week 1, day 1 am homework

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3 things grateful for in your life

write about each for as long as it feels right

appreciate

read out loud – notice feelings

hold feeling (the good feeling initially) – aim for 1 min per each one

just notice what comes

different things each day 

the rhodendrons in the hall

that I live somewhere that I can have flowers, their pinkness, beauty, how the frills of their petals are, that they remind me of joy and abundance 

the daphne

that I woke up early and made my green smoothie

 

 

 

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13 Simple Steps to Sanity (& Maybe Even Happiness).

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Photography by Ingrid Schroder.

I’m all up for seeking inspiration and soaking up all of the amazing offerings that are out there, but today I’m going in; I’m keeping it simple, and I’m taking my own advice.

Thirteen simple steps to sanity (and maybe even happiness) is what I’m going for here.

Instead of looking for some inspiration in angel cards, or in someone else’s yoga class, instead of pulling it from the tucks and folds of the never-ending flux and flow of the ocean or some other gem of the universe, today, I’m taking a leap of faith, and hoping that I’ll know just what to do.

When I woke up to find the thick sense of overwhelm just hovering there around me, I wasn’t sure I could ward off giving in. I felt baaaaaaad. ExhaustedOver it— “it” being, well, everything. My week of 5:30 a.m. toddler wake ups was killing me. I felt saturated; I felt like I was drowning, like everything I needed to achieve was completely out of my control.

Ugh, I hate that feeling—so familiar, and oh so ferociously friendly, but there was no way I was falling into that trap—no way I was going to be convinced or seduced or persuaded into the arms of that anxiety-laced and fear-ridden feeling of being overwhelmed.

Not today.

I had some notes I’d made to myself after moving through a big period of overwhelm a while back, so I decided it was time to have a little looksy and take my own advice.

And it went a lil’ somethin’ like this:

1. Before you even crawl out of bed, decide to make today good.

Undeterred by the amount of sleep you soaked up, the fact that your back may be killing, your neck cramping, your head pounding, your heart just dreading the day ahead of you, consciously decide that today is going to be a good day. Because you said so, and because ultimately, it’s you who gets to decide how to label your experiences.

You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it.

It’s easy to slide in to powerless mode, so take a moment to remind yourself that attitude and intention pave the path for the rest of your day. So, why not choose to begin yours consciously? It may just be time to wake up.

2. Now that you’ve pried yourself from the hands of heaven, the next step to feeling on top of your shit is to make that bed. 

Yes, now. Before you have coffee, before you walk the dog, before you shower.

Regardless of the mood flavoring your wake up, regardless of a bad sleep, an accidental sleep in, or hardly any sleep at all, make your bed—doing so will never make you feel worse. Just get the sheets anddooner on there. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to be done. That one minute you spend making your bed will not only give you oodles of mental space, but it will actively create a crisp, clean start to your day.

Whether you’re a stay at home mum, a lawyer, a DJ, an artist, or serving up fries at Micky Dee’s, you’re day deserves a fresh start!

3. Time for a treat. 

Nothing like something from your favorites list to soothe the blow of waking up to whip your ass into feel-good mode! So go ahead, devour your favorite “breaky,” sip a naughty coffee, and put on your most cozy of cozy pants to start your day. Make yourself excited to be awake. Take your time. Have a long shower. Wash your hair. Scrub your face, use a fresh towel, your “special” face cream, your most beautiful body oil or perfume.

Stop skimping out on yourself!

Stop waiting for a “better day,” “more time,” or a “more important moment” to enjoy all the little pleasures you already have surrounding you—start enjoying your life now!

4. Grab your favorite pen and notebook, and make yourself a to do list.

Our brains can get pretty cramped up and crowded, making it a tiny bit tricky to find all the little mental notes we’ve scattered about, so instead, get those thoughts out onto the page and map out your week. Organize your time so that it works for you, making sure that you can get everything you need to get done, done.

Even if you feel resistant to making lists, do it anyways. The act of emptying out your to do’s is guaranteed to clear you out, inspire you up, and space up any business rattling around in your mind. There’s just something about seeing your week laid out and knowing that you’ve allocated specific time to get the things that need to get done, done, that makes you feel in control. After all, it is you, and no one else, who designs your time.

So sit yourself down. Make your list. Break every big task that’s freaking you out and throwing you into shock-stuck-static zone down into its smaller components. Make it easier on yourself. Make things manageable and achievable, because it’s pretty hard to motivate yourself when you feel defeated before you’ve even begun.

5. Do something off your list.

Start with a few small chores (little chores feel good too), and then move on to the big ones, the daunting ones, the one’s you’ve been dreading and dancing and darting around. And when you come up against those feelings of overwhelm, the ones that normally consume you and convince you that whatever you’ve been avaoiding doing can wait another day, remind yourself that what you resist most reaps the biggest rewards when done.

6: Make a conscious choice to enjoy whatever it is you have to do today. 

Whether it’s work, groceries, the dishes, cleaning the toilet, waiting in line, mowing the lawn, raising a child, serving up coffee…shake up your perspective and decide to relish in the good of today’s to do’s.

