Tag Archives: detective

Feed Me Fast

brain (1)Fasting and Brain Fitness

In some cases we can learn about the root cause of chronic disease by looking at how our environment and lifestyle has changed in the last few hundred years.  On an evolutionary time scale of billions of years, a few hundred years is a very short time, and is not long enough for the body design to catch up with environmental changes.

For example in our previous two posts we noted how the body evolved (or was designed ) for continuously challenging movements in the quest for finding food , finding mates, seeking safety from predators and fighting off competitors, and how our current sedentary lifestyle is at odds with our body.

Another anomaly driven by evolutionarily recent changes in food production is the over-abundance of food.  Our ancestors were more likely to face food scarcity, and a feast-or-famine type of existence.  When food was scarce, our ancestors bodies smoothly switched from using glucose as fuel to using stored fat for energy. This means that they were more likely to mobilize reserves of body fat resulting in a higher fat-free mass.

Now the over-abundance of food combined with sedentary lifestyles has created an epidemic of obesity in which the global population of overweight and obese people exceeds that of under-weight people.  Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and emerging evidence suggests that it is also a risk factor for age related cognitive decline and possibly Alzheimer’s.  According to researchers like Mark Mattson (Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging)  and Bert Herring (Physician and Medical Writer), the root cause of the problem is not the excess storage of fat but rather, that the body needs fasting just like the muscles need exercise.

The idea of using fasting to improve health has existed for thousands of years as evidenced by the following quotes:

  • “Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the other three-quarters lives their doctor.” – Egyptian pyramid inscription, 3800 B.C.
  • “Fasting is the greatest remedy– the physician within.”  Philippus Paracelsus, one of the three fathers of Western medicine
  • “A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors.”  Mark Twain, in My Debut As a Literary Person.
  • “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”  Benjamin Franklin

There is evidence that fasting has positive effects on the whole body such as decreased inflammation, oxidative stress and asthma, increased insulin sensitivity and decreased risk of diabetes, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and increase in human growth hormone.

There is also evidence that fasting helps to improve cognitive function by stimulating the production of neurotrophic factors and can help prevent chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

According to Mark Mattson, the key to understanding how this works is to appreciate that our bodies have another mode of operation where energy is derived from fat metabolism (ketosis) rather than from glucose metabolism (glycolysis).  When we eat three meals a day our bodies never switch over to this powerful mode of operation, because it takes 10 to 12 hours of fasting before the bodies glycogen stores are used up.

Fat is the Wealth of the Body

Every-day-life analogies for these two modes of operation would be like work vs vacation  or like being employed vs unemployed.  When you are in work mode you  save cash for vacations or unexpected loss of income.   As you can see from this example,  each mode of operation  entails a different set of priorities and tasks.

Likewise, fat is the stored wealth of the body and the bodies priorities shift depending on whether it is storing wealth (glycolysis) or using it (ketosis).  Think of a short fast as a vacation mode for your body, while a longer fast may be more challenging (i.e. unemployment).

Mark Mattson promotes the idea that fasting is a challenge to the brain.  This challenge promotes adaptive stress responses and changes in the brain similar to what is seen with vigorous exercise or cognitively challenging stimuli.  This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.

Using our analogy, an unemployed person is challenged to learn new skills in order to compete for a new job.  Similarly the fasting brain responds to the challenge of acquiring more body wealth (fat), by generating neurotrophic factors that promote the development of new connections and that drive the transformation of stem cells into new brain cells in some regions of the brain.

The neurotrophic factor BDNF that is released during fasting also promotes the increase in the number of mitochondria inside cells.  Because mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells this increases the ability of neurons to grow and develop new connections.

How to Feed Your Brain Fast

Knowledge is power when properly applied, so what is the right way to incorporate fasting into your life.  Just like engaging in new physical activity it makes sense to discuss changes in lifestyle with your health care team.  Care must be taken if you have high calorie expenditure due to athletic endeavors, or if you are taking medications.

