Saturday, December 27, 2008

Facials, Breast Health & Lymphatic Drainage

I've read about it off and on. Constriction or lack of flow in lymphatic drainage near a woman's breasts contributes to breast cancer.

When I was at Hippocrates Health Institute, their therapeutic esthetician quoted statistics regarding lower rates of breast cancer in women who get facials! I did a double take as I was ready to pass through the lecture hall room. I always like a good reason for bodywork of any kind.

Intrigued, I perched on the side of a brown leather couch at the back of the room, close to the counter where green juices are served three times a day. The esthetician went on to explain that a good facial helps lymph nodes in the neck and around the collarbone remove cellular waste from breast tissue and explains why women who get facials have less incidence of breast cancer.

While movement and massage helps congested lymphatic fluids drain, it is also important for women to consider ditching their bras, at least some of the time, as bras cut off tiny lymphatic vessels.

Did you know that women who wear bras more than 12 hours a day have a 1 in 7 chance of breast cancer? Women who wear their bras to bed (egad!) have a startling 1 in 4 chance of breast cancer. Conversely, women who generally go braless (those flat-chested or free-spirited women in the Western world and most women in the second and third worlds) have only a 1 in 168 chance of breast cancer (similar to the risk men face).

Thus, women who wear bras should not only do regular breast exams but may also want to consider regular lymphatic drainage massage as a valuable support for their immune system health and to save their breasts from the big bad ugly C.

However, women should be careful about trying to do this kind of work on their own as movements must be quite gentle, steady, and able to move lymph in the right direction to achieve proper drainage.

According to Dr. Bruno Chikly, who is trained in endocrinology, surgery, neurology, and psychiatry and specializes in the lymphatic system:

"Heavy pressure...and kneading may not only hurt but may destroy the few suspensory ligaments (Cooper's ligament) and elastic fibers which prevent sagging (mastoptosis). Additionally, since breast tissue is well-supplied with lymphatics but lacks sources of external compression (such as muscles or strong overlying fascia) to promote the natural lymphatic drainage found in most other body tissues, fluid has a tendency to accumulate in the breast. The light-touch specific approach of LDT provides an ideal solution to fluid stagnation."

If you're a man and used to think that facials and massages are optional time-outs from stress for women, you can give a new kind of gift (Christmas is over but Valentine's Day is fast approaching) and know that you're giving a gift of health and not just pampering.

If you're a woman, round up a friend or two and schedule a facial or a massage after any kind of workout (movement will get more bad stuff into the lymphatic fluid and the facial or massage will help unblock any places of flow that are congested).

If you're a bodyworker offering lymphatic drainage massage, you need to do more to educate the women in your community! I'm a dyed-in-the-wool deep tissue fan and thoroughly disdained the idea of a featherlight massage as being beyond the point of getting a massage. I just needed a little education.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Rebounding to the Beat for a Healthy Immune System!

I don't know why I share these things sometimes. It's after 9 pm on the day after Christmas and the most exciting thing in my life is rebounding to dance music.

Lately, I've been jumping and twisting on a mini trampoline to get my lymphatic system moving (otherwise known as rebounding). With an autoimmune diagnosis, I'm interested in all things that help my immune system function optimally, well beyond supplements and diet. By the way, I'm feeling great and I'm confident that all is going well and I won't have this diagnosis for long.

For those inquiring minds out there, here's a sample of what I've been rebounding (and dancing to) tonight. Smooth by Santana was one (Rob Thomas sings this hot hip-swinging classic). Love it! Another was Ramalama (Bang Bang) by Roisin Murphy, a fun, boisterous number. I played a bunch of other music, from Vampire Weekend to LCD Soundsystem to Madonna and Nine Inch Nails (I know, an odd combination, eh?).

But back to the main point--the connection between movement and a healthy immune system.

If the gym or running circles around a track (or your neighborhood) is not your thing, and even if you don't have a mini trampoline, crank up your favorite music, do a little gentle stretching and warm-up, and enjoy shaking your booty a bit more often.

Your immune system will thank you (remember, your lymphatic system doesn't have its own pump and needs you to move to move your cell-nourishing, waste-eliminating lymph)! So why not move to music?! :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Macro Greens Vegan Bars & Weight Loss Foods

By now, you all know I'm way more interested in live foods, which means raw vegetarian foods with live enzymes that support digestion!

Over the weekend, I had lunch up at Fairweather, a natural foods store with good vegan soups every day too. I scoured the store for food that had not only no dairy or gluten but also no eggs or soy or almonds. Not so easy if you want a treat or something to eat when on the run.

