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Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Health Stuff isn't Easy Stuff!

This health stuff isn't easy stuff. The way your body works is really complex. If you were a Paleolitic hunter/gatherer, that wouldn't matter to you much, because your body and health (wellness) was suitable for your environment--designed and supported--totally so you'd survive and reproduce. You would have been intimately connected with the natural world, aware of your place in it. Primitive societies didn't need to understand how their bodies worked because their framework was within mother nature--and how they were designed (or evolved.)

Today it's not. Our culture tells is we are well above nature and animals and the workings of the planet. We have big brains and can modify our environments. We can manipulate things. We can grow plants that didn't exist through the million of years we were hunting and gathering. We can fracture rock to extract ancient organic deposits. We can throw trillions of pounds of plastic into the ocean. We can bubble hydrogen gas through cheap vegetable oils so it becomes solid and won't go rancid. We can refine very sweet granulated stuff from beets or corn and put it in everything. Humans can make fortunes by selling cheap (subsidized) wheat and rice in third world countries, driving native farmers out of business, making those cultures dependent on American grain (which humans are not designed to eat anyway.) We can manufacture drugs to make a few multinational companies rich beyond imagination while killing millions with the (acceptable) side effects.

All the above and many other things humans can do because they figured out how. But that's not how your body was designed and now you live in a world that's very different from the one you were designed for. This culture overwhelms you with things that are not in your best interests. These things are in the interests of corporationa and whole industries who want to make a buck (or those trillions) and they don't care about your wellness.

As a friend of mine said recently, "I don't care about all those details like you do, Ellie." OK, I don't know why I care about those details of complexity like I do, but I do know that given what's being sold to you, those details of how your body works are the difference between radiant health and feeling good or the typical disease-riddled society we have.

When I say disease, I mean anything that makes you less vigorous, whether that's a headache, fatigue, arthritis or cancer. From the little aches and pains and not feeling good stuff to the biggies that kill most Americans today...those are not survival stuff. If you depended on hunting and gathering like your ancestors, you'd have been weeded out pretty quickly if you weren't raring to go--and ABLE to go!

So the complexity of all this human physiology matters now because I'm trying to make an argument for living a lifestyle that is in harmony with your body but radically out of whack with your society and culture. When we knew we were animals within the framework of the natural world (not thinking we were above all that) it didn't concern us. If feeling good matters to you now, you need to understand how you've been led down a greed-based, cultural path of least resistance but with devastating implications.

There are few if any primitive, hunter gatherer societies left in the world. When there were, however, the anthropologists who studied them found no "diseases of civilization" as they've come to be called. No cancer, no heart disease, no diabetes (the big three) no depression, no alzheimers, no allergies, no bipolar. Our cultural belief in these 'jumping out and getting you' or it just 'being the luck of the draw', or a result of 'poor genetics' is all wrong. You invite them in by putting things into your body it doesn't like, doesn't handle well and that don't promote health. They are slow poisons. There's the rub! If the poisons killed right away, no problem--we'd figure it out pretty quickly!

But slow poisons that our culture foists upon us are not instant death. The body is remarkably adept at adjusting, fighting and minimizing the slow poisons. It sometimes takes 30 years for a cancer tumor to get big enough to be detectable. Heart disease developes slowly in response to arterial damage that the body heals and heals and heals until it is overwhelmed.

So, though my concern with this blog and the books I've written about it all at ( is to feel good to avoid the niggling little (and major) health problems along the aging pathway, my real concern is for the long term killers that are not part of our birthright but that are prevalent in this "civilization." Yes, I want to look better, too.

If you've raised any livestock in your lifetime, you probably got a pretty clear indication of the realities of nutrition. Feed animals what is right for them and they are productive and live long healthy lives. Feed them crap (like they do in feedlots) and you have to intervene with all kinds of measures and medicines. Why should humans be any different? Unfortunately, the answer to that is that they shouldn't but they like to kid themselves they are above basic biology. Feed us crap and the medical industry is all too ready with measures and medicines.

Ok, some get dealt a better hand from the git-go. Genetics are not the final answer (gene expression is changed by environment) but they matter. Your mother's prenatal nutrition might even be affecting you today. But the amazing thing about the human body is that it's designed to be self-regulating, self-healing. No matter where you and I are now, we can make a huge difference in the long term prognosis! How long it takes and how effective depends on your effort and history. Will you see these ideas as being deprivation or as opportunity?