Whatever is happening right now is your life, so you may as well love it, or at least like it.

Cleaning isn’t as bad when you think about it as cleansing and creating space and spreading your heart out into your home. Tidying up and doing the gardening and filling the fridge and making the bed aren’t as mundane when you remind yourself of the fact that you do it because you are creating a homey, cozy space that you can relax and feel good in. When you start to notice the little beauties embedded and engraved into your every day tasks, you begin to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. It isn’t complicated; all you have to do is simply open your eyes.

7. Slow down! Ask yourself, do you really need to rush? 

What are you hurrying towards anyway?

What is it that could be worth rushing through your life for?

We miss the good, we miss the beauty, we miss the sweet smells and the sweet smiles and the overall sweetness of life when we rush through it. All the jewels go unnoticed when they’re whirling by in your peripheral vision, nothing getting the gift of your full attention. We’re always rushing to what’s next, looking for the next good quote, the next amazing photo, the next Facebook post, the next blog, the next pose we’ll master, our next home, next car—we rush towards, and usually into, our next relationship.

We’re constantly searching for more without ever fully acknowledging what is.

8. Smile, and mean it. 

Smiling takes the edge off, and let’s face it, it takes a lot of extra effort to be pissed off when you’re smiling.

Choose lightness and rock that beautiful smile. Your own day may not be the only one you make.

9. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return.

Open a door, carry someone’s groceries, share your fresh bread, give a friend a lift, leave a little love note, a little snack, a homemade card.

You can make a difference, so why not show some love?! 

(The act doesn’t have to be monumental or cost $100 to make someone’s day; it’s the little things…)

10. Breathe.

Seems ridiculous that we have to remind ourselves to do the one thing that keeps us alive doesn’t it? But realistically, how often to you think you really deeply, fully breathe? And, in contrast, how often do you find yourself holding your breath? How often is your breath speedy, sharp or short?

Exactly my point.

Breathing deeply is an instant de-stresser, a chiller-outer, a calmer-downer. It’s an emotion-shifter, a focus and energy-maker, an endorphin-releaser, and a toxin-taker.

So take a deep breath and milk that shit.

Photo: Somebody-Out There

11: Get outside.

Take a walk. Rake some leaves. Wash your car. Plant some flowers. Pick a bouquet.

Wake up and shake up and light up your day.

Walk to work. Take your lunch break outside. Sip your coffee in the sun, draft your blog by the ocean, go for a bike ride or a joyride, or a moonlit walk—just get outside. Arch and stretch and unwind and melt your body on your mat in the crisp morning sun. Hang your laundry out on the line. Take late afternoon strolls. Window shop. Go for a run.

Air yourself out, air your day out, your mind out, your heart out—just get out!

12: Move your body. 

Doesn’t matter how, just move it.

Have a living room dance party, jump some rope, practice your handstands, or your forward folds, or the splits. Mow the lawn.

Be open to spontaneity.

Play hopscotch or tag or hide and go seek. Chase your kids. Chase your dog, chase your man or lady. Go for a long walk, push that pram up some hills, climb some stairs, play beach volleyball, get in the ocean, or on your bike or your board, or put on your dancing shoes, but get moving!

Exercise will always makes you feel better, and moving your body will always make you feel more alive.

13. Get some rest!

Go to bed early. Have a nap. Rest when you need it, and don’t feel bad about it.

You need to rest—yes, you! 

We all do. Funny then that sleep tends to be the first gem to slip through our fingers, the first thing to take a hit when life gets tough and rough and spiky. But you know that everything is more difficult when you’re tired. So schedule it in. Make time for your sleep.

Accept that no one is able to schedule time in for you to relax and rest and re-charge but you.

Put it on your to do list. Slot it in instead of just waiting for it to spontaneously happen.

Life is never going to slow down or become less busy, so if you want to stay healthy and avoid burning out, you need to start carving out time for resting and refueling and recharing.

Being tired more than sucks. So choose to get enough sleep.

Remind yourself that being well rested paints everything in a brighter shade of light. Remind yourself that you can’t possibly continue to live your life well, and offer, and love and be calm and grounded and centered if you’re running your tank on empty!

So, it’s simple: take care of yourself, because you can.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or complicated.

Transformation doesn’t always require huge, mind-blowing shifts, and the changes we make don’t have to be extravagant or extra hard to initiate change.

Just keep it simple, remembering it’s the little things that make life big.

Raw Almonds – Raw Lies

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Mehdi Comeau

Photo: Madlyinlovewithlife

If you think you’ve been eating raw almonds — don’t be so sure.

On September 1, 2007, the USDA, FDA and ABC (Almond Board of California) passed a federal mandate dictating the pasteurization of all almonds grown in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico.

In conjunction, the ABC and federal government support labeling pasteurized almonds as “raw,”leaving individual manufacturers and retailers to determine their labeling practices.  In other words, even conventional, chemically treated almonds can legally be deceptively labeled and sold as “raw.”