Fasting can generally be started by increasing the amount of time between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the subsequent day.  One could limit meals to an 8 hour window or less each day.  This is the approach that I have been using, although my window is currently more like 10 hours.

Another option is to skip the last meal of the day or the first meal of the day once or twice each week.  Just as an athlete must begin with light weights and progress to more difficult challenges in order to avoid injuries, so it is with fasting.  Learn more about it and proceed with caution in order to make sure the body is receiving its needed supply of nutrients.  It could be your ticket to a healthier you.



Excitement to Die For!

We are wired to seek excitement. So then how can it become toxic? Photo by William Cho. [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
There are some things in life that seem good enough to die for.  The excitement we feel in these moments is hard to resist.  In general our bodies are wired to create excitement when it comes to activities that trigger survival instincts.  This includes warfare, hunting, eating, sex and any permutation of these activities.  In our modern world these activities are often morphed into civilized forms such as sports, video games, surfing the web, music, cuisine, etc.  But if our bodies are designed to handle a certain amount of excitement, can too much excitement become toxic, killing you before your allotted time?

Welcome to the frontline of the battle for health where you come up against your nemesis,  herein named Excitotoxicity!

Like the song “Counting Stars” says,

“And I I I I feel something so right by doing the wrong thing
And I I I I feel something so wrong by doing the right thing

I could lie, couldn’t I, couldn’t I?
Every thing that kills me makes me feel alive.”

Sure some things may truly be worth dying for, but others are simply enemy snares that rope us in and pull us down slowly over time.  There are a whole slew of behaviors that fall in this category such as overeating, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, sexual addiction.  These are well known to every one, and should probably be considered excitotoxins, but the excitotoxin targeted in this post is “free glutamate”, a flavor enhancer added to our processed foods that has 129 different names on food labels and is possibly implicated in a whole host debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, and other forms of dementia.

The original free glutamate flavor enhancer developed in 1909 – MSG). Photo by Dynomat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
 An excitotoxin is a substance that can damage or kill nerve cells by over stimulating them (i.e. exciting them to death) .  Over 70 types of excitotoxins have been identified (i.e. glutamate, aspartame, sodium caseinate, etc.)many of which are added to our food supply in the form of flavor enhancers.  They sneak into our foods, hidden behind names such as yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, vegetable protein, textured protein, natural flavor, carrageenan, and anything hydrolyzed.  ( See some lists here and here).  MSG is sold directly to consumers packaged as Accent, Sazon Goya, Vetsin, Marmite and Ajinomoto.

The official designation of the FDA for flavor enhancers such as MSG is GRAS ( Generally recognized as safe).  However the FDA recognizes that following symptoms are possible after large doses of MSG:

“short-term, transient, and generally mild symptoms, such as headache, numbness, flushing, tingling, palpitations, and drowsiness”

It does not appear that the FDA has performed long-term studies of the cumulative effects over many years of eating foods with added excitotoxins, nor have they studied the long-term effects on specific vulnerable populations such as children,  the elderly, and people who are genetically predisposed to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.  A recent paper published May 2013 by Tadvi NA, et al., in the International Journal of Medical Research and Health Sciences titled “Excitotoxin: Their role in health and disease” concluded the following:

There is considerable evidence based research pertaining to the neurodegenerative effect of excitotoxins to the human brain. Yet the autonomous food regulating bodies like FDA refuse to recognize the immediate and long-term danger to the public caused by the use of such excitotoxic food additives. Thus only means of protecting oneself from such type of neurological damage is to consume only unprocessed, fresh, whole, organic foodstuffs.

Did you know that some of the drugs used to help Alzheimer’s patients (such as memantine or Namenda) work by blocking the effects of glutamate?

What it all boils down to is this:

You have to become the expert on your own health because something that doesn’t affect the majority of the people could be killing you or making you age prematurely.  You need to become your own health detective.