What does it take? It takes nutrition you were designed for. If you're in the hole (so-to-speak) you might need remedial nutrients. Probably everyone can benefit from supplements. (Talk to me if you need help navigating that morass.) It takes moving your body how it was designed to move. It takes some believing in yourself, too.

When I started doing the research for all this, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable. NOT! It took me the better part of 18 months to discover what a line of bull we've been led to believe about all this. You could do all that research for yourself if you have 12-18 months to spend on it. But that's also why I wrote "Inflammation Run Amok" and the other e-books at the above mentioned website. Or let me suggest two important (though not easy) books to read. "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes and "The Omega Rx" by Barry Sears. There are also growing communities of people who espouse a primal-Paleolitic diet that gets back to what our ancient ancestors ate. See Primal Blueprint, for one. And his book by the same name is excellent. You can live like a hunter/gatherer in today's world. I won't tell you it's easy--especially in the beginning. Shedding the slow poisons is life-altering and life-affirming!

It's your body. It's your LIFE! Your body gets you around. Regardless about what you believe in terms of religion, this is what you have here and now to make your life. If your body fails you, life gets pretty unpleasant and often ends too soon. That surely cannot be the point of life!? What limits are you dealing with and are you willing to live without them? What are you willing to do to have the life of your dreams?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another Focus for health, too!

I spend a lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about health strategies that are factually based and involve real-world physical "things". There is another category of "stuff" that is what I call soft science, or beyond the physical (mataphysics). And these things and ideas are very important as well. So with a nod to the non-physidal, I share this short film from youtube with you today.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


With the nuclear disaster in Japan in the news, you may have been hearing more about iodine. One of the nasty radioactive particles common in nuclear disasters are two radioactive forms of iodine (iodine-131 and iodine-132) They are selectively taken up by the thyroid gland causing cases of thyroid cancer. If your thyroid is getting plenty of iodine that is not radioactive, the thyroid is protected from the radioactive forms. Thus there’s recently been a run of dietary iodine supplements.

But there’s another factor in the iodine/thyroid story. The thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are named because they have 3 or 4 iodine molecules attached. Without enough iodine, the thyroid molecules will be in short supply. Why does that matter? Well, many of the symptoms generally associated with getting older, are also symptoms of a low thyroid. For instance: weight gain, fatigue, low mood/depression, dry skin, dry hair, constipation, sensitivity to cold and cold hands and feet. The thyroid is the master hormone of all metabolic processes, so when it is low, everything is less than optimal.

More to the point, if you find yourself needing an afternoon nap, you might need some thyroid help. Falling asleep in the afternoon is NOT normal aging. It is pathology. If you think this might be an issue for you, email me for a comprehensive list of thyroid symptoms. (

In keeping with my health philosophy, (try cheap, non-toxic, might-help-strategies first) you might want to try supplementing with some iodine supplements first. Dr. John Briffa (from Britain) does a nutrition blog and a recent article reported here that 70% of teenage girls in the UK are deficient in iodine. You might be as well. And it probably is a good idea to supplement anyway, with all the ambient radiation in the world from our second Chernobyl.

I recently ran out of my iodine supplement (potassium iodide) and while waiting for a new supply I found that even in a week without it, I was colder—needing a jacket more—and falling asleep while reading in the afternoon. Those are not my normal states, and they disappeared when I took the supplement again. My recent supply came from a source found on and the brand is “Now.”
I mention that because it’s been hard to find.

One more point about thyroid hormones. T4 is the hormone made by the thyroid gland but T3 is the one that is biologically active within cells. The conversion of T4 to T3 requires an enzyme working within your liver. That enzyme requires adequate levels of selenium to do its job. So a low selenium levels can also make you hypo-thyroid.

If your hypothyroid symptoms do not abate with more iodine and/or selenium, getting your thyroid function checked by a doctor might be a good idea. Before you do however, read the following two articles for a better understanding of WHAT tests to ask for and what medication to demand if medication is needed. Getting an Rx of T4 is the normal treatment but if the conversion to T3 isn’t happening, your symptoms will not change.

I would like to hear your experiences. My own were pretty dramatic!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blood Sugar = Insulin = Chronic Inflammation = Disease

Even though much of this information is not generally available in the mainstream (your doctor may not be applying it yet) it is well established in the research and NOT controversial. I say that, because some things I talk about ARE controversial and I’ll generally let you know when it is. Today I want to lay out a logical progression of information that can make a huge difference—even if your doctor won’t or can't tell you.

