Learning about Health – Day 51

English: Broth Svenska: Buljong

English: Broth Svenska: Buljong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know how this happened exactly, but I seemed to have diverted (a bit) from reading and writing about Dr. Junger’s Clean Program. My last post took me up to chapter six where I learned about intestinal health.

Somehow I got focused on intestinal health and revisited some earlier information I had explored several months ago. Has anyone heard of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride?

Dr. Campbell-McBride is a medical doctor with two postgraduate degrees: Master of Medical Sciences in Neurology and Master of Medical Sciences in Human Nutrition.

She is well-known for developing a concept of GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). GAPS is a natural treatment for Autism, ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression and Schizophrenia.

In addition, the GAPS Nutritional Protocol will help with all digestive disorders, autoimmune disease, eating disorders, epilepsy, failure to thrive, childhood disease, problems with development, and much more.

If this interests you, here is the link to a 5-minute video where Natasha discusses the importance of healthy gut flora (click here).

One of the staples in the GAPS Nutritional Protocol is bone broth. Lots of bone broth and lots of soup made with bone broth. Not only is the bone broth important, it’s crucial to scrape the bones clean of all meaty bits (cartilage/connective tissue) and including adding vinegar to the water to help extract the minerals from the bones and tapping the bones to extract the bone marrow.

So — for the last two weeks, I’ve been enjoying bone broth. The first week, I tried beef bones. The second week, chicken bones. This week it’s beef bones again. I may try making broth with fish bones soon.

In addition to the bone broth, Dr. McBride recommends to slowly add fermented foods and probiotics into the diet. Her website offers a great amount of information to help get a person started (click here to read).

What started me thinking seriously about intestinal health is a situation that occurred three weeks ago. I caught the flu (I haven’t had the flu since my son was 4 yrs. old).

I didn’t eat a thing for two days and anything I had eaten prior to that, left my body rather quickly. For the next three days, I ate very sparingly.

The reason I mention this is because I made a wonderful discovery.

When I had no food in my system, the RA symptoms subsided greatly. Inflammation in my joints lessened considerably. When food was re-introduced, RA symptoms increased again.

This flu episode  started me wondering if this RA autoimmune disease has something to do with the state of my gut.

I figure it’s worth spending the time to see if the GAPS diet and Clean program have an effect on the state of my health. If nothing else, it will keep my busy and out of trouble (hehehe).

That’s all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read this learning about health series. Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

Learning about Health – Day 25

Countryside near the TVA site of the Douglas dam, Tenn. (LOC)
A Simpler Time.

If you are new to this site and wondering what this is about, I’ve given myself a 100-day health challenge. I’m using Dr. Junger’s book, Clean – Remove Restore Rejuvenate to guide me through his three-week detoxification program.

I write what I learn from each chapter as I go through Dr. Junger’s book. Hopefully, it will help me to stay committed to completing the detoxification plan. If this sounds like something that interests you, I highly recommend purchasing Dr. Junger’s book (just so you know, I don’t receive a commission should you decide to purchase).

The title for chapter six is, “The Common Root of Dysfunction: Digging for Answers.” Sounds like we’re getting somewhere.

“When the leaves of a plant start looking sick, wise gardeners will dig out the root to take a look.”

Dr. Junger writes that healthy leaves come from healthy nutrient rich soil. By studying other traditions of healing he learned the concept that health and disease start in the intestines.”

Dr. Junger compares the human gastrointestinal system to that of plant roots. The intestines absorb nutrients from our food that function as building blocks that make our bodies.  He states that every single organ or function in the body has a direct link to the intestines.”

Up to eighty percent of our immune system is found in the intestines.

In this chapter, Dr. Junger discusses the four major constituents of the gut system.

The first is the intestinal flora. A healthy intestine contains about two pounds of helpful bacteria.”

The system malfunctions  when nutrient depletion results from inadequate intestinal flora. The helpful bacteria protect us from infections and disease-causing bacteria. Beneficial flora, neutralizes toxins before they get into the bloodstream and keep the bowels regularly moving toxins out of the body.

Modern living creates an imbalance in the gut with things like toxic chemicals, medications, especially antibiotics, alcohol, caffeine and stress.

Yeast is one organism that over-grows when intestinal flora is out of balance. Yeast thrives on sweet foods and dairy products and makes us bloated and gassy by irritating the intestinal lining.

Restoring the intestinal flora is part of the Clean program.