Overly exciting your brain cells with excitotoxins may cost you down the road! Photo by Michael Gil from Calgary, AB, Canada (Redline Excitement) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This process starts by carefully reading all the labels on the foods you buy and possibly rejecting foods that are amazingly , excitingly delicious.  Vitamin C may also help protect against the effects of exposure to excitotoxins.

Waterfall Eye

Photo of a healthy eye: by J-J-Rousseau (GFDL license via Wikimedia Commons).

It has been said that if you live long enough you will get cataracts! However, this doesn’t mean that we absolutely have to comply, since there is always hope of finding better ways to care for our eyes.  In this post we look at how you may be able to protect yourself from this problem looming in your future.

The word cataract comes from the Greek katarráktēs which means waterfall. Imagine standing behind a waterfall and looking out at the world and you will get an idea of what cataracts can do to your vision. The majority of cases are caused by aging and most surgeries are performed on people in their 70s and 80s, but recently there has been an increase in the number of cataract surgeries performed on younger people.

A human eye with a cataract. By Rakesh Ahuja, MD (Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons)

The most popular treatment for cataracts is lens replacement surgery featuring phacoemulsification that uses ultra-sound to breakdown the existing lens. It is a very delicate surgery because the 4-5 micron pouch around the lens called the capsule must be preserved to support the new plastic intraocular lens. Amazingly the whole procedure can usually be performed without the need for sutures because very small incisions (< 3 mm) are designed to close up immediately upon the removal of the tool.

As with all surgeries there is some risk of infection or other complications during the surgery and post surgery, so it may be a good idea to explore the alternatives with your eye doctor.  Before exploring alternative treatments, let’s look at how we may be able to prevent cataracts from forming in the first place.

Oxidative damage alters the proteins in the lens over time either directly or by damaging the DNA in the eye.  Glycation (sugar-coating) of the proteins in the lens may also cause them to become opaque.  Dr. Andrew Weil provides an online article full of recommendations for avoiding cataracts through proper diet rich in antioxidants.  He states the following:

“Both the lens of the eye and the aqueous humor contain protective enzymes that breakdown the damaged proteins that clump together and cause cataracts. Antioxidants keep these enzymes from being destroyed. Vitamin C, vitamin E (mainly tocopherols), glutathione, and a variety of carotenoids are present in lens tissue and in the fluid that surrounds it.”

Dr. Weil also mentions lutein and zeaxanthin and provides a list of foods that contain these antioxidants (mangoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, tomatoes and dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards, bok choy, egg yolk).  According to Dr. Weil there is good evidence that lutein helps protect against both cataracts and macular degeneration, two diseases that impair vision as we age.

In addition to aging and diet, other possible causes of cataracts are:

  1.  Exposure to excessive ultraviolet radiation
  2. Smoking, alcohol consumption
  3. High body mass index
  4. Diabetes
  5. Use of steroids such as prednisone, and certain medications
  6. Heavy metals
  7. Excessive exposure to RF radiation in the microwave range such as from cell towers, cell phones, WiFi, etc.

As you can see from the above list, it may make sense to use sunglasses that block UV (although DR. Edward Kondrot argues that some UV is necessary to prevent cataracts), improve health habits, lose weight, control sugar, and use landlines instead of cellphones when available.  I personally like to shut off the wireless router before going to bed at night and only turn it on during the day if it is needed.  I also make sure not to use the computer that is near the wireless router when the WiFi is enabled.   I notice that when I follow these simple precautions my eyes fare better during the day,  and I experience less insomnia and ear ringing at night.

Alternative Treatments for Cataracts

DR. Edward Kondrot, MD, MD(H), CCH, DHt,  has posted an educational video on YouTube regarding alternative treatments for cataracts that discusses the use of diet (70% raw living organic food / 30% organic but cooked), hydration, detoxification (chelation therapy), stress reduction, eye drops (Can C, Cineria maritima, Oclumed, DMSO/ascorbic acid/glutathione, EDTA), high dose vitamin C, laser therapy, light therapy, Infrared therapy, sunning the eye (closing eyes and allowing sunlight to penetrate the closed eye), and frequency specific microcurrent.   If you would like to learn more about these alternative treatments, feel free to watch this video and discuss it with your doctor.

