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Importance of Vitamin D September 24, 2006

Posted by jeffrooney in Uncategorized.
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I have been hearing about the importance of vitamin D and just came across a very useful tract about it on an internet site. You can access the interview and where it says to download just click the button. It is free now. I think the report usually costs $9.95. Here is a summary of the authors points:
Fifteen Facts You Probably Never Knew About Vitamin D and Sunlight Exposure: (Compiled by Mike Adams, based on an interview with Dr. Michael Holick, author, The UV Advantage) Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and even effects diabetes and obesity. Vitamin D is perhaps the single most underrated nutrient in the world of nutrition. That’s probably because it’s free: your body makes it when sunlight touches your skin. Drug companies can’t sell you sunlight, so there’s no promotion of its health benefits. Truth is, most people don’t know the real story on vitamin D and health. So here’s an overview taken from an interview between Mike Adams and Dr. Michael Holick.
1. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.
2.
The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
3.
It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body.
4.
A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
5.
The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.
6.
People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fairskinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men — it’s a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.
7.
Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
8.
Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.
9.
Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease — by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
10.
It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
11.
If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now.
12.
Vitamin D is “activated” in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.
13.
Having kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to activate circulating vitamin D.
14.
The sunscreen industry doesn’t want you to know that your body actually needs sunlight exposure because that realization would mean lower sales of sunscreen products.
15. Even though vitamin D is one of the most powerful healing chemicals in your body, your body makes it absolutely free. No prescription required.

Further into the actual interview Dr. Holick makes basic recommendations for how much sensible exposure to sunlight is necessary on average. Apparently his book has charts for how much sun is necessary depending on location relative to the earth’s equator. For example, many people would benefit from about 5-10 minutes of direct sunlight 2-3 times a week as an average. This would be exposure without sunscreen. The remaining exposure beyond that time would include use of some sunscreen.

If you are a new reader of this blog you know that one of my interests in people being made aware of the measures they can take either free or at low cost to really improve their quality of life and health. This is one of the reasons this interview and summary caught my attention.

Interview with Dr. Ray Strand – On his new book about the pharmaceutical industry September 23, 2006

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I just read an interview online with the Dr. who wrote the book called “What You Dr. Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You!” This is an interview from last year about the pharmaceutical industry. The interview focuses on his book, “Death by Prescription.” He has a knack for the foreboding title doesn’t he? I have not read the book yet but the interview covers a lot of the ground represented in the book. A couple of points — pharmaceuticals properly prescribed are the 4th greatest reason for death in the U.S. And further, improperly prescribed drugs would account for 3rd leading cause of death! He talks about the problems with FDA oversight. He talks about the controversy he has caused by advocating lifestyle changes as first resort and use of prescriptions as last resort in treating patients. I really want to emphasize his analysis of the role of cholesterol and the inflammation process inherent in cardio-vascular disease. I think he and others like him are hitting on a big piece of the puzzle that is confounded by the drug industry. He is critical of the overuse of statins for cholesterol reduction. He advocates that patients get a homocysteine blood test to determine the level as an indicator of inflamation. For a more indepth book on the strategies of the drug industry see my first September post.

A conversation with a friend on cancer September 20, 2006

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At Body Focus, the place where I work, I was talking to a really neat spunky fellow who is now over 4 years into being free from pancreatic cancer. I told him I was reading the Deepak Chopra book “Quantum Healing.” I decided to pick it up again because I have a friend dealing with breast cancer and she is exploring aspects of self-healing.

This fellow is really beating the odds. He told me that often a patient who is diagnosed with his kind of cancer is dead within four months or so. He said he agreed that we are not even close to appreciating the role of the mind in combating disease. He said when he was diagnosed that he had an unusual calmness and a firm positive attitude to live fully whatever time he had left. I see him working out diligently two times a week. He is thin but not frail. And he is still calm and positive.

One comment from Chopra’s book that impressed me early on is a point he makes about relaxation and healing. “In Ayurveda, a level of total, deep relaxation is the most important preconditon for curing any disorder.” My friend who is in a struggle with breast cancer is finding that this point is both a necessity but also very difficult to accomplish as the anxieties pile up. She is finding that some of the ideas my previous post are becoming all the more essential — deep relaxation breathing and meditative practices. Something that impresses me about both these individuals is that they are not passive bystanders to their condition but are active mentally to find their own way in response to illness. Both have explored their own sense of calmness. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.

