Blog

3 Mistakes People Make About Cholesterol

September is National Cholesterol Education Month so I would like to talk about 3 myths/mistakes people have about cholesterol.  

Before I start, I will just say that cholesterol is a natural fat/lipid that we, and every other animal, make for a purpose.  The liver produces 85% of the cholesterol in your body and it is used to make vitamin D, hormones, and our body’s cells.  We need cholesterol.  

There are two forms of cholesterol: low density lipoproteins (LDL-C), which can cause issues with heart health when it piles up and forms plaque inside of a person’s arteries. Some have hypothesized that cholesterol gathering in the arteries is actually the body’s attempt to repair damage to the blood vessels caused by inflammation, which might occur in the presence of a bad diet (high amounts of animal fat and processed foods). 

The second part of what is included in a  Total Cholesterol test result are the high density lipoproteins (HDL-C), which act to remove cholesterol from the body. This is why health professionals recommend the goal of keeping LDL cholesterol levels low and HDL levels high. 

So here are the mistakes I’ve seen:

 Thinking that diet is the major cause of high cholesterol.  

In the 1980’s food packagers were promoting their products as “cholesterol free”,  Some were foods that never would contain cholesterol (i.e. They were from plants not animals). Other food products didn’t contain cholesterol, BUT they contained so many refined ingredients like white flour, white sugar and trans fats that people’s cholesterol actually worsened.  This myth has been largely dispelled in more recent years, though as a holdover from the ‘fear of cholesterol in food days’, I still see restaurants serving egg white omelets.  Yes, eggs contain cholesterol, but they also contain a lot of other really great nutrients! 

 LDL Cholesterol  and HDL Cholesterol are Always Bad or Good

As mentioned above, the LDL cholesterol deposits cholesterol in the arteries and HDL removes cholesterol, but is a high LDL always bad and a high HDL always good?   First, people will want to look at the HDL/LDL ratio on their lab results, which asks the question, “How much protective HDL is there in relation to the problematic LDL?”  

Secondly, health professionals are beginning to look at the sub-types of these lipid particles.  According to Quest Diagnostics Lab, “…testing, which include LDL subfractionation, can offer a more complete picture of a patients’ cardiovascular health when available with conventional cholesterol screening. The test separates, counts and measures the particles that make up LDL-C and HDL-C. Low-density lipoprotein particles (LDL-P) are a strong predictor of cardiovascular risk beyond a basic lipid panel. A high number of small and medium LDL particles indicate an increased risk for heart disease. A low number of large HDL particles indicate increased risk for heart disease.” 

To translate, specialized testing is available to look at the various types of LDL and HDL and this may be more predictive of who is at risk of developing cardiovascular disease than just our usual cholesterol panels.  Many people I talk with are concerned about their high LDL results, but their doctor has not offered further testing to look at the particle types.  

I have to feel bad on statins

Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. High cholesterol that runs in families due to genetic issues or diabetics would be among those where statins should be considered.  

Unfortunately, not all physicians acknowledge that statins can cause a deficiency of a nutrient called Coenzyme Q 10, which is a big part of our cell’s energy production mechanism.  I have had people who used to run marathons tell me that on statins they can’t even cross the street because of muscle pain and weakness.  CoQ10 is available as a supplement and can help this side effect.  Even the natural cholesterol-lowering supplement Red Rice Yeast acts on the same metabolic pathway as statins and may require CoQ10 supplementation.  

Let’s avoid myths and mistakes and stay informed!

Resources

“Is the Cholesterol in Your Food Really a Concern?”   https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2016/april/is-the-cholesterol-in-your-food-really-a-concern

“Why You Should No Longer Worry About Cholesterol in Food.”   https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-should-no-longer-worry-about-cholesterol-in-food/

HIDDEN ANSWERS TO YOUR HEALTH WOES


Nutrigenomics.  Is that a word you’ve ever heard before?  Well, time to learn because I feel (hope) it will be the future of medicine and may provide answers  otherwise unknown. 

Nutrigenomics is all about how the foods and supplements you choose change how your genes are expressed. These changes can have a big impact on health, wellness, weight, and fitness.

I’d like to share with you my experience, but I do so because I don’t think my issues would have been improved any other way than through nutrigenomics, and I suspect there may be a lot of people out there who could find answers and health for the first time.  

