Monday, October 31, 2011

Educating the Gut via Fermented Foods

Humans carry between two and four pounds of bacteria in the intestinal tract.  These bacteria live on the intestinal walls among the thousands of protruding fingers or villi.  Bacteria such as acidophilus and bifidus gather food from between the villi, helping to maintain the harmony of the intestine’s delicate ecology.

The healthy lower intestine (colon) should contain at least 85% friendly bacteria.  These friendly bacteria prevent the over-growth of pathogenic organisms such as Salmonella and E. coli.  The putrefaction of these bacteria releases a variety of toxins that affect overall health.

The ratio of bacteria with low toxin to bacteria with high toxin is often reversed, so that the friendly organisms are outweighed by pathogenic organisms.  This gives rise to problems such as excessive gas, bloating, intestinal toxicity, constipation and poor absorption of nutrients.

Some factors responsible for the imbalance of intestinal flora are:  weak digestion, stress, disease, an overabundance of undigested food proteins, foods contaminated with bacteria, yeasts and pesticides and antibiotic use.  Repeated courses of antibiotics kill of large numbers of friendly bacteria as well as pathogenic bacteria.

Lactic acid bacteria, or ‘probiotics’ as they are sometimes called, are friendly bacteria that help to maintain the health of the intestinal tract.

Some people prefer to take capsules of probiotics.  The one I most frequently recommend is HMF (Human Micro Flora) as it is human specific bacteria derived from human origin.  Another way to increase the friendly bacteria in the gut is by using fermented food products. 

Fermented foods such as yogurt, buttermilk and kefir improve digestion by introducing more of these lactic acids bacterial strains.  These fermented foods educate the gut to digest milk products.

Naturally fermented Sauerkraut also contains lactic acidophilus bacteria.  This form of bacteria educates the gut to digest vegetable matter more effectively.  Many commercial types of sauerkraut are made using vinegar, but they don’t have the same benefit.

Many vegetables can be used in a fermented food.  Cabbage for sure, but I have made a batch of sauerkraut by mixing finely chopped cabbage with caraway seed, and onions.  I made another batch using cabbage and onions and dill.  Japanese ‘kimchi’ is a combination of cabbage, Daikon radish, onion, carrots, ginger, garlic and leeks. Fennel seed can also be used not only to flavour but to help reduce bloating and gas in the gut.  I searched on line and found on You Tube some great tutorials about making sauerkraut.

Sourdough is another form of bacterial starter using air-born bacteria that naturally digests grains to help educate our digestion to break down the grains we eat.

Lactobacillus has been shown to inhibit the overgrowth of fungus and yeast in the human body. This infectious condition of overgrowths of yeast is called Candida Albicans.

Fermenting Foods in the Kitchen
This harvest season has been bumper crop for cabbages.  I have to admit, I haven’t been a huge lover of these in the past.  I have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) garden share, and at least 10 cabbages had my name on them.

What I did was research out the making of sauerkraut.  I was amazed at how easy it is.
I am not a purist, or a lover of labour, so I do use a food processor.  Some people like the ceremony of using a cabbage shredder.  Whatever works. Onion, dulse and caraway seed is my favourite taste combo so far.

Basic Sauerkraut
1 cabbage
1 onion
Optional: caraway seeds, fresh dill weed, dulse, sea salt, fennel seeds, Daikon radish, garlic, leeks, carrots 
  • First, shred cabbage and onion and any other vegetables.
I layered the vegetables in a clean food-grade pail.  I then whumped them with a pestle that looks like a small baseball bat until the mixture was bruised enough to release their juices.

  • I add any other 'flavour' bits and give them a good whump as well.

  • I transfer this to a clean old fashioned crock pot.  You can use a slow cooker as your crock pot but keep it unplugged.

  • Invert a small plate or saucer on top, pressing it down.  Assess how juicy it is and if it needs more water.  I top up with a little salt water until the water level is just sitting above the vegetables but not covering the top of the plate.  I add a weight on top to keep the water level consistent. A boiled-clean stone will work here.

  • Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for 2 to 3 weeks.  The ultimate test is to have a German friend taste test.  My friend said my sauerkraut was 9 out of 10.
  • You can add some sauerkraut from an old batch to your new batch to hasten the ferment.  Keep checking it to see how it is doing.  Any moldy looking stuff can be scooped off.  Don’t be too upset about this ‘bloom’, as any sign of life other than black stuff is your assurance that your acidophilus culture is alive and well.
 When it has fermented to your satisfaction, store in mason jars in the fridge.  It basically lasts an age.  I started out by taking a teaspoon every day.  I now use a heaping table spoon full.

Home made fermented foods are economical in both time and money. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raised on the Inside

For so long I thought that my upbringing was uninteresting.  I never talked much about where I grew up.  It seemed mundane and boring subject matter to me.  Upon reflection, I realize what an unusual beginning it really was.  I was raised on the inside.

After the Second World War a POW Camp in Northern Ontario, (as Captain Mal says “at the corner of No and Where”) was expanded and became a two years less a day prison farm. Burwash village was created on the site to house the guards and their families. My dad was a school teacher and was also the vice principal of the public school within the village. 

The Burwash village of my youth doesn't exist anymore. The prison was closed down in the 70's and the buildings have long been dismantled.  The land is now used by the Canadian Armed Forces.  I think they play war games there.  

I will share with you a bit of the hometown life I remember. The prison farm had its own dairy.  I woke up every morning to the jingle of the milk wagon (horse and sleigh in the winter). All work crews in the village consisted of the boys in blue. They collected the trash, delivered our hear (coal and wood slabs) and maintained our streets.  Our houses were painted inside and out by the prisoners.  I remember one inmate paying a great attention to detail when he painted the trim around a light fixture.  He said “I should have been an artist instead of a thief”.

The biggest deterrent around any prisoner breaking loose was the ever present supply mosquitoes and black flies.  If a Go-boy ran for the bush, it wasn’t long before they were running back.  If they were unlucky, they didn’t get caught right away and the wee vultures would just about finish them off.

There were funny rules in the village in the shadow of the block:  No leaving clothes on the line after dark, a 10 p.m. curfew for everyone unless there was an official event. No shorts were to be worn by any girl over the age of 12.  We were always under surveillance and ‘not getting caught smoking cigarettes’ was the creative local sport for teens. My older brother and sister remember their growing up years here as a time of great sociability.  They remain good friends with many of their peers even to the present day. 

There were dances and a free movie showing Friday night for the adults and a showing for the kids Saturday morning.  There was a large local ice rink for hockey and an ‘in house’ winter carnival. Rocket Richard was a guest one year.  Local softball games were a big deal.  This is where the ‘ins’ (prisoners) got a chance to play against the ‘outs’ (villagers).  One afternoon the game had to be suspended while a pack of dogs crossed the playing field.  The rule was that dogs where to be tied at all times. To my mother's embarrassment, it was our dog leading the way.  I guess big egos come in small packages and Skippy just couldn't resist the opportunity.

I remember this remote place (in a good way) with its  vast farmlands, woods, gullies and ravines.  This was probably one of the safest places for a child to grow up, and we had a lot of freedom to roam, explore and play. Climbing a sheer granite cliff face called ‘Red Rock” was a rite of passage for every young person.  (I, who am terrified of heights, was impressed to have a go at it and survived).

A fond memory I have of this isolated northern experience was spending a day skating five miles along a water system.  My dad drove a friend and I to our start point near the main gate of the village.  According to my sister is called Nealy Lake.  We skated across the lake then followed a series of creeks and rivers all the way to Cemetery Lake. I remember the vast landscape with no sigh of civilization and the thrill of skating on see-through ice  between the grasses and bulrushes.  It was a memorable experience.  After some fun with frozen feet and hot chocolate her dad drove me home.

The civil service jobs available here created a really interesting social mix that wouldn't have happened under normal circumstances. In this village of about 100 families there were many different cultures expressions of faith and walks of life all thrown together. 

