Saturday, July 30, 2005

Using Water to Relieve Joint Pain

Joint Pain, and How Water Can Help

Your body is an amazing thing. From a circulatory standpoint, it’s a river of water, always moving, flowing, and cleansing and refreshing the organs and tissues and cells.

We tend to think of bones and joints as though they were hard, inanimate things. But that’s not true. They are living and growing parts of your body, just as much as anything else.

Most of us have joint pain from time to time. It may be something simple, like a minor pain in the knee, or something as excruciating as a pulled muscle in the back. Sometimes we know what caused it (maybe a little too much strenuous exercise when we weren’t quite used to it) but often we have no idea what caused the pain that we’re suffering from.

What we don’t realize is that poisons can accumulate in joints and joint tissues, and cause pain and inflammation. When we’re having unexplained joint pain, it’s important to make sure the body can get rid of that poison. Water can do that for you. Make use of it.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Using Water to Help Quit Smoking

Stopping smoking is not easy. Ask anyone who has quit. And the problem is that once you’ve quit, you’re not over it! The craving continues: some folks who have been quit for 15 years say they would still like to have one.

But since you’re reading this section, I’m guessing you know all of this. Because if you didn’t smoke, you would have probably skipped over it. And you’re thinking, “I know it’s hard to quit -- just give me something that will help me quit!”

The good news is that water will also help you get over some of the tough cravings ... especially the first few days and weeks after you’ve quit.

The longer you’ve been smoking, the more your body has become accustomed to nicotine, which is a powerful drug. Part of the difficulty with stopping smoking is that the body is still craving it. But the flip side to quitting is that you’re body is getting rid of some powerful toxins. That’s the cause of the headaches a lot of folks have in the days and weeks after they’ve quit.

Water -- lots and lots of water -- helps the body to get rid of those poisons, and allows your tissues and organs to regenerate themselves. When you’re quitting smoking, it’s not unreasonable to think that you might want to double your water intake. That’s right -- if you’re normally going to be drinking 20 glasses a day, drink 40 instead.

Now 40 glasses is a lot of water, and you may find it difficult to drink that much. That’s OK, but it wouldn’t hurt to aim that high. Just keep drinking a lot, and allow your body to get healthy again. Use those cigarette cravings as an opportunity to have another glass of water. If you slip, and have a cigarette, don’t beat yourself up. Just immediately drink 5 or 6 glasses of water to flush out the new toxins, and get right back into your new habit of not smoking.

And whatever you do, don’t give up! You’re too valuable to lose to tobacco!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Water and Weight Loss

Weight Loss and Water: A Way to Make Your Body Shed Pounds Fast and Keep Them Off!

Almost everyone reading this -- even the skinniest -- think they should lose weight. And Americans are almost obsessed with weight loss. We think about it, read about it, talk about and -- most important for marketing folks -- we spend a lot on it!

First off, perhaps we would all be better off if we got some perspective. Many of us are measuring ourselves against the latest hunk or model (choose your gender) we see on TV on in the magazines. What we don’t remind ourselves is that looking like that requires lots of work. Many of these beautiful people spend hours a day looking that good. They are also often assisted by trainers, cosmetics people, and photographers. Yes, photographers. It is a shocking thing to meet some of the beautiful people in person. While they are still beautiful, their beauty is, well, a little less spectacular. And that’s because wonders can be done with cameras, depending on the angle of the shot, the lighting, and a myriad of other factors. Not to mention what can be done with a computer now.

The point I’m saying is to ease up on yourself. Losing weight is difficult enough without measuring yourself against someone. Measure against yourself, and you’ll have plenty of work to do.

In a rich society (and that’s us, folks: measured against much of the rest of the world, and against the rest of history, anyone who has a home and food -- not to mention all the rest of what we have -- is rich) we do not have to worry about food. We know that there will be food to eat, at least 3 meals a day, and usually more. And part of the problem is that we never get hungry.

I’m not suggesting that there’s some good in real famine-type hunger. That’s a real, live tragedy. But we go through our lives eating before we’ve had a chance to feel any hunger pangs. We don’t know what it feels like to have real hunger. We just keep eating.

It’s an interesting experience to go through a day, and only eat when we’re really hungry. If we really did that, most of us would eat a great deal less than we do now. But eating is not just for nourishment: it’s a time to talk, to get together with those we love, and to relax.

Given the chance, the body will tell us when we need something. That’s hunger pangs. And the body will also tell us when we need water. That’s thirst.

The problem is that we are not good at noticing thirst. And most people’s thirst signals become weaker as they get older. And when our body is thirsty, we tend to read that as hunger. And rather than getting a glass of water, we eat a donut. And the weight starts creeping up.

Your regular, 20 glass a day routine is the way to start losing weight. Weight loss with water is not some kind of miracle, 10-pounds-a-week kind of cure. But you will lose weight on this regimen. And you will feel and look better to boot.

The other part of the problem is that dieting makes us feel deprived. And we resent that. And probably should. So stop dieting. Now. Make a vow to yourself: I will never diet again. I will eat as much as I want.

Of course, this is a little trick on your mind. But it works. And this is the way to start losing that weight.

Keep drinking water regularly. And when your body starts telling you (or you think it’s telling you), “I want a snack,” then trick. Drink a large glass of water. If you want it to be a special treat, make it iced, or drink it with a slice of lemon. (The lemon has no calories, in case you are wondering). But as you’re drinking, just remind yourself that you can have as much as you want ... you’re just postponing it a bit. When that glass is done, drink another. Then wait. Just 15 minutes.

What water does is first to give your body the water it needs, in case you’re getting a false hunger signal. But it also fills the stomach, and really does make you less hungry.

15 minutes before eating a meal, do the same thing. 2 glasses of water. Every time you’re tempted to have a snack, do this. You will be astonished that something this good for you can also help you lose those pounds you want to get rid of. But it works. And your body -- not just your waistline -- will thank you for it.

Another trick is to use “water rich” foods to help lose weight. By water rich, I mean foods that have a high percentage of water naturally. Such foods will almost always be lower in calories than other foods, and will help you fight the battle of the waistline.

What are some of the foods that fit into the water rich arena? Well, soups are the first one that we should think of, because they are a potent weapon in your weight loss arsenal.

It’s important to remember that soups are not always low in calories. Some -- such as butter and cream laden bisques and other such -- can actually be quite high in calories. Beware, as well, of “cream of whatever” soups. Not that there’s something inherently wrong with them, but they are probably not what you are looking for to lose weight.

The easiest rule to remember will also prove the most helpful. For our purposes here, the soups to look for are the ones you can look through. By that, I mean clear soups such as broth or broth based soups.

Here’s an example. Let’s say friends at work have talked you into going out to a Chinese buffet for lunch. (The reason I give this example is that it’s a vice I fall into once or twice a month!) At a buffet, there’s nothing but your conscience to stop you from eating whatever you want, and all set out in front of you are all kinds of calorie filled goodies. So, what’s to stop you from putting on 2 pounds in 30 minutes?

Soup. Again, remember, you’re not dieting. You’re never going to diet again. You can -- in theory -- eat whatever you want. But before you get a plate of anything, get a bowl of clear soup. Maybe the buffet has chicken broth or wonton soup or some other clear soup. Get a big bowl-full, and enjoy it.

I’m also assuming that you have had your pre-meal water. For a special treat, you might want to trade your water for Chinese tea. But drink a couple of cups of tea, eat your soup, and now you can face the buffet with a clear conscience ... and with an edge taken off your appetite.

Or let’s say you’re at home, and the dinner you’re planning is good -- but high calorie. How are you going to ensure that you don’t eat too much and regret it later? Again, plan a soup before the main course. Broth is always a good -- and elegant -- way to start a meal. But your clear soup idea can be dressed up quite well and made elegant, or you can dressed it down, and enjoy something hearty that’s also nutrient filled. Here’s a good one to try for a hearty and healthy winter day.

Hearty Winter Vegetable Soup (But OK for summer, too...)

1. Before starting, chop an onion into small pieces. Dice a piece of garlic up as well.

2. Heat a big soup pot over medium heat. When the surface is heated, pour in a tablespoon of olive oil.

3. Spread the oil over the surface. Add a few red pepper flakes, and half a teaspoon each of oregano and basil.

4. Add the onion. Turn the heat down to low, and cook until the onion is soft.

5. In the meantime, chop a carrot and 2 stalks of celery. When the onion is soft, add the carrot and celery to the onions, and cook until their color turns bright.

