Cissy Brady-Rogers
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Tag: real food

My mind-body mentor Joan Borysenko’s new book, The PlantPlus Diet Solution, is a compendium of relevant and accessible food science and health psychology. Full of practical tips and recipes it’s an exceptional resource in the self-help diet book genre. The personalized nutrition guidelines she presents aren’t for those who want a quick or easy solution to weight or health issues. But that is exactly what makes it a valuable resource for those seeking a sustainable, enjoyable and life-giving way to eat! Unlike most diet books, The PlantPlus Diet Solution doesn’t tell you what to eat, but gives you facts, guidelines and resources for listening to the wisdom of your own body and becoming your own expert as to what will best serve your overall health and well-being.

eat in alignment with your body

I’ve learned through twenty-five years of work with clients struggling with food and weight that, as Dr. Joan demonstrates through research and examples from her own personalized nutrition experiments, “there is no one-size-fits-all diet.” The key to finding the “right” combination of food for your body is through paying attention to the impact different foods have on your physical and mental health. Joan does an exquisite job providing simple tools that empower readers to become experts on their own unique biological blueprint for metabolism and optimal energy efficiency.

I especially appreciated her clear explanation about the role insulin efficiency plays in metabolism of carbohydrates–and some people’s remarkable capacity to store excess calories as fat. She identifies three types of bodies: 1.) insulin efficient people who can eat all the carbohydrates they want and never experience negative weight or health consequences; 2.) insulin resistant people whose bodies react negatively to diets high in carbohydrates; 3.) and the rest who fall somewhere in-between. Knowing where you fall on the continuum can be an important part of finding a way of eating that works best for your body.

Knowledge is power. Joan provides information to help readers make informed choices about nutrition as well as tools to increase self-knowledge. Best of all, she does so with authenticity and wisdom born from several years of “diet sleuthing” as she looked for solutions to her own nutrition related health challenges. Her personal examples, humor and lighthearted way of writing makes the science digestible for those of us who haven’t taken a hard science course since high school!

For Southern California locals, Joan will be in Pasadena presenting on her new book on October 25th at the I Can Do It! conference. I’ll be there and would love to see some of you there too.

LA Times writer Michael Hiltzick’s article “Federal rules on diet supplements do users no favor” lends further support to the point of my last blog. Uninformed use of diet products, supplements, energy boosters can be hazardous to your health! He exposes a dietary supplement named OxyElite Pro that has been linked to multiple hospitalizations and one death.

According to Hiltzick, the 1994 Dietary Supplement Heath and Education Act “essentially requires the Food and Drug Administration to assume that dietary supplements are safe until proved otherwise.”

Not surprisingly, the authors of the bill, Senators Harkin and Hatch, both cashed in heavily on campaign contributions from supplement manufacturers and related professional associations.

While some of us may benefit from and need supplements, eating real food as close to nature as God created it is the best way to nourish our bodies.

If you decide to explore dietary supplements, be a wise consumer and do your research. Be wary of brand-new products and anything promising too-good-to-be-true results. And nothing can replace the support of well-trained, licensed professionals. Always consult with your doctor when introducing even seemingly benign supplements as everybody is different.

Additionally, there’s a growing number of integrative medical doctors, like my colleague Marina Khubesrian (offices in South Pasadena and Montrose), who are trained in both traditional medicine as well as complementary methods. They can help you get a clear picture of  your health profile to accurately assess and determine appropriate supplements as well as make recommendations on other non-traditional interventions.

A humorous personal opinion piece from the NY Times reminds me why everybody needs to take personal responsibility for finding our own unique blueprint for optimal health.

Apparently, kale and other cruciferous vegetables must be avoided by people with hypothyroidism. These “super foods” that health gurus juice, powder, and encourage us to eat in mass quantities may actually be making some people sick. Wrap your head around that!

And those fruit and veggie juices you drink because of all the nutrients they deliver? When it comes to your oral health, you may as well drink cola and eat chocolate because to your teeth, sugar is sugar!