Earlier this year, I purchased a small, expensive jar of raw almond butter—free of chemicals, boosting with raw nutrition and sustainably grown. Rich in vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus and copper, to name a few, raw almonds supply a bounty of healthful properties while reigning as the most alkalizing nut.

Reading that my purchased jar of almond butter used Californian almonds, I recalled the 2007 mandate on U.S. almond pasteurization. Feeling violated and lied to, I called the company for answers.

A senior representative reluctantly admitted their “raw” almonds were indeed steam pasteurized. The representative tried to rationalize the company’s moral misdoings by claiming the process only affects the outer skin.  However, the outer skin is where the majority of nutrients in fruits and vegetables reside, mind you.

Nevertheless, any process strong enough to kill Salmonella creates a product by definition that is the opposite of raw—not living, dead and, depending on the process, dangerous to ingest.

I won’t disclose the manufacturer of this particular little jar since they are not alone in their malarkey toting bold falsehoods. As a side note, they did offer me free samples of other, actually raw, nut butters in their line, which I accepted. However, I remain far from satisfied with their industrial scheme.

Photo: Halfrain

How are almonds “treated?”

Steam treatment, high heat (dry or oil) roasting, blanching and toxic fumigation with propylene oxide (PPO) are the main four methods for treating almonds. However, the most used methods are those of steam and PPO for organic and conventional almonds, respectively.

PPO fumigation, which is used for non-organic almonds, is repulsively dangerous. PPO is a highly toxic chemical that poses severe risks to human health. It’s a recognized carcinogen and a cause of disease according to the EPA. Further, PPO damages the liver, gastrointestinal, immune, developmental and respiratory systems with varied short and long-term exposure symptoms that range from inflamed lesions to neurological damage.

The American Motorcycle and Hot Rod Associations previously used PPO as fuel, but even they banned it once realizing its dangers. Further, Mexico, Canada and the entire European Union banned PPO due to its carcinogenic risks.

Conventionally grown almonds absorb a fair level of chemicals as is. Frosting the cake with PPO makes places them on high health risk alert: beware of industrial almonds!

Steam treatment is generally used for organic almonds and is the least invasive method of treatment, yet still is powerful enough to kill bacteria at temperatures that also void healthful properties. Nutritionists agree that raw, organic almonds are more nutritious than pasteurized almonds.

Photo: RahelSharon

Why would public health be jeopardized in contrary attempts to protect it? Why would those in power purport such fabrications?

It isn’t for our safety. While meat, eggs and dairy substantiate pasteurization and cooking to avoid food-borne illness, there is no scientific evidence proving almonds to be innately dangerous. Almonds require direct transfer from unsanitary environments and practices to become contaminated with Salmonella.

Peanuts, spinach and other produce have had significant Salmonella outbreaks as well, yet have not garnered a similar protocol. Why?

It’s business. The global economy is competitive. The ABC is comprised of industrial almond growers who have substantial money and influence and likely to want to rid competition.

Imposing pasteurization regulations as part of a scheme to control the industry helped the ABC direct prices, eliminate competition and monopolize their industrial turf.

The pasteurization program was developed through research conducted by, guess who, the Almond Board of California.

The USDA alerted a select elite subset within the industry when the rule was first proposed. According to the Cornucopia Institute, only 115 select growers and handlers (out of over 6,000) were asked for their input in an initial 45-day comment period.

Others in the almond business were not acquainted with the proposed rule until its enactment, while no efforts to inform the public were made.

In part for driving out competition, pasteurization equipment is unreasonably expensive for small-scale farmers. If they don’t have equipment, they’re forced to ship to and from a treatment facility, costing them potential profit. Both options are out of reach for small-scale farmers.

The ABC provides equipment for its allies—dominating the market. Small-scale farmers simply can’t compete.

Merit worthy almond farmers using environmentally sound, sustainable methods for producing high quality nutritional food sources are diminishing from domestic and international markets.

Sustainable practices encourage biodiversity and prevent bacteria from spreading. In contrast, conventional methods create conditions for easy harvest by using chemicals to destroy undergrowth and organisms—including those that keep opportunistic pathogens at bay. The former enhances soil and creates clean food, while the latter destroys soil and contaminates both land and food.

The Cornucopia Institute calls the pasteurization mandate a “technological Band-Aid,” when the USDA and ABC research should focus on organic and sustainable farming in preventing Salmonella and other bacterial outbreaks.

Photo: HealthAliciousNess

Where can we find actual raw, unpasteurized almonds?

Only almonds being sold commercially are restricted to the mandate. Therefore, if you or anyone you know grows almonds, indulge! Like raw milk, it is legal to buy direct from farmers.

There are also a handful of online sources for organic, non-pasteurized almonds:

Fine Sicilian almonds and almond butter is available online from Live Superfoods. You can also order Spanish and Italian raw almonds from Jaffe Bros. natural foods.

Living Nutz is a great company supporting organic, minimally processed and healthy raw foods. You can purchase their “truly raw” almonds online.