I found the Macro Greens raw food bars marketed as "raw antioxidant super food" and "all natural energy" food. With protein from Brazil nuts and none of the offending ingredients for which I have to scan these days.

I found in Macro Greens (I tried the Apple-Lemon-Ginger and the Chocolate-Cinnamon flavors) a whole lot of impressive ingredients like spirulina, chlorella, and barley grass powder, red raspberry powder, ginger, and licorice root powder and, and, and, so much more.

MacroLife Naturals, the company that manufactures these little bars, is committed to producing "non-allergenic, nutrient-rich superfood." Kudos to them, as so much of what passes for health food can still be allergenic. Interestingly, the company was founded by a mother who designed formulas to help her son lose weight.

Nourish the body more thoroughly and cravings can genuinely disappear.

My brother is on a new high-protein packaged food program that Mike Ciell (our favorite pharmacist-turned-clinical biochemist) designed for weight loss.

So far, so good for Stephen (he lost 9 pounds the first week and Donnaree, our shipper, lost 11 pounds, when women are more likely to lose 3-4 pounds per week). Even trim Teri lost 4 pounds on the program. Weight loss is probably the biggest draw for people (we do have a fair number of "fat cats" among our members), however, Mike Ciell promotes his program for dramatic improvements in blood sugar normalization and for helping people get off all sorts of meds.

I cannot be on Mike's program because of soy and other things to which I am allergic, so I have no personal experience, but I will get the kat to do an interview with Mike, who can tell the whole story in great detail!

Now inquiring minds at the Co-op want to know: Who among you is interested in Mike Ciell's high-protein packaged foods weight loss program? We do indeed have a pilot program going, which Teri is managing, so she says who gets to be "in" right now, so don't bother writing to me, write to Teri!

Meanwhile, for those of you who are more like me, with "sensitive systems," who among you would be interested in the Co-op offering low-allergen vegan food bars from MacroLife Naturals?! Somehow, I think this offering will come in a distant second to weight loss, especially right after a holiday season of feasting! :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wheat Grass Farms in Austin & San Diego

One of our members wrote in asking about the "wheat grass farm in Austin" that I had mentioned in an earlier blog entry, as Austin was far closer to his home than West Palm Beach (where the Hippocrates Health Institute is).

And, the answer is...the Optimum Health Institute, which has locations in Austin and also in San Diego (although the Austin center is newer and supposedly quieter, nestled amidst acres of wooded property, but I have no direct experience).

The good news is that the programs at Optimum Health Institute are more affordable than the Hippocrates Health Institute, probably because they appear to have more group work and none of the individual sessions with bodyworkers and stress evaluations or the blood work assessments.

If you're considering a kick-start for your own healing or a revitalization from stress or everyday toxin build-up, then I highly recommend the very holistic wheat grass/raw foods/cleansing/mind/body/spirit approach! :-)

Let me know what you've done (or intend to do) for yourself for the New Year!

Buh Bye to Original Constant Health and Upcoming Study

A labor of love, the original Constant Health is now on clearance. We have the new inventory in with improved flavoring (no lo han guo, an acquired taste in no-calorie sweeteners, apparently), double the protein, double the fiber, and a long-handled scoop (the men complained about the short-scoop more than the women!).

I talked to my dear friend, Lynda St. Dennis, a big Constant Health fan, and she said that to save some money she decided to buy the discounted Rich Chocolate version of Constant Health, even though she far prefers the French Vanilla (she actually said, even though "I don't really like the chocolate, I bought three jars"). I told Lynda to contact Teri and ask for the single packet Constant Health in vanilla, as they are an even better deal for 28 servings. She was a happy camper.

Teri was surprised by the larger jar (how come we hadn't told her!?) and we explained that it took a larger jar to hold twice the protein, but Teri just laughed and said she had to see things in person!

As most of my readers know, Constant Health was inspired by my dad's health problems and recovery (for a time on a mix of products that inspired our all-in-one formula). As the first inventory batch goes buh bye, I think of him and wish he could have been here to see Constant Health become a successful product (he wanted me to name it "Lifesaver" but a certain candy seems to already have that name and it seemed a bit hyperbolic anyway).

We'll be starting our clinical study using Constant Health in Dr. Rodier's clinic in Draper, Utah in the New Year, so stay tuned on what we find out. For now, thanks to all of you who have used Constant Health and given us the feedback to improve our formula! And, buh bye to the old inventory.

