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Friday, July 20, 2012

End of Juice Fasting Day 1

Juice fasting is one of those "your mileage may vary" kinda things. The more things that are wrong with you, the more side-effects and general sense of crappiness you will feel during the first few days. Luckily for me, since I eat pretty healthy already, I didn't experience many side-effects at all. I did feel a little tired with periodic light-headedness, but other than that, it went really well! No headaches or extreme fatigue.

I've heard a few accounts of people having to stay near a bathroom during their first couple days. According to the one lady from the Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead film, she had to poop for an hour. In someone else's blog they said, "You can't talk about juice fasting without talking about pooping. A lot of poop." It was funny, but in my case, not applicable. My digestive system already functions as it should, with at least 3 regular bowel movements a day. So after I excreted what food was left in my system, there wasn't a whole lot left to push out. I did have to pee a lot though.

I expected to feel pretty bad the first day, and maybe even the second, but my first day was fairly uneventful. I did feel hungry now and then, and certainly missed eating. Food is one of the great pleasures in life. It'll taste so good when I resume solid food again! But my will is strong and I was able to resist grabbing a bite of anything. I think I'll have no problems lasting a week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trying a Juice Fast

When I first heard of juice fasting so many years ago, I quickly dismissed it as a silly diet fad. I imagined the participant languishing away because they were malnourished from doing nothing but drinking fruit juice. How quick I was to judge.

Recently I saw the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It follows the 60-day journey of an overweight, autoimmune disease-afflicted man as he stops his detrimental eating habits and embarks on a quest to turn his life around, starting with juicing. Equally inspiring is an obese, depressed trucker who follows in the main character's footsteps to turn his life around. It's available on Netflix streaming if you'd like to get inspired.

The important points that I took away from the movie:
  • The juices produced in the juice fast are 80% vegetables and 20% fruits. The high vegetable intake is incredibly nutrient rich.
  • Because the juice you make (as opposed to store-bought) is super-fresh, all the nutrients and enzymes are still there instead of being destroyed by oxidation, pasteurization, preservatives, and other processing.
  • Because there is no solid food during a juice fast, your body can quickly absorb all the nutrients from the juice and go back to "housekeeping". Digestion is a very intensive process and takes away from the body's ability to heal itself.
  • By the end of the two participants' 60-day juice fast (monitored by a physician), they both no longer suffered from autoimmune disease and dropped an incredible amount of weight. Another participant's inexplicable migrains disappeared after one week.
  • After the initial 2-4 day "detoxing" period, juice fasters remarked at an increased sense of mental clarity and focus.
  • The weight loss is seriously impressive, as is the body's ability to heal itself once it isn't being inundated with junk.
All this information has inspired me to give juice fasting a try. I'm going to see if I can do one week, and if it goes really well, I'll stretch it out to two weeks!

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Studies Reveal the Importance of Exercise in Cancer Prevention and Management

Today we have a guest post from David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, a fellow concerned citizen looking to spread helpful information about your health. He's been researching the profound impact that exercise can have on cancer. So without further ado, heeeeere's David!
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Experts are finding new evidence of the benefits of exercise in cancer prevention. New exercise guidelines are being developed for candidates who are in an at-risk group for cancer and patients with cancer, according to Prevent Disease.  With new guidelines, exercise is just as important as nutrition and dietary choices.

How Can Exercise Prevent Cancer?

Through studies, scientists have shown how regular workouts can prevent certain cancers such as endometrial cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer. One study conducted in Copenhagen showed how exercise strengthens the immune system. When the immune system is healthy, the body can fight cancer-causing free radicals. Thus, people are protected from development of cancer.

Though there is no conclusive evidence, exercise may also be effective in preventing the on-set of mesothelioma.  This type of cancer may lie dormant in the body for years after exposure to asbestos before actually manifesting in the form of cancer. If exercise is made a regular part of cancer treatment for mesothelioma after exposure, a potential cancer patient may prolong his or her life.