Organic Pastures in California offers ‘Truly Raw Almonds” from their “On Farm” store, but the USDA will not permit raw almonds to be shipped from phone call orders at this time–there is a pending lawsuit trying to reverse this policy.

Check out Organic Pasture’s position on pasteurization, farming, labeling and legal issues for more information.

What is the solution?

The Cornucopia Institute highlights a valid solution: allow raw, organic almonds back into the market, but require labels warning of possible risks. This solution offers sustainable farmers the ability to survive in the almond business and bolster sustainable growing practices.

In addition, the U.S. should join the E.U., Canada, Mexico and the American Motorcycle and Hot Rod Associations and ban the use of PPO!

What can we do?

In efforts to inspire people and corporations to be cognizant of their practices and to ensure a healthy and sustainable future, Seth Leaf from Living Nutz initiated an online GoPetition against Mandatory Almond Pasteurization. With over 30,000 signatures, they need more—sign the e-petition!

The Cornucopia Institute is leading an Authentic Almond Project. I encourage you to check out their site and download the Cornucopia Institute Fact Sheet (PDF) on the Mandatory Sterilization of Almonds for more information and a comprehensive review of issues discussed.

Were you aware of these issues already? Are there any policy updates? Please share your thoughts and opinions, and always be a conscious consumer, wary of what you read and eat.

 

A flat-capped nomad, Mehdi Comeau enjoys adventuring, discovering and muse on people and life. As a keenly curious enviro-gastronome, it’s in his nature to pursue perpetual learning and growth, be outdoors, active and create crafty kitchen concoctions, while tuning in and allowing clues in life to guide. When he’s not engaged elsewhere, you’ll often find him writing with a green blend at his side. He likes the motto: everything in moderation and full appreciation.  You can read a growing collection of his musings on his blog, SolsticeSon’s Celebrational Servings.

statins are not working – heart disease

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I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.”  Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body?  Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream dietthat is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. Thisrepeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart diseasestroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flourand all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed withomega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell – they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetesand finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

Dr. Dwight Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital , Mesa , AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on helping large corporations promote wellness. He is also the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.

The official news release can be found here: Prevent Disease

improve your digestion naturally

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Alternatives to Digestive Enzymes

Now that you understand why we are lacking in these enzymes, you may ask, why not just decongest the bile and pancreatic ducts and improve the bile flow?

My sentiments exactly! Here’s how:

Step 1: Eat more raw beets and leafy greens. Greens should make up 2/3 of your plate. The cellulose in greens will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet like a non-stop flight!

Step 2: Drink fenugreek tea. It acts a decongestant for the bile ducts and helps support normal bile flow.

Step 3: Have cinnamon with every meal. Cinnamon supports healthy blood sugar while supporting health bile flow.

Step 4: Mix 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with 1-2 tsp of lemon juice. Shake and drink every morning or night on an empty stomach for one month. This will exercise the liver and gallbladder while supporting healthy bile flow in the bile and pancreatic ducts.

Step 5: Drink a big glass of water 15-20 minutes before each meal. This will super-hydrate your stomach, encouraging it to produce more hydrochloric acid and increasing the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes.

Step 6: Consider regular detoxification of the liver and fat cells, which store toxins that are processed through the liver. Regularly cleansing these is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimal digestion.

 

from elephant journal http://www.elephantjournal.com/author/dr-john-douillard/

Got Milk? You Don’t Need It

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Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman on food and all things related.

Drinking milk is as American as Mom and apple pie. Until not long ago, Americans were encouraged not only by the lobbying group called the American Dairy Association but by parents, doctors and teachers to drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk, “nature’s perfect food,” every day. That’s two pounds! We don’t consume two pounds a day of anything else; even our per capita soda consumption is “only” a pound a day.

Today the Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for dairy is a mere three cups daily — still 1½ pounds by weight — for every man, woman and child over age 9. This in a country where as many as 50 million people are lactose intolerant, including 90 percent of all Asian-Americans and 75 percent of all African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Jews. The myplate.gov site helpfully suggests that those people drink lactose-free beverages. (To its credit, it now counts soy milk as “dairy.”)

There’s no mention of water, which is truly nature’s perfect beverage; the site simply encourages us to switch to low-fat milk. But, says Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”

O.K., dairy products contain nutrients, and for those who like them, a serving or two daily is probably fine. (Worth noting: they’re far more easily digested as yogurt or cheese than as fluid milk.) But in addition to intolerance, there’s a milk allergy — the second most common food allergy after peanuts, affecting an estimated 1.3 million children — that can be life-threatening.

Emily Robertson

Other conditions are not easily classified, and I have one of those. When I was growing up, drinking milk at every meal, I had a chronic upset stomach. (Channeling my inner Woody Allen, I’ll note that I was therefore treated as a neurotic, which, in fairness, I was anyway.) In adolescence, this became chronic heartburn, trendily known as GERD or acid reflux, and that led to a lifelong Tums habit (favorite flavor: wintergreen) and an adult dependence on Prevacid, a proton-pump inhibitor. Which, my gastroenterologist assured me, is benign. (Wrong.)