Mainstream ophthalmologists do not appear to believe that cataracts can be reversed through alternative treatments.  For example in wikipedia we find the following:

“The Royal College of Ophthalmologists issued the following public statement about NAC as of August 2008:

The evidence for the effectiveness of N-acetyl carnosine eye drops is based on experience on a small number of cases carried out by a Russian researcher team [Babizhayev]. To date, the research has not been corroborated and the results replicated by others. The long-term effect is unknown. Unfortunately, the evidence to date does not support the ‘promising potential’ of this drug in cataract reversal. More robust data from well conducted clinical trials on adequate sample sizes will be required to support these claims of efficacy. Furthermore, we do not feel the evidence base for the safety is in any way sufficient to recommend its use in the short term. More research is needed.”[11]

However, there does appear to be clear evidence that an eye drop solution for cataracts may be on the horizon.  On July 22 of this year it was reported in Nature that the steroid lanosterol was used to eliminate naturally occurring cataracts in dogs.  This finding is also discussed in detail on the Science Alert website.  This is great news for those of us who are not looking forward to aging as currently practiced in the US.

We find that there is hope not only for prevention of cataracts but also for noninvasive cures.  And as Ben Franklin would say , “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  So if your doctor has told you that you have early signs of cataracts and that you will need surgery in a few years,  there is much you can do besides waiting.

Motion Commotion and Laughter

Playground fun at any age! Photograph by Jordi Payà from Barcelona, Catalonia via Wikimedia Commons

Movement may be one of our greatest allies in the quest for health and healing.  We all know that we should exercise to stay healthy, but beyond that there is growing evidence that intermittent movement is essential for health as well.  That is, exercise after long periods of inactivity may not reverse the effect of inactivity.  For example, Dr. Mercola recommends that ” a reasonable goal is to get up four times every hour or every 15 minutes while you are sitting.”

In particular, the combination of movement with play, fun and laughter may pack a huge healthy punch.  Research supports that laughter may have the following benefits:

  • improves your immune system and protects your heart
  • boost your energy
  • diminish pain
  • protect you from the damaging effects of stress.
  • helps increase happiness and intimacy

This means that we really need to rethink our work environments so that we can incorporate motion, play and laughter throughout the day as part of our daily lives, if we really want to achieve optimum health.

Stephen Jepson of “Never Leave the Play Ground” may be onto something, with his revolutionary  system for keeping his body healthy and fit as he ages.  He promotes the idea that we can stay healthier longer keeping our minds more youthful by reintroducing activity in the form of physically challenging games into our daily lives.  His technique includes games that improve balance and coordination, and it is clear that they also include a good dose of laughter.    Looks like it is time for us baby boomers to start creating more play grounds for adult sized bodies!

With regards to laughter, you may now be able to find laughter clubs, laughter yoga, or laughter therapy in your own neighborhood or one nearby.  For example, searching for “laughter yoga Providence” on google returns links to the Providence Laughter Club and The Center of Joy.

The future is pointing towards models of proactive health that tap into the hidden resources within our bodies and spirits that we can access to promote renewed vitality and youthfulness.

So when can we have our next play date?


Health and Hidden Complexity

20150429_113236After a long winter, Spring comes upon us like a form of resurrection!  If we slow down for a moment to experience the marvel of renewed life-force around us it will provide a wellspring of healing energy that is hidden but available to all of us.

20150429_113437In nature, that which seems simple is never as simple as it seems. Simplicity is a wonderful illusion but complexity is the underlying fortress upon which all is expressed. The sequence of photographs show Maple buds blooming in my front yard this morning.

20150429_113943In the 17 years that I have owned this tree I never stopped to watch it blooming.  I had no clue that this intricate orchestration was taking place every spring.