Chronic inflammation is recognized as the initiator of virtually all disease states. Chronic inflammation changes both the architecture (physical structure) and biochemistry of cells and organ systems. Which cells and organs get damaged first is very individual. My arthritis, her breast cancer, his heart attack and their type II diabetes may all look like different diseases, but they all began with long term chronic inflammation that manifested differently in different bodies. Remember—this is not controversial, but well established information.

What causes chronic inflammation? The main thing I want to cover today is a dual partnership in your body—blood sugar and insulin. Another day I will talk about the Omega oil problems (ratio of Ω 3 vs. Ω 6 oils) that also contribute. Today is blood sugar.

Blood sugar is toxic and can kill you pretty quickly at high levels. One of insulin’s jobs is to get it down so you don’t die. Turns out that’s not really its main job, but sort of an emergency backup. We developed on a diet that had virtually no sugar in it, thus this emergency system rarely had to kick in. Turns out just a little can kill you, too.

Let me give you just a smattering of research on cancer—an inflammatory disease

A study that appeared in “Diabetes Care,” following participants for an average of eight years, reports this:

1) Overall, women with the highest blood sugar levels upon joining the study were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer before its end, compared with women with the lowest blood sugar levels. Also, cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer) was more common in women with the highest blood sugar levels, compared with those with the lowest blood sugar levels. Breast cancer was more common for women younger than 49 with high blood sugar levels, compared with those with the lowest blood sugar levels. The results held when researchers considered other factors, such as participants' weight and age.

2) A mouse model of human breast cancer demonstrated that tumors are sensitive to blood-glucose levels. Sixty-eight mice were injected with an aggressive strain of breast cancer, then fed diets to induce either high blood-sugar, normal blood sugar or low blood-sugar. There was a dose-dependent response. The lower the blood sugar, the greater the survival rate.

3) In a human study, 10 healthy people were assessed for fasting blood-glucose levels and the phagocytic index of neutrophils, which measures immune-cell ability to envelop and destroy invaders such as cancer. Eating 100 g carbohydrates from glucose, sucrose, honey and orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria.

4) A study of nearly 550,000 people in Europe showed that more blood sugar equals more cancer risk—even within the normal range. The subjects' average age was 45 years and they were followed for 10 years. Researchers "controlled for" other factors that also can affect cancer risk, including smoking and overweight/obesity. For men, each 18 point increase in blood sugar levels was associated with a 5% increased risk of getting cancer and a 15% higher risk of dying of cancer. For women, each 18 point increase in blood sugar was associated with an 11% increased risk of getting cancer and a 21% higher risk of dying of cancer. Blood sugar matters more for women!!!

Diabetes is at the far end of the continuum of the blood sugar/insulin partnership gone awry. In 2005 alone, 233,619 adults died of complications of diabetes. There is no cure for diabetes, and its damage can be severe, leading to heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and kidney problems. It’s also the number one cause of adult blindness and loss of limbs. If over 233,000 people died in plane crashes every year, they’d ground every plane in the nation. That’s almost a quarter of a million people! Every year!

Misery and death result from chronic inflammation, cost this nation billions in medical costs and are directly related to blood sugar and insulin.

If you are not yet convinced, do a simple google search for “insulin and chronic inflammation.” Here are a few cut and paste quotes from just a few:

• Insulin resistance is increasingly recognized as a chronic, low-level, inflammatory state.
• Insulin insensitivity, as directly measured, may be associated with inflammation
• Several decades ago scientists noticed that people with type 2 diabetes have overly active immune responses, leaving their bodies rife with inflammatory chemicals.
• Eating Inflammatory Foods Will Cause You To Have Chronic Inflammation And A Beer Belly
• Inflammatory foods are what most of us have in our cupboards. The current food pyramid promotes foods that cause inflammation by giving advice to eat lots of grains and cut out fat. The problem with that advice is, we have been following it for over 30 years now and we are not getting healthier. In fact most people are getting sicker.

Here are a couple youtube videos that have good information.

• Dr. Barry Sears blurb for for his book but very good info his books are worth a look, too!
• Good information by someone who is new to me, but I like what this video says

The upshot of all the above info is this: Sugar in your diet causes inflammation--inflammation makes you sick.

If you live in this culture you cannot help being bombarded with enticements and even “health” information to eat “whole grains.” With only a modest exposure to wellness info, you already know sugar can get you in trouble. But the grain thing is pervasive and intrusive and a big fat lie. No way are whole grains good for you if they raise blood sugar--and they do! Let me recommend again this website to check the glycemic load of what you eat

It’s the only place I know online to get the info easily and I use it daily. Glycemic load tells you how much blood sugar you get from a food and serving size—thus how much insulin. Ideal is to keep it all below 10 nearly all the time.