The second major constituent is the intestinal wall. The intestinal lining acts as a barrier to unwanted substances from getting inside and to bacteria, toxins and undigested food from getting out into the bloodstream.

When the intestinal wall cells are smooth, this is known as a healthy intestine. Sometimes cracks occur due to lower healthy bacteria levels caused by inflammation, food sensitivity, excessive alcohol, coffee, preservatives, certain types of medications, and other irritants.

When cracks occur the intestines become permeable. This condition is called Leaky Gut Syndrome.

The third major constituent is the gut-associated lymphatic tissue (GALT). The GALT is the system that mounts the attack against toxic bacteria and chemicals in food and when undigested pieces cross the intestinal-wall barrier, the immune system goes full force.

Dr. Junger states, “Simply from exposure to the standard American diet, our GALT tends to live in a high state of alert, constantly initiating immune responses.”

“Healthy intestinal flora is key to healthy immunity, including ordinary defense against all kinds of colds and bugs.”

The fourth major constituent is nerve cells. Around the intestines and GALT are almost as many nerves cells as in the brain. You know those “gut instincts” you have. The ones that are usually right, but pushed aside when your brain knows better.

It’s because of these nerve cells that the intestines can control their own functions independent of the brain. Apparently, the intestinal nerve cells communicate just like brain neurons — with neurotransmitters.

In fact, Dr. Junger discovered that 80 to 90 percent of the bodies serotonin is made by the intestinal nerve cells. Serotonin is responsible for producing feelings of happiness and well-being.  Isn’t that really interesting?

An equally interesting topic discussed is on gene expression. Things that affect whether a gene is turned on or turned off are; food, emotions, thoughts, accumulated toxins and environmental influences such as heat, light, sound, radiation, etc.

The science of nutrigenomics studies how our food affects gene expression. Researchers at John Hopkins University discovered “sulforaphane” found in the seeds of broccoli, “toned down the expression of certain cancer genes.” Now we know, genes do not equal destiny.

On a personal note, it’s very clear to me where I need to focus my efforts in healing from RA; a healthy intestinal eco-system.

Next post will explore chapter seven, “The Clean Program“.

To read a summary of chapter five, click here.

A journey is always more fun with company and so I thank each and every one from the bottom of my heart for accompanying me on this learning about health experience.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

Learning about Health – Day 18

Microsoft Office Images

Microsoft Office Images

In chapter five of Clean – Remove Restore Rejuvenate, Dr. Junger explores what toxins are and teaches us about how they affect our health.

Dr. Junger states, Toxins have many ways of interfering with the normal physiology of life.”

Toxins, such as arsenic, blocks the oxygen needed to fully metabolize glucose. Other toxins, block enzymes, or stimulate body functions that begin to cause damage, such as caffeine.

Caffeine stimulates the adrenals causing an increased heart rate, blood pressure, alertness and body temperature. When taken several times a day these reactions can exhaust the adrenal glands.

This happened to me. I use to drink several cups of coffee daily and smoke a pack or more of cigarettes.

“Other toxins kill the good bacteria in the intestinal tract, block oxygen from binding to red blood cells, interfere with DNA synthesis by switching genes on and off, or block the absorption of different vitamins.”

Toxins interfere with the body’s ability to balance itself and when there are numerous kinds of toxins in the body, it’s impossible to predict their effects.

Dr. Junger began noticing the symptom of “puffiness” in his patients. He uses this term to describe a state known as “mucus” by Eastern forms of medicine.

Ayurveda medicine says that toxic foods and toxic thoughts present a “mucusy heaviness in the body.” Chinese medicine says this mucus is found in and around the cells, in the blood, in the GI tract and in your thoughts.

Mucus isn’t all bad though as it is the bodies natural defense against irritants. An example is when you inhale pepper. The nose runs trying to get the irritant out so that it doesn’t damage the nose lining.

Dr. Junger’s book completely explains why and where this mucus gets stuck and how it creates havoc in our bodies. And, the more we eat and snack, the more the mucus builds up and can’t leave the body.

“When you eat sparingly, take in nutrients that promote detoxification and start exercising, you “de-puff.”

Dr. Junger explains that an effective detoxification program will help shed weight (water and mucus), whiten eyes, firm skin, especially in the face, provide a sense of clarity and lightness in body and mind as vital fresh food attracts uplifted thought.

Constipation, allergies, depression, irritable bowel syndrome are some of the conditions that Dr. Junger’s patients are overcoming through his detoxification program.