About 10 years ago I decided that I was tired of taking my supplements.  “I shouldn’t have to live on all these supplements.  What if the zombie apocalypse came along and I couldn’t get supplements to keep me functioning?”  Yes, this is what I, a nutritionist even, said to myself.  And so I stopped most of my supplements.  The result was that I didn’t even realize how horrible I was feeling until I noticed that my mood was flat, that I had no joy.  I spent an hour one day trying to relax my body, and spent much money on Rolfing, but saw not one bit of improvement in my pain and stiffness.  

When I heard Dr. Kendall Stewart of the NeuroSensory Centers of America in Austin speak at a professional conference I knew I needed to become a patient.  He is the founder of GX Sciences which completes genetic testing that is more targeted to health than the DNA tests highly marketed to the population. GXSciences.com has a list of trained providers and DNA tests available, as well as informative podcasts. 

The answer for me was that I had a double broken GAD gene.  The GAD gene takes glutamate which is an excitatory brain chemical or neurotransmitter and converts it to GABA which is a calming neurotransmitter.  There were other results around inflammation and autophagy, which is the process by which the cells do their housekeeping.  

A broken GAD gene and the resulting high glutamate can be responsible for many symptoms. Here are a few:  ADD, pain amplification, irritability, speech delay, spasms, insomnia, depression, anxiety, dementia, teeth clenching, constipation, hypersensitivity, muscle tension, overthinking, overactive bladder, headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, overwhelmed, and/or brain stuck “on”.  I can tell you I hear many of these from coaching clients, though other genes may be the culprit.  

The solution was some targeted supplements, which you better believe I take faithfully now (no zombie will stand in my way!).  There were also some prescription medications, which I prefer not to take, but as Dr. Stewart explains he uses medications from the 1970’s when they were still based on plants and not synthetic compounds.  I don’t have much patience for medications that make me feel worse than what I did before, but I have never felt bad on what that office has given me.

The reason that this is on my mind is that I recently met with the nurse practitioner from Dr. Stewart’s office.  I was resistant to taking consistently some of the medications that had been suggested (are we sensing that I can be a bit non-compliant??).  I am probably 80+% better than I was before, but her explanations convinced me that I could hit 100% by using the full arsenal of support that had been recommended.  I still feel like my muscles won’t relax to a small degree and my foot that won’t stop moving even when relaxing watching TV – both are an indicator that my brain is still overstimulated.  So, yes, I’ll be taking a few more pills, but it is worth it.  

We are at a moment in time when we can see exactly where the body isn’t functioning properly based on the genetics.  My mother is 106 years old and if I have that much time left I want to feel good.  When I tell people how old my mother is they say, “You must have good genes”, but secretly I know my genes have a few issues :). 

I know I would never have found relief had I not gone down this path and I hope this information can help some of you find answers and a path to feel your best.  Nutrigenomics, the wave of the future, so hop on now and ride to your best health!

PS

I found an article that is quite informative on how to increase GABA and balance glutamate.  The article contains information about the excitotoxins (glutamate and others) found naturally in food.  Many compounds including  MSG  and aspartame (Nutrasweet) are added to many of our foods and upset the glutamate/GABA balance resulting in over-excitation of our nervous system. If you are interested in the article, email me at abbykurth@sbcglobal.net.  

Health: Get Your Family on Board

Island of health.  No, this is not an idyllic vacation spot, but rather what author Stephen Saldana suggests we create for ourselves and our family.  We can’t control what “food” is present in the grocery store or on the route home, but we can control what food we bring into our “island” (home).  

The problem is that not everyone in the family may want to hop on the island.  What can you do when someone you care about doesn’t want to care about their health?  Have you ever worried about someone else’s not so healthy behaviors?

There are proven psychological strategies for helping people through the lifestyle change process.  Here is an excerpt from one of the chapters in  “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases” that talks about strategies for change.



“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” N.R. Narayana Murthy 

“Those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything” George Bernard Shaw 

Change is possible. 

When you think that thought, what does the little voice inside your head say? Does it resist or deny? 

Does it say yeah, right? Does it trigger your gut to clench? 

Confidence is a key ingredient for change. Think about a person eyeing a bicycle, wanting to ride, but afraid to try. Will their fear keep them from learning to ride? How likely are they to fall? 

The good news is that we have two ideal tools to help us develop the confidence for change: mindset and small steps. 

First change your mind, then your habits. 

