After last week, you probably thought you had heard the last of dysbiosis, that lack of balance of gut flora. I could have let it go, but I thought about continuing the discussion and this morning after hearing breaking news, I decided I couldn’t let it go.
We will take a slight shift, though. Dysbiosis is an overgrowth of something in the gut: an out of balance equation, if you will. Often, the overgrowth is a yeast infection, most commonly candida albicans. So, today, we are going to address some of the gory details of candida and what it does to you.
Candida albicans is yeast (a unicellular fungi: 1celled fungus). The growth of yeast when out of control allows it to morph into mycelia fungal. Fungal usually means there is a long tail (root like structure). When this yeast infection grows out of control or in abundance in the intestine, its tail runs out of room. Searching for unexplored territory, its tail bores holes in the wall of the intestine, creating a ‘leaky gut’. The problem is that microscopic particles that are supposed to stay within the confines of the gut are now able to float out through the wall of the intestine. (This is a gross simplification for the purposes of this article. For a more scientific explanation, go here: http://www.mold-help.org/content/view/411/) Alarms go off in the body. A foreign invader is present in places it should not be.
Just to get you on the same page, I imagine this in sci fi terms: Think of the space ship who realizes there is an alien ship in their flight pattern. The tentacles of defense spring into action.
In our body, this happens, too. The immune system begins to attack the foreign particles in the wrong place. Perhaps they have attached to another organ in the abdomen…and the war has begun. It’s a little far fetched, but it is an accurate portrayal.
Now, the body begins to attack itself, under the false impression the foreign particle attached to an organ is an enemy. This is the beginning of what is called an auto immune disease. Auto means ‘self’ and immune meaning to protect or fight that which is against.
There are a host of auto immune diseases. The list is long. Look it up if you don’t believe me.
If you go to the doctor with an auto immune disease, he will likely make a diagnosis and give a pill or protocol for whatever ails you. He will not tell you to adjust your diet and let you gut heal.
I certainly cannot diagnose diseases but I can tell you nutrition is responsible for many diseases. Let’s rephrase that: poor nutrition is responsible for many diseases. Good nutrition gives the body the tools it needs (and sometimes the rest) to heal itself. We have discussed some of those diseases and some of the tools. I’m not going to address those again.
The breaking news I heard this morning dealt with the ‘new kid on the block’ according to nutritionists. Probiotics. They are new only because medical doctors are now discovering that gut balance is vital for good health. Pro (good) biotics are the foundation for good gut health.
The doctor interviewed, though, cautioned the audience that we have no long term studies to know exactly how much probiotic we need or what the limits are of the benefits.
I have a different opinion, though. We do know IF we look at food in cultures that consumed natural probiotics. Most cultures ate food that was preserved by fermentation. These cultures were healthy and had few of the diseases our culture experiences. If we study those communities that ate food preserved naturally, we see they had vigor and good health and few of our contemporary diseases.
Let’s look at examples of foods with high probiotic numbers: naturally fermented sauerkraut (not the canned with vinegar sauerkraut available in the vegetable aisle); yogurt, kefir, sourdough breads. Less than a hundred years ago, these foods were mainstays. The palates of our forefathers preferred what we consider ‘sour’. If you have ever eaten naturally fermented foods, though, you will know they are more salty and a little sweet than sour.
The food industry and the advertising of its products have converted our palates to a sweet preference. As an example, think of processed breakfast cereals. Most are sweet to taste. And, if they aren’t naturally sweet, enough high fructose corn syrup is added to bump up the flavor. Compare that to oatmeal, soaked overnight and cooked quickly in the morning. There is no comparison. Yet oats ARE sweet. Our palates have changed because advertising has lured us in that direction. Easy, expensive cereal makes the morning routine so sweet…pun intended.
Probiotics are great but they won’t SOLVE a candida issue. Candida has to be brought back into balance. The good guys (probiotics) have to flourish and candida numbers have to diminish.
The message of all this: cut back on the sweets, white flours, white sugars. Drink broth brewed from bones. Let the gut heal. Add probiotics till the gut is in proper balance and then keep it that way by limiting the carbohydrates, sugars, and ‘white’ foods. Probiotics can be consumed via Bubbies sauerkraut (found in the health food aisle in the refrigerator section…or make you own in 5 minutes or less); yogurt and kefir WITHOUT added sugars and sour dough. Probiotics can also be taken as a supplement. However you attempt to achieve balance, stick with it. Your gut will applaud you. I will warn you this is a marathon, not a sprint. Healing takes a while. Progress can be slow. Yet, I’ve know folks who could feel the difference in days, once the proper dietary changes were made.
Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We have an obligation to keep our bodies healthy so we are capable of being obedient servants of Christ. Knowing how to do that and making the right choices to accomplish it is important as a service to the Lord.
The next few weeks, my articles may just be short paragraphs. As we prepare for the big wedding in a few weeks, my muddled mind will be in other places. You might see articles I find fascinating featured here. Some moments, I feel as if I’m in a whirlwind of decisions. So, please bear with me as I forge through the next month.