Glycemic load is additive. Double your serving size and you double the load. Eat two foods with a GL and you have to add the loads. Below 10 is healthy. Over 10 is inflammatory. Over 10 and you are increasing inflammation and your disease/unpleasant-aging risk. Here are some examples just to start you off.

NOTE: Only carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Meat does not. If you are a vegetarian, vegan or such, your blood sugar is taking a beating! Note the GL numbers for whole grains.

4.5 inch bagel 43 (killer)
yam 1 cup cubes 15
Subway roast beef 6" 17
1/8 piece apple pie (9") 32
Big mac 20
Mc donalds french fries 22
orange juice 9
4" pancake 6
1 TBS syrup 10
1 c cubed butternut sqsh 8
1 c cooked white grits 14
1 c whole wheat cereal 14
1 cup mashed potatoes 16
1 c med grain brown rice 22
1 c long grain white rice 24
1 cup milk--goat or cow 8
1 cup asparagus 4
1 c snow peas 5
1 c chopped broccoli 4
1 c spinach 3
4 oz chicken breast meat 0
4 oz salmon 0
4 oz roast beef 0
3 large eggs 0
1 cup cottage cheese 7
4 oz lamb 0
4 oz rainbow trout 0
4 oz hamurger 0
4 oz venison 0
4 oz port roast 0
1 cup cooked quinoa 18
1 cup cooked wild rice 16
1 cup cooked corn 12
1 cup cooked egg noodles 21

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The "Why Bother" of Health Stuff

I’ve been giving some thought to my self-appointed job here. That job is to inform folks about how to have a better middle and old age. I’m struggling a bit with knowing how to reach people. Why do I care? Well, I’m seeing too many people—even a lot of young people—who are less than vibrant, vigorous, energetic. There’s an attitude of acceptance about not feeling good. “It’s just part of aging.” “What can you expect? I’m ____” and they fill in an age. Or they look at an elderly person and say, “Well, after all she’s lasted a long time! So what if she’s forgetful.”

See, I don’t think so!!!! If there ever was a very elderly person in great health, vigor and energy who was doing lots of neat things, then that’s the human potential. I challenge the idea that aging means not feeling good, or being sick. That’s pathology. The normal is what I want to discover, and experience.

With this in mind, I did a little research. Look at these articles and videos.

Bill Burke is climbing Mt Everest for the second time this season. He is 69.

Ernestine Shepherd may be the oldest female body builder at 73, and she didn't start until she was 56.

Here’s the world's oldest ballroom dancer, at age 93

Elsie McLean golfs at Bidwell Park Golf Course in Chico, CA and has for decades. In 2007 she hit a hole in one! Elsie was then 102.

Perhaps the world's documented longest lived person was Jeanne Calment of France who lived to age 122

Oldest college graduate ever is Nola Ochs, age 95

Frank Shearer, of Washington state, 100 years old and still water skiing. Always active, he has recently added weight lifting.

This is our birthright. OK, I concede there are differences in genetics and such. But I’m setting out to demonstrate and to show it’s possible for this kind of longevity and physical vigor, heartiness and vitality!

The trouble is that I see a lot of people who don’t believe it matters and don't want to make changes. Admittedly, it takes some big ones. Admittedly, it tends to put you at odds with most of our culture—at least a bit. Really hurting or sick people seem to “get it” that it’s worth the effort. But the modestly ailing, or those with just a worn down feeling or mildly hurting do not see the correlation between lifestyle choices, what they’re eating and how they’re feeling.

Here are a couple more reasons I care about this stuff. The lifestyle choices and food choices people make don’t kill them today. What it all does is make them decline with more and more problems, pain and disease for the last 10 to 30 years of life. It’s awful to watch!

But also, that same decades-long decline makes the following statistics SHOUT that we have it all wrong: The US is 37th in health outcomes, with our life expectancy in 27th place, but we spend 53% more per person than any other country.

There’s a part of me that says, “So what! People can live their own lives any way they want.” But there’s another part of me that would like to see people feel better, live like some of those people in the articles and videos above, and oh, by the way, not bankrupt our country financially.

So I’m asking you, my readers if you have any ideas on how to connect how people feel and what they’re doing to themselves. What made you interested in a wellness adventure? What makes the effort it takes worth it for the possibility of vibrant health?