Breast Cancer Awareness

October 20, 2009

breast-cancer-ribbon-stained-glass-alana-schmittLive one day at a time, and make it a masterpiece!

Breast cancer is one of my most insidious worries.  Ever since my Mom got cancer when I was in junior high, I have worried a lot about this!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease has touched all of our lives, and it’s time to stop it in it’s tracks!

Here’s a few short but very informative videos about detecting it early and SURVIVING!


Diet and Depression

October 6, 2009

I read an amazing book a number of years ago by Laura Frazier called “Losing it.”  She tried all the well-known diet plans like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, and then concluded the best advice she could give to anyone hoping to lose weight and feel better about themselves is:  “Eat your vegetables and go outside and play.” mediterranean diet foodsSimple, but oh so true!

Now a research study in Spain has found the same. In a study of over 10,000 healthy adults over four and a half years, they found that those that adhere to the Mediterranean diet had a 30% reduction in depression.

This diet is high in olive oil, beans, vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts and cereals, and low in red meat, alcohol, and dairy.

Even more interesting is the fact that a diet high in olive oil enhances the amount of serotonin or brain transmitter available to the brain.  Most anti-depression drugs do the same thing!

An age-defying, brain-building checklist

September 1, 2009

brain photo blog sizeBy now I hope you have all heard about the new findings in the area of brain plasticity research. Here are some more ways to help your brain span match your life span!

Have you chosen a brain healthy snack like nuts or fruit instead of a candy bar lately?  How about trying walnuts instead of croutons on your salad next time!

When was the last time you tried something completely new to you?  How about mixing up your style of dress?  Why not buy a new hat, or get a tattoo?

When did you last ask for help when you were having a hard time?  Chronic stress shrinks your brain’s memory center.  Getting support and interacting with others activates many new parts of your brain!

Do you ever truly listen to those around you?  Try turning your full attention on them like a light.  Notice everything about their eyes, their voice, what they need from you. Try to fully appreciate them.  We all crave positive attention!

Open up to all of your senses right now.  What do you see?  Hear? Smell?  Taste?  What people or colors or sounds are you drawn to and why?

When was the last time you tried eating new foods and tasting new kinds of tea?  Mixing up your diet stimulates your brain.  The spices in Indian food decrease your chances of developing dementia, and most teas are very good for you.

Have you ever tried sitting quietly in a meditative state?  Letting go reduces your stress level immediately, soothing depression and anxiety.

Have you had your red wine today?  Small amounts of wine, deliver the powerful antioxidant resveratrol to your brain preventing free radical damage to brain cells.

Have you challenged your brain lately with some kind of brain teaser?  Crossword puzzles, card games, memorizing facts, taking a course in something new and different, all stimulate new parts of your brain circuitry.

Do you make a point to connect regularly with others?  Instead of watching TV, pick up the phone!  A nice conversation with a friend gets you out of your own rut and reduces memory-sapping depression!

Did you ever try fasting?  Research shows that people who fast one day a week unlock a unique form of blood glucose that helps the brain more efficiently transmit information.  Break your fast with some brain-healthy blueberries or nuts or a glass of wine.

When was the last time you made a change in your home or work environment?  Move around the furniture.  Change the colors and textures you surround yourself with.  Small shifts can alter your motor pathways and encourage cell growth!

Do you exercise regularly at least 40-50 minutes per day?  Get up and take a walk outdoors!  Observe all the natural beauty you are surrounded with each day.  Daydream and enjoy life!

How much is too much sugar?

August 26, 2009

In case you didn’t believe ME about the ridiculous amount of hidden sugar in the American diet, perhaps you’ll listen to the American Heart Association.  They say no more than 100 calories of sugar (or other sweeteners) per day for women.  That’s no more than 6 teaspoons per day for us!

BTW, you won’t be able to drink soft drinks or eat most cookies or breakfast cereals if you decide to stick to these guidelines.  My own rule of thumb is to check the list of ingredients, and if the number of grams of sugar in one serving is more than 5 grams, skip it!  One teaspoon of sugar equals 5 grams.

The good news is if you cut back most of the sugar in your diet, you won’t crave it as much after a few weeks.  You also won’t want to consume as much food!   REALLY!  It is true!  You will quickly begin to notice when you are actually hungry, as opposed to when you feel the urge to eat for emotional reasons.

If you must have something sweet, try this fudge recipe with stevia in it. The stevia kills your Candida overgrowth, the coconut oil in it is really good for you, and it even has fiber!