6. While that’s cooking, open a can of tomatoes, and chop them up in the can. (Just put a knife in the can, and slice them up. Trust me, it works).

7. Add the tomatoes, and simmer a few minutes.

8. Now, add some water. However much is up to you ... depends on how thin or thick you like your soup. If you like, throw in a chicken broth cube to add some flavor.

9. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to your taste. If you like, throw in some leftover rice to enrich the soup.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Using Water to get Glowing, Vibrant Skin

I’ve mentioned your skin’s need for water before, but it’s such an important topic that it deserves a section all its own.

We sometimes forget our skin -- until something goes wrong! Your skin is the largest organ of your body. The skin protects us from infections, guards us against harmful effects of the sun’s rays, and helps to regulate our body temperature.

But what most of us think about with the skin is how it looks. All of us have seen those with unhealthy skin or complexions. Their skin has a sallow look, pasty, or drawn. It’s not a pretty sight.

And, of course, what the skin needs is moisture. When the body is inadequately hydrated, there’s not enough moisture in the skin tissues, and that can contribute to the drawn and haggard look so many have.

The skin also needs hydration to clean the body of toxins. Your body is constantly in contact with things that are not good for us. Those things can come from the food we eat, the air we breathe, and things we come into contact with by touching. (And in some places in the world -- thankfully not usually in North America! -- even water itself can bring in those toxins).

The simplest way the body gets rid of toxins is through washing. Washing your hands is probably the very best thing you can do to prevent infections, whether your own or someone else’s. Bathing or showering (and shampooing) also get rid of toxic materials our bodies don’t need.

But the cleaning works internally, too. Water courses through your body, a never-ending stream flushing out harmful substances. And if there’s not enough of that water, your body itself can become polluted, something like a river in a time of drought, when there’s just not enough water to clean out all the junk.

Your body can operate like that, too. Because there’s not enough fluid to clean out the toxins, they accumulate in the body’s tissues. The whole body can start to act sluggish, but the place where we see it first is in our skin. And while we are quick to put on lotions and skin treatments, the primary and most important “skin treatment” you can use comes in a glass -- and it’s available from the tap!

Again, the most important means of taking care of your skin is our regular, 20 glasses a day water plan. Keep drinking on a regular basis. You will find that it becomes a wonderful habit very quickly, and you come to miss it if you’re separated from a water source for very long.

Prevention is of first importance, but if you find you’ve been exposed to something toxic (such as secondhand smoke), first wipe your face with cool (not cold) tap water, and then drink a couple of glasses of water right away. You want to give your body a chance to get rid of the toxins right away, and there’s no better way than water.

You may also notice times when your skin looks drawn or haggard, even when you’re drinking enough (or at least think you are!) In most of these cases, what has happened is that you have become busy or pre-occupied, and haven’t been drinking enough. Whatever the reason, start pumping the water right away. You will even find that water will help you to look better if you’ve temporarily not had enough sleep. If you have to miss a few hour’s sleep (or even a whole night) really load up on the water. It will make you feel better and look better until you can catch up on sleep.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Using Water to Make Your Hair Beautiful

We tend to think of hair problems as being an external thing.

In other words, we think that if we only wash with the right shampoo, condition with the right conditioner, or whatever, our hair will be beautiful. If only it were that easy!

The secret to luscious, beautiful hair is internal. In other words, it’s what you put in your body that determines 90% of what your hair will look like.

Hair grows out of the scalp, which is part of your skin. And when your skin is healthy, most of your hair problems are taken care of.

A regular hydration program (our “20 glasses of water a day” in addition to the other liquids you’re drinking) helps to keep the body free of toxins and other waste products. When the body is not getting enough water, poisons can accumulate in your system. Even if those poisons are not enough to cause you to be noticeably sick (although I would argue that you still won’t be as optimally, vibrantly healthy as you could be) they can still cause your skin, hair, and complexion to be not as beautiful as they could be. So, get going on your water program today!

It’s especially important to maintain a large amount of fluids during warm weather, when your body will secrete a larger than average amount in sweat. And if you’re going to be out in the sun, bring a water bottle along! It sounds elementary, but it’s something that’s easy to neglect, and you’ll neither feel your best, nor look your best if you do.

But I wouldn’t want you to neglect the external uses of water for your hair as well. Water cleans the daily grit and grime from the hair. It especially cleans the pores and follicles of the scalp, enabling them to “breathe.” And again, during warm weather, you might want to wash your hair more frequently. That goes double for times when you’re out in the sun, or when you’re exposed to a lot of salt water at the beach.

If salt is allowed to accumulate in the hair, it will leave the hair looking lifeless and dowdy. Remember what I said earlier about washing. Water is the primary ingredient for washing. Soaps and shampoos can help, but water is what you need the most, and you should be liberal in your use of it. If you’re on the beach, and there’s a public shower, for example, rinse your hair frequently. You don’t have to always use shampoo -- just make sure you rinse it well! (The same goes for any time you use shampoo: make certain all of the shampoo gets rinsed out).

The shampoo you use should be gentle and easy on the hair. Baby shampoos can be good at such times, because they are obviously designed to be less harsh than some adult shampoos. The primary thing you’re looking for is a very gentle soap to remove dirt you’ve got in your hair.

Conditioners can be useful in helping to revitalize the hair, too. They are especially useful when the hair has been damaged. Damage can come from a lot of factors. Prolonged exposure to the sun can be a biggie. But coloring the hair can do it, too, as well as other chemical exposure.

There are many conditioners to choose from, but one of the simplest and gentlest on the hair is plain vinegar. Before you think I’m nuts, give it a try. The process is easy.

After washing your hair, and thoroughly removing rinsing out any shampoo, pour over your hair a mixture of 1/4 cup of white or apple cider vinegar and 3/4 cup of warm water. (The vinegar should be pure vinegar, without additives. If it’s food grade vinegar, it’s fine to use for this). A warning: close your eyes tightly before pouring this over your hair. While it won’t really hurt your eyes, they will sting if it gets in them.

After putting the mixture into the hair, massage it into your scalp. Then rinse it all out. Your hair will be bright and lively, and will feel wonderful.

The important thing to remember, though, is the water. Make use of it. And your hair will thank you for it.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Problem Nobody Talks About, and How Water Can Make You Not Have to Talk About It!

Everyone jokes about constipation, but it’s no joke if you’re the one suffering from it. And “suffering” is the right word for it! It’s a miserable feeling. You may feel bloated, sluggish, and often you’ll have a low-grade headache. But perhaps we can make that feeling no more than a memory.

Constipation is, simply put, an inability to move your bowels. The body is designed so that waste products will move quickly through the system, and out of the body. Although several things can be the cause of it, the root cause is a lack of moisture in your digestive system, and water is the primary cure for that.

The best way to deal with constipation is to prevent it. And a regular system of getting water into your body is the best way to practice prevention.

Most conventional medical advice is that there is no “normal” routine for the human body to have bowel movements. Some will tell you with a straight face that “for some people” it’s normal to have a bowel movement every 3 or 4 days.

And while I agree that our systems will vary widely in their “normality” it is not normal to go for days without a bowel movement. Your body is taking in food several times a day. It just makes sense that your body will also need to get rid of waste products at least once a day.

There’s no need to become greatly concerned if you go a day without a bowel movement. But if skipping days becomes a routine, you might want to step up your prevention program -- especially if you start feeling lousy.

Prevention starts off in the morning. During the night, your body has been fasting -- on an involuntary basis! Unless you are in the habit of eating a midnight snack, your body will often have gone without food for 7 or 8 or more hours.

During that time, your digestive system has been resting -- like the rest of your body. And you should give it the chance to rest! If you’ve ever eaten a large meal, and then quickly gone to bed, you know it’s not a recipe for a good night’s sleep. Most people sleep poorly and restlessly after a large meal, because the digestive system’s having to do a lot of work. And digestion is hard work.

When you awaken in the morning, immediately drink 2 to 3 glasses of lukewarm tap water. This is not the time to have ice water. You don’t want to slow your body down, and that’s what cold does. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water first thing in the morning, you might try adding something to perk it up -- a twist of lemon is a good water pick-me-up.

After drinking your water, do not sit down. Remain standing. This is the time to read the newspaper, empty the dishwasher, or whatever. Just remain in an upright, standing position. You see, chairs are not the optimal position for the human body. All of your digestive organs get scrunched together. Until a few hundred years ago, chairs were not common, and people traditionally stood or squatted in most situations. Now, I don’t think I’m going to get you to give up your chairs, but at least for the first 30 minutes of so of the day, pretend you don’t have a chair, and give your body a chance to work without being scrunched up.