It really isn't difficult for me to think in terms of 'One God'. There was only one church building in the village, and every denomination had its time slot, except for the Salvation Army who used the public school as its meeting place.  I was in two choirs at the same time and only had to change my gown in between services and remember to turn in the other direction.   

I think that this experience created in my psyche a foundation where I can appreciate a diverse and interesting world community. I have an appreciation of the natural world.  When I need to get rooted and find my anchor in the universe, this is where I see myself. 

So all in all, not a normal upbringing, but I guess, like most people I certainly didn’t appreciate its uniqueness at the time.

Keep well_   

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gone in Sixteen Seconds

I often feel a reluctance when I am about to leave home for an extended time.  I think about all the worst things that might happen in my absence.  Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the F3 tornado that occurred just a few weeks ago in my home town of Goderich on Sunday August 21

I had left for Prince Edward Island for two weeks vacation on the Saturday.  I heard the news Monday morning.  I was unable to make contact with anyone at home for more than 48 hours.  I watched the national news and poured through Face book and You tube posts with a fierce intensity. It was heartbreaking.

Although I am now located 3 blocks east of the Square and counting my blessings by being 2 blocks away from the damage zone, I did have my business and home located above a store in the Courthouse Square 2 years ago. 

I went for my first walk downtown last night in my old neighbourhood.  The initial damage was compounded by water damage.  We might lose 60% of our downtown buildings.  Many families have lost their homes and all belongings.  Blue tarps cover most of the affected neighbourhood  roofs. Huge swathes of the town are devoid of trees.  Many business people are deciding whether to reopen or not.  I feel so sad.  A major part of the healing process around trauma is being able to tell our personal story.  Since I've arrived home I have heard many such stories. 

There are two things that boggle my mind: 
First of all, I can't understand how people survived with such little injury.  It is unfortunate that there was the loss of one man, but given the speed and violence of the tornado, I wonder why there wasn't a death toll of 101.  There were some injuries, but nothing like you might expect when one considers that families were huddling as their homes were being destroyed around them.  It took only sixteen seconds for the tornado to travel from one end of town to the other.  There must be angels.

Secondly, I was amazed to see how quickly the townspeople rallied together to help one another.  Goderich really showed it's spirit during the cleanup and recovery phase. Go to the grocery store, go for a stroll, stand in line for the mail; now everybody knows everybody.  A local volunteer group called the Goderich Tornado Clean Up Hub now have over 700 members. 

It is true that Goderich is facing a long process of recovery, however the people of Goderich are showing that a community is not about it's buildings, its about it's people.  I feel really fortunate to live here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Every Little Thing

Sometimes some little thing has occurred.  Perhaps it is consuming food that is a little off or perhaps it is a parasite that affects your digestion suddenly.  Maybe a viral infection has set in quickly.  These are the kinds of acute conditions that respond well to fast, dramatic and heroic measures.  Easy come; easy go.

Chronic conditions in the human body that have occurred over a long time may be tied up with lifestyle excesses or profound nutritional shortfalls.  This must be approached completely differently.  In these situations, a customized healing plan over a longer period of time must be developed. 

Our health is managed on a daily basis.  Here is an analogy.  When we look at our finances on a daily basis we can see how the cash comes in and how the accumulated supply gets spent and depleted.  Day by day we create our financial wealth. 

In the same way, our body receives core nutrition and undertakes its internal healing processes day by day.  We build our health and stamina by managing it day by day.

Many people are strong stuff.  They are living out the legacy of their ancestors.  If your parents and grandparents had a lot of vital reserve, lucky you!  You inherited that.  If your genetic legacy has strong immunity, chances are you are going to have inherited that too. Here’s the thing; unless you continue to contribute to this resource, you take the chance of draining it dry.  This genetic depletion can occur in the lifetime of one generation. 

Year ago, I had the privilege of assessing the health of two people who were unrelated to each other.  Both happened to be children of concentration camp survivors in Europe during WW II.    They were both surprisingly strong adults but the one thing they did have in common was an unusually high need for minerals on an ongoing basis.  It was as if their bodies had lost the capacity to store minerals effectively. 