When Heartland Church (a precursor to Lifehouse) was started, the pastor taught what he was learning and working through in his own life. This column is a little like that. When people come to me and ask questions about health, digestion, nutrients, etc. I presume it is a topic others might ask. So, the most recent questions I have received have been on DYSBIOSIS.
Big word. Simple explanation. What is it? Symbiosis means everything is in balance and working the way it should. Dysbiosis is the opposite of symbiosis.
My unscientific, without research guess is that about half or more of our population lives with dysbiosis (pronounced dis-bi-o-sis). The difficulty is few know what NORMAL or in harmony in the gut means any more. Our nutrition and lifestyle andculture is so out of harmony, it is the norm. Before you stop reading this, let’s look at some of the many symptoms of dysbiosis:
Now, do I have your attention? Oh, yes. Maybe this affects you, too. The simple solution is cleaning up the problem and finding normal.
Your digestive system is a marvelous factory, able to take raw ingredients, mulch and slime them into small particles absorbed through organs to fuel and energize your body into great physical and emotional feats. It works well when everything is working together but not so efficiently when things are out of balance.
Inside your gut are good bacteria and fungus to help the digestive process. Did you know:
Some liken gut flora to a "forgotten organ" due to the extensive role they play
When each is in the right proportion, all is well. But if there is yeast overgrowth and insufficient good bacteria, any of the symptoms mentioned above might become apparent.
You may wonder how that balance becomes out of whack. Things we take for granted can upset the apple cart. Here are a few of the things that can alter the balance:
What is the remedy? Knowing the problem. It is important to look at the symptoms and the causes and identify if any of them fit your situation. There are tests nutritionists can perform that identify the balance in your gut. Unfortunately, medical doctors get little nutritional information in comparison to their pharmaceutical education. Our health care system often looks at symptoms rather than causes. Americans seem to want the quick and easy solution: give me a pill to feel better. Digestive issues, however, are not solved with a pill. They are solved by identifying the problem, understanding the source, and comprehending how to change the balance.
If dysbiosis is a problem for you or someone you know or love, here are some easy remedies. Avoid root vegetables: onions, beets, carrots, parsnips till the problem is solved. Avoid fruit, grains, cereal consumption. Eat a diet rich in broth based foods with lots of vegetables grown above the ground, and the protein of your choice. Be certain you are eating lots of good fats (coconut oil, butter, olive oil). Choose a naturally fermented food to eat as a condiment with each meal: kimchi, sauerkraut, gingered carrots as examples. Take a probiotic. Drink kefir (without added sugar). Eliminate foods high in carbohydrates. Your body will starve the yeast overgrowth and re-establish the proper balance of fungus to bacteria population in the gut. This is not an overnight solution. It takes time.
Remember, white flours, sugar, and processed foods do not benefit the balance your gut needs to operate optimally. (This is true for gluten free foods, as well) Rather, foods in the natural state are better.
When I think of food that is good for me and healthy, I think of the farm family that raises what it eats and works hard. Almanzo Wilder, main character of FARMER BOY, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, ate fresh: milk from the cow, butter from the cream, sauerkraut fermented in crocks.
I recognize we live in the city where cows, goats, and chickens are not welcome residents. We also live in Iowa, where farmers are glad to sell their foodstuffs directly to the consumer. Consider eating fresh foods from the garden; farm produce from a CSA or the Farmer’s Market; eggs available from a pastured source. These are the foods dense in nutrients, rich in the elements good for our body’s optimal functioning. These are the foods dense in nutrition and ones maintaining good gut balance.
Each of us has different convictions about food consumption. Whatever you choose to eat, be sure you are giving your body the best food you can afford. Someone once commented that healthy food was expensive. So are hospitalizations, surgeries, and medications treating symptoms. The balance in that equation favors healthy foods which nourish the body and prevent the illness.
Your body will welcome the harmony established and reward you with renewed energy, feeling strong and healthy. It will even create a great mental outlook. You will be amazed.
Strong abs? Have them? Want them? They impact your standing posture. Back pain is sometimes symptomatic of weak abdominal muscles. Surprisingly, good posture enhances great core strength and great core strength helps with posture. It’s a win, win.
Let’s take a look at some of the elements of good standing posture:
Find your center. Proper standing posture is about alignment and balance. It also lends an air of confidence. Here are some tips for achieving the correct upright posture:
◦ Place your feet about shoulder width apart, the same stance you would use for working out or many other physical activities.
◦ Stand up straight. This is, of course, the key to good standing posture, and bears repeating. As you develop good posture habits, this will become second nature.
◦ Keep your weight on the balls of your feet. When you rest on your heels, your natural tendency will be to slouch. Instead, stand up, and make an effort to stand on the balls of your feet. Notice how the rest of your body follows. Now rock back so that your weight is on your heels. Notice the way your entire body shifts into a "slouchy" posture with this single motion.
