Monday, November 28, 2011

Can I Eat Anything I Want?

I remember quite a few years ago someone told me that you can eat whatever you want as long as you work it off the next day.  At that time, was mommy to my toddler son, playing mommy to his father, had two online classes, worked a desk job, never had enough time, and was under a lot of stress.  I literally had no time to workout and barely had enough time to take a short bathroom break between work and school.  The jarring sound of the alarm clock woke me up at 6am only to remind me that I had another 17 hour day; again, to only go to bed feeling tired and defeated, dreading what the morning would bring.  My existence was to be subservient to the social constructs of American lifestyle.
 
At that time in my life, I was my heaviest.  I had always struggled with my weight, but this time it had overtaken my life.  I avoided the scale after surpassing 235 lbs.  I felt miserable, had no energy, and had no self-esteem.  To my dismay, my body started to look hideous, and my hormone levels were out of control.  I started growing dark hair under my chin, started to show signs of diabetes, was winded after just climbing one flight of stairs, and I broke a blood vessel in my cheek trying to get out of bed, which it made a visible, and ugly, red line a centimeter long across my cheekbone.  My doctor started prescribing medications for high cholesterol, diabetes, plus he warned me that he would put me on blood pressure medications.  Overwhelmed with this reality, I managed to carve out time to go to the gym twice a week.

What happened next changed my entire life.  Details of the three week catastrophe are moot now that it has been over three years passed, but I can say that the events which unfolded left me homeless with a young son. Was I lonely?  Yes.  Was I upset?  Hell yeah, I cried almost every night for months afterwords.  But I picked myself up and moved forward.

During those months of hardship, I lost a lot of weight.  It was then I decided that what I was going to do was put me first.  I had spent 7 years tending to the needs of other people, and forgetting about myself in the process.  My son suffered, my family life suffered, I suffered, thus I paid the price.

Back to food!  For most of my life, I ate junk.  Processed, unnatural, JUNK!  When I was in my teens, I just didn't eat everyday.  I lived off of no-calorie seltzer water and chocolate candy bars for several years.  When I moved out of my parents' house, all I could afford to eat was cheap noodles.  I would scour the parking lots near my apartment for change in order to buy the noodles, and of course, if I didn't find enough change, I didn't eat.  Once, I was so hungry, I stole an apple out of the fridge at work and almost was fired for it.  I was rather thin at the time and was able to join the military even though I was borderline in failing the BMI.  Showing mid-drifts was in style at that time and flat bellies were emphasized as being healthy (er...sexy); this in the time Britney Spears was the hottest thing alive.  I, unfortunately, was far from "sexy."  My stomach was always round and chubby, later made worse by my pregnancy and c-section, thus leading to my drastic decision to get a tummy tuck and liposuction.  Still, even after dropping $8,500 my stomach remains round and pudgy.

My food habits did not improve much while I was in the military.  In fact, I dieted with all sorts of dangerous pills (now off the market) and shoved them down my gullet with diet soft drinks.  I was addicted to all sorts of diet crap.  I starved myself, took laxatives, was bulimic when I did eat anything with calories, and ran 3+ miles per day.  Did it work? No, my tummy was still round, and when it all came down to the military's weigh-ins, I was still considered fat.  So on my last day in the military, I went to the fridge and grabbed the last piece of chocolate cake and ate it in front of everyone.  I remember one of the guys saying to me, "So, Rains, now that you are out, that means you are just going to give up?"  I told him yes.  I moved back to Colorado with my son and mooching spouse, starting my three year voyage to becoming the heaviest I had ever been, and eventually finding my world turned upside down because of it. 