Not only is exercise effective in prevention but also in treatment. One study on the effects of lung cancer and exercise revealed how cancer patients who exercised regularly lowered their risk of dying by 20 percent. Highly fit men were found to have a 60 percent lower risk of dying, according to Prevent Disease. In general, studies showed that sedentary men were twice as likely to die as physically fit men. Apparently, even men who smoked in this study had an increased chance of living.

What Type of Exercise is Effective in Preventing Cancer?

Walking or cycling are both recommended forms of exercise. Exercises must be completed on a regular basis to be effective. Most physicians recommend between three and five days of rigorous activity. Exercises should last 30 to 45 minutes per day. Exercise improves blood flow, energy levels and organ functionality. With increased functionality, the body’s immune system is strengthened and can fight cancer.

In general, any type of aerobic activity will prevent and decrease the likelihood of the cancer spreading in the body. Though studies are inconclusive, experts believe that one-third of all deaths related to cancer can be attributed to poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. Exercise is important to improve the longevity of a patient’s life.

Other Correlations Between Cancer and Exercise

People who exercise regularly also engage in other healthy habits in most instances. They are less likely to consume unhealthy foods such as saturated fats or participate in unhealthy habits such as smoking. Highly fit people are less likely to develop cancer and if they do, they are most likely to prevent the spread of the disease through exercise.

Since exercise is a contributing factor in prevention of cancer, experts suggest that cancer is a systemic disease rather than a local disease. Thus, cancer affects the entire body rather than a localized area.

Physicians are recommending holistic care for effective cancer treatment. Physical health, mental health, immune system health and spiritual health are all components of managing cancer. Exercise is an essential component of managing physical and mental health.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cool Whip DOES contain trans fats

For so long, ever since this post about foods that commonly contain trans fats, I've meant to see for myself whether Cool Whip really did eliminate it from their product. People had commented on my post stating that the package says "0 trans fats". If this were true, then it would make for a better product. It still isn't good for you with all its fat and sugar, but at least it wouldn't be making things worse.

Well years later I finally remembered to grab a carton of Cool Whip and take a look. I was right all along. Take a look at this bad photo I took of it:


Please pardon the blurriness, my cell phone wasn't designed for close-ups. If you squint hard enough, you can make out the ingredients list: water, corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil...! Ha! See? Never believe the large and colorful marketing statements on the front of the package. The FDA allows companies to make statements like "0 trans fats" if the amount is under a certain percentage. Their belief is a little bit won't hurt you. Well I disagree. Why not just cut it out altogether? Why do they have to deceive the general public who usually don't read ingredient lists?

All gloating aside, my point is, always read the ingredient list, no matter what claims they make on the front. Even better, read the ingredients especially if they make claims on the front! Then you'll know what kind of company they are. If they like to make legal yet false claims, then they are not to be trusted. Better to just avoid that company's products altogether. Is it a bit drastic? Maybe, but with so many choices when you shop nowadays, why support the companies that don't have your health in mind?

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'd avoid the brown M&Ms too

In the movie The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey's character tosses out all but the brown M&Ms because food coloring isn't natural, and according to him, "chocolate is already brown," so the brown ones must be safe.

Yes chocolate is already brown, but remember that M&Ms, no matter what color they are, have a candy coating on the outside. That crunchy shell on the brown M&Ms isn't chocolate, it's colored sugar. So if you are avoiding food coloring like the good healthy person you are, don't bother with M&Ms at all. Stick with good ol' chocolate.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I found a way to beat my eczema

I never did make myself start the UltraSimple Diet that I mentioned two posts ago. It requires quite a bit of planning and discipline... more effort that I've been willing to give. My primary reason for wanting to start this cleanse diet isn't for weight control, it's to find out exactly what I might be allergic to.

I've had eczema for as long as I can remember. It's been an itchy, life-long battle, and one I've never come close to winning... until now! One of the ideas behind this period of dietary restriction is that some foods cause mild allergies that manifest in the form of a delayed reaction. For some it's asthma, for others it's sinus congestion, for me it's eczema, mostly on my hands.

What I did instead was to cut out some of the food items listed as possible allergens for many people. What I found out was I'm allergic to wheat, milk and possibly chocolate. I was really hoping wheat wouldn't be a problem for me, because it's in so many foods that I love. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. For a week I refrained from eating bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, pizza, and cereal containing wheat. The irritating rash on my hands gradually began to clear up!