◦ Keep your shoulders squared. It may feel unnatural at first, if you have not developed good posture habits. Like standing up straight, however, this will become second nature.
Pull your head back and up. Picture yourself reaching for the ceiling with the top of your head. Keep your head square on top of the neck and spine as you do this. Not only will this improve your posture, you will look taller and leaner, too. Try it!
Teach your body what it feels like. Stand with your back against a door or wall, with the back of your head, your shoulders, and your butt just touching it. If it feels awkward and uncomfortable, don't worry—–as you develop good posture habits and train your body, it will feel uncomfortable to not stand this way.
Walking posture begins with proper standing posture. Walking with good posture is simply an extension of standing with good posture. Keep your head up, shoulders back, chest out, and eyes looking straight ahead.
Avoid pushing your head forward.
Here are some fitness tips for maintaining good posture and physical well being.
Stay in shape. To keep your entire musculoskeletal system in tune to support your posture, it's important to keep yourself in shape. Try these tips:
◦ Lie on your back, with your legs bent to about 90 degrees at the knee, and your feet on the floor.
◦ Pull your belly-button towards your spine and holding it at the end. This is a different type of contraction than crunches (crunches feel like they are more at the front of your stomach, while this feels like it is more inwards and towards your back).
◦ Hold for ten seconds, repeat eight times. Repeat it daily.
◦ Maintain the proper posture even if you are getting tired and are not using other muscles like your back or butt muscles.
Breathe normally during this exercise, as you are training your core to be able to maintain this position during normal activities in daily life.
Be aware of your posture. Body language speaks volumes. Good posture exudes self confidence and may impact how others see you. Besides, great health benefits come from good posture. All systems work better when we stand, sit, lie properly aligned.
Last week we took a look at posture generally speaking. Today, we continue with posture as we sit. Any of us using electronic media probably sit more than a body is intended. It’s an easy thing to do. Fatigue whether from physical or emotional stresses, encourages us to sit. But, sitting is really not what the body needs.
Here are some statistics that should move you to sitting properly and sitting less. The more one sits, the better the chances of depression setting in. The body is meant to move. Slouching while sitting affects the way people view us. It can even affect the perception of quality of workmanship (slouching isn’t production; good posture illustrates positive energy). Poor posture scrunches what is inside, meaning all systems are not operating optimally. Each hour one sits decreases longevity (length of life 21.8 minutes: Translation, a 3 hour movie takes an hour off one’s life!). People who sit the most double their risk of diabetes. People who sit most appear heavier. Standing burns 20% more calories. Sitting with legs crossed reduces the circulation by increasing pressure and may increase the appearance of spider veins. And, finally, those who sit the most increase the stress hormone, cortisol by 15%.
So, if we are going to sit, we should sit properly. It will improve our outlook, body function, other’s impression of us, and reduce the stress we carry.
Here’s what ‘properly’ looks like:
◦ Do: Keep your feet flat on the floor and your eyes are level with your computer monitor. If you have a tall chair and desk, use a footrest to keep your feet resting flat.
◦ Do: Make sure your chair supports the curve in your lower back and your shoulder blades
◦ Do: Take regular breaks to walk around the office for 60 seconds—standing improves posture. Do this 5 times over the workday.
◦ Don't: Keep your legs extended or crossed for long periods. To minimize stress on your joints, keep ankles, knees, and hips at 90-degree angles.
◦ If you work long hours at a desk and have the option, use a chair that's ergonomically designed for proper support and designed for your height and weight. If this is not an option, try using a small pillow for lumbar support.
◦ Align your back with the back of the office chair. This will help you avoid slouching or leaning forward, which you may find yourself doing after sitting too long at your desk.
◦ As with standing posture, keep your shoulders straight and squared, your head is upright, and your neck, back, and heels are all aligned.
◦ Keep both feet on the ground or footrest (if your legs don't reach all the way to the ground).
Adjust your chair and your position so that your arms are flexed, not straight out. Aim for roughly a 75- to 90-degree angle at the elbows. If they are too straight, you're too far back, and if they are more than 90 degrees, you're either sitting too close, or you're slouching.
If your job requires sitting, take regular breaks from sitting. Stand up to answer the phone. Walk around the cubicle. Or find an exercise you can do sitting down: leg lifts; tummy crunches; touch your shoulder blades with your hands. Move. Some folks are able to work from a walking desk or an elevated desk. That may not work in your business place.
Here’s a video about 5 minutes long showing 3 yoga poses to help practice good posture. http://breakingmuscle.com/yoga/6-yoga-poses-for-better-posture It cannot hurt to try and it might even help relieve some of the pressure of poor posture. Remember, when you drive to maintain good posture for alertness, staying power, and to be accident free.
Practice makes perfect. Make it a family practice to police one another for good posture. Find a key word that everyone knows means ‘good posture practice’. Make a game out of it. Be proactive improving your posture. It will benefit your attitude, your performance, other’s perception of you, and your health.