Change feels like a nasty word for some people. They may have taken this program or that program in an attempt to lose weight, get fit, stop smoking, etc. They are disenchanted and ready to give up. Their confidence in their capacity to change is low. The good news is that their perceived failure was not their fault. It’s because the programs they tried didn’t give them the right strategies for their stage of the change process. Understanding the process of change can shift your belief that change is possible (I think I can), probable (I know I can), and permanent (I am). The right program trains your brain to make the right choices. 

Psychology Professor James O. Prochaska and his coauthors, John C. Norcross and Carlo C. DiClemente, are gurus of change. In the Introduction to their book, Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward, Prochaska tells of his motivation to discover why some people (like his father) who suffer from depression and alcoholism are unable to change (Prochaska, Norcross, Diclemente 2007). Prochaska,et al. note that people enrolled in brief programs designed to conquer smoking, weight, alcohol, or other problems are expected to take action and adopt healthier lifestyles immediately. If they fail to take or maintain action, the clients themselves are blamed for a lack of willpower or motivation. Prochaska, et al. began to consider that it was the model of behavior change that was inadequate, not the individuals who wanted to change. 

Prochaska and his colleagues discovered that people who succeeded in behavioral changes used a variety of coping skills at different stages of the process. They started out with no interest in changing and progressed to the point of taking action to change. Prochaska et al. indicate that, “The key to success is the appropriately timed use of a variety of coping skills.” 

According to Prochaska, et al., “Too many people look for easy solutions in the wrong places. There are no magic pills or magic plans. People progress through the same stages of change whether they are overcoming problems with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, or weight control.” They say further, “Following the example set by successful self-changers, you can learn new skills, draw upon your inner strength, enhance your self-sufficiency, and avoid becoming dependent on others for solutions, thus building your self-confidence for the future.” In other words, yes, you can do it! 

Some people benefit from guidance to move through the stages of change, so a support system is key. Also, I have found that people need to grant themselves the grace to realize that falling off the wagon is a learning experience and opportunity, not a failure. Guilt is a useless emotion when it comes to making changes. It stops us from moving forward or even sends us backward in our change process. We are designed to keep doing that which gives us rewards and makes us feel good; so learning, feeling proud, and feeling good physically helps us make change permanent. 



I hope this gives you some ideas for yourself or your family.  The book looks further at the proven psychological strategies needed at each stage of change, but the bottom line is that change IS possible for anyone, including you or your family members.

(“Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired:   9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases” is available on Amazon and at abbykurthnutrition.coach.)

Beware “Healthy” Sweeteners

Gas, bloating, a laxative effect.  Are these the things you might expect when using a healthy sweetener?  Unfortunately I have had to break the news to several clients with a sweet tooth who thought they were doing themselves a favor by replacing overindulgence in sugar with overindulgence in a healthier sweetener – erythritol. 

Yes, erythritol is natural – it is an alcohol sugar.  Yes, erythritol has less impact on blood sugar.  Unfortunately, as my sweet tooth clients have discovered, it creates digestive issues for many people. 

What is the best natural sugar substitute.  I found this article which discusses the best sugar substitute options.  https://exoprotein.com/blogs/nutrition/best-natural-sweeteners.  

Bottom line: real food in its real form is best and those sweet taste buds can be retrained by decreasing sugary foods.  People report to me all the time that food they used to eat now tastes too sweet.  Now, that’s “healthy” we can embrace.  

(Wish there was more to read?  Join our Facebook group, “Conquerors of Healthy Habits”.)

Hydration

HYDRATION: Excerpt from “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired”

woman in stripes swimsuit pouring a water in plastic cup
Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Imagine the first creature that crept from the watery sea onto land. What a great change of scenery, but now the creature has to figure out what to do about water, since it is not as readily available. Every cell requires water to stay alive, so we need to know how to meet that need. It turns out that our bodies have many different mechanisms in place to retain water when it is low and to prioritize and direct water to allow our most important functions. The problem is that we don’t always recognize when our bodies need water. Sometimes we gulp down liquids that don’t really satisfy that need.

While lack of water isn’t the cause of every human problem, increasing water intake to the ideal level (and, yes, you can die from drinking too much water!) is cheap and easy and doesn’t hurt a thing.