On my side, I'll miss that caramely-flavor of the lo han guo in our original Constant Health, but at least the stevia we used is the no-aftertaste version (I hated most stevia products until this one, which is more expensive).

Low Glycemic Diets Trump Low Fiber Diets, etc.

I used to be all about the fiber. Just add fiber--for satiation, cholesterol control, and and slowing down digestion to reduce blood sugar spikes. While I'm still a big believer in fiber, I'm more interested in low-glycemic diets these days, and the research is bearing this out.

According to St. Michael's Hospital & University of Toronto research on 210 diabetic patients:

"Lowering the glycemic index of the diet improved glycemic control and risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD)."

According to lead researcher, Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital:

"Low-glycemic foods - beans, peas, lentils, pasta, rice boiled briefly and breads like pumpernickel and flaxseed - do a better job of managing glycemic control for Type-2 diabetes and risk factors for coronary heart disease than high-fiber diets, including whole grain breads, crackers and breakfast cereals."

For those of you who only vaguely understand the glycemic index or GI values, low glycemic foods are those that score below 50 on the glycemic index, with pure glucose scoring 100, and high glycemic foods scoring over 70.

Did you know that Cheerios, instant Cream of Wheat, and Shredded Wheat cereals are all over 70 in GI value? Did you know that Corn Flakes score 92 on the glycemic index?

Carrots and green peas are typically under the 50 point threshold, while pumpkin pushes up to 75 and parsnips are all the way up there at 97. Who knew about those less-than-flashy parsnips?!

Brown rice is around 55 points while glutinous sushi or "sticky" rice can score as high as 98 on the glycemic index. Yikes!

Anyway, my time at the Hippocrates Health Institute, with their focus on raw and highly-alkaline foods, also taught me a lot about a low glycemic diet.

For those of you following my flushing-rosacea blog posts (that bad Irish skin gene!), my flushing basically disappeared on a raw vegan diet that was highly alkaline and very low in glycemic index. Cabbage, onions, mushrooms, red peppers, and broccoli all score a measley 15 on the glycemic index.

At the Institute, we had fruit on occasion (as in once a week - I wasn't supposed to have any fruit but I did anyway, just limited my portion!). Cherries, which were served, are a reassuringly low 22 on the glycemic index, with apples and pears at 38, and bananas not bad at around 52. Note that ripe bananas are moderately alkaline while green bananas are moderately acidic (never did like those green bananas!).

So, more raw vegetables and fruits automatically give me more fiber, so now I concentrate on glycemic index values and alkalinity scores (check out this last link as it is rich with data about acid/alkaline foods)!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Enzymes, Raw Food & Omar's

What would we be without enzymes? Health and healing are all about the little enzyme workhorses that are responsible for metabolism as well as digestion.

Did you know that a lot of metabolic enzymes get shunted over to digestion when we eat the wrong foods (hard-to-digest meats, fried foods, and even soy products) and too few live foods (live foods are those that have never been heated above 104-118 degrees F and thus retain active enzymes).

Enzymes, you see, are a part of every living cell. Without them, vitamins and minerals would be inert. With enzymes, the work of converting raw nutrients into effective energy and information for the body's use is quite literally sped up.

Yep, even product marketers know that enzymes speed up chemical reactions. That's why so many cleaning products use enzymes--to speed up biochemical reactions required in cleaning. Think of food stains on clothing. Enzymes help break down the fats and proteins from food, just like they do in digestion.

Why am I so fascinated with enzymes of late? It was a big topic at the Hippocrates Health Institute, where the lectures emphasized how overtapped our natural enzyme production process is. When we overeat, eat bad foods, combine foods poorly, or eat constantly, we put huge requirements on our pancreas to produce enzymes for digestion. Basically, with a bad diet, we waste our precious enzyme (or "life-giving") resources.

Scientifically, here's a disturbing blurb from the Wikipedia entry on enzymes (bold type my addition):

Involvement in Disease
Since the tight control of enzyme activity is essential for homeostasis, any malfunction (mutation, overproduction, underproduction or deletion) of a single critical enzyme can lead to a genetic disease. The importance of enzymes is shown by the fact that a lethal illness can be caused by the malfunction of just one type of enzyme out of the thousands of types present in our bodies.

So, when the pancreas cannot deliver enough enzymes during digestion, the Hippocrates folks argue that white blood cells can even get enlisted to help out with digestion, taking them out of commission for immune system work. Sounds sinister, eh? Little immune system soldiers being deployed for dietary crossing guard duty means they are not able to conduct proper search and destroy activities against true invaders. I haven't validated this claim yet though.