If you are old enough to know what COBI means, you probably remember some other related things: walking with a book balancing on your head while looking straight ahead, as an example. For those of you young enough not to have your mom or dad or a teacher remind you to COBI, here’s the clue:
Chest Out, Belly In. It was the reminder for good posture.
Maybe this isn’t a topic that interests you. It should. Good posture improves how all the body systems work. It is improved with exercise and discouraged with hunching. Yet in today’s world, we spend lots of hours in front of a computer and far too few exercising and stretching. Personally, I became aware of spending more time in front of the computer and how my shoulders would hunch over as fatigue arrived. And, I noticed as I age it is harder to keep my belly in so my chest sags.
Perhaps the most important thing we have all heard and despise: the key is core muscle strength. True. Tight and firm core muscles hold that abdomen in place and require less stress on every other set of muscles to perform every lift, stretch, or movement. Some of you are working on that 30 day ab routine, increasing the time in a plank, the number of push ups, etc. Bravo! I’d like to do it, but I could never get that form to print (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
As a little aside: I’m trying to find a dress to wear to my daughter’s wedding. While I’m not dissatisfied with the size I pull off the rack, I noticed I have what I call the ‘grandmother pouch’. It comes with the gray hairs. I need to do something about it before August, so maybe I’ll find that 30 day ab challenge and see if I cannot make it readable after all…it would be much easier to zip that dress if my posture would improve and that would be easier if my core were tighter.
Proper posture exists for just about every direction we move: standing, sitting, lying down and even sleeping. So, I looked around to see if I could find some helpful hints for all of us to employ. I am dividing this into several weeks because the information is vast and applying a new nugget of exercise for a week before moving on will make this easier to do.
Identify good posture. Good posture is nothing more than keeping your body in alignment. Good posture while standing is a straight back, squared shoulders, chin up, chest out, stomach in. If you can draw a straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee, to the middle of your ankle—–you've got it. To find yours:
◦ Using a mirror, align your ears, shoulders, and hips. Proper alignment places your ears loosely above your shoulders and above your hips. Again, these points make a straight line, but the spine itself curves in a slight 'S'. You'll find that this doesn't hurt at all. If you do experience pain, look at your side view in a mirror to see if you're forcing your back into an unnatural position. If you do not have pain, then posture should not be altered, because this could cause other problems.
The spine has two natural curves that you need to maintain called the 'double C' or 'S' curves. These curves of the back are also called lordotic and kyphotic. A lordotic curve is a curve in the lumbar spine, and when there is a increases angle this is called lordosis of the lumbar spine. A kyphotic curve is present in the thoracic spine, but when this curve exceeds 50 degrees it is called kyphosis of the thoracic spine. These are the curves found from the base of your head to your shoulders and the curve from the upper back to the base of the spine. When standing straight up, make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your feet. You might feel like you are leaning forward, and you may even feel you look odd, but you don't.
Train your muscles to do the work. Exercises that strengthen the muscles across your upper back and shoulders will help you to maintain good posture. You don't need to develop a body builder physique—–it's more important to build "muscle memory" so that you unconsciously and naturally maintain correct posture without fatigue. When you lift weights, you should exercise the agonist and antagonist muscles evenly. This means that you should exercise your hamstrings as much as your quadriceps, chest as much as your back, and so on. This will help with correct posture. Try the following, with or without hand weights:
◦ Exercise One
Square your posture, head upright, so that your ears are aligned over your shoulders.
Raise both arms straight out, alongside your ears, palms up.
Bend forearms in and back, toward shoulders, in an effort to touch your shoulder blades with your fingertips.
Do ten repetitions with both arms, then alternate ten reps for each arm singularly.
◦ Exercise Two
Align ears with shoulders as in Exercise One.
Raise both arms out to sides at shoulder height, and hold for a slow count of ten.
Slowly lower arms to sides, counting ten as you lower.
Slowly raise arms back to shoulder height, counting to ten as you raise arms.
Do ten reps, constantly checking your alignment with each rep. If ten reps are too many to start, do as many as you can. You should at least feel a slight fatigue in the shoulder muscles.
Be a penguin. While you wait for a web page to load or the bread to toast, place your elbows at your side, and touch your shoulders with your hands.
Keeping your hands on your shoulders and your ears aligned, raise both elbows (count one, two) and lower them back down (count one, two). Do as many reps as your wait allows. You'll be surprised how much exercise fits into 30 seconds.
Do stretches. This can greatly help if you find that you have a sore back or neck. It's also good to do during the day, if your job requires you to sit for long periods.
◦ Tilt or stretch your head in all four directions over your shoulders (forward, back, left, right), and gently massage your neck. Avoid rolling in a circle, as it may cause further strain.
◦ On your hands and knees, curl your back upwards, like a cat, and then do the opposite. Think about being able to place a bowl in the hollow of your back.