Fun facts about water:

  • Water is needed to create life. Take that, Dr. Frankenstein.
  • Like a vitamin deficiency, lack of water can cause many chronic conditions in the body. The cure is to replenish the missing nutrient—water.
  • Water is the vehicle that delivers necessary nutrients to all of your cells, even in your little toe.
  • Where there is not much water, blood vessels contract to accommodate the smaller volume. Don’t we want our blood vessels to expand to keep our blood pressure at bay? But blood vessels can’t expand unless there is liquid to fill them.
  • Seventy-five percent of the body and 85% of the brain is made up of water. When we lack sufficient water, our body plays favorites and gives more water to the most important organs.

  • Dry mouth is the last symptom of thirst, so don’t wait for that before you drink. As we age, we don’t recognize thirst as readily. Maybe grumpy elders aren’t grumpy; they’re just thirsty.
  • Histamine is released when the body doesn’t have enough water, just like it is in an allergic reaction. Excess histamine can manifest as asthma, vasomotor rhinitis, allergic skin disorders, excess stomach acid, and certain types of vascular headaches.
  • Heartburn is a result of not enough water intake. The stomach is accustomed to acidity, but it dare not release the acid content into the small intestine unless there is enough water to de-acidify the stomach’s content once it reaches the small bowel.
  • Body pains may be a local thirst of the muscles. Water washes away the acidic toxic waste of metabolism, which can trigger the nerves to send messages of pain. It never hurts to drink a little extra water in order to relieve pain.
  • Overeating may be a result of thirst. While natural foods do hydrate the body, water does it more efficiently.
  • Water aids digestion and helps to make motilin, a substance that stimulates the movement of the colon to keep us regular. (Barmanghelidj 2008)

Which of these symptoms have you experienced that may be related to not enough water? Which of these fun facts were new to you?

Oral Health Month

As June is Oral Health Month, I’ve been thinking about gum disease and the frightening impact it can have on your life. Thanks to New Image Dentistry in San Antonio for helping me with information about gum disease and nutrition.

Having gum disease means more than suffering from bad breath or having to put up with a little bleeding whenever you brush or floss. Many cases of untreated gum disease lead to tooth loss, meaning you could end up needing dentures or dental implants far earlier than you thought you would. Even worse, though, is the impact it can have on the rest of your body.

Gum disease is an infection that has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s asthma, osteoporosis, and cancer. It’s not completely clear that gum disease directly causes these problems, but I think it goes without saying that when it comes to your health, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

So how can you protect yourself from gum disease? Having a good dentist can help, obviously, but there’s also your own lifestyle to consider. Eating the right foods can go a long way towards improving your body’s ability to fight back against gum disease. 

You’re probably already well aware that too much sugar is not good for your mouth. When oral bacteria come in contact with sugar, they consume it and turn it into harmful acids that attack the teeth and gums. So when you’re looking for ways to protect your gums, you should look at the sugar content of the foods you eat on a regular basis and cut down where possible. 

Here are some of the nutrients that you’ll need plenty of if you want to prevent or fight back against gum disease:

  • Co-enzyme Q10, an antioxidant that gives the cells energy to function properly and has been associated with a lower risk of gum disease
  • Collagen, which often breaks down as a result of the gums trying to deal with inflammation
  • Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and makes it easier for your body to deal with the bacteria that cause infections. Vitamin C is also needed to form collagen.
  • Catechins, substances from plants such as tea, cocoa and berries, which actively inhibit harmful bacteria and gum inflammation
  • Beta Carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, a key anti-inflammatory agent
  • Omega-3s, which are needed for a healthy immune system

The above nutrients can be found in plenty of common foods. Nuts and salmon, for example, both contain high levels of Omega-3s. Grass-fed beef has plenty of collagen, while you can get co-enzyme Q10 from chicken and other muscle meats. Shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes are considered good options for maintaining a healthier, happier mouth. 

Of course, nutrition is just one part of a healthy lifestyle. You also need to brush at least twice a day, especially around the area where the teeth meets the gums. Since your toothbrush can’t fit between your teeth very well, you should also start flossing if you don’t do so already. Don’t make my mistake which is brushing too hard and damaging the gums. And if you notice oral bleeding, swelling, or other possible warning signs that you might have a case of gum disease in San Antonio, you should set up a dental appointment as soon as possible.

Stress Less

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  I am not a mental health professional, though I do talk with people about managing stress.

In talking with people I have found that some stress is due to their circumstances (time, deadlines, etc.) and mindfulness and/or deep breathing and relaxation along with talking, journaling, exercise, etc., can be of benefit.