Now, when we are healthy, we take it all for granted and have not  a clue as to the marvelous orchestration required to keep our bodies ticking and disease-free.    Just like the buds of my Maple tree, our bodies orchestrate health in a microscopic symphony, even if nobody is watching or listening.

20150429_113731However, when we fail to watch and listen, we end up trampling upon the very buds of health that could strengthen us and perhaps set us free from the illnesses, and symptoms facing us.


20150429_160032Just like the simple looking Maple bud that contains a bouquet of tiny flowers, our bodies are chock-full of hidden marvels, that can surprise us when the time and conditions are right.  We can play an even more powerful role in fostering the proper time and conditions for health by developing strategies for behavior modification.

One resource that has helped me is a new book by Anne Marie Ludovici, MS, titled “Change Your Mind, Change Your Health”.  This book discusses 7 strategies for behavior modification intended to improve your health.  In chapter one of the book she introduces the reader to the Trans-Theoretical Model (TTM) of behavior change developed by Dr. James O. Prochaska and Dr. Carlo C. DiClemente.

20150429_161003I applied TTM to my Onychophagia (nail-biting) beginning on March 8, and also used the mySymptoms app to track symptoms / behaviors.  I began with an occurrence of up to 16 incidents related to Onychophagia in a single day (3/9/15) and now I am happy to report that I am down to zero incidences for today.   As you can see from the picture above after 53 years (my age), I finally have nails!

One of the most powerful insights I gained from TTM is that behavior modification has 6 stages:

  1. Pre-contemplation – no intention to change behavior
  2. Contemplation – intention to change in the future but not now
  3. Preparation – preparing to begin change this month
  4. Action –  behavior modification in progress within last 6 months
  5. Maintenance – sustaining the change for more than 6 months.
  6. Termination – sustaining the change for 5 years or more

This gives everyone a solid way to gauge their progress and to begin the journey even if you are not yet ready to change.  The book is full of ideas for building momentum in each stage so anyone can get started with updating their behaviors for improved health.

Believe it! The power of transformation is hidden within you! Take charge of your health by searching for and implementing new strategies and you may just be amazed !   And please feel free to share your strategies in the comments below.

Beauty to the Beholder

Amphrite and Manscape: Ceramic Artist Exhibit by Kathy Ruttenberg. Photo by Judith Knight. March 2015

What feeds your soul? What do you look upon that inspires and uplifts you? These are deep questions that I believe are important not only to our physical well being, but also to our mental health. You see in beholding, we become changed.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go to one of my favorite places in Rhode Island.   The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park in Providence.  It is the largest indoor public garden in New England.

I went with my family and a friend to the Botanica Ceramica: Large Scale Sculpture Under Glass featuring nine ceramic artists amidst the beautifully landscaped indoor greenhouses.  The  Ceramic Art exhibit is showing from March 12 through March 29.  Picture this:  Coming in from frigid 30 degree weather and walking into a warm, mildly humid temperature of 75 to 80 degrees.  A tropical paradise with numerous palms, tiki plants, various hostas, hydrangeas, and other ground cover strategically placed amidst the elements of natural light, water and sound.  The exhibits are tastefully placed amongst this verdure landscape.  Oh, talk about nature’s beauty meeting creativity.  It was truly heavenly.  It really spoke to my soul.

There is a spiritual element that speaks to the senses when beholding beauty amidst creativity.  A 2005 study with 211 respondents, (average age of 40) used a questionnaire to probe the link between perceived health and visiting favorite natural places.  “The change toward positive feelings was associated in particular with natural favourite places and relaxing in them. ”  The lushness of the tropical plants amidst the art displayed by various artists speaks to the mind and heart of the beholder.  Feeding our souls is just as important as feeding our stomachs when it comes to boosting our health.  Mental therapy for improving well-being can be found in naturally abundant settings.

I have been to the Botanical Center many times before: to read, pray, to do yoga, learn about herbs, and the Holiday in the Park event in December.  I would find any excuse to go, because I really loved the way I felt after I left this place.  I felt rejuvenated, inspired, uplifted and ready to face the world.  It really feeds my soul.