I was both thrilled and dismayed at the same time. I had some lasagna one day, and the next two days new itchy blisters appeared on my hands. No more wheat for me. I was sad, but at least now I know one of my problems!

After banning wheat from my diet, I would sometimes experience new rash breakouts... meaning there were one or more other items I might be allergic to. A friend had brought over a gallon of milk and I had been having that for breakfast with my corn-based cereal. (I normally drink soy milk.) I stopped using the milk and my eczema again began to clear. Yogurt and cheese don't seem to be as big a problem for me as milk, but I still have to be careful about my dairy intake.

Why couldn't it have been peanuts? That's easy to avoid. I wouldn't have been quite so affected if it had been something not quite so ubiquitous as wheat and dairy. It makes it increasingly difficult to be a vegetarian.

As for chocolate, I have suspicions about it. I've been abstaining for a couple weeks now, so I'll have myself a dark chocolate candy bar soon and see if anything happens a few days afterward.

If you'd like to try this strategy of identifing possible allergens in your diet, be sure to carefully read ingredient lists on the foods you buy. Also, research what foods are wheat-based that might be called something else. For example, cous-cous, grahm crackers, and semolina are all made from wheat. When you do start cutting foods from your diet, give at least a week to see results. Patience is key. Good luck!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dealing with cold sores (aka fever blisters or herpes simplex 1)

Cold sores are one of those annoying and embarrassing things that people hate to deal with, and seem to pop up when you least want them. Let's face it, when do we ever want those damn things? It may be a simple virus infection, but herpes is still herpes and it will always have the negative connotations that come with it, regardless of whether or not you have the genital kind. (Which, for the record, I do not have, thank you very much.)

I never used to get cold sores much, and can't remember when it ever started. However, ever since I became vegetarian my the recurrence of blisters has more than quadrupled. I couldn't figure out why until I researched herpes simplex 1 a little more. Now that I know more, I'd like to share my knowledge and what has worked for me.

First of all, several things can trigger an outbreak:
  • Sun exposure
  • Excessive wind exposure
  • Stressed immune system (like when you're sick)
  • Foods high in arganine (like chocolate, nuts, and oatmeal)
The first two are easy enough to deal with. Just limit your exposure to wind and sun (my apologies if you're an avid skier, cyclist, whatever). That last item is what caused my more frequent blister outbreaks. When my diet changed, the nutrients I was getting changed as well, more than I realized.

Viruses seem to thrive on arganine, so naturally foods high in that amino acid will be feeding your virus infections. On the other hand, lysine seems to impede the virus' ability to absorb arganine. Therefore, foods high in lysine and low in arganine are ideal for keeping your cold sores at bay.

The reason my outbreaks became more frequent after I cut meat out of my diet is because meats naturally contain high amounts of lysine. Couple that with the fact that I relied more on nuts for protein than in the past, and you can see how I developed a bit of an imbalance.

It's not just about avoiding foods high in arganine. Some articles you might read about herpes simplex will tell you to avoid dairy for this reason. However, dairy are some of the foods highest in lysine, usually more than double the amount of arganine. This chart will help you identify the foods with the highest and lowest lysine to arganine ratio.

Additionally, I have been taking Lysine supplements. I take one 500 mg pill a day, unless I feel that familiar tingling in my lip, then I increase it to two a day. If the area starts to feel slightly rough, like the blister is about to form, then I increase to three pills a day (over the course of the day, not all at once). I've found that this usually prevents the outbreak and the blister site smooths out and becomes normal again.

I'm so relieved that I've found this solution to my problems. I was starting to feel like some kind of leper with cold sore outbreaks every two months. I always thought I was eating healthy, and I hardly ever got sick. Turns out my diet was too low in lysine to stop the virus from flaring up.

As a final note, bear in mind that I am not a doctor or nutrionist. Please don't down a bottle of lysine in one day and then wonder why you have diarrhea. If you have doubts or experience anything unexpected or worrisome, do talk to a doctor about it. I'm just a regular person sharing her experiences in the hopes of helping someone else.