Fortunately my long-term general practitioner, Sidney M. Baker, author of “Detoxification and Healing,” insisted that I make every attempt to break the Prevacid addiction.  Thus followed a seven-year period of trials of various “cures,” including licorice pills, lemon juice, antibiotics, famotidine (Pepcid) and almost anything else that might give my poor, sore esophagus some relief. At some point, Dr. Baker  suggested that despite my omnivorous diet I consider a “vacation” from various foods.

So, three months ago, I decided to give up dairy products as a test. Twenty-four hours later, my heartburn was gone. Never, it seems, to return. In fact, I can devour linguine puttanesca (withanchovies) and go to bed an hour later; fellow heartburn sufferers will be impressed. Perhaps equally impressive is that I mentioned this to a friend who had the same problem, tried the same approach, and had the same results. Presto! No dairy, no heartburn! (A third had no success. Hey, it’s not a controlled double-blind experiment, but there is no downside to trying it.)

Conditions like mine are barely on the radar. Although treating heartburn is a business worth more than $10 billion a year, the solution may be as simple as laying off dairy. (Which, need I point out, is free.) What’s clear is that the widespread existence of lactose intolerance, says Dr. Baker, is “a pretty good sign that we’ve evolved to drink human milk when we’re babies but have no need for the milk of any animals. And no matter what you call a chronic dairy problem — milk allergy, milk intolerance, lactose intolerance — the action is the same: avoid all foods derived from milk for at least five days and see what happens.”

Adds Dr. Barnard, “It’s worth noting that milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are very credible links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and the most dangerous form of prostate cancer.” Then, of course, there are our 9 million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives while making a significant contribution to greenhouse gases.

But what about the bucolic cow on the family farm? What about bone density and osteoporosis? What about Mom, and apple pie?

Mom: Don’t know about yours, but mine’s doing pretty well. Apple pie (best made with one crust, plenty of apples) will be fine.

But the bucolic cow and family farm barely exist: “Given the Kafkaesque federal milk marketing order system, it’s impossible for anyone to make a living producing and selling milk,” says Anne Mendelson, author of “Milk.” “The exceptions are the very largest dairy farms, factory operations with anything from 10,000 to 30,000 cows, which can exploit the system, and the few small farmers who can opt out of it and sell directly to an assured market, and who can afford the luxury of treating the animals decently.”

Osteoporosis? You don’t need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine. Most humans never tasted fresh milk from any source other than their mother for almost all of human history, and fresh  cow’s milk could not be routinely available to urbanites without industrial production. The federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program, but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.

There’s nothing un-American about re-evaluating those commitments with an eye toward sensibility. Meanwhile, pass the water.

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Increasing Focus: Calming the Craziness

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AUGUST 6, 2012

As I was driving home through the city today I was distracted by all of the commotion outside of my car.  Tractor trailers were banging and clanging quickly past me. On the sidewalk, construction workers were shouting to one another, finishing up the day’s work. Loud noises, such as radios and car horns, were invading my quiet space. My thoughts were scattered and I was having a hard time concentrating on one thing at a time. My mind was racing from topic to topic. Then I realized; it all reminded me of a busy day on a nursing unit!

I know we have all had experiences like these: getting interrupted while calculating medication dosages, being called to the telephone while in the middle of patient teaching, or hearing a bed alarm and rushing away from talking to a family member about how their loved one is doing. This is the nature of our position as a nurse. We need to be in a million different places all at one time. We care for many people at the same time. We have so much to get done each day and so much responsibility on our shoulders. It can be a distracting role with its multiple facets and tasks.

Is anyone else cringing at the thought of “chaos” and “exhaustion” too?!?

One way to decrease distraction during your day-to-day routine is by using positive affirmations. Stating positive declarations can create greater focus, increased concentration and a sense of balance. Taking time out each day to sit quietly, breathe, and state these things either to yourself or aloud can have a deep impact on your happiness, peace of mind, and health.

When you take a minute to consciously quiet the mind, you create a mental space that is free from disruption. With practice, you can call upon this “space” of mind at any point during a busy shift.

Here is what you do. Make time each day, either in the morning or the evening, to quietly state each affirmation. Reflect on what it means to you. You can also begin to add affirmations of your own as you become comfortable with the process. Take a slow and deep breath in and out through your nose between each of the affirmations. Become aware how you feel and start to notice any shifts in energy, mood, or stress levels. Also, observe how you relate to others; your patients, your family, your friends, or your colleagues. Here are some statements I use that can help you get started:

  • I am exactly where I need to be as my journey in life reveals itself to me.
  • I honor my mind, body, and soul and treat each aspect of my being with respect.
  • I am a confident, knowledgeable, and successful role model as I inspire others to be the same.
  • I know great joy and peace and therefore have wonderful energy.
  • My speech is a form of love.
  • I am limitless in my capacity for joy, healing, and happiness.
  • I will achieve perfect balance and be successful in all that I take on.