I found this to be curious.  If we have starvation and famine as part of our legacy, how does this change our personal needs?  Another shaping factor is when our genetic DNA shows evidence of a past disease in the family line that weakens the DNA.  For example, this could be the weakening effect of Tuberculosis or Syphilis.  This potential weakening becomes part of our legacy.  What happens when an ancestor has had immune breakdown or nervous system collapse?  What can we do to build our own legacy?

Clean up the terrain
Terrain is a term used by holistic practitioners to describe our foundation, genetic, congenital and acquired. In other words ‘the ground we grow in’.  Often people become burdened by the toxins from unresolved infections, or pathogenic overgrowths.

We have different ancestors, with different genetic strengths and weaknesses.  We have had unique birth and formative year experiences.   Our nutrition and food styles are different. Our resistance to bacteria and viruses are uniquely our own.  The emotional stressors we experienced and our resilience to these emotional stressors are different.  We have different pain thresholds.

Trauma can be stored in our tissues, or surprisingly, not.  Many people have scars that interrupt the body’s electrical flow.  Many people have had vital organs and glands removed or tampered with.

Dental surgery has profoundly affected many people, bio-chemically and magnetically.  Some individuals are more sensitive to mercury, heavy metals, radiation, or agricultural chemicals.  Each of us has a unique response to vaccines and their toxins.

So many people have been using medications on an ongoing basis that it is unusual to find anyone over the age of 30 who is not on some form of prescription or over the counter drug.  When past health issues have been handled in a suppressive manner, some individuals may find that they do not respond as well to natural products as they had hoped.  Some people use natural products, all the while expecting a drug effect.

Building our reserve has a lot to do with modifying the excess we have become accustomed to, or worse, addicted to.  This may include food excesses or even an excess of sloth.  Some people have become so accustomed to junk food that their digestion can no longer handle the big job of digesting real food.

A little comment on what is real food
When most of the mainstream is encouraging us to read our food labels carefully, I suggest to you that real food doesn’t have labels.

I have a food category that I call ‘glue’.  Anything that has been processed (including flour) is in the glue zone.  In point of fact the term ‘cereal’ identifies whole grains, not the stuff in a box.  I have no issue with fun food that is great for celebrations.  My concern is what happens when this ‘party food’ becomes our foundation for health.

Many people have lost the capacity to digest.  People can’t digest grains anymore, they can’t digest protein, and they have huge issues with Candida and other overgrowths in their digestive tracts.  This is huge.  Our digestive factory is the core area of our survival.  Metabolic dysfunction can be expressed as liver, skin, respiratory or sinus congestion.  A broken digestion system may show over time as stress in other systems such as joint issues, constipation, and proneness to infection or constant fatigue

Liver support products and digestive enzymes are great short term helpers; however, what is required is a total re-education of the whole digestive process.
Underlying almost every food allergy is an ‘inability to breakdown and digest’.  When we take measures to unburden and heal our digestive system and restore the appropriate healthy bacteria, we can restore our immune systems back to health simultaneously.  This is a process that can only be accomplished by gentle measures over time.

When our personal health profiles show evidence of  imbalances that did not occur in a day, we can cause ourselves further stress by approaching our health care in a quick fix way.  The body’s response is to mask the symptoms, move the symptoms to another system, or bury the symptoms deeper.  In fact we can make our situation worse.

It is the small improvements over time that will restore the body back to balance.
Keep Well_

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting A Move On

I have been enjoying moving lately. 

I decided to sell my car few years back and move to an upper flat.  This was the beginning of my ‘growing older gracefully’ plan.   

Traveling frequently up and down a flight of stairs gives me plenty of opportunity to improve my balance and posture and to keep my heart and legs strong.

Learning to social dance was a ‘someday’ fantasy for me. A couple of years ago I decided that I was running out of ‘someday’ and I had an opportunity to take dance lessons.  I enjoy ballroom dancing with my friends at least twice a month. I walk daily and have joined a once a week belly dance class.