I’m not going to stop eating my cruciferous veggies and I don’t juice. I like my food as close to nature as God made it. No point in throwing out all that good fiber and having a mess to clean up. I prefer to just eat my fruits and veggies whole. But, that’s me. Some of my best friends swear by their juicing routines.

The next time you see someone touting their latest wonder remedy for whatever ails you, remember that you must be your own health expert. Know yourself. Know your body. And listen to your gut.

There are many well intentioned so-called “professionals” offering services, products and plans that aren’t regulated by any governing authority. The detox programs,  vitamins, supplements, and other regimens they offer may have value, but can also be ill-advised for some people.

Be a wise consumer. Know your own health profile. Listen to your body and trust yourself first of all!

A recent LA Times headline caught my attention: “CDC targets needless deaths due to poor lifestyle habits.” I thought of my mom and dad’s lifestyle choices. Committed smokers (mom refused to go anywhere they wouldn’t let her smoke) they both died of lung related diseases that might have been avoided if they’d quit–or better yet–never started! It wasn’t for lack of effort. I remember mom trying any number of extreme methods, including tying her pack of smokes up in a maze of rubber bands to limit access.

The CDC study refers to “avoidable deaths” as those which could be prevented by better medical care or healthier lifestyles.  Death itself is unavoidable. We all come into life with a genetic predispositions for disease that will eventually contribute to our bodies wearing out and dying. But the onset and progress of disease is complicated by many things, including: availability and quality of medical care, nutrition, activity level,  social support and geographic location. The CDC study indicates higher rates of avoidable deaths in the South. Even your zip code plays a role in how your genetic predisposition for disease manifests!

Mom died because her lungs gave out, but I bet her cholesterol levels were still healthy.  In spite of a diet consisting of a lot of butter, eggs, half & half and sugar, mom never had problems with cholesterol. I probably inherited that from her. My doctor once remarked that she’d never seen a “good” cholesterol number so high! Genetics is on my side with that one–thanks be to God (and my Irish ancestry apparently)!

Disease is part of life. Genetics loads our system for certain potentials, but lifestyle impacts how they play out. A coaching client reported that in spite of a very healthy diet, active lifestyle and limited stress in her life, she has high blood pressure. “Both my parents had hypertension, so I’m not surprised that in spite of all I do right, it still runs high.” Imagine the problems she might have if she weren’t conscientious about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The CDC reports that nearly one fourth of all deaths from cardiovascular disease are avoidable through lifestyle changes. But those changes could also eliminate other “needless” physical, psychological and relational problems.  Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and excessive use of alcohol (the primary lifestyle factors in heart disease) also contribute to limited energy, strength and mobility, depression, relational stress, isolation and feeling like a burden to family and friends–among other things.

The study also points out the need for systemic change–like improving access to quality health care and providing physical and social  environments to support healthy lifestyles for people in economically and geographically challenged locations. Other suggestions include improving community design to increase access to sidewalks and providing bike lanes, improving the local food environment, enhancing worksite wellness programs, and improving insurance coverage.

Local school breakfast options

What about improving the quality of school lunches? As my friend massage therapist and health minded mom Erin Wrutemberg pointed out when she posted a lunch menu for a local school district, “I wonder if test scores would be higher if all kids were eating real, whole, nourishing food for breakfast. Its no light bulb realization that the epidemic of childhood type II diabetes, heart disease, and obesity IS linked to diet. If your typical lower income kid who qualifies for free and reduced meals at school eats off this menu they are beginning the day at a disadvantage.”

For many people it may take a village to create and sustain healthier lifestyles. Kids who eat funnel cake and bacon cheese eggstravaganza’s for breakfast are starting out with a weak foundation for later disease manifestation.

Mom might never have quit smoking, even if she’d had a village behind her. Many of the friends she smoked with in earlier decades were able to quit when it became clear in the 60’s and 70’s that smoking was hazardous to your health.

Who is in your village and what are you doing to support health in your spheres of influence?

What small changes might you make in your lifestyle or advocate for in your community to support better health for yourself and others?

Death isn’t avoidable, but some of the pain and suffering of it’s precursors can be alleviated by small choices we make each day. May we all have compassionate wisdom and strength to make small choices now that may minimize suffering later.