On a positive note! September 17, 2006

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We are having our second (really first) spring in San Antonio after a thirst quenching rain. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Quite a respite from the months of drought.

OK, so I look at my very first post in this internet landing and realize it is rather on the negative side of things.

Well in keeping with balance today’s post is about simple and positive things that can enable people to begin to take control of their health. These are all freebies…hey that’s positive.

These are just a few areas of interest that I have found to be useful to myself, friends and clients. So anything in this post that is linked will take you to a site that delves more into these areas. There is much info on all these areas that is free. There are also references to books that can be checked out from the library or purchased, websites that can be joined and the like.

These areas are really the essentials of life —water, breath, nutrition, movement and spiritual health. BIG topics all of them. They ALL intersect each other but they also have their own definition as well. But I want to keep it simple. Once upon a time I used to work on my own car. Yeah that used to be possible to all you youngsters out there. Anyway one of the principles I learned in those days was to always start with the simplest thing (a loose battery terminal was a biggie) and progress to the more complex. I also learned about the principle that prevention was mightier than the cure. We can’t easily fix our cars these days but we can take control of the preventative maintenance (if we’ve got the bucks that is).

So we are starting with the issue of water, hydration. Quite a while back I read an amazing book called “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr Batmanghelidj. Our body’s internal environment is dictated by water and it’s many metabolic functions. This guys discovery was that many, if not most, people are walking around dehydrated. This has many consequences such as gastric problems, muscle and joint pain, effects on weight gain/loss and so on. Definitely check out his website. Incidentally, he died a while back and his wife is still maintaining the site and the research institute I believe. The short of it is that our body will communicate with us in many ways that it is thirsty. Often the sense of thirst in the mouth is the last resort. Gastric disturbance or muscle pain can also be “thirst indicators.”

Breath. It really starts here doesn’t it? When a baby takes it’s first breath it is a big leap into realm of living. This too is a big subject that I had to understand as a massage therapist. Most people are coming to you as a therapist with one thing or another where stress is playing a big role. Over the years I noticed the correlation between shallow or dysfunctional breathing and the issue of the stressors in that persons life. There are many resources on this issue. I started with Andrew Weil’s cd “Breathing – the master key to health”. It is a good basic lecture on the physiology of breath and the consequences of “ill breathing”. Of course, the Indian practices of Pranayama are the focus of most of the restorative breathing exercises. Just keyword simple breathing practices and tons of useful stuff will come up. As we’ll see later this issue intersects heavily with spiritual connectedness.

Now talk about a huge subject, nutrition is in the stratosphere. But here I will try really hard to stay on the positive tip…but oh heck. By and large the US approach to food and eating is really whacked. We are known throughout the world for bad movies that everyone loves to hate and fast food that is taking the world by a the storm. OK, I am deep breathing…trying to stay positive here.

Well a few basic thoughts. A couple of years ago I began to hear about the “slow food movement“, that’s right, it is the opposite of fast food. The premise is that we really need to be much more appreciative of our food. Get more connected to it’s many sources. Learn to enjoy cooking and then eating in a relaxed pace with friends and family. Cultures all over the word really excel in this respect and our culture has much to learn I believe. In addition and closely connected to slow food is the idea of getting foods as local as possible. Have you heard about the “100 Mile Diet“. I ran into this concept on our vacation in Vancouver BC a year ago. This couple decided to try for a year to eat only foods that they could find by local food producers within a hundred mile radius of their home. They have really started something that I think is a portent of the future. As transportation energy resources dwindle the belief is that there will be a movement to “relocalize” food production closer to the urban areas.

All of this relates to the issue of our foods vitality. The longer the distance things like produce travel the less vital it is when you put it on your table. Also industrial farming requires more toxins for production whereas many of the local farmers are more apt to use organic or less toxic approaches to growing their food and feeding their animals.

In general I advocate getting the freshest most colorful foods, moderate animal protein and supplement with vegetable protein like various beans and lentils, stay away from processed foods, and no trans fats. Learn which vegetables and fruits are more pesticide prone.