Repeat the exercises a few times each day. Doing them in the morning helps your body stretch out the muscle lethargy of sleep. Done periodically throughout the day, it will help to raise your energy level without a heavy workout.
Practice yoga. Yoga is excellent for posture, and for your health in general. It can also improve your balance. Yoga works your core muscles, making them stronger and helping you to keep a proper body alignment.
Yoga will also help by teaching you on how to hold an erect posture while sitting, standing, and walking. Look for classes in your area, or scout YouTube for instructional videos.
Whew! If you got all that and apply some of it, you will be better off. Next week, we will address the next item: sitting. It may be the most important of all the posture issues we can address because we do so much of it.
Till then, practice one new thing the first day; do that plus one more the second till you have added everything on the list. Then, you will be ready for the next thing. Now, excuse me while I Google that 30 day ab routine.
Not everyone will relate to my next statement. In the summer, I could care less if I eat. It’s a shame, too, with all the wonderful fruits and vegetables fresh, inexpensive, and healthy for you. It’s true I often make a trip to the garden in the late afternoon to view what fresh options are available and I plan my evening side dishes around what is ripe and needs to be harvested and eaten.
Yet, in the heat of the day, give me a tall glass of kombucha and let the world roll on by. The rest of my family doesn’t feel as compelled to FAST. They prefer regular meals, on time, and on a schedule.
In my young and single days, I learned about fasting from the woman who discipled me. It became a regular part of my weekly spiritual disciplines. It became SO regular I’d wake up and think, ‘It must be _______ because I’m not even hungry.’ I fasted 2 days a week. I felt great, alert, more perceptive, and experienced great prayer times. I know some of you fast regularly. I applaud you. Then, my children came along and I abandoned fasting. It was too hard to cook for everyone else and walk away. There were seasons God called me to fast for family members and I could go days without eating, but it was HARD because I was still doing food preparation for the others who were NOT fasting.
There is new nutritional research that suggests fasting is actually a healthy discipline. We already know it is a healthy spiritual discipline.
There are a host of ways to fast, too: one meal a day; 3 meals a day; giving up particular food items, etc. One of the easiest ways to fast is to start at 4 p.m. Give up any food and caloric beverages then and fast till 4 the next afternoon. The hungriest part of the fast is during the night and it seems much easier.
Here’s some healthy information from health guru, Dr. Joe Mercola. See what he says about the health benefits of fasting.
Fasting is historically commonplace as it has been a part of spiritual practice for millennia. But modern science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including the following:
Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency: One of the primary mechanisms that makes intermittent fasting so beneficial for health is related to its impact on your insulin sensitivity.
There's also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process.
Intermittent fasting is by far the most effective way I know of to shed unwanted fat and eliminate your sugar cravings. Since most of us are carrying excess fat we just can’t seem to burn, this is a really important benefit. When sugar is not needed as a primary fuel, your body will also not crave it as much when your sugar stores run low.
As mentioned above, the other mechanisms that makes fasting so effective for weight loss is the fact that it provokes the secretion of HGH—a fat-burning hormone that has many well-recognized “anti-aging” health and fitness benefits.
Last but not least, intermittent fasting has also been identified as a potent ally for the prevention and perhaps even treatment of dementia. First, ketones are released as a byproduct of burning fat, and ketones (not glucose) are actually the preferred fuel for your brain.
In addition to that, intermittent fasting boosts production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. It also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Research by Dr. Mark Mattson, a senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, suggests that alternate-day fasting (restricting your meal on fasting days to about 600 calories), can boost BDNF by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region.
One of my children who reads extensively about nutrition experimented with a 16 hour fast each day. This system says there are 8 hours to eat in a day and 16 hours for the body to digest, repair, etc. Mercola addresses intermittent fasting as well. Here is his comment:
Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of fasting schedules. As a general rule, it involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily.
Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting.
The fasting schedule ultimately suggested , is to eat normally for five days a week, and fast for two. This schedule is sometimes referred to as the “5:2” intermittent fasting plan. On fasting days, he recommends cutting your food down to one-fourth of your normal daily calories, or about 600 calories for men and about 500 for women, along with plenty of water and tea. Dr. Mosley claims to have lost 19 pounds in two months by following this 5:2 intermittent fasting plan.
My Personal Recommendation
A third version of intermittent fasting, and the one I recommend and personally use, is to simply restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight hour window. I have experimented with different types of scheduled eating for the past three years, and this is my personal preference as it’s really easy to comply with once your body has shifted over from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel.
Fat, being a slow-burning fuel, allows you to keep going without suffering from the dramatic energy crashes associated with sugar. And, if you’re not hungry... well, then not eating for several hours is no big deal! You do this every day until your insulin/leptin resistance improves (weight, blood pressure, cholesterol ratios, or diabetes normalizes). Then you continue to do it as often as you need to maintain your healthy state. I used a six hour window until I was burning fat for fuel, and now eat in a 9-10 hour window, and will snack on macadamia nuts during that period. I rarely eat anything for four or more hours before going to bed.