For others, the cause of their stress may be due to unrealistic thinking.  That is why I included a whole chapter in my book, “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases”, about stress.  I have found personally and professionally that the principles of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are useful in helping people bring truthful thinking to their situation.

In honor of this month and as a hope that it may help some folks out there, I am including an excerpt of my book. 

I have been privileged to coach people who have gone from being unable to even talk about food/eating/diet because it was such a painful topic, to being very realistic about eating.  I have talked with people who would beat themselves up for eating a cookie and then proceed to eat the whole package.  I know they have “gotten it” when they report that they can eat a cookie, enjoy it, but not beat themselves up.  They have added healthy food and are enjoying that, and an occasional deviation from that is not a shameful event.  Progress not perfection.  Realistic thinking instead of ‘all or none’ thinking.  It works!

EXCERPT FROM “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired

Self-Stressors

What situation recurs in your life and causes you to feel upset?

It is important to recognize your self-stressors and keep them from robbing your health. Dr. Albert Ellis, who developed Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), offers the ABCD method. (1) (2). The ABCD method helps you stop feeling victimized or stressed by your own thinking.

A = Activating Event

“A” is the Activating Event that causes stress. Pretend you are sitting on your own shoulder, watching your response to a situation. There is no right or wrong, only non-judgmental observation. This exercises your no-guilt thinking.

For example, you decide to eat a healthier diet, but at a friendly gathering, you are encouraged to partake in the fabulous buffet. You decline and decline until out comes the triple-fudge brownie with mocha chocolate fudge frosting, which you devour. From the perch on your shoulder, ask yourself:

•What do you think happened during this event?

•What would a nonjudgmental camera see?

*  What were your emotional responses to the event?  

Maybe you noticed that you were hungry or that you were feeling stressed from the day. Maybe when a killer brownie appeared, you wavered: “I want it, but I really shouldn’t.” Maybe the person encouraging you to eat the brownie was pushy not only to you, but to everyone else about everything else. Remember, there is no right or wrong here. Simply notice.

Write  down your non-judgmental observations about the stress-triggering event.

B = Belief

The second step to reduce stress is to examine the beliefs that underlie your action/reaction in the Activating Event. As explained by the REBT Network, “[t]he beliefs that upset us are all variations of three common irrational beliefs. Each of the three common irrational beliefs contains a demand, either about ourselves, other people, or the world in general. These beliefs are known as “The Three Basic Musts.”

  • I must do well and win the approval of others for my performances or else I am no good.
  • Other people must treat me considerately, fairly and kindly, and in exactly the way I want them to treat me. If they don’t, they are no good and they deserve to be condemned and punished.
  • I must get what I want, when I want it; and I must not get what I don’t want. It’s terrible if I don’t get what I want, and I can’t stand it.” (2)

Here is how The Three Basic Musts might sound in your mind:

•My unhappiness is caused by things that are outside of my control.

•I must worry about things that could be dangerous, unpleasant, or frightening.

•I should become upset when other people have problems.

•I must have approval at all times.

•I must succeed at whatever I do.

•The world and other people must be fair and just.

•Things must be the way I want them. (2)

The thoughts that rumble around in our mind feel true. Closer examination may reveal that these thoughts are irrational. This faulty thinking distorts reality as it relates to you and to others. Irrational thoughts cause distressing emotions that keep us from achieving our goals.

Consider this about those negative self-talk statements:

  1. Is it all or none, it is absolute? (I must be perfect.)
  2. These thoughts cannot be fulfilled. (No one is perfect.) 
  3. These thoughts aren’t realistic. (There will come a time when you make a mistake.) 
  4. When your inner thinking and beliefs are challenged by reality, you become stressed. (Your belief that you must be perfect is challenged when you make a mistake.)

Are you feeling stressed just reading some of those beliefs? Do you recognize any of your own self-talk from this list? As Dr. Phil often asks, “How’s that working for you?” Are your beliefs helping or hindering you? 

My expertise is nutrition, not psychology. But as a student of life, I have noticed that we craft beliefs to meet our need to feel safe, to feel loved, and/or to feel we have a purpose in life. If I am beautiful, rich, powerful, etc., I will be loved. Our beliefs stem from our experiences and the influence of those around us. Beliefs stemming from childhood experiences may come with our limited understanding as a child, and may not be relevant to adult life. For example, if someone pushed you down on the playground, you may have developed the belief that to feel safe, I must fight anyone who is aggressive. Someone once told me they were still fighting their childhood bullies every time they drove on the freeway. Some beliefs need to have an expiration date.