I believe in vitamin supplementation. I know the next title I am going to suggest is rather negative but give the book and the website a try. It is called “What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You” by Dr. Ray Strand. Told ya! I have learned a good bit from his this guy. There are many other resources out there on this. Another kind of odd location for some really interesting interviews on nutrition and other alternative health stuff is Franklin Sanders’ The Money Changer website.

Now we enter the area of physicality, movement. Another area that our society struggles with for sure. Movement is and should be our human mode of existence. However in a culture like ours there are many short circuits to movement. We are a car culture and a high tech culture so many of our opportunities for movement absent or very small. It is almost like the thing with nutritional supplements. We have to find ways to supplement movement in our lives. An area that I have pursued is called the Egoscue Method. I started using it for myself and clients a number of years ago and eventually got certified to use the discipline in my practice. The basic idea is that we are largely living in a deficit of movement that prevents nourishment to our postural framework. When that goes awry lots of negatives start piling up. So this discipline specifically developed to address the body wide distortions occurring due to inadequate postural reinforcement. The website is a big resource of free and informative stuff and also options for pursuing further if need be. Look at the area on the home page called “Free Menu Updates.” It is also a discipline that works even better with personalized attention as you will see from the website.

I am also a big fan of just plain old walking for adding movement to my life often with my life partner Dianne. One thing I have noticed is that we are often led to extremes as we try to supplement movement into our lives. I think there may be some problems with extreme forms of physical fitness that can lead to what is called oxidative stress. Really this process is going on all the time but extreme attempts at fitness can escalate this phenomena and cause problems down the line.

Last but not least is the whole issue of spiritual development and attention. Some people may accomplish this through their religious practice others not. I think the short of it is that many of us can benefit from practices that help to connect us to our inner selves and give us a break from the pressures of the external world. Take me, I am a news junkie. Well I think that stuff takes a toll. I am always looking for a valve I can use to turn off that stuff. I use music, walking as I said earlier or simply taking a day without looking at the news, like on our recent vacation.
Many of you may be ahead of me on this but I think forms of simple meditation are worth the effort to include in your daily regimen. Sometimes I do this with brief use of deep breathing exercises. But increasingly I feel the need to really check in with my inner self and try to detox the mind and spirit a bit. I hear a lot from people that meditation is one of the hardest things to do. It is hard to have a singular focus on the present without letting all that other garbage infiltrate. But the very practice of meditation is a constant shooing away extraneous thoughts and focusing on your breath perhaps or a pleasant image or phrase that is meaningful. Hopefully other readers will comment in the future on what works for them.

Oh well, time for my morning walk.

Selling health not as profitable as selling sickness September 16, 2006

Posted by jeffrooney in Uncategorized.
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Had a great vacation in San Francisco and then to Big Sur. That was when I decided I wanted to get into the blogging realm. While in SF we went to our favorite bookstore in the mission area called Modern Times along with many trips to Pakwan, a really great Indian/Pakistani restaurant. We took down tons of titles as we were not able to buy all the ones we saw of interest. One book they had was called “Selling Sickness.” Since getting back to town I went and checked it out at the library. Here is the opening point in the prologue — “…Merck’s aggressive chief executive Henry Gadsden told Fortune magazine of his distress that the company’s potential markets had been limited to sick people…it had long been his dream to make drugs for healthy people. Because then Merck would be able to “sell to everyone.””

What a dream! Obviously more money can be made if you can make drugs for everyone. So the book goes into lots of areas where “illnesses” have been created to justify new production of drugs. Worth a read if only for the stuff in there about cholesterol. They keep lowering the bar on what the acceptable level of total cholesterol such that it can be reached by most people only if you take statin drugs. One of the biggest blockbuster drugs ever is Lipitor.

The whole deal about cholesterol is a big controversy. Maybe my next post will give some alternative thoughts on that subject that I have come across in recent years. Here is an interesting factoid. The brain has tons of cholesterol. It is like a fat sponge. What are the implications of having drugs that short circuit the body’s ability to produce it’s own cholesterol? Ironically, one of the claims of the statin producers is that they may be good for preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. I wonder if in the end we might find out that they contribute to it instead.

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