The health care debate, obesity and YOU!

August 13, 2009

Health Overhaul ProtestsI’ve been thinking a lot about our legacy lately.

I find one of the least attractive legacies of our generation to be that of obesity, both in ourselves and our children.

I have had an amazing eye- opening experience in the past six months, when confronted with how toxic the well-accepted, standard American diet can be.

I learned so much by simply observing the overwhelming amount of sweets (also known as sugar, high fructose corn syrup,  aspartame, splenda, honey, cane sugar, etc.) there is in our diet.  It is turning our bodies into toxic waste dumps!  I believe the only healthy sweetener is the herb stevia.

I now see that if each of us would do the same simple experiment of cutting most sweets from our diet, we would see a dramatic reduction in illnesses and deaths caused by the three biggest killers: cancer, obesity and diabetes.

As we confront the issue of health care reform together, the question of what each of us is willing to do about the obesity epidemic should come front and center.  We now spend at least $147 billion every year on obesity-related ailments and conditions!

If we are at all concerned about reducing health care costs, we need to get serious about taking better care of ourselves!  There is an undeniable link between rising rates of obesity and rising medical spending and early death.

I personally wish everyone who feels so passionately about reducing health care costs would quit pointing their finger at government or food manufacturers or anyone else for one moment, and turn that finger around and take a good hard look at themselves and what they put in their mouths everyday.

If this country really wants to reduce health care costs, we must get serious about taking better care of ourselves!  I know taking full responsibility is so out of fashion these days, but we could all benefit from considering how we each contribute personally to the health care problems in this country.

Personal observation and discipline are required to change your health and your own quality of life.  Nobody else can do this for you.

Traumatic Brain Injury, Up-Close and Personal

March 19, 2009

I know a thing or two about traumatic brain injury.  The death yesterday of Natasha Richardson from a simple fall, reminded me again of how much I learned last May when I sustained a serious brain bleed, fractured ribs and various other bruises and contusions.

This news story brought back bad memories of the days and months following my head long launch off the front of my bike onto a dirt trail.  I still have no memory of the actual accident.

I awoke lying in the dirt, and immediately thought, “I’m going to have to walk my  bike home,” and then realized I didn’t have a clue where “home” was!  That’s when a kind and wise bystander stepped up and said to me, “Stay down, the ambulance is on the way.”

I weaved in and out of consciousness for the next few hours as the emergency staff assessed my condition with various X-rays and CAT scans.  Every time I re-gained consciousness I would note the time on the clock up above me and think, “Wow, another hour has already passed.  Amazing!”

There are only two things I remember clearly about my ER experience.  One was how they had to cut off my favorite shirt, and the other was telling the nurse not to call my husband until I could speak to him personally.  I knew he would totally FREAK OUT, and he did.

I then spent 24 hours in the neurosciences unit of the hospital until my brain stopped bleeding internally.  The first time I tried to stand up, I passed out immediately.  I still have no memory of that experience either.  However, I will NEVER forget how painful the continual brain scans were because of the position of my ribs in the gurney!  Laying flat on my back still hurts even today!

My recovery was slow and very painful.  Just lying in bed hurt for at least a month and it was difficult to distract myself because I could not do anything with my brain.  I also collected fluids around my lungs and had to have a thoracentesis in June.  The long-term trauma symptoms continued for at least six months (hair loss, strange hormonal surges and bouts of unexplainable tears, etc.)

My brain slowly began to feel somewhat normal, but the long-term symptoms still disturb me even today. I occasionally have trouble remembering simple words if they are ones I don’t use regularly, and my ribs are still so sore I cannot do a proper sit-up.  I think my recent lower back problems are also related.

However, the sad story of Natasha Richardson and her family reminded me again of how truly fortunate I have been.   I know now that it completely depends which part of your head hits the ground first and the angle of the blow.  I hit at the top of my left cheek and that cushioned my head strike. Of course my cheek bone was sore for at least eight months!

The lesson is clear:  Be careful out there and PROTECT YOUR BRAIN!!!

You only get one of them!!!

CFS, Aging and Mitochondrial Health

March 13, 2009

For those who are looking for solutions to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), my husband Mike and I have found ours.

As previously mentioned, Mike has been taking the OTC supplements recommended by Dr. Myhill in her free online book exactly as suggested for over a year now, and he’s doing SO MUCH BETTER, working full-time and enjoying his ability to exercise again.

Need more proof of how important mitochondria are to your quality of life as you age?  Check out this fascinating new article in Science News!