Thursday, November 16, 2017

Choose Less Sugar


I wrote a post about the harmful effects of sugar a few years ago. But with the holidays upon us, I think it's a good time to address this topic again.

Not only does sugar negatively affect the body in many different ways, but most people are seriously over-consuming sugar! 
Some form of added sugar is in almost every prepared or processed food these days. And most of these sugars are under various names you might not realize are actually sugar.

(See Dr. Mercola's article - https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/10/12/other-names-for-sugar.aspx for a long list of such names.)

Just how much sugar is too much?
"The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend limiting your daily added sugar intake to nine teaspoons (38 grams) for men, and six teaspoons (25 grams) for women. The limits for children range from three to six teaspoons (12 - 25 grams) per day, depending on age...and I strongly recommend limiting your daily fructose intake to 25 grams or less from all sources, including natural sources such as fruit—regardless of whether you’re male or female."

The reason these numbers are so important is because of how our bodies work.
"The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it...you can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day...the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day."

The human body is not made to handle the high amounts of sugar people eat today. That's why “sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease." 

Many people say, "Well, I don't eat much sugar." But when you ask a few more questions, you realize they are consuming a LOT more sugar than they realize. "Sugar" isn't just cookies or candy. It's in almost every processed food, like tomato sauce, salad dressing, crackers, etc. If you read every label and added up how many grams a day you're consuming, it would probably be well over the recommended amount.

The kind of sugar you consume is also important. High fructose corn syrup is probably the worst kind of sugar (see my previous post here). White table sugar runs a close second. However, things like fruit, honey, and even small amounts of real maple syrup have various health benefits - as long as they aren't over-consumed.

This time of year it seems like the sugar is flowing freely at every event and place you go. But I hope you'll consider what a gift you'll be giving your body, your health, and your loved ones if you watch out for sugar. 


Thursday, November 2, 2017

What Are Tonsils There For?

Do you still have your tonsils? Many years ago doctors starting removing tonsils from children who had frequent infections. So a lot of adults today are missing their tonsils. Tonsils are treated similar to the appendix - they're not essential, you can live without them. So if we can live without them, what are they there for? Good question, glad you asked. =)

The tonsils are actually lymph nodes that contain immune cell-produced antibodies that help kill germs and prevent infections. They are a key part of our body's defense. Here's a quote from an article by Dr. Axe -

"The tonsils are considered “guardians” since they’re a part of the immune system, specifically the lymphatic system, and are made up of tissue that acts as a natural germ filter. The tonsils are one of our first lines of defense, since they normally trap germs (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) that make their way into the mouth or nose and threaten the immune system.

They’re responsible for tackling threatening pathogens soon after they enter the body, stopping them from potentially traveling further into the body and causing infections. The production of germ-fighting antibodies is one of the most important roles for the tonsils, since these white blood cells attack bacteria that are deemed dangerous."
(from - https://draxe.com/tonsillitis/ )

As you can see your tonsils are actually quite important. Even though you can live without them, they serve a vital role in your overall health.

For those who have frequent throat infections, the answer may not be removing the tonsils, but focusing on improving the immune system. The tonsils can keep the infections from going to other parts of the body. Without your tonsils, you may still get infections, but they'll show up in other places in the body. 

When dealing with frequent infections, remember that many time when the tonsils are infected, it's actually from a virus, not a bacteria. So it's important to confirm the presence of a bacterial infection if antibiotics are prescribed as a treatment.

There are many natural remedies that can help fight throat infections. Various herbs, essential oils and supplements can help, for example: slippery elm and licorice root herbs, lemon and frankincense essential oils along with others, and vitamin C, garlic, and oregano. Of course what works best will depends on the person, what their body needs, and what the situation is. There are many good tools available. Find what seems to be helpful for you. You can read Dr. Axe's article (link above) for more information on fighting infections naturally.

If you've already had your tonsils removed, then you don't have that first line of defense in your throat. So it would be good to do things to boost your immune system and especially to keep good oral health, so that germs don't have a chance to get past the throat into some other area of the body.

Again, essential oils can be helpful for this. Rinsing your mouth and gargling with mild saltwater (using a good quality sea salt) can help, especially during times when germs are more prolific. Rinsing your mouth with coconut oil can also be good, although it can cause you to detox, so be cautious when starting that.

Obviously eating a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, staying hydrated, and taking care of yourself overall is important. And keeping your lymphatic system healthy is also key. You can do that through lymphatic massage, stretching, deep breathing, etc. Probiotics can also be helpful (when you find one that works well for you).

Your tonsils were designed by God for an important purpose. If you still have yours, I hope you'll appreciate them more after reading this. =) And if you don't have yours anymore, I hope you'll find some good ways to improve your immune and lymphatic systems.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Brain Detoxification


I learned something new today. Isn't that fun? :) (It's good for us to always keep learning!) 

I learned about the "glymphatic system." Have you ever heard of it? It's your brain's detoxification system, and it's pretty amazing! 

This system is similar to the lymphatic system in the body, but is unique to the brain (since the lymphatic system doesn't include the brain). 