Realizing that you are worth it and taking the time to sit quietly with your own positive thoughts will greatly affect your life on many levels. You will create a way to cope with distraction during your busy days. You will generate a calmer presence through slowing down and breathing. Knowing that you are a wholesome force of good that deserves peace and joy in your life will create a space of being able to receive for yourself. You deserve great happiness, peace, and love in your life.  Make room for yourself!

 

~Elizabeth “Coach” Scala is a Holistic Health Nurse, Integrative Wellness Coach, & Reiki Master who Guides Nurses that are Ready for a Total Wellness Transition on a Mind-Body-Emotion-Spirit Level. Find her and more information at www.livingsublimewellness.com.

The Power of Negative Thinking

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By OLIVER BURKEMAN

LAST month, in San Jose, Calif., 21 people were treated for burns after walking barefoot over hot coals as part of an event called Unleash the Power Within, starring the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. If you’re anything like me, a cynical retort might suggest itself: What, exactly, did they expect would happen? In fact, there’s a simple secret to “firewalking”: coal is a poor conductor of heat to surrounding surfaces, including human flesh, so with quick, light steps, you’ll usually be fine.

Yuko Shimizu

But Mr. Robbins and his acolytes have little time for physics. To them, it’s all a matter of mind-set: cultivate the belief that success is guaranteed, and anything is possible. One singed but undeterred participant told The San Jose Mercury News: “I wasn’t at my peak state.” What if all this positivity is part of the problem? What if we’re trying too hard to think positive and might do better to reconsider our relationship to “negative” emotions and situations?

Consider the technique of positive visualization, a staple not only of Robbins-style seminars but also of corporate team-building retreats and business best sellers. According to research by the psychologist Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues, visualizing a successful outcome, under certain conditions, can make people less likely to achieve it. She rendered her experimental participants dehydrated, then asked some of them to picture a refreshing glass of water. The water-visualizers experienced a marked decline in energy levels, compared with those participants who engaged in negative or neutral fantasies. Imagining their goal seemed to deprive the water-visualizers of their get-up-and-go, as if they’d already achieved their objective.

Or take affirmations, those cheery slogans intended to lift the user’s mood by repeating them: “I am a lovable person!” “My life is filled with joy!” Psychologists at the University of Waterloo concluded that such statements make people with low self-esteem feel worse — not least because telling yourself you’re lovable is liable to provoke the grouchy internal counterargument that, really, you’re not.

Even goal setting, the ubiquitous motivational technique of managers everywhere, isn’t an undisputed boon. Fixating too vigorously on goals can distort an organization’s overall mission in a desperate effort to meet some overly narrow target, and research by several business-school professors suggests that employees consumed with goals are likelier to cut ethical corners.

Though much of this research is new, the essential insight isn’t. Ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers understood the need to balance the positive with the negative, optimism with pessimism, a striving for success and security with an openness to failure and uncertainty. The Stoics recommended “the premeditation of evils,” or deliberately visualizing the worst-case scenario. This tends to reduce anxiety about the future: when you soberly picture how badly things could go in reality, you usually conclude that you could cope. Besides, they noted, imagining that you might lose the relationships and possessions you currently enjoy increases your gratitude for having them now. Positive thinking, by contrast, always leans into the future, ignoring present pleasures.

Buddhist meditation, too, is arguably all about learning to resist the urge to think positively — to let emotions and sensations arise and pass, regardless of their content. It might even have helped those agonized firewalkers. Very brief training in meditation, according to a 2009 article in The Journal of Pain, brought significant reductions in pain — not by ignoring unpleasant sensations, or refusing to feel them, but by turning nonjudgmentally toward them.

From this perspective, the relentless cheer of positive thinking begins to seem less like an expression of joy and more like a stressful effort to stamp out any trace of negativity. Mr. Robbins’s trademark smile starts to resemble a rictus. A positive thinker can never relax, lest an awareness of sadness or failure creep in. And telling yourself that everything must work out is poor preparation for those times when they don’t. You can try, if you insist, to follow the famous self-help advice to eliminate the word “failure” from your vocabulary — but then you’ll just have an inadequate vocabulary when failure strikes.

The social critic Barbara Ehrenreich has persuasively argued that the all-positive approach, with its rejection of the possibility of failure, helped bring on our present financial crises. The psychological evidence, backed by ancient wisdom, certainly suggests that it is not the recipe for success that it purports to be.

Mr. Robbins reportedly encourages firewalkers to think of the hot coals as “cool moss.” Here’s a better idea: think of them as hot coals. And as a San Jose fire captain, himself a wise philosopher, told The Mercury News: “We discourage people from walking over hot coals.”

Oliver Burkeman is the author of the forthcoming book “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.”

Consumer Disobedience: Save a Bundle and Stick It to the Man

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I live a minimalist and frugal lifestyle for many reasons: for example, I love the freedom, the flexibility, and the financial benefits of not owning a lot of stuff.