In the Activating Event example of wanting to be healthy but feeling pressured to eat unwisely, some beliefs may include: If I don’t eat the brownie, they won’t like me. I can’t control myself when it comes to eating sweets. It’s not fair that I have to deprive myself of brownies.  


Write down what you notice about your thoughts from your Actual Event. Use these questions to evaluate your thinking. Remember: There is no right or wrong. Simply notice your thoughts.

1.Does my belief help or hinder me? Rational thinking is thinking that helps you. Irrational thinking is thinking that hinders you.

2. Is my belief consistent with reality?

3. Is my belief logical? For example, if I would like to succeed at something, does it logically follow that, therefore, I must succeed?

4.Are my thoughts about the event accurate?

5.What objective evidence/objective facts support my view?

“Brownie-Gate” may have you thinking, “I must be perfect in my diet,” or “I am a failure because I ate the brownie.” You might also be thinking, “I am responsible for how others feel, and I must not hurt their feelings by refusing the brownie.” How do those thoughts hold up under the previous set of questions?

C = Consequences

This is your chance to recognize how your thinking in your Activating Event has not been helpful. Many people notice that their stressful situations lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, aggression, fear, worry, frustration, etc. How we handle situations may strain our relationships. Are you willing to continue to live with these feelings?  

In our brownie example, possible consequences could be eating the brownie, feeling like a failure, then eating a second or a third brownie as consolation. Or maybe feelings of guilt and shame caused you to take it out on another person or act in a self-destructive way. These are not patterns we want to continue.

Write down the consequences of your Actual Event.  

D = Disputing Statement

The final piece of the ABCD method is to bring in Disputing Statements that help shift us from faulty belief to truer thinking.

Ask these questions:

*  If your belief is illogical, what rational belief is more logical?

*  What are alternative ways you can view the Activating Event?

*  What is the worst that can happen if your view of the Activating Event is correct?

•What is the worst thing that could happen to me or my family, and how does this event compare to that? 

Some disputing statements for our pressured brownie eater might be:

  • Even though I ate one brownie, I can continue to choose healthy foods the rest of the day.  
  • I don’t need to please another person by eating something I don’t want to eat. I would like to be friendly with her, but if she chooses not to like me because I won’t eat the brownie, that won’t be the end of the world.
  • I am choosing to nurture myself with healthy food. I choose not to eat the brownie, or I choose to try only a small bite. 
  • My choices may not always be perfect. A slip can be a learning experience. A slip doesn’t mean that I am a failure. 
  • I like it when people support me in my efforts to eat healthier, but it’s not in my power to rule how others behave. Other people have their own issues. Maybe the brownie lady only feels loved when people eat her brownies. I wish she didn’t pressure me, but I can’t change her. I can explore ways to handle the situation next time.

The Three Musts might look like this after you redecorate your belief system:

  1. Regarding yourself, unconditional self-acceptance:
  • I am a fallible human being; I have my good points and my bad points.
  • There is no reason why I must not have flaws.
  • Despite my good points and my bad points, I am no more worthy and no less worthy than any other human being.
  1. Regarding others, unconditional other-acceptance:
  • Other people will treat me unfairly from time to time.
  • There is no reason why others must treat me fairly.
  • The people who treat me unfairly are no more worthy and no less worthy than anyone else.

3.  Regarding your life, unconditional life-acceptance:

  • Life doesn’t always work out the way that I’d like it to.
  • There is no reason why life must go the way I want it to.
  • Life is not necessarily pleasant, but it is never awful, and it is nearly always bearable. (1)

I will add that I think that everything in life happens as it is supposed to. We live, we learn, we grow.

Do those statements feel less stressful compared to the irrational statements you read earlier?   

Beating the Belly Blues

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month (bet you didn’t know that) and because I am getting my routine colonoscopy done this week, the gastrointestinal tract is on my mind.  

It’s also on my mind because I’ve run into several people lately having issues with gas and bloating.  It is not related to celiac disease, but for those who might be interested, I wanted to share my own gastrointestinal story.

I was having issues with gas and bloating and decided I needed to find out if I had SIBO (Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth).  We have a balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and the balance can turn bad with a bad diet.   The good bacteria help make nutrients we need and help feed our colon cells.  The bad bacteria take the bad food we eat (especially sugar) and ferment it causing excess gas.  Actually, even healthy foods with natural sugars, like those to be avoided on the FODMAP  diet, can be fermented.  