After 15 minutes, drink another 2 or 3 glasses of water. Your body will be working to get the digestive system kicking back in. A side benefit is that you will find yourself waking up much faster than you have in the past. Part of the grogginess most of us feel is simply a side-effect of dehydration.

For most people, your bowels will move after the second couple of glasses of water. If they haven’t, don’t worry about it ... it will happen later in the day as you continue drinking water. Remember, aim for drinking 20 glasses of water every day. As you get into that regular habit, you will find that constipation will take care of itself.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Diarrhea: Using Water to Get to the Root of the Problem

Diarrhea (like constipation, which I’ll soon) is one of those embarrassing problems that most people don’t like to talk about, but which we all suffer from from time to time. And diarrhea is not only a problem because of the discomfort it brings (which can be considerable) but also because of the damage that prolonged diarrhea can cause.

The damage I’m talking about is that in diarrhea your body loses minerals: particularly potassium. And while a day or 2 of the problem won’t cause any long-term damage, prolonged diarrhea can leave your body depleted of potassium and other minerals you need.

Diarrhea is -- quite simply -- loose, watery bowel movements. It doesn’t mean more frequent bowel movements, but only ones that are loose and runny. There’s often discomfort involved with diarrhea, too.

There are several causes of the problem. Probably the most frequent is that you’ve got some bacteria in your system, and your body is trying to get rid of it. Other causes can be spicy foods, or it can be a temporary side effect of some medicines.

If you begin having diarrhea, your body will probably need a rest, both physically and digestively. Slow down on your regular diet. This will allow the body to sort out whatever is causing the problem. Begin by drinking 2 glasses of water every time you have loose stools.

This sounds crazy to most people, since they are trying to cure the loose bowel movements, and they think (rightly so) that this will only make them worse. Well, it will, but only temporarily. And what it will do is allow your body to get rid of whatever is upsetting your system. (Remember, I’m a big fan of dealing with the problem itself, and not necessarily with the symptoms).

In addition to drinking the 2 glasses, eat bland, non-stressful foods. Ripe bananas are particularly good. In addition to providing bulk and fiber for your system, a ripe banana provides ample amounts of potassium, which is what your body is needing. Yogurt is good, too, but make sure your yogurt has active yogurt cultures. (If it’s homemade, it definitely does. If store bought, it should have “active yogurt cultures” on the label). Yogurt is milk cultured with a gut-friendly bacteria, and the bacteria help to replenish the bacteria your body normally has -- and needs.

Your body has lots of friendly bacteria in your intestines. You need those bacteria to keep you in good health, as well as to help you digest foods. When you’ve suffered from diarrhea, your body may excrete some of those bacteria. So use yogurt to help get some back in there!

But the water is the main thing you need. The water will help the body flush the bad stuff (whatever it is) out. You’ll probably feel tired and need more rest when you’ve suffered from diarrhea. But keep drinking, eat lightly, sleep a bit more, and you’ll be better quickly.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Indigestion and Heartburn: Fast, Easy, and No-Risk Relief

Indigestion and Heartburn, and Water’s Role in Taking Care of Them

We all know the feeling of indigestion. Maybe we had too much to eat, and now we feel like we’re paying for it. Or maybe you ate something that always disagrees with you, but this time, you just couldn’t pass it up! But whatever it is that’s making your tummy feel bad, water will help to get rid of the discomfort, and fast.

When you’re had too much to eat, the problem is simple: your gut is just having to process too much material at one time, and you’re paying the price. And if it’s something too spicy or hot, your body may just not be used to eating whatever it is. But whatever the excuse, start immediately to cure it.

Stand up (don’t sit down while this is going on; the digestive system works better while you’re standing) and drink 2 glasses of lukewarm tap water. In this case, don’t drink ice water, because the cold will slow the digestion down, and that’s not what you want. After drinking the 2 glasses, walk around for a few minutes, and you should begin to feel better. But whether you have or haven’t, after 15 minutes, drink another 2 glasses. The water will almost certainly make you feel better, and even more important, it will take care of the root problem, rather than simply masking the problem or treating the symptoms (like many over-the-counter medicines will).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Making Your Lungs Work Better With Water

Making Your Lungs Work Better With Water

All of us know when our lungs aren’t quite working right. We feel sluggish, and our heads feel foggy. It may be that we’re having an upper-respiratory infection, or some other problem.

But whatever it is, water will make your system work better, and more quickly take care of whatever the problem is. You will also feel better. The other thing water will do is keep your mouth and throat well-hydrated, because if you have an infection like that, chances are you will be coughing a lot.

Coughing is something we want to avoid. Like runny noses and sneezing, we think it’s embarrassing. But remember that coughs are there to help the body get rid of something, and rather than try to make the body quit, we should help the body. I don’t know about you, but I’d just as soon get over my coughing as quickly as I can. So start drinking water!

(The one time I would encourage cough suppressants -- that is, medicine to suppress the coughing reflex -- is at night. If you are having trouble sleeping because of constant coughing, take a minimum dose of cough medicine just before going to bed. Sometimes there’s a very small amount of drainage that’s not even noticeable when we’re awake. But as soon as we lay down, the “tickling” starts, and makes it hard to sleep. Your body also needs sleep. So feel free to take something for the cough in this circumstance. On the other hand, if you are coughing up large amounts of phlegm, don’t do anything to suppress the cough. Your body is getting rid of some garbage, and you don’t want to stop that).

Begin by drinking more water whenever you feel chest congestion coming on. Remember, drinking water cannot hurt you. And it will usually help get rid of the nasty viruses that give us the crud feeling. So you might want to begin doubling up on the amount of water you normally drink. If you normally drink 10 glasses a day, go to 20. Even 20 is not all that much, and you will be surprised at how much better you feel.

Another water tactic that helps a lot is steam. Most of us don’t have a sauna in our house, but you can easily create a sauna-like atmosphere, with no special equipment or preparation. This is the way to do it: go into the bathroom, and tightly shut the door. Plug the drain in the bathtub, and turn on the bath water full blast, and make sure the temperature is as hot as you can get it. (Don’t worry ... you’re not going to be bathing in this!) If you can, plug the sink drain as well, and turn the water on there as well. Make sure you don’t have a fan going ... you want the steam to accumulate. The inside of the bathroom should be as humid as a tropical rainforest! Now sit down, and breathe deep. Keep breathing until the steam has subsided. What you are doing is getting your lungs full of moist, humid air, and coating the insides of your lungs with the water. This is also a good tactic with a child who is having trouble breathing due to a croupy cough. Get the bathroom nice and steamy, and carry them in there (if a young child) or take them in there with you (if older) and let them breathe deep. Don’t be afraid to stay in for 15 or 20 minutes or more. This will help you (or your child) to breathe better, feel better, and your body will be the better able to loosen the congestion that makes them feel like someone’s standing on their chest.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Breast Cancer Risk Linked to Sleep Patterns

One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer may be to regularly get a good night's sleep -- in the dark.
A new study shows that women with the highest levels of melatonin -- a hormone the body produces only when a person is sleeping at night, in the dark -- have a breast cancer risk that is 40 per cent lower than those with low levels of melatonin.
Dr. Eva Schernhammer, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said the research suggests that "melatonin secretion may play an important role in breast cancer development."
She said that when and how well a woman sleeps may also influence whether she develops breast cancer, and that sleep patterns could also have an impact on tumour development and, by extension, on the effectiveness of treatment.
The research, published in today's edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, seems to confirm the long-held hypothesis about the cause of sharply higher breast cancer rates among shift workers.
A number of studies have shown that workers who regularly toil on the late-night shift, such as nurses, are about twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those who work day shifts.
Disruption of melatonin production was long suspected as the culprit, but it was only a theory, based on a retrospective look at the work habits of cancer patients.
The new study by Dr. Schernhammer and a team at Harvard University is different in that the researchers actually measured levels of melatonin in the urine of women before and after they developed breast cancer.
The research is an offshoot of the massive Harvard Nurses Study, in which the health of almost 120,000 nurses has been tracked since 1989. As part of that project, more than 30,000 women have provided regular urine samples.
The new study by Dr. Schernhammer focused on 147 women who developed breast cancer; they were compared with 291 women of similar background who did not develop it.
Melatonin production peaks at night, and exposure to light at night interrupts production of the hormone. When this occurs, it also stimulates a women's ovaries to produce extra estrogen; excess production of the female sex hormone is a known risk for breast cancer.
The idea that too much exposure to light can raise a woman's cancer risk derives from earlier research on blind women, who are half as likely to develop breast cancer as sighted women. In blind women, melatonin levels do not fluctuate and, as a result, their estrogen levels are more stable.
In the new study, researchers found that melatonin levels were sharply lower in women who developed breast cancer, even well before their diagnosis. Among the 25 per cent of women with the lowest levels of melatonin, 50 developed breast cancer; by comparison, among the 25 per cent with the highest levels of melatonin, 23 developed breast cancer.
Dr. Schernhammer said the results suggest that the melatonin is influencing risk, not the shift work itself.
This year, an estimated 21,600 women and 150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, and an estimated 5,300 women and 45 men will die of the disease.