Fast forwarding almost seven years from the moment I ate that historic chocolate cake, which was not that good to begin with, my diet changed drastically.  It consists of mostly natural, healthy, and nutritious foods.  Instead of diet pills, I take several supplements and an Oligo multivitamin.  I look back at my history of food abuse and realized that I can't eat anything and everything all the time.  My body just does not like processed junk that I had eaten for 25 years.  I know several friends who would beg to differ, one whose diet consists of hamburgers, pizza, and soda.  However, I realized that everyone is different, and our bodies all respond differently to the foods we eat.  Knowing what your personal diet should be and accepting your body as is is important.  For me, I needed to switch to a natural, healthy, and nutritious diet because my body runs more efficiently that way.  More importantly, I do not deprive myself, I eat things that I crave in moderation and I don't think twice about the calories because they really don't count.  I discovered that it is okay to eat that cookie, but I eat an apple too.  I slowly switched my thinking so that I actually want to eat for the health of my body.  I replaced the soda with water and the cake with carrots.  Lastly, I found time to exercise everyday.  I laugh and enjoy myself; I got rid of the bad and focus on the good.  I learned that you have got to change what is making you miserable, otherwise you end up sitting in your own rut.  It is most important to be grateful, be thankful, and fill yourself with love.

So to answer the question:
Can I eat anything I want?  Yes I can, because what I want is to eat what is healthy.                          

          

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Would Ayurveda Work For You

How could something so old be so new?  Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old health modality which is used world-wide although its therapeutic techniques differ slightly geographically.  Ayurveda, which has gained popularity in Asia, is also slowly gaining steam Western society as a branch in the newly popular Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).  According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, more than 200,000 U.S. adults used Ayurvedic medicine in the previous year (NCCAM.org).

I never hear of it, are you sure it is effective? Since it is relatively new, not many studies have been extensively conducted, and unfortunately modern science often has trouble translating this 5,000 year old modality into today's scientific analysis.  Since researchers also point out that the emphasis of Ayurveda is on providing different kinds of treatments for different people having the same disease; the ability to draw generalizeable conclusions is often very limited.   However, with the advancement of technology and as the popularity of Ayurveda spreads, new methods in research will be developed to study Ayurvedic extensively, and bring it to the forefront of Western medicine.  

What is the difference between Ayurvedic medicine and the medicine my doctor prescribes?   The practice of Ayurveda involves the use of medications that typically contain herbs, metals, minerals, or other materials.  While other countries have taken steps to address some of the concerns about these medications, such safeguards in America has not been actively implemented yet.  Efforts are required to improve the standards of Ayurvedic medications.  

What does the science say about this?  Ayurveda has shown to be successfull in treating asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and ischemic heart disease.  Yoga and meditation has been known to help with insomnia and other sleep disorders.  Best of all, the Ayurveda diet has been shown to slim the waistline.


How can I get more information?  While there is a lot of information out on the internet, it is important to get the correct information.  I recommend the following website:
NCCAM
To find a practitioner near you, visit:

        
      
        


References:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  http://nccam.nih.gov/health/ayurveda  Accessed November 11, 2011
Patwardhan B, Warude D, Pushpangadan P, Bhatt N. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine: A comparative overview.  eCAM. 2005;2(4):465-473.
Manjunath NK, Telles S. Influence of yoga & Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population. Indian J Med Res. 2005;121:683-690.
Rastogi S. Building bridges between Ayurveda and modern science. In J Ayurveda Res. 2010;1(1):41-46.
Furst D, Venkatraman MM et al. Well controlled, double blind, placebo controlled trials of classical ayurvedic treatment are possible in rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis 2011; 70: 392-393
Prakash V, Prakash S et al. Sustainable effect of ayurvedic formulations in the treatment of nutritional anemia in adolescent students. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010; 16(2): 205-211
Falkenback A, Oberguggenberger R. Ayurveda in ankylosing spondylitis and low back pain. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003;62:276-277.
Singh, RH. Exploring larger evidence-base for contemporary Ayurveda. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010;1(2): 65-66.
Walash, H. The efficacy paradox in randomized controlled trials of CAM and the placebo trap. Journal of alternative & complementary medicine. 2001;7(3):213-218.
Miller FG, Emanuel EJ, Rosenstein DL, Straus SE. Ethical issues concerning research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. JAMA. 2004;291:599-604.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yin & Yang