Dr. Junger goes on to explain the bodies ecosystem and how toxins affect the bodies environment in fascinating detail. It makes one appreciate just how precious and miraculous it is to have a body.

If this information interests you at all, I highly recommend purchasing Dr. Junger’s book, Clean – Remove Restore Rejuvenate.

Next post will explore chapter six.

To read a summary of chapters three and four, click here.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

Learning about Health – Day 13

Yummy

Yummy

In the New York Times bestseller Clean:  Remove Restore Rejuvenate, Dr. Junger opens chapter three with a question he asked himself after a consultation with a New York psychiatrist, “How and why did my brain cells forget their chemistry?”

The psychiatrist told him that a low serotonin level in his brain caused his symptoms, but the psychiatrist did not tell him how and why his brain developed the low serotonin levels in the first place.

Dr. Junger discusses the differences between western and eastern schools of medicine and states that unlike eastern schools, western doctors no longer diagnose a medical problem by observation and deduction.

In the west, diagnosis is based on code. That is, a list of disease names with corresponding symptoms for which treatment is based on a list of pharmaceuticals.

The “how” and “why” the patient experiences symptoms is not usually addressed.

What Dr. Junger writes in his book is exactly my experience.

I presented symptoms. The doctor took some tests and sent me to a rheumatologist. I received a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. The rheumatologist began treatment from the list of medically accepted pharmaceuticals for RA.

Since then, the “how” and “why” questions have led me on a personal search for answers in naturopathy, homeopathy, eastern schools of medicine, spiritual traditions, and many different healing modalities.

Logically, it makes sense to me that if an over-reactive immune system is the cause of RA symptoms, then something must be present in the body to cause the over-reaction.

It does not make sense to me that my immune system is in fight mode for some elusive reason as western medicine would have us believe.

Dr.Junger makes a compelling case for toxic overload as the cause of many western diseases.

He defines a toxin as “something that interferes with normal physiology and negatively impacts bodily function.”

Chapter three quite thoroughly discusses how we are exposed to toxins.

In chapter four, Dr. Junger explores the evolution of the modern food system and its effects on our health and makes a case for “we are what we eat”, in addition to, “you eat what you are”.

Dr. Junger explains,  we are what we eat because “the compounds that the body makes from food are what it uses to build your bones, muscles, tissues and even the molecules and enzymes that fund your chemistry.”

And, you eat what you are because you crave the foods your body is accustomed to having. Dr. Junger says, “craving toxic food is a classic sign of a toxic state.”

When you switch your diet to live food that carries the energy of life you will find yourself craving these foods again and again.

I found this to be true for me, as well. When I stick to a live food diet, I find myself craving fresh live food juices and smoothies quite frequently. When I slip back into old habits, I crave fish and chips, cheeseburgers and chicken pot pie.

At the end of chapter four, Dr. Junger tells us how to live a longer, healthier life based on life expectancy research from communities world-wide.

Communities that grow their food using compost, water and sun, who eat mostly raw and seasonal foods, whose animals are fed and raised in natural ways, who lovingly and leisurely prepare their food, who chew their food ten times longer, who sit at the table with family and friends, who spent time in the sun, move a lot, occasionally enjoy rich foods and wine, who have strong bonds with family and friends, and who live life with a strong sense of purpose and community belonging live a longer, healthier life.

According to Dr. Junger, Clean is about giving rest and relaxation to the digestive system to awaken the body’s own detoxification system so that it will clean up and eliminate toxins that make a body sick.

Next post will cover chapter five.

To read a summary of chapter two, click here, chapter one, click here.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

Learning about Health – Day 2

Microsoft Office Images

Microsoft Office Images

In the previous post, I summarized chapter one of  Clean: Remove Restore and Rejuvenate.

In chapter one, we learn that our body’s detoxification system is continually working helping to keep us alive.  The cells are constantly eliminating waste substances that get processed through body systems and are then expelled.

If the system is efficient it helps to keep us healthy and young. If the system is heavily clogged due to environmental toxins,  improper diet and stress, symptoms and health conditions appear.

Chapter two, chronicles Dr. Junger’s journey from childhood in Uruguay where his family shopped at the local farmer’s market, ate lunch and dinner together at the family table through his early desire to become a doctor and then onto cardiology where the effects of his lifestyle and what he saw in his patients led to a desire for change.

Dr. Junger completed his internship at New York University’s Downtown Hospital in Lower Manhattan. He writes that the pace was fast with his main sources of nourishment from takeout, vending machines, nurses’ potlucks and the hospital cafeteria.

