Friday, December 31, 2010

Recalling 2010 at the Co-op

I rang in the New Year of 2010 in Miami Beach with Flemming--on the beach, with fireworks and a sea of people under a lovely Blue Moon. We'll be ringing in the New Year of 2011 in a quieter fashion, in Lantana at a sweet little Italian restaurant--with a jazz chanteuse singing and playing piano. My new life with Flemming is a big part of what I will always remember about 2010.

In February, I headed over to Copenhagen with my two cats, Damon and Diva, to explore dating the (then) new man in my life, Flemming Christensen. I had an apartment for four months (which I mostly used as an office). I learned to navigate downtown Copenhagen (Centrum). We figured out how to fit me and my stuff into Flemming's 200 year-old European-sized condo home, which he picked as a place for himself and his son, Philip. We all got along quite beautifully. Things worked out in Copenhagen, and Flemming proposed, right after celebrating my 50th birthday (in Istanbul, in a room with a view of the Bosphorus). We shared the story with Teri and Harley last night (how I was sure Flemming would propose while we were in Istanbul celebrating my birthday).

On a sadder note, just a little over a week ago we lost our little female cat, Diva. Damon is 11 years old now and alone, and we are debating whether we will need to get another kitten for him. While Flemming and I are in Florida, Philip is taking care of Damon. They have bonded quite deeply already with Philip writing to me yesterday that "I love that he's this social. I would feel so lonely without him and absolutely love having him around me. So even though he is a bit more needy now that Diva is gone you don't have to worry that he isn't getting enough love and attention :)"  Sweet. 
Diva - Remembered with love

Damon - One of my best buddies since he was a kitten
and loved by many (even people who don't like cats!)

Other things that I remember with appreciation about 2010 include:

  • Stephen Fason-- for being not only a good business partner but a brother whom I love and admire. We took time this year to talk about new and important things and found ways to laugh at ourselves at times when others might have gotten stuck. Stephen acts as a marvelous counterbalance for me (e.g., if I am too wildly enthusiastic or impulsive, he helps me check my assumptions and we can then integrate the best of both of our contributions). 
  • Teri Edgell -- for boldly venturing into the world of writing and trusting that she has a voice worthy of sharing.   I have enjoyed witnessing Teri's growth in confidence as she blogs about the things she notices in the world. I also continuously marvel at her joyous spirit, which helps so many in need of a kind word, a sense of optimism, or even a smile during hard times.  I also respect her journey into personal development and increased awareness. 
  • Chris Harding -- for joining our team and bringing a natural enthusiasm for our mission. Chris has a shaman's spirit, communing deeply with nature and people alike and valuing all things that bring health and healing. I have felt honored to have someone who is so incredibly competent, so gets the Co-op's ethos, and so loves our community. It's like he has always been with us. 
Stephen, Teri, and Chris are at the center of what makes our little Co-op hum and I feel grateful to be associated with such a fine team.

For those of you wondering when Flemming and I  will get married, we're not saying just yet. Stay tuned in the New Year! 

Love and good wishes for your own health, healing, and wholeness! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Secret to Weight Loss Success -- A Journal

We act on what we pay attention to. That's the starting point, at least. With Americans increasingly worrying about weight and associated maladies, the search for weight loss tips that don't cost an arm and a leg is never-ending. Not everyone can go to Canyon Ranch for a week of organic light fare and vigorous exercise.

However, there's a secret that most people don't take advantage of--namely keeping a journal of what they eat and when. According to Greenwich Hospital's press release on December 20th:
Putting a pen to paper and keeping a daily journal of meals and snacks is one of the best strategies of successful dieters, says Dr. Christopher J. Mosunic, a specialist in weight management and diabetes at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut.
“Keeping a food diary is like exercise, it will always help you lose if you do it consistently,” says Mosunic, a licensed clinical psychologist and registered dietitian who trained at Duke University’s famed weight loss clinic. More importantly, the writing habit “is one of the top predictors of weight loss success,” Mosunic adds. No wonder some of the country’s major commercial diet plans strongly recommend the write-what-you-eat journaling practice to their clients.
The secret's secret? Mindfulness. Becoming mindful of what we eat is the path to more conscious eating. As a teacher of mine, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, says, "Energy follows attention, and choice follows awareness." Richard has a Ph.D. in psychology with a focus on what creates excellence. So true, so true. 

So, back to weight loss. Think about buying yourself a journal and enrolling a couple of friends in a food journaling practice (it's not cheating to start before New Year's). Write and write--everything you eat, when you eat, what you feel, what you think about. Just write. If you decide to gather your friends to talk about what you're noticing, drop a line and let me know how you're doing. 

If there is enough interest, I would be happy to support a group of our members in doing some basic mindfulness exercises (centering, breathing deeply, reconnecting to bodily experience) to help ring in the New Year with more support for greater wellness.

Please leave a comment below if you are interested in such support. 

Here's to a truly healthy New Year for you and yours. Warmest best wishes!

Giant Microbes -- Weird Gift of the Year?

When you spend the kind of time that I do browsing research findings, you inevitably end up on weird sites with weird stuff at times.

The site Giant Microbes takes first prize in offering weird gifts for biology nerds (who else would be interested in a stuffed animal representing the common cold, a bed bug or mange?!).  Some of the microbes are animated for our entertainment. Select "White Blood Cell" (a "leukocyte" in Latin) and check out the little fellow doing the happy dance.