Stopping Colds in Their Tracks

Stopping Colds and Other Respiratory Infections in Their Tracks With Water

We all know the nasty sensation of coming down with a cold: when you feel like your head is stopped up, when your nose is constantly running, and when nothing tastes right.

Most of what we call colds are technically known rhinitis, and are caused by various micro-organisms settling on nasal or throat surfaces, and the body’s reacting to them. When your nose is running, your body is trying to get rid of those organisms.

The important thing is to let the body get rid of the junk. People are always trying to avoid sneezing, runny noses, and congestion. But the problem is that they are often treating the symptoms, and not the problem itself. Water treats the problem. Make sure you have plenty of water to let the body do its job.

One of the reasons the old advice (“Rest, and get plenty of liquids!”) was good advice was you could have time to let the body work on getting rid of whatever is causing problems. If you take something to stop your runny nose, all you’ve done is give yourself a dry (and usually sore) throat, and prevent the body from blowing out what’s causing the problem.

It’s not easy to conduct a business meeting if you’re nose is constantly running. It’s not easy to teach if you’re constantly sneezing. But those are some of the ways your body is trying to cure you. If you possibly can, take some time off, rest, and you will recover much faster.

Your body will be going through a great deal of water, and you need to replenish it frequently. It’s easy to forget how much liquid goes out in a runny nose (and probably not something you want to ponder a lot, either!) And every time you sneeze, your body loses water.
So a good rule of thumb is for every time you sneeze or blow your nose, drink some water. Every time. Now the problem is that most folks just don’t feel like eating when they have a bad cold. Neither do they feel like drinking. So you may have to fool your body into thinking that you’re drinking something special that’s not just the water it needs.

The easiest way is to slice a lemon (or lime) and put a slice into your glass. Unlike sugar and other things we are prone to add to water, the trace of lemon adds nothing but taste: no calories, no caffeine, and no carbohydrates.

Another trick is to heat the water. That’s right: serve up plain, hot water in a special cup, and maybe jazz it up with lemon, too.

And as long as you’re drinking your quota of 20 glasses of water a day, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy some other liquids. Hot broth, juices (though not too much: your body needs a rest from digesting, too!) and hot teas can be enjoyable, and help alleviate the boredom.

If you’re drinking tea, you might want to go with herbal, decaffeinated teas. I have nothing against caffeine, when used in moderation, and I drink caffeinated tea almost every day. But when you are sick (whether from a cold, or from something else) allow your body to clear out some of the corridors. Don’t give it the extra task of dealing with caffeine ... at least not now.

The important thing is to keep consuming liquids. Your body may be cleansing out some toxins, and it needs fluids to do that job. Monitor factors such as the color of your urine. If the urine is a dark or brownish color, you need more liquids. (A rule of thumb is that urine should be a light straw color. If it’s darker, immediately drink down 2 glasses of water).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Who Says Women Get to Eat All the Good Stuff?

Dark Chocolate May
Sweeten The Way
To Health

(HealthDay News) -- If it tastes good it must be bad, so the saying goes, but delicious dark chocolate may be the exception to the rule.
In addition to all the pleasurable sensations associated with the sweet, it may also help lower blood pressure by an average of 10 percent while improving the body's sensitivity to insulin, researchers report.
However, this benefit applies only to dark chocolate, which is rich in flavonoids -- the same antioxidant compounds found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are known to help lower blood pressure, according to the report in the July 18 online edition of Hypertension.
"It turns out that chocolate is not only a pleasurable food, but it fits in quite nicely with the other healthy recommendations," said coauthor Jeffrey B. Blumberg, a professor of nutrition and a senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. "We found that three ounces of dark chocolate per day over several weeks reduced blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension and also seemed to provide a benefit on their insulin sensitivity," he added.
In their study, Blumberg's team had 10 men and 10 women eat 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day for 15 days. All of these people had high blood pressure and none were taking blood pressure medications.
First, the researchers had five of the men and five of the women eat dark chocolate while the others ate white chocolate, which contains no flavonoids. Then after another week of no chocolate, the groups "crossed over" and ate the other chocolate.
In the 15 days they were eating dark chocolate, individuals displayed an average 11.9 mm Hg drop in their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and a 8.5 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure (the lower number). However, there was no drop in blood pressure when they ate flavonoid-free white chocolate, the researchers found.
Given these results, Blumberg believes that dark chocolate can be good for you. "Dark chocolate can be included as part of a healthful diet in patients who have hypertension," he said.
However, he cautioned that you can't just add it on top of your diet. "It's still a high-calorie food. You don't want to have excess calories or put on weight if you have hypertension," Blumberg said. "But as part of a healthful diet, it is something that you can enjoy and not feel you are violating the principles of a healthful diet."
Blumberg thinks that being able to enjoy some chocolate can also make it easier to stay on a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
One expert sees this study as part of a body of evidence that shows that chocolate is good for us. "Dark chocolate may be health-promoting," said Dr. David L. Katz, an associate clinical professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
Katz, who is doing his own research into the benefits of chocolate, noted that chocolate is rich in not only antioxidants, but also magnesium and fiber. "The predominant saturated fat in dark chocolate, stearic acid, does not raise cholesterol or harm blood vessels," he added.
"Milk chocolate and white chocolate do not offer any known health benefits, and provide more calories, sugar, and potentially harmful oils than dark chocolate," Katz said, but "dark chocolate may well prove to be health food."
According to Katz, there are many unanswered questions about chocolate: What is the optimal dose of dark chocolate? How high does the cocoa content need to be to offer health benefits? Who in the population stands to benefit from eating dark chocolate? Are the benefits of liquid cocoa and solid chocolate the same? Can people eat chocolate without gaining weight?
"These answers, and others, will come in time," Katz said. "For now, it's clear that not all chocolate is created equal. But it's delicious to think that indulgence and health may both reside beneath the same wrapper."
Another expert is more cautious. Without more definitive data on whether chocolate promotes weight gain that might outweigh its benefits, Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, the director of the Metabolic Support Service at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, is hesitant to recommend it as a health food. "I would never tell a heart patient or a diabetic to eat more dark chocolate," he said.
For patients who do not have these health problems, Mechanick is more lenient. "Having a treat every once in a while is fine," he said. "My preference is that you have dark chocolate, because it's looking like maybe dark chocolate may have some benefit. But there are no data to support that it's truly beneficial. It's still unproven that it's beneficial and there could be risks involved."
Mechanick also warned that the data about the benefits of dark chocolate should not mean replacing other high blood pressure therapy with chocolate. "Chocolate is not an alternative to traditional lifestyle changes or to taking medications to reduce risk of heart disease or to treat diabetes," he said.
© 2005 Inc. All Rights Reserved

Getting Good-Looking, Cheaply

Water on the outside

Water’s main beauty function is internal. Basically, if you are well hydrated internally, you’ve covered 90% of the beauty problems. Maybe more.

But there is a small role water plays in beauty questions. And not just for cleansing, although that is certainly a factor.

Like the story I told earlier about washing clothes without detergent, you could wash yourself quite well if you had nothing but water. Soap is certainly useful, especially if you are very dirty, but you could actually make a go for it not using any.

Soap can actually be a problem to beauty, especially if it is too harsh, and irritates the skin. There are always a few who think that if strength is a virtue in soap, even stronger must be better. Not so. You are not cleaning a car, you’re cleaning your skin. Soap should be mild, with few if any scents.

Likewise shampoo. Shampoos should be mild and gentle on your hair, and should say so. But as with soap, the water is doing most of the cleaning. The soap -- or shampoo -- is there to help.
I’m assuming that you are like most Americans, and shower every day or so. The important thing to remember is that the length of a shower is not important. It is important to get all of the soap off of your body, and all of the shampoo out of your hair. Give yourself an extra moment or so to rinse well.

