice change from winter white.
  • Kids look great with freckles. :-)
  • If you eat more fruits and veggies, your chances of skin cancer greatly diminish.

Seriously, Vitamin D is made in our skin - through exposure to the sun. Would God create a need; then make it kill us? The debate about global warming will continue for longer than we would hope. Granted we live in a fallen world, but we can unbalance things by not paying attention to his whole creation plan, i.e. fruits and vegetables. These are loaded with antioxidant protection from Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Flavonoids, and Carotenoids. All of these nutrients are important for the health of your skin - both inside and out. Whether or not we are witnessing real problems with our environment, there are ways to combat the elements we’re exposed to, without living in a darkened cave of fear. Sun blocks not only keep you from getting sunburn, they keep you from making Vitamin D on your skin also. There are numerous corporations that delight in paying for studies to prove you need sun block. Can you think of anyone out there making money off of defending the health giving benefits of our closest star?

Now, if you evaluate your children’s diet honestly, and they are eating fast food, junk food, soda pop, etc. on a regular basis, you have cause to worry. Every time those destructive, empty calories are consumned, the body has fewer tools to do its repair and immune building work. There is a cause and effect here, but I suspect it has a lot more to do with our children’s diets, than with playing in the sunshine.

It helps to be old enough to remember things like the egg scare! It’s sad to think how many people were (and are) undernourished because of foolish reports about cholesterol in eggs. People would choose to eat a synthetic “food” rather than the real thing in moderation. A food that, in fact, contains the very nutrient needed to emulsify cholesterol. Did you know you will die without cholesterol, and in fact, your body makes its own cholesterol?

So, here’s my advice for a healthy summer. If you use sun block, do it with moderation for longer stints in the sun. Let yourself, and your children get sunshine, preferably everyday, without any sunscreen. And please, take in, enjoy, find delight in, every fresh fruit and vegetable you can get your hands on — preferably organic. And do teach your kids to enjoy them as well. They’re our best defense against many illnesses and disease. We need 7-9 servings a day.

Of course, if you have trouble meeting your quota for yourself, or your family, please drop me a line, I’d be happy to help you with some products that can fill in the gaps. And, they’re even tasty!

Domestic Pleasures

March 9, 2006

Yesterday I took the time to make several items in the kitchen. I say, I “took” the time, because we all have competing needs, desires, and opportunities for how we use the time each day. So, yesterday I took the time to make a batch of kefir, buttermilk, curds and whey, and some whole-wheat buttermilk bread.

The kefir and buttermilk are very easy and quick to do, and I love having the fresh milk to make those with. Both of these are fermented foods and are great for keeping the right kind of bacteria growing in the intestinal tract. It’s a very healthy habit to have some fermented foods on a daily basis. In fact, there is a school of thought that, the fermented foods are key to health and longevity. I know from experience that when I eat yogurt, or have kefir on a daily basis, I simply feel better.

The curds and whey were actually produced by accident, but turned into a yummy lunch. I ate the curds, which tasted and had the texture of fresh mozzarella, and today I’m looking for a way to use the whey. That should be fun!

Bread is one of my favorite things to make, as anyone reading this blog might have guessed. These loaves came out as exceptional beauties! My friend Ruth had told me you could bet hard white wheat flour by the King Arthur brand. This is flour made from hard white wheat, rather than, hard red wheat. It’s high in protein, and gluten like the hard red, but it is lighter in texture, and sweeter in flavor. Because it is high in gluten, it makes excellent bread flour. (The soft white wheat is better for cookies, muffins, scones, cakes, etc., because it is lower in gluten, which allows a tenderer crumb.) The result is an almost white looking loaf, but it still contains the germ, bran, and all the essential nutrients found in whole wheat. I had forgotten about this treasure for quite some time. In California, we used to get it from the co-op that my daughter ran. This bread is wonderful toasted, and we enjoyed some last night, after the asparagus stir-fry had left us with cavernous sounds coming from our stomachs. Moist, chewy, tangy, oh my, I need to exercise more so I can eat more bread!

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