Compliance is always a critical factor in any of these approaches and it seems this is one of the easiest intermittent fasting schedules to implement. It really is beyond amazing to me how the food cravings literally disappear once you have regained your ability to burn fat for fuel. You don’t need iron willpower or enormous levels of self-discipline to maintain this eating schedule. Yes, you will get hungry, but your hunger will be appropriate and you will be surprised at how much less food will completely satisfy you once you regain your metabolic flexibility and no longer need to rely on stored sugar in your body for your primary fuel.
If this appeals to you, there are many resources on line and many scriptural references to fasting that can guide you. Be wise and be obedient in the way you do it. My personal recommendation is to make it a spiritual discipline that will pay big dividends physically and spiritually. And, the heat of the summer might just be the motivation you need to take the adventure.
Today, we will take a trip to the basement (or wherever your laundry facilities are). I was recently at a home party where ladies were considering cleaning products and one casually commented that she never knew she should clean her washing machine. That puzzled me. I clean my shower, though it is the place everyone in my family goes to bathe. I clean the tub my son takes his whirlpool in. I clean the sink in which dirty dishes are washed. Would I not also clean the washing machine in which I wash dirty clothing? For me, looking into the wash tub and seeing a film of soap residue build up would encourage me to clean it out. But just in case you have never thought to clean your washing machine, today, I’m going to offer you an easy way to get it squeaky clean. You might enjoy the process so much you do it regularly.
The following instructions will allow you to kill mold, mildew, and keep odors at bay in your washer...using only natural ingredients. This process is safe for septic tanks and safe for all washer components are needed for this project. White vinegar and baking soda to the rescue! The vinegar will disinfect, helping kill mold and mildew. The acidity of the vinegar will help dissolve soap residue in the wash tub and can also be helpful in dissolving lime deposits in pipes (if you have hard water). The baking soda cleans soap scum and deodorizes if you have SWS (stinky washer syndrome). Set your washer to run on hot water with the largest load setting. Do not add clothes or detergent. Add 3-4 cups of white vinegar to the water and allow the machine to agitate for a minute to incorporate the vinegar. Add about 1⁄2 cup of baking soda. Allow the machine to run again to mix in the baking soda. Stop the washer at this point and allow the water to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
While the hot water, vinegar, and baking soda are penetrating the grime and odors, use a clean cloth dipped in the vinegar water to wipe down your washer. Give attention to the top of the washer, the knobs, the top of the wash bin, and any bleach or fabric softener dispensers. (I had to bust out an old toothbrush to detail all the grime that was residing in my washer!) Allow the washing cycle to resume until the water begins draining. If your washer will allow it, turn the knob so the tub will drain while spinning, further cleaning out any gunk that has been loosened up and pushing the vinegar water through the holes in the wash bin. If your washer doesn’t allow this, start another hot wash cycle.
Two common household ingredients at this point and allow it to run through completely. The scum around the top of the wash bin wiped off very easily with a sponge at this point. (Remember, the water doesn’t reach this part, so it may need a little extra attention.) After cleaning it, my entire laundry room smells completely different! Fresh as a daisy...just the way I want my clean clothes to smell.
If your top load washer is susceptible to getting mold, mildew, or odors, keep the lid open after each use to allow drying. Clean your washer using this method every few months or as needed. Again, keep in mind these instructions are for a top loader washing machine only. If you have a front loader, you can find directions for cleaning it naturally here.
I’m still working on spring cleaning, though we are nearing the summer months. I still have a few rooms with windows begging to have grime washed off them. Maybe you are in the same place I am. If so, think about giving that washing machine a good ‘spring cleaning’. You can be confident your clothes will be sparkling clean if you do.
Summer is upon us, really. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, even though the calendar doesn’t officially declare it till June 21. I don’t know about you, but summer marks a new way of eating for our family.
In the heat, we love foods that are easy to prepare without the oven heating the house. We like to grill and we relish eating from the garden. Truly, some afternoons, I walk to the garden and look around to see what is ready to pick. That helps my menu plan.
Even though we haven’t hit July yet, watermelons are in the stores and so delicious. Not only that, they are exceptional, nutritionally. Watermelons have so much water content, they help us stay hydrated in the heat, whether we are exercising, working, or playing in the sun. It carries lots of nutrients; it’s reasonably priced in the summer.
Though I like organic, watermelon is one of those items that has a thick skin which we don’t consume. So, it NOT one of the ‘dirty dozen’, polluted with pesticides on the part we eat. If we eat the peelings, we need to eliminate any residual pesticide by purchasing organic. Watermelon, though is one item we can buy not organically and feel OK. It helps the purse strings and we can feel safe.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of watermelon can help decrease the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease. Watermelon also promotes healthier complexions and hair, as well as increasing energy levels.
One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day.
Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.