During sleep this system is activated and "garbage" in the brain is removed. 

This is yet another reason why adequate and good quality sleep is so important! Without healthy sleep, the brain can't properly detoxify. 

Think of it like running the dishwasher at night while you sleep. When you wake up, the dishes are all clean and ready for another day of use. :) 

There's much more to the "glymphatic system" than my simple explanation, so here's a great article that I encourage you to read. 


And please remember that getting healthy sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. 


So on that note, I think I'll get some sleep now. Sweet dreams! :) 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Keep It Light

When life feels overwhelming, as it often does, we tend to be serious about everything. But even in the midst of great challenges, I think we still need moments to pause and let our hearts be light, even laugh out loud. I know sometimes that feels impossible or perhaps irreverent. Yet God reminds us that "the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).

So whether things are ok for you right now, or you're feeling crushed by trials, or you're somewhere in between...I hope you'll take a few minutes today to pause. To breathe. And to think about something that makes you laugh or brings you joy. Don't let hardships or pain consume you 24/7. Make a space once in a while for your heart to be light again.

Here's a little something to help you out today. Some classic comedy, though not exactly the healthy way to secure food. =) Enjoy, and let the gift of laughter be a "little vacation for your soul" as my friend says. =) 

God bless you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KQnA2U46JI

Friday, September 22, 2017

Reducing Stress

I'm sorry this post is a little late. Things have been a bit crazy for me lately, but God is good. With all I'm going through, I thought this post about dealing with stress was a good one to share again. I hope it's helpful for you too. =)

Tips for Dealing With Stress

Stress is a pretty hot topic these days, as it should be. It seems people have never been more stressed-out than they are now. In spite of modern "conveniences," for many people life has gotten more complicated, more frenzied, and more demanding. 
However, living with ongoing stress causes all kinds of health problems (such as heart disease, digestive problems, depression, autoimmune diseases, etc.). 
So what can we do to reduce stress? Here are a few tips:
Physically:
This specific kind of massage is excellent for de-stressing the body. It's a relaxing massage that also stimulates the body's natural healing processes. My massage therapist recommends having a lymphatic massage at least twice a month, or every week if possible.
2) Exercise
 Research clearly shows that regular exercise is necessary and beneficial for almost everyone.
(If you have a severe adrenal or thyroid condition, then it's often better not to exercise until the condition improves. For many months I didn't attempt exercise because it would have made my condition worse. Be sure to listen to your body and to your health provider so you know it's safe for you to begin exercising.) 
The kind of exercise that is best depends on each individual's condition and specific needs. For many people walking is the best exercise. Others can handle a more strenuous program. It's important to figure out what is best for where you are right now and then start!
Consistent exercise reduces stress in the body and boosts health in many other ways as well. 
 Most people don't breathe well. Taking a few minutes 2-3 times a day to practice deep breathing can help reduce stress in your body. 
You can do this standing (take a big breath in while raising your arms over your head, then slowly exhale while you lower your arms). Or you can do it while lying on your back (inhale deeply, filling first your diaphragm then your lungs with air, then exhale slowly). 
Also, when you're confronted with a stressful situation, form a habit of stopping to take a deep breath in and then releasing slowly. This will calm the stress reaction and help you think more clearly about how to respond.
Laughing actually shifts the body from a stress response to a relaxed state. (It has many other great benefits, including increasing endorphins, boosting the immune system, and giving your heart a workout). 
Dr. Don Colbert recommends 20 seconds of belly laughter 10 times a day. So find some comedy videos, read a joke book, or just laugh for no reason! You'll be glad you did. =) 
These four things are great for physically reducing stress in our bodies. 
Spiritually/Emotionally:
5) Prayer partner 
 Ask someone you know to be a weekly prayer partner. You can meet with them face to face or over the phone. Sharing your needs and requests with another person and then praying together can do wonders to reduce stress. 
God says to be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving to present our requests to Him. And He promises that His supernatural peace will guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:6-7). 
Even though we can do this on our own, I've found that having a prayer partner to share my requests and prayers with helps me tremendously.
6) Worship time
 If you haven't already, start a habit of spending at least 10 minutes a day simply worshiping God. 
It's great to sing along to praise music throughout the day. But it's even more vital to set aside a specific time with no agenda, no multi-tasking, and no distractions. Then you can focus on God - how great He is, how much He loves you, His faithfulness, etc. 
So get comfy on the couch, stand in your backyard, or hide in your closet if necessary, and spend some time singing praise to God and worshiping Him.
If you try this for a week, I think you'll be amazed at how much it brings down your stress level. As you focus intentionally on God, the cares and stress of this life gradually fade to their proper perspective. 
These two habits have wonderful potential to lower stress and enhance your spiritual/emotional health.
Practically:
7) Simplify
 - Your schedule
Most people are way too busy, resulting in feeling stressed out all the time. Pray over your schedule and see what activities or commitments you can cancel. Let God guide you in His plan for investing your time, then happily let go of the rest. =) 
 - Your environment 
We all have more stuff than we need. Take some time to find things you can give away, sell or throw away (or make a habit of reducing excess clutter little by little). Worrying about "stuff" causes unnecessary stress. Research shows that often people with fewer possessions are happier than those with much. So keep your "stuff" simple.
 - Your media intake
Today we're bombarded with media 24/7. With smart phones we're never "unplugged" from news, email, Facebook, blogs, etc. But this deluge of media actually adds stress. Take a realistic look at how much media you consume daily. Then find ways to cut back and allow yourself time off to breathe and enjoy some of life's simple pleasures. =) 
It takes effort to simplify and keep life simple, but the rewards of a more focused, less-stressed life and truly worth it! 
I hope these tips are helpful. What ideas would you like to add for dealing with stress?
 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Use Your Words