When he had time, he shopped at the local supermarket for fast microwave food that fit perfectly with his hectic schedule.

He found himself thinking, “Boy these Americans really know how to make things easy.”

Dr. Junger began to gain weight, he sneezed often when the seasons changed and always felt exhausted. It seemed the convenience foods were taking a toll on his health.

At the completion of a three-year internship and residency, Dr. Junger moved to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and started his cardiology training at Lenox Hill Hospital.

During the second three years of training his allergies got so bad that he had to use antihistamines and steroid inhalers. He felt bloated often with abdominal discomfort alternating between constipation and diarrhea.

After consulting a Gastroenterologist and going through all the necessary medical tests to rule out serious health conditions, Dr. Junger was given a diagnosis of “irritable bowel syndrome.”

The treatments suggested were antispasmodic pills, anti-flatulence pills, painkillers and anti-diarrhea medication alternating with laxatives.

He wasn’t surprised that nobody asked him what he was eating since he had never taken a nutrition class in his medical training.

Then something surprising occurred, Dr. Junger started waking up with chest pain. As a cardiologist he knew the heart muscle and its arteries were not the problem. He found out he was depressed.

With no family history of depression and no situational evidence to cause his feelings of impending doom, he decided to seek help.

In addition to feelings of sadness, Dr. Junger noticed his mind did not stop thinking thoughts. Dialogues played incessantly and kept him awake at night.

A psychiatrist prescribed Prozac, stating that a chemical imbalance prevented his brain from producing enough serotonin.

Dr. Junger received a second opinion. This time he was prescribed Zoloft, the cousin to Prozac. The psychiatrist explained that serotonin is responsible for the feeling of well-being and happiness. He reassured Dr. Junger that he wasn’t alone and stated he was starting to see depression in almost epidemic proportions.

Dr. Junger rejected the idea of being on prescription drugs for life and began his own research. Delving into subjects of psychiatry and psychology led him to self-help and then on to Eastern Philosophy.

Dr. Junger discovered meditation helped calm his mind and led him to being more present in the moment. He learned that the study of yoga encompassed personal attitudes toward the world and others, attitudes toward self, body postures, breathing exercises, control of the senses, concentration, meditation and present moment awareness.

An opportunity to work at a meditation school in India for one year came to Dr. Junger. He took it without hesitation.

While at the meditation school in India, Dr. Junger’s medical symptoms were clearing up.

At the end of the year, he returned to America and took a job as cardiologist in a busy practice. Many of the patients were taking five or more prescriptions and his job encouraged adding more.

One day, Dr. Junger received a visit from a friend who had just returned from a stay at the We Care Spa.

Dr. Junger’s mouth dropped as he watched his friend walk into the room. Ten days before, he saw a bloated, overweight, sallow-skinned man. Now, he saw a man who was fifteen pounds lighter, with shiny glowing skin and with eyes whose whites glistened.

The spa is known for green juices, colonics, massage, sunshine, yoga and meditation.

Due to his hectic and committed schedule, Dr. Junger couldn’t actually stay at the Spa so he took on the program as a spa out-patient.

After two weeks of the program, his body reset itself. All of his symptoms disappeared including headaches, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and depression.

This experience motivated Dr. Junger to research detoxification processes and expanded his doctor toolkit to include detoxification, dietary change and wellness from inside.

This was the beginning of the Clean Program.

Next post will summarize chapter three.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat symptoms or medical conditions. Always consult a qualified medical professional.

Learning about Health – 100-Day Challenge

Microsoft Office Images

Microsoft Office Images

Many, many months ago, I purchased a book, “Clean: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate,” by Alejandro Junger, M.D. The New York Times bestseller is “The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself.”

While I read the book when I purchased it, it sat on my shelf until a few days ago when I decided to give myself another challenge.

The best way for me to stay focused on something is through a 100-day challenge.

I decided to go through the book chapter-by-chapter highlighting important points and implementing the ideas as I go.

Chapter one talks about the awesome healing ability the body has. It’s the body’s organs and physiological process working together that keeps it clean.

The chapter explains that by implementing a focused period of detoxification, the body will reset itself because you have switched on its innate healing ability.

Some of the benefits of detoxifying are; steady energy, avoid colds and flu, heal allergies, age gracefully and avoid disease.

In actual fact, the body’s detoxification system is always working every day. The trouble is, toxins from the environment and from the food we eat accumulate in the body faster than the body system can keep up.

Our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers feasted and fasted. They went through periods when they bulked up followed by periods of imposed famine.

