Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lifestyle -- Sleep

I am going to keep my post shorter tonight in support of one goal: more sleep.

This intangible thing called 'sleep' has become a commodity.  It is negotiated, exchanged, compromised, discounted, and downgraded. 

But there is upside to its scarcity: free time; time to get organized; be the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker; time to read, and think, learn and create. 

It really has nothing to do with sleep.  It's just that I love being awake.

Is there anything that can make the lifestyle choice of 'more sleep' easier to incorporate into busy schedules?  Here are some ideas from the National Sleep Foundation:
  • Listen to music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep.
  • Create a relaxing environment.  Pay attention to lighting.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
So many positive choices.  I see higher thread count in my near future.

Note the time stamp on this post...I have some work sleep to do.

Sleep well and be well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Magnificent Magnesium

In 2009, after nearly four years of relentless stress, I decided to take a break from the stress-cycle and replenish myself with nourishment, sleep, fun, family, friends, and sunshine.  Easier said than done.  I thought that vacations, vitamins, and exercise would be a quick fix but feeling great did not happen overnight. 

And then I met magnesium.   We clicked.  Not quite as magical as Vitamin D.  But still magnificent.

Stupid me I assumed that:
1. I was getting plenty of magnesium in my diet and
2. That it was abundant in my multi-vitamin

"Magnesium is a vital catalyst in enzymes involved in energy production." 
"...a deficiency can interfere with nerve and muscle impulses, causing irritability and nervousness." 
"...aids in maintaining the body's proper pH." 
"...aids in maintaining normal body temperature." 
"...possible manifestations of deficiency include cardiac arrhythmia." 
"...is effective in preventing premature labor."

Keep in mind that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's RDAs (recommended daily allowances) do not account for the amount needed to maintain maximum health, only the amount needed to prevent deficiency. 

Your doctor can test for magnesium deficiency.  Magnesium deficiency is very common in the United States.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's up with nitrates and nitrites?

I have to admit that I have been pretty lazy about nitrates and nitrites.  I know they are in some of the foods that I eat and I know the general vibe is that they are bad. 

What are they?
  • Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate are two closely related chemicals used for centuries to preserve meat.
What foods are they primarily in?
  • Often found in cured meats including hot dogs, sausages, bologna, ham, bacon and deli meat. It is also found in pepperoni, corned beef, salami and canned meats.  My favorite deli meats use nitrites -- Boar's Head Brand is kind enough to have their nitrite rebuttal posted online if you want to check out their stance (and the American Meat Institute). 
Are they bad? How bad?
  • When nitrite combines with compounds called secondary amines, it forms nitrosamines, potential cancer-causing chemicals. The chemical reaction occurs most readily at the high temperatures of frying. Nitrite has long been suspected as being a cause of stomach cancer. 
  • Here is a good article, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/f-w00/nitrosamine.html
Are there worthy alternatives?
In a way, I am mostly thankful for pioneering health advocates.  Without them blazing the trail household brands like Hormel may not have seen the opportunity in offering a 'natural' product line.  A battle line will likely be forever drawn between the old-school-nitrate/nitrite-safety-advocates and the vegan-or-100%-nitrate/nitrite-free-posse. 

But, for now, our purchasing dollars can be spent silently driving demand and this influence will steer the market into offering healthy alternatives.  Eat well and shop smart.

Monday, December 27, 2010

B Complex

I used to joke that the last thing I needed was to "B" more complex.  Wrong again...

B vitamins are worthy of a long post; however, my intent is to highlight one area that recently caught my attention.  Deficiencies of vitamins B6 and B12 and folate can prevent homocysteine from converting rapidly enough. 

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced in the body in the course of methionine metabolism.  Homocysteine has been the focus of increasing attention in recent years because high levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  Further, it is known that homocysteine has a toxic effect on cells lining the arteries, makes the blood more prone to clotting, and promotes the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL -- "bad cholesterol"), which makes it more likely that cholesterol will be deposited as plaque in blood vessels.

If high levels of homocysteine accumulate in the body, it can damage cell membranes and blood vessels and potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Vitamin B6 and B12 and folate work together to facilitate the breakdown of homocysteine and thus help protect against heart disease.

Balch, Phyllis.  "Prescription for Nutritional Healing."  Amino Acids.  Homocysteine, p. 49.

A Favorite Book

I love this book.

This book makes me curious...

This book is empowering...

This book is a first step.

This books make me wants to eat better and be healthier.

I would like to buy everyone a copy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aligning Goals

Do you have a list of goals? 

People have all sorts of advice for goals.  What works for you?
  • Written goals
  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely)
  • Varying time horizons - 30, 60, 90, 180 days & 1, 3, 5, 10 years
  • Balanced and multi-dimensional:
    • Physical (e.g., weight loss, exercise, makeover of hair/clothes, etc.)
    • Mental/wealth/liberty (have more money, travel, job promotion, school/grades)
    • Spiritual (yoga, reading, quiet time, contributing to the community, whatever inspires)
    • Emotional (being more connected to friends, family, letting go, balance work/life, etc.)
  • Visualization - to think is to create
For me, I often step back and ask what do I want more of?  What do I want less of?  How can I align my goals so they support each other?  For example, it seems counterintuitive to want more money and a trip across the world.  It is always possible but the goals are somewhat in conflict, right? 

Personally, some of my goals were to spend time relaxing with family, be healthy, and travel.  This week we hit for the cycle.  First, we headed to the west coast.  Second, my husband competed in his first triathlon with his brother.  He trained for 2-3 months, looks great, and our daughters had an absolute blast cheering on Dad and their Uncle.  It was so cool to see my husband compete and train with his brother.  Third, all of this exercise aligns with eating well!  The homerun is an overall relaxing vacation with family. 

As we draft and re-draft our ambitions it is always good to create synergy by aligning goals over the short and long-term. 

You can be whatever you want to be...to think is to create.  How can I support you?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is Splenda splended?

My short answer: No.

Why is Splenda less than splendid?  First, chlorine.  Second, no long-term studies of the side effects of Splenda in humans.

To add confusion to the shopping list, the FDA issued a press release asserting that sucralose (Splenda) is "made from sugar."

What is Splenda?  It is not sugar...it is a synthetic compound discovered in 1976 by British scientists researching a new pesticide.  The Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) — except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms. 

Chlorinated sugar...yum. 

"While some industry experts claim the molecule is similar to table salt or sugar, other independent researchers say it has more in common with pesticides. That’s because the bonds holding the carbon and chlorine atoms together are more characteristic of a chlorocarbon than a salt — and most pesticides are chlorocarbons.

Once it gets to the gut, sucralose goes largely unrecognized in the body as food — that’s why it has no calories. The majority of people don’t absorb a significant amount of Splenda in their small intestine — about 15% by some accounts," Marcelle Pick.

There have not been long-term studies on Splenda's health effects.  The good news is that we can sit on the side lines and choose out of this public health experiment.

http://www.womentowomen.com/healthyweight/splenda.aspx