I travel miles on my bicycle (I call it the Grey Goose).  All of my errands and shopping are accomplished easily by bike.  Most of my needs are easily toted on my bike carrier or in a back pack. 

In the garden I have been trimming, mowing, hand clip-clip-clipping, planting, digging holes and generally moving things from pillar to post.  I am horse-back riding again after a hiatus of almost 20 years.

Barefoot in the Park
My mother said that as a child I never walked.  I was either asleep, running or falling down. I have scars on both my knees, so this must be true.  I wonder when in my life I decided that running wasn’t fun.  This past Saturday I participated in a barefoot running clinic.  I wanted to find out if I could re-kindle my love of running.  It really was fun!  Vision a bunch of grown-ups acting like lunatics running around the park in the rain.

Funny thing!  

I had a phone call this week from my older sister who has retired from 40 gruelling years of nursing.  She is enjoying being active by, she says “working her land”.  She has been lifting, toting and hauling and digging and carrying and enjoying all of this natural and amazing everyday activity.  Most of her shopping and errands are achieved by bicycle. She has lost weight, gained a lot of muscle as well as a waist, and is waking up in the morning felling refreshed.  Her conversation exhibited a passion for life and a positive attitude about her future.

The truth is; we are created to move. 
We are meant to carry firewood and water.  Activity is required for us to balance our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally.  In other words, what isn’t moved through our bodies has to be expressed some other way.  This leads to inner tension as well as stuck or inappropriate emotions.

Another truth is that the less we do, the less we can do. 
I often observe people trying to unfold themselves from a sitting position, and then try to amble away from their car.  Many people move as if walking is an unnatural act.  A lack of activity causes body tension, stiffness, poor range of motion.  Cardio-vascular tension may also be a sign of a lack of activity.

Another truth is that we are healthier in every way when we have an active lifestyle. 
We make our bones strong by moving and using our bodies.  Our lymph circulation depends entirely upon muscular contractions during physical exercise.  Our hearts and circulatory systems work best when movement is the norm.  Our hormonal and glandular systems function better when we are active.  Our metabolism requires movement to set its rate of calorie burn.

The truth is that we need to move to be healthy.
Depression may be a symptom of a lack of physical movement.  A sluggish metabolism may be a symptom of a lack of movement.  Chronic constipation may be a symptom of a lack of movement.  No matter what else we do to enhance our health in a conscious way, such as meditation, taking supplements, eating impeccably well, having great hobbies and enjoying a wonderful work life and wonderful relationships, nothing will create health and balance in the human body unless activity is part of the package.

The real truth is that we are built to enjoy activity.
Most of all, it is great to move just for the fun of it.  Moving is fun.  We feel good in our bodies when we move easily.  We have more energy when our muscles are strong and limber.  When we move emotions and the chemicals of emotions through our bodies, we experience less physical tension.  We relax more fully and we sleep better.  The more we do, the more we can do.  That makes us feel positive and powerful.

In my mind’s eye I am trying to imagining the various pieces of gym equipment that tries (rather unsuccessfully) to mimic this kind of everyday fun.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Take a Walk on the 'Y Side'

It’s a Guy Thing.  
What I have noticed over the last 20 years as a general observation is that men tend to be quite shy about their personal health complaints.  They will ignore the small warnings, and then get prompted to action when they are desperate.   

Many men are undernourished. For some men this can also be accompanied by general overfeeding.  This is unwise if one’s occupation and lifestyle are sedentary. 

 When I speak about being undernourished, what I mean by this is that the quality of nutrition does not meet the daily demands of an individual’s particular lifestyle. 

Some men have an occupation or hobby that puts their activity in the league of semi-athletics. These individuals have different needs and extra demands.  However their food styles and supplementation may in fact not at all reflect this. An example of this is the increased need for antioxidants with an active lifestyle.  Exercise creates more of the damaging free radicals.  Therefore, the need to protect the tissues of the body is greater for highly active people.  This accounts for the ‘leather skin’ look you see in aging athletes.