Signs of toxic overload include; headaches, bowel irregularities, allergies, weight problems, depression, anxiety, and pain.

According to Dr. Junger, one of the most common consequences of poor detoxification functioning is inflammation.

I know all about inflammation as rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory auto-immune condition.

Dr. Junger states that “as toxicity accumulates, your body systems are damaged one by one, starting with your intestines.”

Apparently, intestinal irritation causes a host of symptoms like; seasonal allergies, skin rashes, depression, and even a lack of enthusiasm for life.

A person can do one, two or three weeks of the “Clean” diet.

Sounds interesting don’t you think.

I definitely know that my diet isn’t clean. For one thing, I have way too much sugar. Sugar cravings are a challenge for me. Every day, I eat food items such as; dark chocolate, honey, gluten and egg-free cookies, energy bars and hot chocolate drink mixes.

Next post will cover chapter two.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it.

 

A day in a life with rheumatoid arthritis – Part 7- Fat Sick and Nearly Dead – the movie

First off, let me give a big THANKS to all my subscribers and to those who read my blog. I feel very blessed that you liked it enough to click the “follow” feature or “subscribe” in the earlier days.

Blogging helps me to track my experiences as I contemplate and search for a meaningful life. I feel honored when I inspire others with the information I share as it crosses my path. And, the fact that blogging on WordPress makes it so easy, is a bonus.

A few weeks ago, my brother told me about a documentary he watched titled, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead“. Joe Cross was 100 lbs. overweight and suffered from a rare autoimmune disease. Under medical supervision, Joe went on a 60-day juice fast while he traveled across the United States filming the documentary. Joe spoke to 500 Americans about food and healthy lifestyle. Some took the challenge along with him. One woman found relief from persistent migraines.

According to my brother, the most fascinating part of the video was when Joe Cross found Phil Staples at a truck stop. Phil weighed in at 429 lbs., suffered from the same rare condition and couldn’t stand his situation any longer. According to the descriptive blurb about the trailer, the documentary turned into an inspiring story about two men who realize that “the only person that can save them is themselves.”

Please watch the 5 minute trailer that introduces Joe’s incredible journey. BTW, the doctor you see in the video with Joe is Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman helps patients improve health through nutrition excellence.

If this video intrigued you, I highly recommend a further 2 minute video by Joe on fruit, vegetables and the power of juicing.

I don’t know about you, but after watching the videos, I feel a craving for freshly juiced vegetables and fruits. Joe spreads his message at Join the Reboot.

In a previous post (click here), I mentioned that I noticed a significant improvement in the level of pain and inflammation from RA since I removed gluten and eggs from my diet. In addition, I don’t experience the severe flare-ups as I did before the diet change or the thick heavy achy feeling.

During the last few weeks, I’ve had a number of medical appointments that add further testament that I’m on the right track. Here is the latest news in brief;

Naturopath visit –  live blood cell analysis looked more  normal.

Rheumatologist visit – blood-work results show ESR (detects level of inflammation activity) is down to a manageable level 7 (anything under 20 is considered normal). However, according to my rheumatologist ESR isn’t the only test they use to diagnose inflammatory conditions. While RA symptoms have greatly subsided, it is evident I still have a moderate level of disease activity.

Echo-cardiogram – normal.

I still have a way to go yet to get to where I want to be, but all in all, I think this is wonderful news so far. The elimination of gluten, eggs and the increase in vegetables and fruits, I believe, has contributed to a much improved RA condition.

Here is a recap of the foods I consume on a more or less daily basis. Fresh or frozen organic when possible fruits and vegetables, kefir, sauerkraut, salmon and limited gluten-free eggless baked goods. Recently, I tried adding small amounts of bio-dynamic stewing beef to my vegetable dishes. For cooking I use coconut oil and turmeric. I also take various vitamin supplements and nutritional supports like Vega or a naturopath recommended support.

Plans for the future include to resume juicing and stay consistent with a high daily vegetable intake. I have discovered that I have way less food cravings and hunger attacks when I eat an adequate amount of nutrient rich foods daily.

So, what am I learning? Watching videos from people like Dr.Terry Wahls who cured her MS and Joe Cross who cured a rare autoimmune disease is inspiring and validates that hard-core lifestyle changes are paramount to move the body into balance and health.

Thanks again for reading. Have a wonderful weekend!

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is based solely on my own personal experience. No medical advice is given or intended by the owner of this blog. Please consult a health care professional for advice.