Take a couple of deep breaths while you are showering. This will allow the micro-droplets of water to deeply hydrate your lungs, and will give you an invigorating sensation.

Most of us are too busy -- or think we are -- to take a bath very often. (I mean a real, sit-down, relax kind of bath). When you do, enjoy it. It’s one of the relaxing parts of life.

Many stores sell expensive bath ingredients, but the best one is the least expensive, and available anywhere: baking soda. A handful or so of plain, ordinary baking soda, poured into the running water while you’re filling the bathtub will give you a bath that will leave your skin feeling smooth and silky. It will also help to give extra cleansing to your pores.

After taking a bath or shower, if you have the time, put a lotion on your skin. This will help trap some of the external water in your skin, and keep it bright and vibrant looking

Monday, July 18, 2005

Want to Make Your Face More Young Looking? Lose the Electric Razor!

Shaving does more than get rid of the day's accumulation of your nasty beard: it makes your skin look younger.

That is ... if you use a blade razor. Electrics don't do the job.

When a blade shaves away beard, it also removes a very fine layer of skin. An electric razor does so, too, but too a much lesser extent than a blade.

Being essentially cheap, I've tried using the lower-end blades, and I've learned it's just not worth it. I don't want to have my face scarred up, and I've done that too much. So I use the Mach3 razor, which is expensive (but try checking for them on eBay) but I walk out in the morning without looking like I've been attacked.

If you're a confirmed electric razor user, get a Mach3, and try it for a month. Your face will look dramatically younger after a month. Obviously, you can't shave in the car with a blade razor like some people try to do with an electric, but then you shouldn't be doing that anyway.

Using Water to Make Yourself More Beautiful

Using Water to Make Yourself More Beautiful

Oh, let’s be frank with each other. We’d all like to look better. If we didn’t, most of the gyms, health spas and assorted facilities would just close down. And while there are a number of things you can do to look better (smiling more frequently is astonishing in its ability to take years off your appearance, as well as toning up the facial muscles), water can and will make you a more beautiful person.

We worry about things like acne and facial blemishes, and buy all sorts of external things to take care of them. In reality, most of these are internal problems: our skin erupts with acne or other problems when there is something on the inside that’s not quite right. Water helps to take care of that “not quite right” problem. And it can do it fast.

Youth is a very forgiving time as far as looks go. When someone is 17, she can stay up all night, eat badly, and still look good. For those of us who are a few years past 17, we might have to think about it a bit more.

Dehydration becomes more and more of a problem as we age. What is also bad is that the body’s internal signal that we are dehydrated -- thirst -- just doesn’t work quite as well as we age. So, sometimes we just don’t realize that our body needs water.

Dehydration can be a problem in appearance. When the body is dehydrated, the skin on the face can look drawn and haggard. The eyes can get a sunken appearance. Or sometimes, rather than looking drawn, the skin can be bloated, as the body tries to hold in fluid. Fortunately, water can solve this problem, and pretty quickly.

The best cure is prevention. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. Continue following my “daily water plan” outlined elsewhere in this blog, and you will keep the body well supplied with water.

But our best plans can go astray. You may pass a mirror, and wonder what’s going on. Why do I look so lousy? That’s the time to step in with extra water.

Right away, drink 2-3 glasses of water. Again, lukewarm tap water is best, but just about any type of plain water will do. Now, after you finish the water, take several deep breaths, to allow the body to circulate oxygen to the tissues. And, if you are able, splash some cool tap water on your face. You don’t necessarily have to dry it. Allow it to dry by itself, and it will soften and brighten the skin.

But, again, what I recommended above is just a type of beauty first aid. The real beauty solution is a continuing program of vibrant hydration and inner cleansing to keep your body toned and bright. Without sufficient water, not only does the body become dehydrated, but waste products may accumulate in the body’s tissues, making for a less than attractive appearance.

(to be continued tomorrow)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A cure for Bad Breath

Using Water to get rid of bad breath

Bad breath. It’s one of those things we all suffer with from time to time. It’s also one of those things few people want to talk about, and most people are embarrassed if someone points it out to them.

Bad breath -- halitosis is the technical term for it -- is simply a bad odor coming from your mouth. Because it is literally right under our nose, we can’t smell it on ourselves, unless it is really awful. But others can. And whether some points it out to you or not, you can sometimes see the reaction on someone’s face when we get too close.

Any number of things can cause it. Sometimes it’s a result of food particles trapped in your mouth. It can also be the result of an infection in your throat, sinuses or tonsils. Or it can be a result of the body’s digesting certain substances in the stomach.

If you have bad breath, sip into action! First, get a mouthful of lukewarm tap water, and swish it around your mouth (this is to get rid of any particles that might be stuck in your teeth) and spit it out. (Actually, it wouldn’t hurt you if you swallowed the water, but most people just don’t like the idea. So, get rid of it!) If you have the chance, brush your teeth, too, although this isn’t essential.

After swishing your mouth, drink 2 to 3 glasses in a row of lukewarm water. This serves several purposes. First off, it cleans your mouth and throat. But it also gives your digestive system a boost to get rid of something in your stomach that may be disagreeing with your body. Continue drinking 2 or 3 glasses every half hour or so until the bad breath goes away.

(On this score, there’s no way to know without having someone tell you. An honest spouse is a good thing here. Or a good friend who will be forthright. But a big secret is that when people have bad breath, they often feel just not quite right. And after you’ve taken in 5 or 6 glasses of water, your body will be back in sync, and you’ll be surprised that you will feel better. And your breath will improve, too).

(to be continued tomorrow)

Friday, July 15, 2005

How Water can Cure Your Headaches

How Water can cure your Headaches

First off, this blog is not a substitute for trained medical care. If you are having health problems, you should consult with your physician or other health care provider before any changes to your diet or lifestyle. And you are a very lucky person if you can find a nutritionally trained health-care provider who can understand some of what we are talking about in this book. Treasure such a person, and consider their advice.

Headaches can be tricky. If you are having chronic, severe headache, you should probably have it evaluated for possibly bigger problems. But in the meantime, we are all lucky enough to have water as a helper for the body. Since water cannot harm you when taken properly, there is no danger in using it as we recommend in this blog.

We’ve all had headaches. You know the feeling: the throbbing pain that just won’t go away. A simple, routine headache is caused -- in 99% of cases -- by simple dehydration. And dehydration, of course, means not enough water in the system.

Sometimes you will be able to realize what is the cause of your headache. It may be something you ate, or something you didn’t eat. Many find themselves suffering from headache after eating something very salty (let’s say, some very salty popcorn), or something that is highly processed (such as certain types of processed meats). Some will find themselves suffering from a dull headache when they are simply constipated.

It’s very easy to pop down a painkiller, and I have nothing against them in their place. The problem is that the painkiller just masks the problem -- it doesn’t make it go away.

If you take a painkiller (such as aspirin or acetaminophen -- Tylenol being the most famous brand of that), your body’s pain receptors will be numbed, and you probably won’t feel the headache -- at least for a while. But the underlying problem of dehydration will still be there.
Pain is one of the great blessings of life. By saying that, I’m not meaning to make light of those who suffer chronic pain, but pain is the way our bodies have of letting us know there’s a problem, and we need to take care of the problem -- not just cover it up!

To give an example, if you broke your arm, you would definitely feel pain. However, there are drugs that could -- at least theoretically -- numb the pain so that you wouldn’t feel anything at all. But what’s more important: getting rid of the pain, or getting your arm taken care of?

If you start to get a headache, immediately drink 2 glasses (approximately 8 ounces is what I’m thinking about here) of tap water. Don’t drink very cold or iced water, because sometimes the cold can temporarily make the headache worse. Instead, down the water straight from the tap. Now -- if possible -- lie down. A warm -- not hot -- washcloth or other cloth applied to your forehead can often help, too. Try to get away from noises or lights. Give yourself 15 minutes, and the pain should begin to ease. If it doesn’t, drink another 2 glasses, and lie down again.

And if you can’t lie down -- let’s say you’re at work or driving -- just keep drinking the water. It doesn’t have to be drunk quickly, but continue sipping the water. The headache will start to ease as the body once again maintains the equilibrium in your head.

(to be continued)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dietary Supplements Under Attack

(Thanks to World Net Daily for the following.