Okay, enough on this silly site. You'll know you have too much time on your hands (or that you are a closet biology nerd with a warped sense of humor) if you explore the Giant Microbes site in any detail. If you buy anything on this site, you'll have to let me know what you bought and why. :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rats & Dogs & Disease Detection

I just love learning about low-cost, non-toxic means of detecting and treating disease, hence my interest in nutrition and understanding the nature of, for example, common food allergies--and hence my intrigue when I saw this headline today: "Giant African Rats Successfully Detect Tuberculosis More Accurately Than Commonly Used Techniques."

The phrase "giant African rats" paints a picture all by itself. Add in tuburculosis detection and I couldn't resist clicking through. Here's a snippet from the press release:

“Using sniffer rats to detect TB seems medieval but our study shows it works, providing an inexpensive, accurate, quick diagnostic,” said lead investigator Alan Poling, PhD., Western Michigan University. “This could have a huge impact in developing countries where TB accounts for one-fourth of all preventable adult deaths and high-tech screening methods aren’t readily available.”

Very impressive.

Reminds me of the stories about dogs sniffing out cancer.  If someone could train their dog to reliably sniff out breast cancer, I think a lot of women would be lining up for the dog's nose over those dreaded mammograms. What do you think? :-)

Probiotics Essential to Combat Holiday Excess

We tend to think of probiotics as delicate creatures, requiring refrigeration and protection from heat and light and even overly-active stomach acids. Yet, all the research keeps showing how important friendly bacteria are for intestinal health--from breaking down bile and removing excess cholesterol to digesting holiday foods well enough to relieve bloating, probiotics are incredibly important to your health. Given the holiday season upon us, you may want to scan the following facts and boost your own consumption of friendly bacteria this season:
  1. Probiotics help your body metabolize foods and absorb nutrients (holiday foods, high in sugar, promote growth of unfriendly and even pathogenic bacteria, making the need for friendly bacteria even greater)
  2. Probiotics prevent colonization by pathogenic bacteria.  Healthy bacteria (bifidobacterium) disappear from the feces within two weeks of discontinuing oral supplementation, thus continued supplementation is recommended during cold and flu season especially. Of note, children in daycare suffered less fever, fewer bouts of diarrhea, and fewer needs for antibiotics when taking probiotics
  3. Probiotics have been shown to increase immune function, including improving phagocyte function and natural killer cell activity and increasing production of interferon-alpha.    
We have long offered a shelf-stable probiotic formulation, Probiotics 16, in which we take exceptional pride because:
  1. We produce small batches (this means we keep our inventory consistently fresh) 
  2. We manufacture with more live culture than we claim on our labels (unheard of in this industry, which is always looking to eek out bigger profits by skrimping)
  3. We have optimized our formulation to support shelf stability (we know what we're doing is working as our Probiotics 16 routinely tests out above our label claim even after we have sold out of all our inventory)
Probiotics 16, with its combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, is a regular member of our Top 10 products list for these reasons. Our members know they can count on our Probiotics 16 to be fresh and active, and some even make old-fashioned buttermilk with them (a feat younger folks are less likely to attempt!).

My dear friend, Dr. Hugo Rodier, is such a big fan of probiotics that he often recommends that people start their first few weeks of supplementation taking up to 10-fold over the recommendations on product labels. 

It never hurts to be reminded that if bacteria in our bodies were to be weighed, they would account for the largest "organ" in our bodies. Best to have preponderantly friendly agents in that mix!

P.S. I just love the posting on the use of our Probiotics 16 by one of our customers for her 10 cats (read her comment below for more). :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skin Rashes? Consider Eliminating Dairy

I'm no genius but one thing continues to be abundantly clear. People with problems with dairy have problems with their skin. Call it dandruff. Call it eczema. Call it flaky skin (on arms, legs, backs, anywhere). It's a signal that something is wrong because the skin is the body's last ditch effort to rid itself of toxins that it cannot otherwise process or eliminate effectively.

It's not rocket science even though with all the money to be made on ointments and shampoos that take the itch out of skin rashes you would think curing dandruff and eczema was complicated. Baby doctors tell breastfeeding mothers to eliminate dairy if their babies have skin rashes and sinus stuffiness and other not-so-nice symptoms. Natural medicine doctors recommend that their patients eliminate dairy (along with gluten) whenever chronic symptoms appear, including diagnoses like psoriasis.

Me? I have recommended that my mother eliminate dairy. She has rosacea, which causes problems with the texture and coloring of the skin on her face. With dairy, she ends up with itchy peeling skin exacerbating her skin problems. Within a few days of eliminating dairy, my mom's itchy skin disappears. It has taken such endless encouragement to help my mom make the dairy/skin rash connection and also to be motivated enough to "throw away the cheese." She prefers rice milk now, so the next big step is staying away from cheese. Fingers crossed, as she has much more self esteem when her face is not so so blotchy and itchy.

If you have a family member who depends on dandruff shampoo or has itchy skin or a recurring skin rash, consider helping them "Ditch the Dairy" for a week and see what changes. Leave a comment if you take up a "Ditch the Dairy" challenge of your own.