But I must admit, it’s also a chance to indulge my inner-rebel. I’ve been a straight-A student, model employee, and overall law-abiding citizen; yet when it comes to consumerism, I can’t resist my desire to stick it to the man.

When I see ads for luxury cars, designer handbags, trendy clothing, and electronic gadgets, I become more determined not to buy them. When I see promotions for loans, mortgages, and credit cards, I become more convinced to stay out of debt.

When politicians implore me to go shopping to “improve the economy,” I’m inspired to swap, borrow, and make do with what I have. When I hear that more stuff means more happiness, I become that much more passionate about living with less.

In short: the more I’m told to consume, the more enthusiastic I become not to.

And you know what? My rebellion has paid off in spades. I have a bigger bank account, a more spacious and serene home, and a better ecological footprint than if I’d accumulated a pile of unnecessary material goods.

If we thought the government had too much control over our lives, we might turn to civil disobedience as a means of protest. But what if it’s banks, corporations, and other profiteering interests that are stifling our freedom? What if we feel shackled to the work-and-spend treadmill, slaving away at jobs we don’t like to make minimum payments on things we don’t need?

Then it’s time to push back against the commercial entities that infiltrate our lives. But we don’t have to go on marches or block the doors to megastores — we can simply engage in some personal acts of consumer disobedience.

Here’s a few of my favorites:
1. Pay with cash. Don’t give credit card companies another penny in finance charges — they grow richer at your expense. Save up for stuff instead of charging it; by the time you have the money, you may no longer even want it.
2. Say no to logos. If a company wants you to be a walking advertisement, they should be paying you.
3. Be brand disloyal. Check out generic alternatives to name-brand goods; the products are often nearly identical.
4. Ignore trends. They’re just a clever ruse to get you to part with your hard-earned money. Don’t buy stuff that’ll be obsolete, outdated, or out-of-style in the blink of an eye.
5. Be a borrower. Whether it’s a book, a ladder, or a dress to wear to a special event, explore borrowing options before you buy. Check out the library, tool shares, car shares, toy shares, and other programs in your area.
6. Swap. Trading your old stuff with others is a great way to save space and money. If you can’t make a swap among friends and family, go online: sites like Swap.com and Paperbackswap.com help you trade books, CDs, DVDs, video games, clothing, accessories, toys, and more.
7. Go on a spending fast. For a specific time period — like a week, a month, or even a year — don’t buy anything but necessities. Find creative ways to meet your needs, and make do with the things you already have.
8. Have a gift-free holiday. Instead of exchanging store-bought goods, celebrate the holiday with gifts of service (like babysitting, tax help, or a massage), gifts of charity, or by simply spending time with loved ones.
9. Tune out the ads. The easiest way to stick it to the ad man is to stop listening to him. Cancel magazine subscriptions, turn off commercials (or ditch the TV altogether), and install an ad blocker in your browser.
10. Go car-free. If you can walk, bike, or take public transit where you need to go, consider going car-free. Then you can avoid the expense of gas, maintenance, parking, and insurance as well as a car payment.
11. Right-size your space. Live in the smallest space you need, not the largest you can afford. Not only will you save money on your rent or mortgage, you’ll have less incentive to buy stuff to fill it up.
12. Fix your stuff. Try to repair items before replacing them with something new. Darn your socks, mend your clothes, and take your lawnmower to the repair shop instead of running out for a replacement.
13. DIY. Grow your own veggies, make your own furniture, sew your own clothes, bake your own bread. Use your particular skills and talents to avoid buying mass-produced stuff.
14. Want less. Advertisers, marketers, and corporations will do everything in their power to make you want more. But to be richer, happier, and freer, all you need to do is want less.

If you’re tired of the clutter in your home, the finance charges on your credit card, the commercialization of your holidays, or the pressure to keep up with the Joneses, you don’t have to accept the status quo. Channel your inner rebel, and fight back. And don’t be surprised if your fatter wallet, and newfound financial confidence, add a little extra swagger to your step.

10 Steps to Savoring the Good Things in Life

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By Stacey Kennelly | July 23, 2012

We get plenty of advice for coping with life’s negative events. But can we deliberately enhance the impact of good things on our lives?

Browse the self-help shelf of your local bookstore and you’ll find plenty of advice for coping with life’s negative events, from divorce to illness to death.

But what about dealing with the good ones? Reaching the top of a magnificent waterfall. Hearing your child’s laugh. Seeing your favorite band perform your favorite song.

“It’s been presumed that when good things happen, people naturally feel joy for it,” says Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago. His research, however, suggests that we don’t always respond to these “good things” in ways that maximize their positive effects on our lives.

Bryant is the father of research on “savoring,” or the concept that being mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events can increase happiness in the short and long run.

“It is like swishing the experience around … in your mind,” says Bryant, author of the 2006 book, Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience.

His research and the research of others—like Erica Chadwick, who recently completed a dissertation on savoring at Victoria University in New Zealand, and Jordi Quoidbach, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University—has identified myriad benefits to savoring, including stronger relationships, improved mental and physical health, and finding more creative solutions to problems.