If you are taking responsibility for your own health, part of doing that probably involves taking some dietary supplements: vitamins, minerals, or other such items. Of course, your doing that takes cash away from conventional medicine, the big pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals. Not to mention funeral homes, since you are less likely to die young. But this information is scarey, and needs to be spread. There are those in government who wish to take away your ability to supplement your diet. Contacting the White House, your Senators, and your Congressman to express opposition would not be a bad thing).

"The Codex Alimentarius Commission sounds like one of those shadowy, sinister organizations conjured up by one-world-government nuts to scare people.

Truth: It is!

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization created this commission in the early 1960s to set standards for food safety and to "harmonize" the laws of member nations. The commission was endorsed by U.N. Resolution 39/248, which says:

"When formulating national policies and plans with regard to food, governments should take into account the need of all consumers for food security and should support and, as far as possible, adopt standards from the ... Codex Alimentarius. ..."

The Codex Alimentarius Commission consists of delegates from 163 member nations representing 97 percent of the world's population. It meets every two years, either in Rome or Geneva. Between meetings, the commission is governed by an executive committee that directs the activities of its many committees.

Of immediate concern is the ongoing effort to bring dietary supplements in America under the control of standards set by this commission. Dietary supplements generate a $17 billion industry in the United States, which affects more than 150 million consumers, according to Congressional findings (H.R. 2485). Proposed procedures and standards could virtually destroy this market and deprive millions of Americans of the supplements they want to use.

The European Union Directive on Dietary Supplements, which becomes law in August, severely restricts the types and quantities of supplements that may be legally sold. Most forms of vitamins C and E, for example, are not available, or are available only in extremely small doses. If current plans proceed on course, American consumers are in for a shock.

How can this little-known international commission control what consumers buy in the United States?

An even less-known agency, deep within the bowels of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for U.S. participation in the Codex Commission and designates delegates to each of the commission's committees. Barbara O. Schneeman is the delegate to the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Food for Special Dietary Uses.

The effort to regulate dietary supplements has been under way for more than a decade. In 1994, Congress adopted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which kept supplements beyond the reach of the drug police. In the past, Codex recommendations have been non-binding. Now, however, the Codex Alimentarius Commission is teaming up with the World Trade Organization to bring international enforcement to the dietary-supplement battle.

Ironically, it was primarily the U.S. that brought the WTO into existence in 1994, as the successor to GATT, the General Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade. The WTO agreement specifically requires that the member nations � including the U.S. � conform its laws to meet the requirements of WTO decisions. Failure to conform results in stiff financial penalties. The Codex Commission and the European Union want the WTO to enforce Codex standards, which fly directly in the face of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

Pascal Lamy of France was just selected as director general of the WTO. Lamy served as a member of the French Socialist Party's steering committee and was chief of staff and representative of the European Commission for President Jacques Delors. Since 1995, he has served as a member of the Central Office of the Mouvement Europ�en (France) and as a member of the European Commission, responsible for trade.

The Codex Commission will be meeting in Rome July 4-9 to adopt the final rules on dietary supplement use. Dr. Carolyn Dean, president of Friends of Freedom International, will attend this meeting and return to the U.S. just in time to present her report to the Sixth Annual Freedom 21 Conference in Reno, July 14-16.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission's reach is much broader than dietary supplements. Its committees are also working on standards for pesticide residue, labeling of all kinds of foods, food additives and nutrients, veterinary medicine and drugs, as well as standards and methods for analysis. The function of this organization is to establish standards for all food worldwide and to enforce those standards through the power of the World Trade Organization.

Few people know that there is such a thing as the Codex Alimentarius Commission. It was created to promote food safety in international trade. It is on the brink of becoming an Orwellian bureaucracy � far worse than the worst fantasies of the one-world conspiracy theories.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is neither fantasy nor theory; it is real.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization and chairman of Sovereignty International."

White Flour Contains Diabetes-Causing Contaminant

You may want to think twice before eating your next sandwich on white bread. Studies show that alloxan, the chemical that makes white flour look "clean" and "beautiful," destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. That's right; you may be devastating your pancreas and putting yourself at risk for diabetes, all for the sake of eating "beautiful" flour. Is it worth it? Scientists have known of the alloxan-diabetes connection for years; in fact, researchers who are studying diabetes commonly use the chemical to induce the disorder in lab animals. In the research sense, giving alloxan to an animal is similar to injecting that animal with a deadly virus, as both alloxan and the virus are being used specifically to cause illness. Every day, consumers ingest foods made with alloxan-contaminated flour. Would they just as willingly consume foods tainted with a deadly virus? Unless they had a death wish, they probably would not. Unfortunately, most consumers are unaware of alloxan and its potentially fatal link to diabetes because these facts are not well publicized by the food industry.

How does alloxan cause diabetes? According to Dr. Hari Sharma's Freedom from Disease, the uric acid derivative initiates free radical damage to DNA in the beta cells of the pancreas, causing the cells to malfunction and die. When these beta cells fail to operate normally, they no longer produce enough insulin, or in other words, they cause one variety of adult-onset type 2 diabetes. Alloxan's harmful effects on the pancreas are so severe that the Textbook of Natural Medicine calls the chemical "a potent beta-cell toxin." However, even though the toxic effect of alloxan is common scientific knowledge in the research community, the FDA still allows companies to use it when processing foods we ingest.

The FDA and the white flour industry could counter-argue that, if alloxan were to cause diabetes, a higher proportion of Americans would be diabetic. After all, more consumers consume white flour on a regular basis than are actually diabetic. This point is valid, but it does not disprove the alloxan-diabetes connection. While alloxan is one cause of adult-onset type 2 diabetes, it is of course not the only cause. As the Textbook of Natural Medicine states, "current theory suggests an hereditary beta-cell predisposition to injury coupled with some defect in tissue regeneration capacity" may be a key cause. For alloxan to cause injury to an individual's beta cells, the individual must have the genetic susceptibility to injury. This is similar to the connection between high-cholesterol foods and heart disease. Eating high-cholesterol foods causes heart disease, especially in people who have family histories of heart disease. The link between alloxan and diabetes is as clear and solid as the link between cholesterol and heart disease.

If you've been eating white bread for years and you have a family history of diabetes, all hope is not lost for you. Studies show that you can reverse the effects of alloxan by supplementing your diet with vitamin E. According to Dr. Gary Null's Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing, vitamin E effectively protected lab rats from the harmful effects of administered alloxan. Now, you're not a lab rat, but you're a mammal and vitamin E is definitely worth adding to your daily regimen of nutritional supplements, especially if you have a history of eating foods made with white flour and are at high risk for diabetes.

Even if you are already diabetic, some simple changes to your diet can help treat your diabetes. First of all, stop eating foods made with white flour. Even though you already have diabetes, vitamin E supplements can still help you, as can many common foods. Garlic, for example, does wonders for diabetes. As Dr. Benjamin Lau states in his book Garlic for Health, "When fed garlic, the rabbits' elevated blood sugar dropped almost as much as it did when they were given the antidiabetic drug tolbutamide. Researchers postulated that garlic may improve the insulin effect."

If you can't handle the taste of natural garlic, you can take it in widely available supplements. Aloe vera is a traditional diabetic remedy in the Arabian Peninsula, and its therapeutic characteristics are now gaining worldwide acceptance in the treatment of diabetes. According to both human and animal research studies, aloe vera lowers blood glucose levels by an unknown mechanism. According to the Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing, this natural hypoglycemic effect extended over a period of 24 hours. Adding onions to your diet (along with the garlic) can also significantly reduce your blood sugar level. Additionally, as Dr. Michael T. Murray writes in The Healing Power of Herbs, studies show that ginseng controls glucose in both diabetic humans and diabetic laboratory animals.