As we age, our enzyme production naturally drops, so adding enzyme-rich foods (raw foods) seems prudent. Adding digestive enzymes also helps lessen the load on an overworked pancreas.

I'm eating more raw foods now that I'm back. I haven't committed to a fully raw foods diet but I did feel good on the raw diet while at Hippocrates. I'm also being really careful to add Pancreatic Enzymes (ours are vegetarian) before or with every meal these days. Can't be too careful when trying to heal the old gut and give my pancreas a little rest whenever possible!

Today, I experimented with menu items from a raw foods restaurant, Omar's Living Cuisine, in Sugarhouse (a neighborhood in Salt Lake City), run by a young Lebanese guy. I can highly recommend the raw "pizza" (it's more like a raw tostada of sorts, complete with perfectly-ripe avocado slices and delightful spices) and the hemp protein "milk" with its own chai spices!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blown Away by Live Blood Analysis at Hippocrates

I know, I know. A lot of web sites dismiss the value of live blood analysis. But I was blown away today by the analysis I received, which included assessment of today's blood draw, the original blood draw 3 weeks ago, and rings of blood indicating the last 3, 5 and 10 years in my life. The process is likened to reading the rings in a tree, assessing times of drought and stress and times of lush growth.

Usually, a healthy skepticism is never far from my mind. But the Hippocrates nurse correctly assessed how my health was back in 1998, when I used to juice veggies and fruits for breakfast every morning, avoided wheat and dairy products, got plenty of exercise and felt pretty happy in my life. She pointed to the balance of the blood and the protective layer around it and the density of red color. Her comment was that a little wisp on one side indicated that I was hard on myself but otherwise healthy.

Five years ago, my blood profile was still nice and balanced, but with allergies starting to show up (yep, I was starting to be careless and eating breads and dairy products).

Within the last three years, she said that a lot of emotional stress showed up, along with more signs of allergies, and parasites that were stealing vitamins and minerals from the supply chain.

Weird. Three years ago stress was way up in my business world. Two and a half years ago, my dad became critically ill and died almost a year and a half ago. A year ago, my mom fell and was not healing easily from her fall and I was flying back and forth to support her and her life and animals. This year, I've had a tough year emotionally for so many other reasons (I don't write about absolutely everything in this blog, although it may seem so at times!).

And all of this was visible in the live blood cell analysis. The body is a most amazing creation, with mind/body/emotions/spirit all showing themselves in a variety of ways, always integrated, if you know how to look and see what they are saying in their mostly non-verbal ways!

Today's blood draw showed cells that were "dancing" (moving easily and not stuck together in sticky masses). That's supposed to be very good. Yeah! She clucked a bit about some "old proteins" that were making some of the blood cells look like lemons rather than nice round skaters in the plasma. She said this was due to some old animal proteins that my body doesn't like.

Sheesh. I didn't tell her that I went off campus yesterday and had a lunch with salmon and veggies and a dinner with chicken and veggies. Oh yeah, and some fresh fruit. Saintly for most folks. I didn't even have a nibble of the bread plate (I've sworn off wheat). Nevertheless, my little outing with fish and chicken showed up in my blood draw today.

Some good news followed, when the nurse noted that the parasites are "resolving" and that my vitamins and minerals are in better shape (no more stealing by thieving parasites).

I know Dr. Rodier regularly does detoxification himself, including parasite elimination, given his international travel. I never thought of this as relevant--until now! I've been doing implants of vitamins and minerals and a microfine silver solution to address parasites and nutritional deficiencies.

Meanwhile, the nurse also commented that she saw a major purge of an emotional or mental nature (she interpreted this as letting go of something, perhaps even about being right about something). I told her that I had spent as much time journaling, breathing deeply, walking quietly, reflecting on things I had made too little time for when I was so busy in my life, as I did for anything else. She said it showed in my blood, that my blood shows no stress as of today, and that she doesn't usually see such a big emotional shift.

Okay, so I cheated with some animal protein, and it showed up, but I worked hard at being more mindful and peaceful, and this too showed up in today's blood draw. I have one more interpretation of my blood work with Anna Maria Clement, one of the directors of the Hippocrates Health Institute. We'll go over the quantitative numbers and I'll write about those separately.