Now that I am a Botanical Center Conservancy member , I will be going more frequently by myself and with others to enjoy this beautiful place. You see the soul needs to be fed consistently and I plan to do just that!

Please share a place that feeds your soul and why.  Let’s start a conversation on feeding our souls with beautiful places!

Health Detective Stick: My Story

Detective Stick in her Sweet 16 dress

As a young teenage girl, while sitting at a piano in a church in Brooklyn,  New York,  for a piano lesson, another younger student after me commented about how I looked like a lollypop stick.  Somehow, the nickname “Stick” came about and stuck with me through most of my adolescent years.  It is a nickname I had come to enjoy since it was conceived in naiveté and friendship.   It is my pseudo name as a health detective: Detective Stick.

Growing up the youngest of three, in a single family home with an alcoholic father, I never truly realized the impact that trauma would have on my health.  I learned at 16 that I had Raynaud’s Syndrome/Phenomenon.

The diagnosis came about as a result of symptoms I was experiencing such as severely cold fingers, poor circulation and a serious infection to a cut on my right middle finger.  It was so severe that the finger tip became black.  Thankfully, with the help of a family friend, I was taught to treat it by soaking the finger tip in hydrogen peroxide to kill the infection.  After many weeks, the finger began to heal.

I realized the importance of avoiding cuts and becoming proactive with my health.  I needed to dress in layers during the winter months, wear mittens, and began doing aerobics consistently.  During the other seasons, I realized I had to carry a sweater and be wary of a place that was overly cold due to air conditioning, as this triggers the same response as during the cold winter months.  Coincidently, even opening the freezer or shopping at the freezer section of the supermarket can trigger the same reaction.

LAPD Detective Badge Public Domain

This began my journey as a health detective, searching diligently for the causes and triggers of personal ailments.  Admittedly, at the time I did not realize that I was fulfilling a role that our system of health care in the US  mysteriously leaves empty.    Our health care system rushes to treat symptoms, often completely ignoring the causes and triggers of our illnesses.  This approach to health will only change if we  become health detectives searching out cause-and-effect clues to our health.  As health detectives the skills needed are observation,  finding clues and putting them together to solve the given problem.

I knew how much I loved music and dancing, so I started working out during high school.  I would even meet up with two friends, who were sisters.  At the crack of dawn, 2-3 days a week we would meet to walk a few miles before school started.  I was determined to become healthier but it was a process for sure.

My experience with Raynaud’s, related to childhood trauma and ensuing stress, suppressed feelings and eventual depression, would take me on a journey that included:

  • Learning to pay attention to my body and what it was trying to tell me (observation).
  • Learning to detect triggers of Raynaud’s (finding the clues).
  • Learning to prevent the triggers through lifestyle management using positive coping mechanisms (solving the problem).  

I soon realized if I did not follow this approach, I could not survive, let alone thrive, as I now do.

This is my journey as Health Detective Stick.  I invite you to come along as I share my story with you, and also welcome your comments.

The Journey of a Health Detective

20150202_185535My friend, whom I’ll call Mary, has had colon cancer for 10 years.  Her symptoms prior to diagnosis included: bloating, heart burn, and about 10 lbs of weight loss.   All this time prior to her diagnosis, Mary was thinking that she was: ” just busy at work.”  You see, Mary is a registered nurse by profession.  She was diagnosed during a routine exam and colonoscopy in 2005.

Two tumors were found on both ends of her colon which doctors performed surgery to resect.  Six months later, a small mass was seen on her liver.  In 2006, Mary underwent a resection of 60% of her liver.

Mary worked until 2011 after more than 5 chemotherapy treatments, numerous CAT scans and PET scans, two liver ablations, and radiation therapy.   Then she underwent a liver embolization  in 2013.   After enduring all of these treatments she became tired of the debilitating side effects such as:

  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) causing a sensation of tingling (“burns”) and feels like “sand in between your toes”
  •  Her kidneys are now only functioning at 50% capacity
  • She now has Gout (verified via blood work).