It all comes down to asking if putting yourself at risk for diabetic coma, blindness, limb amputation and death is worth eating white bread. If you're willing to risk your quality of life and your life itself, then go ahead and eat all the foods made with white flour you want. However, if you want to stop poisoning yourself with alloxan, a known toxic chemical, then make a few simple dietary changes. Eat groceries (see related notebook on groceries) made with whole-grain wheat flour, not processed white flour

Animal experiments have shown that animals which have their Beta cells destroyed by alloxan are able to regenerate Beta cells after a few months when taking GS, a herb grown in India. The Beta cell is the cell that produces insulin. Diabetics needing insulin treatment (Type 1) have been able to decrease their insulin after GS therapy.
A Physicians Guide to Natural Health Products That Work By James Howenstine MD, page 112

In the mid-1980s, however (when herbal remedies again were popular), pata de vaca's continued use as a natural insulin substitute was reiterated in two Brazilian studies. Both studies reported in vivo hypoglycemic actions in various animal and human models. Chilean research in 1999 reported the actions of pata de vaca in diabetic rats. Their study determined that pata de vaca was found to "elicit remarkable hypoglycemic effects," and brought about a "decrease of glycemia in alloxan diabetic rats by 39%." In 2002, two in vivo studies on the blood sugar-lowering effects of pata de vaca were conducted by two separate research groups in Brazil. The first study reported "a significant blood glucose-lowering effect in normal and diabetic rats."
The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, page 382

When beta cells in the pancreas fail to secrete enough insulin, the body loses its ability to metabolize carbohydrates and to reduce glucose levels in the bloodstream. Researchers believe that some people have weak free radical defenses in these beta cells, and that free radical damage to DNA in beta cells, resulting in dysfunction or cell death, helps cause maturity-onset diabetes. It is known, for example, that many chemicals including alloxan, paraquat, and certain chemotherapeutic agents can stimulate excessive production of oxy radicals in the nuclei of beta cells.
Freedom From Disease by Hari Sharma MD, page 94

...nearly two decades later, researchers at RNT Medical College in India induced diabetes in rabbits with intravenous injections of alloxan. When fed garlic, the rabbits' elevated blood sugar dropped almost as much as it did when they were given the antidiabetic drug tolbutamide. Researchers postulated that garlic may improve the insulin effect by either increasing the pancreatic secretion of insulin or by releasing bound insulin.
Garlic for Health by Benjamin Lau MD PhD, page 22

Commercial yeasted breads, even the whole-grain varieties, often have other problems. They typically contain flour bleach, which forms alloxan, a compound known to cause diabetes in animals by destroying the beta cells of the pancreas (Clinical Nutrition Newsletter, Dec. 1982).
Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, page 452

Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is generally recognized to be due to an insulin deficiency.1 Although the exact cause is unknown, current theory suggests an hereditary beta-cell predisposition to injury coupled with some defect in tissue regeneration capacity. Causes of injury are most likely hydroxyl and other free radicals, viral infection, and autoimmune reactions. alloxan, the uric acid derivative used to induce experimental diabetes in animals, is a potent beta-cell toxin, causing destruction via hydroxyl radical formation.
Textbook of Natural Medicine Volumes 1-2 by Joseph E Pizzorno and Michael T Murray, page 1197

In this study, mice received intraperitoneally melatonin in doses ranging from 100 to 450 mg/kg. Results showed that such treatment proved plasma glucose increase due to alloxan-induced pancreatic toxicity.
The Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 88

Bleached white flour. Not only have the bran and germ been stripped away, but bleached flour also contains a substance from the flour bleach (alloxan) which causes diabetes in animals. Unbleached white flour should also be avoided since it is stripped of essential nutrients.
The Enzyme Cure by Lita Lee with Lisa Turner & Burton Goldberg, page 123

Aloe vera also exhibits a hypoglycemic effect in both normal and alloxan-induced diabetic mice. A small human study shows benefit in diabetics. Five patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes ingested half a teaspoonful of aloe 4 times daily for 14 weeks. Fasting blood sugar in every patient fell from a mean of 273 to 151 mg/dl with no change in body weight. The authors concluded that aloe lowers blood glucose levels by an unknown mechanism.
Textbook of Natural Medicine, volumes 1-2 by Joseph E Pizzorno and Michael T Murray, page 587

Results of this study showed that rats given vitamin E before being administered either streptozotocin or alloxan provided protection against the diabetogenic effects of each. It was also observed that rats with a depleted antioxidant state due to a vitamin E and selenium-deficient diet showed increased diabetogenic susceptibility to normally nondiabetogenic doses of streptozotocin.
The Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 312

Noting that the dried sap of the aloe plant to be a traditional diabetic remedy in the Arabian peninusla, this study examined its ability to reduce blood glucose levels in 5 non-insulin-dependent diabetics and in Swiss albino mice made diabetic with alloxan. Results showed that the intake of 1/2 teaspoon of aloes daily for 4-14 weeks significantly reduced the fasting serum glucose level fell in all patients. Fasting plasma glucose was significantly reduced in diabetic mice by glibenclamide and aloes after 3 days.
The Clinicians Handbook if Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 369

This study examined the effects of exudate of Aloe barbadensis leaves (oral administration of 500 mg/kg) and its bitter principle (ip administration of 5 mg/kg) on plasma glucose levels of alloxan-diabetic mice. Results showed that the hypoglycemic effect of a single oral dose of aloes on serum glucose level was insignificant in while that of the bitter principle was highly significant and extended over a period of 24 hours.
The Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 369

Ginseng exerts numerous pharmacological effects in humans and laboratory animals, including improved glucose control in humans and diabetic (alloxan-induced) rats;
The Healing Power of Herb
s by Michael T Murray ND, page 269

Per: Zeus Information Service 4th June 2005
Alternative Views on Health

The evils of tanning beds

OK, so you've had a few days of steady rain, and going to the beach isn't an option. But you're starting to notice your pasty white skin, and you'd like to do something about it. Or ... it's January, and tanning outside is a little brisk.

So you head to a tanning bed, and -- voila! -- in a few short minutes, you've got that tan you wanted.

What's the problem with this scenario? You're inevitably going to get complaints from people who tell you that a tanning bed is somehow dangerous.


A tanning bed is not "dangerous," is not a "voluntary coffin," (to quote my mother's dermatologist) and isn't silly.

It's a way of getting tanned, a way of getting your body's needed dose of vitamin D.

Your body doesn't differentiate: the UV rays react on the skin whether you're out on the sand for a few hours, or spending 10 minutes on a tanning bed.

10 minutes is a good rule of thumb: it's roughly equal to an hour in the sun. It's easy, relatively cheap (look for specials) and is especially good for those times when you don't have time to spend in the sun, or can't because of the weather.

Of course, watch your time. Most places won't let you use more than 20 minutes at a pop, but even that's a long time, if you haven't had any UV exposure for a while. Start slow, ease in, and enjoy your tan.

And if it's December, enjoy the envy of your pasty-skinned friends. If your looking good bothers them, suggest they get therapy.

How water can heal your body, help you lose weight, and make you feel better: Part 2

Water: Internal and External

We need water both inside and outside of our bodies.

Outside because water cleans our bodies, gets rid of bacteria, and makes you feel better. Not to mention the cleaning that water does for our homes, our cars, and our clothing.

In fact, if you would ever like to be really surprised, do something different the next time you wash a load of laundry. Put the clothing in your washing machine, and don’t put any detergent in the wash load. None. Zero.

Then run the load like you normally do. What will surprise you is that the clothes will be almost as clean as if you had put the detergent in like you normally do. Perhaps not completely as clean, but just about.

This is the dirty secret of the detergent manufacturers: water does 90% of the work. Maybe more. Detergent makes the water more “slippery,” and helps it out. But in most cases -- especially when the laundry is not heavily soiled, as is true for most Americans -- detergent-less washing would do the trick just fine.

But this isn’t a magic trick -- it’s an attempt to make you realize what an amazing substance water is, and how -- if it can do amazing things outside of your body -- it can do even greater things on the inside of your body.

By its very nature, water can hold other substances. That’s why dirty water can be a problem: because it can contain bacteria, pollutants, and other things harmful to your body.

I mentioned the well-known problems travelers can have with drinking water. That’s because in some countries, water treatment is not yet up to the level it is in the US. I’ll talk about that later on when I talk about traveling and water. But some Americans worry about problems with clean, treated tap water in the US. They wonder if it is really clean. They wonder if it has bacteria. They are afraid it might have pollutants.

The good news is that almost all tap water in the US is safe to drink. That doesn’t mean it will necessarily taste good, or smell good. I remember as a child going to the coast of North and South Carolina, and having difficulty drinking the tap water there, not because it was “bad,” but because it has a distinctly salty taste. Again, it was perfectly safe to drink, but different from what I was used to. For smell, there are some water supplies that have, for instance, a distinct sulfur odor. For those of you who have not smelled sulfur, it’s a little like the smell of rotten eggs: a really nasty smell. But many of these water supplies are completely safe to drink. The taste is usually not even affected by the sulfur odor. But if it’s really unpleasant, you might want to switch to bottled water while visiting those areas. (Of course, the alternative is simply to hold your nose -- I’m not joking -- when drinking, and it probably won’t bother you at all).

While we’re on the subject of water, it’s important to realize there are several types of bottled water. All of them are slightly different. And since bottled water can range from relatively cheap to amazingly expensive, it’s worth knowing the differences.