I've been thinking again about the power of our words. Words can be life-giving, or not. Thankfully we can use words in a positive way for our health, for our life, and for encouraging others.

Today I want to repost something I wrote a few years ago. I hope it's helpful, and I hope you are encouraged to speak words that bring life to you and to others! =) God bless.


I Hear What I Say


Several years ago a health professional told me to start saying "positive affirmations" every day, like:
"Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." 
I didn't see how that could possibly be true, and somehow it felt wrong to say it. So I never did. Even though that probably wasn't the best statement for me to use, it was a good idea to change the words I spoke. Eventually I discovered the powerful effect our words have on us, and I started to use them in a positive way.
The reality is that our brains hear what our mouths say. Every time we say something negative (even if it feels true) about physical symptoms or emotions of frustration, discouragement, etc...it only reinforces that negative idea in the brain and in the body. 
I had to learn to stop saying words that didn't contribute to good health, and instead practice saying words that promote healing and strengthening in my body.
I think the most powerful statements we can tell ourselves are the ones that begin with "I am...." 
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
- I am perfectly designed for a unique purpose.
- I am strong and healthy in every season. (This is one I've been using a lot lately.) 
- I am courageous and fearless! 
- I am calm and capable in any situation.
- I am happy, thankful and full of life! 
Other good statements to use begin with "I can" or "I love" -
- I can do this! I can handle this. I can enjoy this." (fill in whatever "this" is for you)
- I love my family! I love my house! I love my life! =)
Believe me, I know at first it can seem awkward to say things that may not "feel" true. But remember that words are a gift from God - to help us change! Our brains control everything in our bodies. If we want change in the body, we need to have change in the brain. And changing our words is probably the best way to make changes in our brains. 
When we tell ourselves positive truths, we are choosing to focus on those things over the negative things.

I'm not saying that you can tell yourself "I'm healthy" and all health challenges suddenly disappear. 

I am saying that negative words do NOT help in the healing process, but positive words DO. 
Think about the things you usually say to yourself, or that you say about yourself to others. Are those words reinforcing negativity in the brain? If so, consider what statements you can use to replace the negative ones.

Start with statements you're comfortable with, even if it's something like:
"I'm pressing on. I'm moving forward. I'm making progress."

Choose a statement with a positive direction for you and start using it.
Then gradually add in other statements and stretch yourself a little more.

- If you want to be thankful, even though you may not feel thankful, then start saying "I love to be thankful." Your brain will hear that new message and begin to change your attitude. 
- When you feel tempted to discouragement, say, "I can be happy!" 
- When you feel challenged, say, "I am capable in this situation."  

Think of it like a game and try to always find a positive statement for any challenging moment.

I can testify that changing our words is an essential step to take in the healing process. Our brains need to hear us say things that support health and well-being - because I hear what I say, and so do you!

So I'll get you started, ok? =)
You are wonderfully created by God for a unique purpose! 
You are loved more than you can imagine!
You are strong and courageous! 
And you can use positive words as a tool for healing! =)

Yes and amen.
Your turn! =) Please share in the comments one positive statement you will tell yourself this week. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Healthy Holidays

It's nice to have holidays to take a break from routine and celebrate things. It seems like some people are trying to get new holidays recognized for specific things now, like National Friendship Day or National Take Your Pet To Work Day. =)

I was thinking that it's about time we had some "healthy holidays" for those of us living a more health-conscious lifestyle. We need holidays we can celebrate heartily in a healthy way. =)

Maybe something like these...

National Adrenal Day - Eat some organic dark chocolate, take a nap and then go to bed early.

Be Kind To Your Pancreas Day - Celebration could include special sales on stevia, honey, and other white sugar alternatives, as well as swapping sugar-free recipes with friends. 

National Take Your Neighbor To The Health Food Store Day - Invite a neighbor out and teach them the joys and wonders of shopping at the local health food store. 

Happy Liver Day! - Have a detox bath, change your air purifier filters, and take your coworkers a green smoothie.

Off The Grid Day - A day to turn off cell phones, tablets, wireless, etc. and actually sit outside on the ground (for grounding), and enjoy face to face conversation with people.


What do you think? What kind of healthy holiday would you like to have and how would you celebrate it? Leave a comment with your ideas. =)