The light and dark side of the mountain: the symbolism of energy within and without.  The two opposing forces which consists in every aspect of being, yin and yang, impacts our very existence. Within our existence, is our life force energy, or qi, which flows in everything and through everyone.  Maintaining a proper balance of qi, particularly yin and yang, creates harmony, a sort of homeostasis; similarly, an imbalance begets disharmony. It is this imbalance that allows our entire being to succumb to disease, our organs to fail and increases our susceptibility to disease.
Understanding a little more about qi:
Master Duan Zhi-Liang Wuji Qigong
Master Shur Qigong Master
One major disease yin and yang imbalance is associated with is cancer. It is suggested that lin28/let-7 signaling link can be viewed much like a yin and yang balancing act. Consistent with this concept, lin28 and let-7 have been shown to have opposing expression patterns suggesting that this yin and yang imbalance is mainly associated with tumor progression and functions in development and tumor progression.  In mast cells where the suppressor and activator roles of mast cells in allergic inflammation are opposites. During allergic exacerbations there is an imbalance of mast cell functions which result in the symptoms related to allergic asthma and food allergy. During remission the balance is restored.  

One more disease viewed differently in Chinese medicine is diabetes, which is called xiao ke, or "wasting thirst syndrome". It is believed in Chinese medicine that there is a deficiency of yin, thus creating fake heat which affects the lungs, stomach and kidneys. The Chinese medicine understanding of what causes diabetes is very similar to Allopathic medicine in that those who eat/drink too much alcohol, sugar or fat (all yang foods) and live a sedentary life will develop xaio ke. Toxic heat develops which is thought to consume vital organs’ fluids and causes malfunction and disharmony between lung, stomach and kidney.
The combination of Allopathic and Chinese medicine can be shown in the example of insulin and glucagon:


We can ascertain by their functions, insulin would represent yin energy while glucagon represents yang energy.  One cannot function without the other, and without both in balance, the body becomes diseased.
Knowledge of yin and yang energy can help in the prevention, diagnosis, and cure of diseases, even where Allopathic medicine lacks.  It would behoove Allopathic medicine greatly to adopt this paradigm, and it would also benefit the millions of people who suffer from diseases in which there is no known cure for in Allopathic medicine. 






Sources:
A.D. Kraneveld, et al., The two faces of mast cells in food allergy and allergic asthma: The possible concept of Yin Yang , Biochim. Biophys. Acta (2011)
Ageless Herbs. Traditional Chinese Medicine .Yin Yang Theory. Catherine Browne, L.Ac., MH, Dipl.Ac . Retrieved on 11/4/11
Ho, L. Robertson, M. The Yin and Yang of Diabetes. Exploring Chinese medicine's understanding of diabetes mellitus.
J.B. Soriano, A. Agustı, Eur Respir J 2008; 32: 1426–1427 COPD: or balancing repair (yang) and inflammation (yin)
Junfang Ji, Xin Wei Wang A Yin-Yang balancing act of the lin28/let-7 link in tumorigenesis
Journal of Hepatology Volume 53, Issue 5, November 2010, Pages 974-975
K. Maiese, Yin Yang: A Balancing Act for Oxidative Stress, Volume 3 (2010), Issue 4, Pages 227-227, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Monti, Daniel A. and Yang, Jingduan, "Complementary medicine in chronic cancer care" (2004).Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integration Medicine Faculty Papers.
Source: adapted from"Protein Power."
Diabetes Health, Investigate, inform, inspire. Yin and Yang: Balancing Insulin and Glucagon. Retrieved on 11/4/11 from http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2000/02/01/1789/yin-and-yang-balancing-insulin-and-glucagon
Shen-Nong Limited 2002-2005 “Understanding Kidney Yin and Kidney Yang” April 25-2009 http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/kidneyyinyang.html