Toxins in the Workplace
Some common male-gender occupations have a very toxic component. This isn’t just a guy’s issue, as toxins in the workplace can affect both genders.  Most health issues tend to creep up on people slowly over time, even decades.  It is typical to see a decline in vitality and immunity over time as the body’s toxic load accumulates.  The body seems to be running ok for many years, then all of a sudden- problems! 

The Prostate
Any urinary issues will affect the prostate as well.  The genito-urinary system is named such because the reproductive system in men and women drains through the urinary plumbing.

A common issue for younger men involves hot swelling.  This inflammation could be infection, either bacterial, fungal/yeast or mixed infections.  Women frequently experience Vaginitis and cystitis. Prostatitis is the inflamed counterpart for men.  Women just tend to be more vocal about it.  Infections can be swapped back and forth in an intimate relationship. 

Dr. Alfred Vogel, while touring the Florida landscape many years ago, noticed a ram chewing on a particular plant.  The animal exhibited obviously swollen nether-regions.  During the following days he noticed the same animal foraging on the same plant.   The swelling on the ram were noticeably going down.  Dr. Vogel had the driver stop so he could take a look at the plant up close.  This was the Saw Palmetto plant. 

Saw Palmetto as well as the herb Pygeium Africanum, has been found to be very effective for men to take preventatively.  Swelling that comes with age, is a cold swelling. Imagine how a pearl is created over time.  As the prostate enlarges, it gradually diminishes and urinary flow. 

According to one Bioforce (Vogel Health products) rep, Saw Palmetto will prevent the gradual enlargement of the prostate when taken over time.  If the prostate has enlarged over time, the swelling won’t reduce, but it won’t get worse.

Chronic swelling can combine with the additional aggravation of hot swelling.  It may happen as a result of honeymoon syndrome, as an effect of excess beer tasting, or with the onset of an acute urinary infection.  In acute situations, Saw Palmetto is most effective in tincture form.  One could also try Sabal Serrulata which is the same herb in homeopathic form. Saw Palmetto has great value for men of every age.

I have noticed that men don’t tend to be as motivated as women in regard to taking supplements preventatively and pro-actively.  I say generally, because in all honesty, I have seen many gentlemen clients throughout the years that were very diligent in regard to their health and well being. 

Perhaps I tend to attract motivated women, and more motivated men go elsewhere? 

That’s a thought!
Keep well

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Acting From Our Deepest Motivations

Carl Jung, the Swiss psycho-analyst broke with Freud in 1912 to develop this own theories such as the ‘principle of synchronicity’.  According to Jung, our inner urges are not just to avoid pain and maximize hedonistic pleasure, thoughts that Freud promoted.  If you ever wondered what motivates an amoeba?  This is it.

Our greatest urge, Jung asserted, is toward psychological wholeness and self-actualization of our inner potential.

How does this line up with healing through an energy perspective?

The Scoop on Chakras
Imagine two triangles, one atop of the other.  The lower triangle is resting on its wide base.  The upper triangle is inverted so that its point is perched on top of the point of the lower triangle.

Each of these triangles is divided into 3 horizontal sections.

The Lower Three Chakras
As earthly creatures, we are very focused on survival issues.  The base or root chakra is very much the ‘tribe’ consciousness.  We survive if we have the tribe’s approval and protection.  Being shunned takes on a more significant meaning.  The prominent gland for this chakra is the adrenals.  The maturing challenge here is to move beyond the tribe’s beliefs and still feel safe.

The next chakra up is the sacral or reproductive chakra.  This is another aspect of survival.  It also has to do with nurturing and all aspects of personal relationships.  The physical center that corresponds with this chakra is the reproductive glands.  When we are young we are completely dependant on others.  The first stage of maturing is to become independent. We are socially mature when we are strong enough in ourselves to hold a healthy ‘interdependent’ poise in relationship with others. 