Mary had learned about a non-toxic treatment for cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases named the  Gerson Therapy  through the recommendation of a chiropractor.  The Gerson Therapy is a natural treatment that claims to activate the body’s extraordinary ability to heal itself through an organic, plant-based diet, raw juices, coffee enemas and natural supplements.

Providentially in 2012, through the kindness of a friend, she was able to attend a week-long Gerson Therapy retreat.  Mary’s 
Gerson Therapy
included: all raw organic fruits and vegetables, juices, no fiber, yoga, meditation, and coffee enemas as part of the alternative treatment plan, plus 7 supplements. While completing the Gerson Therapy in Arizona, for a week, she lost 13 lbs.  Since then she has continued this treatment at her home.

Rather than proceeding with additional radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatments recommended by her doctors, Mary decided that she would give the Gerson Therapy more time.  This was not an easy decision, but given the intensity of the side effects from conventional treatments she felt she had to make her own decision.

Today, Mary looks stunning, stylish and poised as I have always come to know her.  A person of faith and living in hope. You would never guess in a million years that she has cancer.  While interviewing Mary, I asked her about her decision to discontinue conventional treatment.  She shared with me that she is satisfied with her decision to continue alternative treatment using the Gerson Therapy.    Although the remaining tumors in her liver have not been eliminated they appear to be in suspended animation in the sense that they have not continued to grow.

Mary emphasizes that, “You don’t want to wait till you get sick.” If she can help someone else to avoid what she has gone through, then it would have been worth it for her. In essence, Mary has become her own Health Detective.   As a nurse and cancer survivor, it is important for her to encourage others to be screened and become proactive with their health.  As a Health Detective she has taken her health back into her own hands and is living the journey with courage, determination and faith.

Salud! Cheers!

New Year's Toast
New Year’s Toast By demi via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Every new year brings with it the hopes and heartaches of the previous year.  It is with great anticipation, enthusiasm and passion for something better, that the yearly resolution is birthed. The promise to self-improve upon ones life. Such areas often include health, weight loss, budgeting, and getting out of debt, to name a few common resolutions.

However, often by mid February the urge to continue with such impetus may wane.  Often times many lose focus, heart, and everything but the kitchen sink, to continue on the path of self-improvement.  It is often felt as, “being stuck in quicksand.” The very thing that was hoped, may be looked upon as a curse or waste of time that is “dragging you down.”  So what changed? Why the reverse thought process?

Many times, I believe, one becomes the enemy that is ready to destroy the very attempt to improve. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” By this I mean, that our attitudes play a vital role, in determining whether one fails or succeeds. The power of a positive, balanced and healthy attitude can help to fuel progress and steady the focus to continue improving successfully.  Having a plan in place by setting realistic goals and garnering support from loving family and friends who will cheer you on, and encourage you. This attitude along with realistic goals is what motivates to continue resolutions despite obstacles.  For no doubt obstacles will abound. That is a guarantee with any resolution. However, it is how one responds to counter them that will ensure steady progress.

Setting attainable goals is one way to achieve your resolutions.  Signing up for a new class at the Y can help to keep you accountable.   Cheers!

In a recent Entrepreneur Magazine blog post, 4 TED talks were highlighted to help motivate you in keeping your new year’s resolutions.   These talks provide insightful strategies, such as Emily Balcetis’ research on the power of “keeping your eyes on the prize”, David Steindl -Rast’s “stop, look and go” strategy to being grateful and mindful in the moment and Carol Dweck’s research on the power of living in the “not yet”.

In response to this I say: “Salud!” which is the Spanish way of saying “Cheers!”, when one is toasting amongst family and friends, amid the clanking and clinking of the wine glasses.  In Spanish, “Salud” also means: “good health.”  This is my wish for you, both now and throughout 2015.

Huggly For Health

The idea for the  Huggly Formulation came during the night seven days ago.   After working on the question of scarcity and abundance in natural economies during the previous day, my altered state of sleep hit upon a solution in the form of The Huggly Formulation.