For now, I find myself astonished by the miracle of life and the truly integrated nature of all things.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting Your Lymphatic System Circulating

Who knew how important the lymphatic system could be to health? I knew that swollen lymph nodes meant infection, but little more. I've been learning a lot more about this quiet member of the immune system's team.

Let's start with the fact that the lymphatic system is responsible for taking cellular garbage out. You can think of the lymphatic system as your body's filter, with lymph nodes filtering antigens of all kinds, bad bacteria, and foreign materials that don't belong in the circulatory system.

Efficient lymphatic filtering is critical to healthy immune system function, especially when it comes to standing sentry against colonizing cancer cells, who prefer to take up residence when lymph is sluggish and distracted by too much waste from faulty digestion and ingestion of toxins.

A simple antidote to sluggish lymph? A mini trampoline. It sounded silly at first but it makes sense. In health circles, they call the exercise "rebounding" -- you simply bounce or run in place on a mini trampoline, something anyone can do easily, and you perk up your lymphatic system in a hurry.

You get some nice side benefits, like increasing bone density (good for us gals who have some kind of mild osteopenia and don't want it to progress) and improving glow to older skin (yep, circulation of the blood helps, but getting the waste manager in helps skin too!).

It feels good even if you rebound (bounce, run, hop) for only 10-15 minutes. So think about a mini trampoline for someone you love this holiday season. Better immune function, better bones, better skin. How can you go wrong?!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wheat Grass Protocols

I've been listening to a lot of lectures during my stay at the Hippocrates Health Institute. The big themes that keep coming up center on oxygen, enzymes, and alkalinity.

The Institute was founded by Ann Wigmore, who cured herself of cancer by doing what she saw her pets do when they were sick: eat grass. And she ate plain old grass, lawn grass, that is, and cured her cancer.

The way Wigmore chose wheat grass as the green to juice is interesting. She lined up a bunch of sprouted grains, including wheat, buckwheat, etc., and put her cat in front of the line of seven greens. The cat chose the wheat grass greens. Wigmore did the same with her dog and her dog also chose wheat grass. The wheat grass just tasted better, and that is why the Institute uses wheat grass as a main part of their healing program.

By the way, Wigmore believed that instinctually-based animals do not make mistakes and that we humans have lost our instinctual approach to healing.

The Institute's theory is that chlorophyl in wheat grass juice is the closest to hemoglobin in human blood, with the difference being the iron nucleus that defines human blood and the magnesium nucleus that defines green plant juice. Wheat grass is touted as being incredibly rich in enzymes and is ideally balanced in vitamins and minerals. Thus, it is ingested twice a day as a drink (some take it more like a "shot" to be endured-quickly!).

It's a grind -your-own kind of affair, with four wheat grass juicers in a cool room with a fridge full of the freshest wheat grass you've ever tasted. I know, I know, it's not that a lot of you are connosseurs of wheat grass, but trust me on this one.

The wheat grass grower, Michael, is known for his exceptional grass and sometimes trucks it out of town to places like New York City and makes a mint on his fine-tasting grass. Telling people what he does, is another story, as many folks like to reduce his grass growing to things like "oh, you're in the landscaping business, right?!" He tries to change the subject and only talk wheat grass to guests, who are interested in learning to grow their own wheat grass.

Anyway, back to the protocol, fresh wheat grass is also supposed to be implanted rectally, using a little bulb or syringe, twice a day to be absorbed by the hemorroidal vein, delivering oxygen, alkalinity, and vitamins and minerals into the body directly. It is supposed to stimulate metabolism, increase red blood cell count, protect against carcinogens, and detoxify the liver and blood stream.

That's a lot for a little green grass juice to do, but that's the premise here and they've been using wheat grass for over 50 years to help people combat cancer and all sorts of chronic diseases, so I am open and willing to embrace this no-side-effect little therapy.

Three flats of wheat grass are always growing in my house already, as grazing turf for my two indoor Siamese cats. Diva, the little 7 pound Chocolate Point cutie, literally mows the grass down at times. Interestingly, she's the one with the asthma, which was alleviated quite a bit by putting all bedding in hot water each week to get rid of dust mites!

So, growing wheat grass is not hard at all and with the right juicer, making shots of green magic each day is not so hard either. I don't even mind the taste, which is rather sweet.

Explaining the little implant process to folks might be rather uncalled for, as I myself would have been totally turned off by the concept prior to doing a 3-week program at Hippocrates! My mom and brother don't want to hear anything about this or the colon cleansing protocol either. I'll talk about that next time for those of you with more open minds than my family!