Bottled tap water

Bottled tap water is just what it says it is: water from the tap in a bottle. Now, depending on where the water is bottled, it can taste good or bad, but again, that’s solely dependent on the water, because it’s straight out of the tap. I’m not exactly sure why people buy bottled tap water when they live in the area where the water is bottled, but they do. And they usually pay $.99 a gallon for it around here. How about just drinking it straight from the tap? It’s a bit cheaper.

Spring water

Spring water is taken from a particular spring, that is, a freely flowing water source. Since water bottlers are usually regulated by a state agency, the water is probably safe, and may be good. It’s important to remember that absolutely pure water has no taste at all: it derives its taste from any minerals in the water. Some springs will have more minerals, some less, and you might want to try some bottles to see if you like them.

Distilled water

Distilled water is processed to remove any minerals, and while it is perfectly good for you, it will have a blah taste. Most distilled water is sold for such purposes as ironing clothes. (It should also be pointed out that your body needs certain minerals. Drinking water is one of the pleasant ways of getting them).

Mineral Water

Mineral water is closely related to spring water, and it is usually water from a particular spring, sometimes with carbonation added. Carbonation -- if added -- does nothing to “hurt” the water, but when added, most people tend to think of it as something related to soft drinks, and the price is usually higher. There’s certainly nothing wrong with drinking mineral water, but if you are seeking to conserve money (as well as cure your body!) you might want to reserve it for a special treat.

I’ll repeat what I said earlier: most tap water in the US (and for that matter, Canada, most of Europe, and much of the rest of the world) is perfectly good. When in doubt, either check a guide book (if you’re traveling) or ask your local water and sewer system. They can provide helpful information, and perhaps put your mind at rest.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How water can heal your body, help you lose weight, and make you feel better: Part 1

How water can heal your body, help you lose weight, and make you feel better!

Water: the Miracle of Life

Water truly is the miracle of life. It’s the one substance in all of creation whose absence you notice most quickly. Because it’s the one we feel, the one we need, the one we want more than any other.

And yet it’s the one we take for granted most often.

We take it for granted because it’s almost always there.

We take it for granted because it doesn’t cost much.

We take it for granted because it’s one of the substances we’ve never (in our lifetimes at least) had to worry about much.

We fret about the cost of oil. And yet -- compared to water! -- oil is pretty unimportant.

Or we complain if there’s a shortage of something or the other.

And yet almost everything that we complain about is something that we could -- if push came to shove -- live without.

But we can’t live without water. Not now. Not ever.

A Basic biology lesson

We can’t live without water because most of what we -- humanly speaking -- is water. Some 70% of our bodies are composed of this precious fluid of life.

And we’re constantly being reminded of how much water plays a part in our lives.

Think of a time when you’ve been thirsty. Really thirsty. Fortunately, most of us have never really had this happen, but try to remember a time when you had nothing to drink for a while, and your mouth got really dry.

Not a very nice feeling, is it?

Thirst is your body’s way of telling you:
“Hey, up there! Yeah, you, with the mouth! I need something to drink!”

Thirst is your friend. Thirst is the body’s way of telling you about your need for water.

A short history of water

It’s only in the last hundred years or so that clean, pure water was easily and readily available. And only in certain parts of the world is it still true.

Until water filtration systems came into general and widespread use, cholera was a constant water-borne fear. If you were to bring someone from, say, 1387 to the 21st century, they would be astonished that water is simply available, right from the tap. No preparation, no fear, no potential danger.

And no effort, too! There’s nothing like watching people in some 3rd world countries, still carrying buckets of water from a stream to their home. Water is a precious and carefully-guarded item in such areas.

Even in some somewhat civilized areas, water has to be thought about. A few years ago, my son and I went to China and Mongolia for a few weeks. Another American we met in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar was astonished that we drank the tap water there. She and her companion said that they never drank tap water in a 3rd world country.

Well, she was a far more accomplished traveler than I was (or am) and I respected her opinions. But all of the guidebooks said that Ulaanbaatar’s water was safe, and I took their advice. (And didn’t get sick, I might point out!) But still no one even has to think about drinking water safety in most parts of North America, Europe, or Australia. That’s a blessing that’s easy to forget. And one that we should remember more frequently than we do.

So when you wake up tomorrow morning, and turn on the tap for a glass of water (I’m hoping that will soon be one of your first actions when you get up) pause a moment to think of all those throughout the world for whom water is still something to think about, something that needs taking care of. And count your blessings. We have a lot of them.

A story about cancer

I want to tell you a story.

A man I know went -- at his wife's insistence -- for a routine physical. At the exam, blood work was done, and the the doc was concerned because the man's PSA ("prostate specific antigen" -- a test for indications of prostate cancer) was elevated. Further testing was done, and a diagnosis of prostate cancer was made.

Conventional treatment began, and there were complications: nausea, confusion, bone weakness, and excruciating pain. The man died a little over 2 years ago, in 2003.

This man was my dad. And his suffering is an example of why I write this blog.

I'm a nurse (RN). And while most nurses are firm believers in conventional medicine, I am not. My parents disagreed with me, and my dad's treatment was conventional. And from that perspective, it was certainly adequate.

The problem is that it didn't do him any good.

Maybe you are like my parents. Maybe you feel that conventional, western medicine does a world of good. In which case, you probably won't be too happy with what I say on here.

While our system of medicine can do wonders in an emergency (if you're involved in an auto accident, it's amazing what a good trauma staff can do for you), western medicine is less sterling for most routine care. It's especially inadequate for long-term illnesses, such as cancers, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

But there are alternatives. Some of them are good, and some are less good. But one of the signs of an open mind is a willingness to consider various alternatives when one is not working. So that's what I try to do here: point you to alternatives.

It's ultimately a call you will have to make whether you want to use any of these alternatives. But I will point them out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Your 15 Minute dose of Vitamin D

Summertime, and the livin' is easy, as the song goes.

While living may be a bit more hectic now than in the past, what remains easy is getting your vitamin D in the summer, and that's by exposure to good, old sunshine.

15 minutes a day of sunshine is enough to get your vitamin D quota in. Of course, that's assuming you are clothed in nothing much more than a swimsuit, or something like it. The more clothing you have on, the longer you'll need to be out in the sun.

Sun exposure -- since vitamin D is stored in body fat -- is cumulative, meaning that if you can't get some every day, it's all right, as long as you are getting more exposure on other days.

The other advantage of sun exposure during the summer is that your body will store up the vitamin D for the less sunny months.

So, enjoy your sunshine now. It's one of the few really pleasant ways of getting your vitamins. And it's fun, too ... :-)

An easy way to save your life

This is a no-brainer, folks.

I'm out driving this afternoon, and we are hit with monsoon rainstorms. (Very, very typical for summer afternoons in North Carolina).

And despite a law that compels drivers to burn their headlights when their wipers are on, LOTS of cars don't have their lights on.

Years ago, I began burning my lights all the time. Whenever I'm driving. I make it a habit that whenever I turn on the ignition, I turn on the headlights.

Of course, it looks a little dumb in bright sunshine. But even in bright sunshine, headlights increase a car's visibility. But using your headlights in rain, storm, or whatever is a no-brainer. Even if the law in your area doesn't require it.

Put your headlights on. All the time. And save your life.

PS In the market for a new car? Car colors help with car safety, too. Think yellow or red if you can live with it. Gray, black, and dark greens are all hard to see. (I just ditched a car (red) and bought another. Bright yellow (they call it "egg-yolk") and my kids howled with laughter when they saw it, but the important thing is that it's the most visible color around. (But to be honest, I love yellow cars. I don't do much of anything for good health reasons).

Monday, July 11, 2005

What's this blog about?

This is about feeling good and looking good.

Specifically, I'm aiming this blog at men who are 40+ but who have decided that there's no reason they have to be fat, ugly, sick, or otherwise.

I'm a Registered Nurse (RN) but I am not conventional in my approach to health care. The most important thing you can do is take responsibility for your own health.

If you are looking for someone else to make you well, or keep you well, you will probably not be comfortable with this blog.

If -- on the other hand -- you think that you can do positive things that will keep you out of the hands of medical professionals, we just might get along.

I am opinionated and stubborn. I look for things that work. I don't believe in doing or continuing medical treatments that don't work.

Of course, I don't know your personal condition. You have to make the call as to whether or not you follow any of the suggestions I make.

Think for yourself! If something I'm saying doesn't sound right, ask yourself why it doesn't. But consider also that it just might be right.

Thanks for joining me.