The Huggly Formulation for Abundant Health

Alaska visit
Group hug! By English: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen [Public domain1], via Wikimedia Commons
In natural economies (such as the human body made up of trillions of individual cells) the fruit of production (i.e health) exists in abundance when the following five principles interact:

  • Harmonious orchestration of 7 fundamental virtues (i.e. Compassion, Faith, Truth, Justice, Security, Abundance and Joy).  This harmonious orchestration of virtues is the essence of Love.
  • Generation, preservation and celebration of diversity – continuous creation is the is the object of health.
  •  Invisible abundance supports visible abundance – natural abundance and health exist on many scales.  For example there are 100 billion neurons in the brain,  100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and 100 billion galaxies in the universe.
  • The “whole” is always greater than the “sum of the parts”
  • Each individual voice must be heard and each individual must be free.
Why “Huggly”

Other than the fact that it was recommended in a dream, the word huggly is used because it merges three other words – hug, snuggle and ugly.    The analogy is that a hug or snuggle are positive outcomes if the timing, duration and intensity are properly orchestrated.  If the hug is too intense or the timing and duration incorrect, things can turn ugly.  The same is true for all virtues relating to health.  They must be properly orchestrated to maximize positive outcomes, and prevent negative excess or scarcity.  For example:

  1. Faith without Truth is bankrupt – if you invest in a vision of the future that cannot come to fruition then your investment is lost.
  2. Compassion without Justice is incomplete – true compassion seeks correction and healing.
  3.  Security or Abundance without Joy is empty – the intangible joy is what makes life worthwhile.
  4. Joy without Compassion could be considered cruel.
Strands twisted into rope. By Nevit Dilmen – GNU Free Documentation License

Like a rope with 7 strands, the 7 virtues need to be twisted together, hugging each other tightly in a septuple balanced helix for maximum health.  This spiral analogy keeps all the virtues in check, and represents the Huggly Formulation.

The Orchestration of a Healthy Memory

In a wonderful example of the role of orchestration on health published by CNN this week, Dr. Dale Bredesen, Director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, was able to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 patients that participated in his pilot study.

Dr. Bredesen used a protocol that targets 36 sources of deficiency, imbalance and inflammation that  contribute to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  According to the CNN article, “Bredesen said that most of the study participants had between 10 and 24 problems that needed correcting.”  The article goes on to state that,

“The effect of focusing on so many targets at once runs counter to what Bredesen said is a prevailing — and flawed — notion of identifying single targets to treat a disease caused by many factors.”

This exciting research brings hope to many who are suffering from dementia, and points to a new development in medicine whereby early Alzheimer’s may be treated by personalized health matrices that include

  1. Low glycemic, low grain, anti-inflamatory diets
  2. 30 to 60 minutes of exercise 4 to 6 days per week
  3. 12 hours a day of fasting between dinner and breakfast and at least 3 hours between dinner and bedtime
  4. Prebiotics to nourish good GI bacteria and probiotics to replenish healthy bacteria
  5. Stress reduction through yoga, meditation or music
  6. 8 hours of sleep per night and the possible use of melatonin and tryptophan
  7. Brain stimulation through the use of interactive software from companies such Posit Science.
  8. Chelation for heavy metal toxicity
  9. Ensure nocturnal oxygenation and treat sleep apnea
  10. Hormone supplements if needed to improve hormone balance
  11. Other supplements such a vitamin D3, K2 (see the full protocol in Table 1 of this link)

Although the specific protocol used by Dr. Bredesen should only be used under a doctor’s supervision, we can see that many elements of the protocol point to the importance of understanding how to properly orchestrate a balanced and virtuous lifestyle.

The Huggly Formulation provides a high level template that may serve as a scaffold  for designing and understanding complete lifestyle orchestration for maximum health.

Stay tuned for future posts on The Huggly Formulation.

Don’t forget to stay huggly, and have a merry Christmas!