I went to a gastroenterologist to see if I had SIBO and was tested by a breath test (hydrogen) that was supposed to show if I had bacteria that were fermenting and creating hydrogen.  Here is where it gets controversial.  They took the baseline right after I had eaten a meal of foods that were probably being fermented.  With that questionable baseline, the results of my test showed no problem and I was sent home to suffer I guess.  

Fortunately, I had access to testing that took a baseline after a low fermenting diet and looked for both hydrogen and methane gases.  The results showed that I had an excessive level and the doctor I was working with said that was the first she had seen a level that high.  I started using a series of supplements by Biocidin for 6 months.  I had used those supplements in the past but not long enough obviously.   I was determined to beat this problem and give my body and brain a break (there is a gut-brain connection – inflammation in the gut = inflammation in the brain).  I now have no problems, but do still need to be careful with certain foods. 

I share this story as a caution because the people I have run into recently need to know to keep searching for options and perhaps even a different medical opinion.  If you want to know more about the Biocidin protocol, you can read on EmersonEcologics.com or look at wellevate.me/abby-wilson-kurth.  

Be Old AND Bold

Happy Older Americans Month celebration.  We just celebrated my mother’s 106th birthday so I am making her queen of the celebration.  She will attribute her long life to having good people around her, but experts give credit to:

  • Diet. Eat plenty of fresh, non-processed foods, drink 64 ounces of water every day, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake. (Actually, coffee does have some health benefits in moderation)
  • Exercise.
  • Sleep.
  • Socialization.
  • Having a primary care physician.

A team of UK researchers, as reported by CNN Health, found that a very healthy lifestyle is associated with up to 6.3 years longer life for men and 7.6 years for women, regardless of the presence of multiple chronic conditions, compared with those given the lowest lifestyle score.  

In the U.S., chronic disease may become an issue for most in their 40’s (the age is getting younger and younger unfortunately) but poor health can be delayed until the last few years of life generally with a healthy lifestyle.  

My mother has been relatively problem free up to her 90’s, but would anyone want to live from age 40 to 106 with diminished, health?  

Metagenics First Line Therapy suggests that 50% of disease can be prevented with lifestyle, but the Harvard School of Public Health takes it even further by stating that, “The good news is that type 2 diabetes (as well as pre-diabetes) are largely preventable. About 9 in 10 cases in the U.S. can be avoided by healthy lifestyle practices, including controlling your weight, following a healthy diet, staying active, and not smoking.”

There is great power in adopting healthy lifestyle practices, so start planning how you’ll celebrate your 106th birthday!!

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month (like we didn’t already know we were stressed??). To celebrate I am including an excerpt from my book, “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases” about the benefits of deep breathing. I included several chapters related to stress management because that is such a key component of health. Enjoy!

“Breathe, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”  Unknown

Breathing. I know, you are already breathing or you wouldn’t be alive to read this. The problem is that stress can cause us to stop breathing with our whole abdomen and only breathe shallowly in our chest. Have you ever noticed yourself holding your breath when stressed? I know I have.  

It seems silly to talk about learning how to breathe, since we all do it from the day we are born, but consciously breathing more deeply and fully reaps great physical and emotional benefits. Research breathing techniques to discover different kinds of breathing: with mouth open, with mouth closed, or with tongue behind the teeth. Count to ten, count to three, breathe fast, or breathe slow. Use the technique that works for you. Plain old deep breathing will work just fine and offer benefits such as:

Physical:  

  • Deep breathing brings oxygen to the blood. Why get three miles to the gallon when you can get thirty? Our cells make sixteen times more energy in the presence of oxygen than without.
  • Deep breathing removes wastes from the body. Taking out the trash is a good thing, and your lungs can do that for you.
  • Deep breathing massages the internal organs. Who doesn’t like a good massage?
  • Oxygen counteracts many harmful bacteria in the body.
  • Oxygen brings circulation and relaxation to stiff muscles.

Mental, emotional, and spiritual:

  • Allows relaxation. The nervous system switches from I need to fight a lion (sympathetic nervous system) to I’m going to digest this delicious asparagus sandwich (parasympathetic nervous system).
  • Some breathing techniques help release emotions from past traumas. Our aches and pains are a result of stored negative emotions.
  • Increases mental activity. 
  • Circulates brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that bring relaxation and calming.
  • Lifts our spirits.