Asthma prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin C, found in abundance in watermelon.
Blood pressure: A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon “reduced ankle blood pressure, brachial blood pressure and carotid wave reflection in obese middle-aged adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension”. The study also showed that watermelon consumption improved arterial function.
Cancer: An excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, as well as others, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake, for example, has been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer prevention in several studies.
Digestion and regularity: Watermelon, because of its water and fiber content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Hydration: Made up of 92% water and full of important electrolytes, watermelons are a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration.
Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient that aids in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, assists in the transmission of nerve impulses, and helps in the absorption of fat. Choline can also alleviate chronic inflammation.
Muscle soreness: Watermelon and its juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely do to the amino acid L-citrulline that watermelon contains.
Skin: Watermelon is fantastic for your skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
So after you have worked, played, or bathed in the sunshine, refresh yourself with a slice of watermelon. It will do your body good.
Sourced from Natural Cures Not Medicine.
Several months ago, I found a recipe for a tropical fruit salad. I was so impressed with the results, I shared it with a friend who lives in Mexico half of the year, reminding her that mangos and jicama (another ingredient in the salad) are easily available in Mexico. She replied that mangoes ripen in May and are as prevalent there as zucchini in the summer in Iowa. I wonder if they arrive in grocery sacks on porch steps in an effort to ‘give’ a good gift?
When I visited our friends who manage Puente de Amistad (where our mission team is going in a few weeks), we stopped at a food cart. The owner peeled the mango, cut it up, and sprinkled lime juice and chili pepper on it. We consumed it as a sticky and delectable treat as we visited the outdoor vendors. I was sold. What a wonderful combination: sweet, sour, heat. Delicious and nutritious. Who could complain about something with that combination?
At any rate, the season is upon us and mango prices should be seasonably low any week now. So I wanted to know what beside the amazing taste is so wonderful about this fruit. I am frankly, amazed, at what God packs into fruits and vegetables for the benefit of every cell in our body. Look at this list and buy some mangoes. And, after the benefits, I’ll give you my salad recipe.
One cup of mangoes (225 gms contain) contains the following percentages that apply to daily value. 105 calories, 76 percent vitamin C (antioxidant and immune booster), 25 percent vitamin A (antioxidant and vision),11 percent vitamin B6, plus other B vitamins (hormone production in brain and heart disease prevention), 9 percent healthy probiotic fiber, 9 percent copper (copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes plus production of red blood cells), 7 percent potassium (to balance out our high sodium intake), 4 percent magnesium
1. Fights cancer-Antioxidants like quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid and methylgallat present in mango protect the body against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers.
2. Keeps cholesterol in check-Mango has high level of vitamin C, pectin and fibers that help to lower serum cholesterol levels. Fresh mango is a rich source of potassium, which is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps to control heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Skin cleanser-Mangoes help you unclog your pores and add freshness to the face. Mangoes are applicable to any skin type. They help clear clogged pores that cause acne. Just slice a mango into thin pieces and keep them on your face for 10 to 15 minutes and then take bath or wash your face and see the results.
4. Alkalizes the body-According to natural health school.com, mango is rich in tartaric acid, malic acid and traces of citric acid that primarily help in maintaining the alkali reserve of the body.
5. Weight loss-Mango has a lot of vitamins and nutrients that help the body feel fuller. Also, the fibrous fruit boosts the digestive function of the body by burning additional calories, helping in weight loss.
6. Regulates diabetes-Not only the fruit but the leaves of mangoes are healthy too. For people suffering from diabetes, just boil 5-6 mango leaves in a vessel, soak it through night and drink the filtered decoction in the morning. This is helps in regulating your insulin levels.
Mango has a low glycemic index (41-60) so going a little overboard will not increase your sugar levels.
7. Aphrodisiac-Mango has aphrodisiac qualities and is also called the ‘love fruit’. Mangoes increase the virility in men. Vitamin E, which is abundantly present in mangoes, helps to regulate sex hormones and boosts sex drive.
8. Eye care-Did you know that mango is rich in vitamin A? One cup of sliced mangoes equals 25% intake of your daily need of vitamin A. Mangoes help in promoting good eye sight, fights dry eyes and also prevent night blindness.
9. Helps in digestion-Mango contains enzymes that help in breaking down protein. The fibrous nature of mango helps in digestion and elimination. It is is rich in pre-biotic dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
10. Heat stroke-When the sun is bogging you down this summer, just chop of a mango in a juicer; add a little water and a tbsp of sugar free or honey. This juice will instantly cool you down and prevent heat stroke.
11. Strengthens your immune-The deadly combination of vitamin C, vitamin A and 25 different kinds of carotenoids keep your immune system healthy.
12. Body scrub-Make a paste of mashed mango, honey and milk and use as a body scrub, you will feel that your skin is tender and smooth.
13. Aids concentration and memory-Studying for exams? This fruit is rich in glutamine acid– an important protein for concentration and memory. Feed mangoes to children who find it difficult to concentrate on studies.