Bryant is in the process of analyzing a wide range of studies on savoring to determine what works and what doesn’t. Already, he has distilled his research into 10 succinct ways for us to develop savoring as a skill.

1. Share your good feelings with others.

“What’s the first thing you do when you get good news?” Bryant says. “You go and tell someone that’s important to you, like a spouse or a friend.”

He suggests that we treat positive events just like positive news. Tell another person when you are feeling particularly appreciative of a certain moment, whether it be a laugh with friends or a scene in nature. Studies about the ways people react to positive events have shown that those who share positive feelings with others are happier overall than those who do not.

In fact, research shows that one only has to think about telling others good news in order to feel happier, says Chadwick.

“You fake it ‘til you make it,” she says. “If people are unhappy and put a smile on their face, within an hour or so they’ll be happier because they’re getting smiled at by other people. That interaction works.”

“Savoring is the glue that bonds people together, and it is essential to prolonging relationships,” Bryant says. “People who savor together stay together.”

2. Take a mental photograph.

Pause for a moment and consciously be aware of things you want to remember later, such as the sound of a loved one’s chuckle, or a touching moment between two family members.

In one study, participants who took a 20-minute walk every day for one week and consciously looked for good things reported feeling happier than those who were instructed to look for bad things.

“It’s about saying to yourself, ‘This is great. I’m loving it,’” says Bryant.

3. Congratulate yourself.

Don’t hesitate to pat yourself on the back and take credit for your hard work, Bryant says. Research shows that people who revel in their successes are more likely to enjoy the outcome.

Bryant notes that self-congratulation is not encouraged in all cultures, especially Eastern ones, where many individuals downplay their achievements or believe a good experience is likely to be followed by a bad one.

“They tend to tell themselves not to get carried away,” he says, “but in our culture, we say, ‘This is great and going to continue.’”

4. Sharpen your sensory perceptions.

Valeria Palmuli

Getting in touch with your senses—or taking the time to use them more consciously—also flexes savoring muscles.

With all the distractions we face today, this is particularly difficult, Bryant says. In one study, college students who focused on the chocolate they were eating reported feeling more pleasure than students who were distracted while eating.

Chadwick suggests slowing down during meals.

“Take the time to shut out your other senses and hone in on one,” she says. “Take the time to sniff the food, smell the food. Or close your eyes while you’re taking a sip of a really nice wine.”

5. Shout it from the rooftops.

Laugh out loud, jump up and down, and shout for joy when something good happens to you, Bryant says.

People who outwardly express their good feelings tend to feel extra good, because it provides the mind with evidence that something positive has occurred. Several experiments have found that people who expressed their feelings while watching a funny video enjoyed themselves more than those who suppressed their feelings.

Bryant notes that some forms of positive expression are based on cultural context. For example, jumping with joy is acceptable in American culture, whereas it is considered inappropriate in many Eastern cultures and therefore would be less likely to have a positive impact.

6. Compare the outcome to something worse.

Boost positive feelings by reminding yourself of how bad things could be, Bryant suggests. For example, if you are late to work, remind yourself of those who may not have a job at all.

Comparing good experiences with unpleasant ones gives us a reference point and makes our current situation seem better, he says.

7. Get absorbed in the moment.

Try to turn off your conscious thoughts and absorb positive feelings during a special moment, such as taking in a work of art. Studies of positive experiences indicate that people most enjoy themselves when they are totally absorbed in a task or moment, losing their sense of time and place—a state that psychologists call “flow.”

Children are particularly good at this, Bryant says, but it’s tougher for adults, who are easily distracted by technology and the temptation to multitask.

Chadwick recommends pausing and reflecting on positive experiences on the spot.

8.Count your blessings and give thanks.

Tell your loved ones how lucky you feel to have them, Bryant suggests, or take extra time to appreciate your food before a meal.

Research suggests that saying “thank you” out loud can make us happier by affirming our positive feelings. Bryant also suggests thinking of a new blessing for which you’ve never given thanks each night in bed. Recalling the experience through thanks will help you to savor it.

9. Avoid killjoy thinking.

Avoiding negative thinking is just as important as thinking positively, Bryant says.

After a rough day, try not to focus on the negative things that occurred. Studies show that the more negative thoughts people have after a personal achievement, the less likely they are to enjoy it.

“People who savor the positive sides to every situation are happier at the end of the day,” he says.

10. Remind yourself of how quickly time flies.

Remember that good moments pass quickly, and tell yourself to consciously relish the moment, Bryant says. Realizing how short-lived certain moments are and wishing they could last longer encourages you to enjoy them while they’re happening.

In fact, savoring can be used to connect you to the past or future, argues Bryant. This can be done by remembering a good time and recreating it, or imagining a time in the future when you will look back with good memories.

“If you’re working hard on a project, take the time to look at your accomplishment,” she says. “Look at your experience and tell yourself how you’re going to look into the future with this—tell yourself, ‘This is such a good day, and I know I’ll look back with good memories.’”