14. High iron for women-Mango is rich in iron, hence it is a great natural solution for people suffering from anemia. Menopausal and pregnant women can indulge in mangoes as this will increase their iron levels and calcium at the same time.
15. Reduces Kidney Stones-In Chinese medicine, mangoes are considered sweet and sour with a cooling energy also capable of reducing the risk of kidney stone formation.
16. Perfect Snack-Instead of snacking on unhealthy chips and cookies, why not feast on slices of mangoes instead. They are perhaps one of the tastiest dehydrated fruits of all. Here’s the great fruit salad recipe I mentioned earlier:
-4 cups of jicama, peeled and cubed
-2 cups of mango, peeled, cubed
-2 oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut into bite sized pieces
-Juice of 2 limes
-½ cup sweetener (I use coconut crystals, but sugar or granulated stevia works)
-¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
In a sauce pan, combine, bring to a boil till sweetener is dissolved.
Pour the syrup over the cut up fruit/vegetable. Serve.
One issue with mango is knowing how to cut them. There are a couple of easy and successful ways. I prefer to peel it with a potato peeler and then slice it. Others prefer to cut away the seed and then score the fruit and remove it from the skin. Whichever you choose, here is the real key to cutting it:
Put the fruit on the narrow side. You will see a ridge. Placing your knife to the side of the ridge, cut straight down. Repeat on the other side. If you meet resistance, move the knife further to the outside of the fruit. I always go back and ‘harvest’ the edges of the pit. Not a bit of the deliciousness goes to waste.
Isn’t God amazing to supply so many nutrients and benefits from one little fruit? I’m in awe of my creator!
In past articles, I have referenced a term commonly discovered in articles about food: glycemic index. However, it is a term that may be new to you or whose implications might not be obvious. Today, we will take a look at what it is and give some examples of how it affects your daily life.
Glycemic index is a measurement carried out on carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on our blood sugar. GI is a relatively new way of analyzing foods. Previously, most meal plans designed to improve blood sugar analyzed the total amount of carbohydrates (including sugars and starches) in the foods themselves. GI goes beyond this approach, looking at the impact of foods on our actual blood sugar. In other words, instead of counting the total amount of carbohydrates in foods in their unconsumed state, GI measures the actual impact of these foods on our blood sugar.
Lower glycemic index diets have had remarkable success in combating diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiac issues, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and a vast array of other plagues our culture faces.
Food is categorized into low, medium and high glycemic index. It is a measurement of how the carbohydrate affects the blood sugar in one’s system, compared to white sugar or white bread. It is a complicated, scientific analysis, which removes the insoluble fiber and just looks at the metabolic action within the blood system.
The form or preparation of the food makes a difference in the glycemic index. Legumes, for example that require a long cooking time, are more stable because of the fiber in them, decreasing the spikes in blood sugar. However, legumes that are ground into flour have a higher glycemic index because the grinding reduces the fiber and escalates the ‘burn’ time of the carbohydrate in it.
It may not surprise us then to discover foods that are high in fiber and low in stored carbohydrate are low glycemic index. Vegetables like asparagus, cabbages, green beans are lower than root crops, which have more stored energy. Carrots, beets, onions, parsnips and vegetables that grow under ground contain more sugar in them. Consequently, they are categorized as medium glycemic index. Fruits often fall into this same category. High glycemic index loads come from potatoes. We might think of high glycemic load foods as ‘starchy’. The ratio of fiber to sugar is much lower, escalating the amount of time the blood sugar is high.
Why is this important? We know insulin is released when there is a rush in blood sugar. It is the transportation system and encourages the body to burn and store energy. If we are sedentary, there is more storage than burn. Too much storage creates a new organ in the body, fat. Fat has a mind of its own, acting as an organ.
Perhaps you have heard celebrities recommend a dietary system in which the foods are a ‘low glycemic index’ to encourage your body to burn fat. They are really saying the food has a low glycemic index so your blood sugar doesn’t spike, but stays steady, keeping your body calm, avoiding the sugar highs and lows that come with high carbohydrate, low fiber foods.
You have heard the phrase, ‘I need a pick me up.’ Often that individual is headed to the vending machine for pop and cookies or the coffee bar for a latte or coffee with cream and lots of sugar. It is true. Those foods pick up the blood sugar and create a ‘rush’ in the system. Unfortunately, it is followed by a low: fatigue and lack of energy. So, the cycle to consume more sugar (another cookie, a larger pop) continues and the body struggles to keep up. It is a crisis for the body and hard for it to manage these stressors over time. After enough crisis, the body begins to fail and diseases arrive.
Next time you need a pick me up, select a food that has a lower glycemic index: a piece of fruit or a vegetable with a protein to level out that blood sugar. It will avoid some of the diseases we want to eliminate from our lives. And, if you consistently make those choices, you might even lose some unwanted inches.