The next chakra up is the Solar Plexus.  This is where the individual asks “Who am I”.  This is the young person’s challenge.  This is one’s relationship with self.  The associate glands are the liver and spleen.

The Upper Three Chakras
On the top of the upper tier is the crown chakra.  This is our connection with the divine.  The corresponding gland is the pituitary gland.

The next tier down is the brow or third eye chakra.  This is the center of intuition and the landscape behind our eyes.  This is our ‘inner self.  The dominant gland is the pineal.

On the lower point of the upper triangle is the throat chakra.  This governs our personal and creative expression.  This is our vocal center; where we write and sing and speak.  It is also the why our life’s work is also called ‘vocation’.  Whereas the brow chakra is focused on inner knowing, the throat chakra is focused on outer knowledge.  The physical gland is the thyroid.

The Heart as a Meeting Point
Where the two triangles meet is the Heart Chakra.  Heart is the go-between.  David Tansley, (a pioneer in the field of energy medicine) referred to it as the center of ‘Harmony through Conflict’.  It is through the heart that we find the balance between the body physical and the body spiritual. The corresponding physicality is the heart and lungs.

Many people are still caught in the lower chakras, focused on survival issues.  They have not yet moved to the upper.  Moving towards pleasure and away from pain is the total experience. 

Many people are not anchored well in the lower chakras.  They may be wonderful visionaries, but their personal lives don’t work and their ideas don’t manifest in the real world.

If well grounded people move into the upper chakras, we begin to entertain thoughts that are what Jung called ‘self-actualization’.  Another way of putting it is we ‘come into our full being-ness.  All our circuits are firing.

This state of being –ness is where we love and respect ourselves enough to care for ourselves; physically, mentally, socially, financially, emotionally and spiritually.  We realize that we must not starve ourselves on any level without experiencing dire consequences.

What’s the deal about suffering being spiritual?
I’d like to mention a twist in the works that I consider to be a spiritual misconception.  This is the whole issue of suffering = spiritual brownie points.

I believe I am closest to the heart of God, when I am joyful, playful and full of gratitude.  Communion with God is the Bliss Zone.  So what’s the suffering bit?  When I find myself at a moral cross-road, I know the easy way; the popular way.  I also feel within myself the right way or rather the ‘righteous way’.  I may suffer as a result of this choice.  That is where I suffer for God’s sake.

A person who functions in a balanced and whole way through the upper and lower chakras may choose to avoid pleasure.  They may actually choose to endure or embrace pain.

So Sigmund, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Keep well_

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

For the Love of Chocolate

"I have a guest writer this time around.  Her name is Krista Peterson.  

Reading Krista's article makes me wish I liked chocolate.  I really don’t. To me it tastes like warm sweet mud. 

According to many experts (Kat, Lynn and Cory), I am really missing something!

For those of you who love chocolate, Krista provides some food for thought.  It’s great to know that chocolate does have many health virtues."

 Surprise! Food is good. And it should be good for you. Many of us spend our whole lives convinced that healthy and tasty foods are incompatible, opposites, two ends of a long, long spectrum.  But there is one tasty treat that can boost your energy, prevent or reduce cancer, and keep you looking young. Chocolate!

Fellow chocolate lovers, the good news is here. A little bit of chocolate goes a long way.  Dark chocolate, as rich, creamy, and mouth-watering as it is, is actually good for you in moderation. It boosts energy and can induce positive mood shifts.  It contains a bit of caffeine and theobromine, another stimulant, which both promote alertness. Dark chocolate also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that decreases anxiety by producing serotonin. Also, chocolate produces endorphins, natural hormones that can reduce your sensitivity to pain and lighten your mood.

Besides giving you a good dose of energy, dark chocolate can help you to prevent cancer. If you already have cancer, especially if it is aggressive like colon cancer or mesothelioma, chocolate may help. Consider mesothelioma treatment, a harsh process often including chemotherapy and tumour removal surgery.  Consuming dark chocolate, rich in flavanoids (a type of antioxidant) can lessen the negative side effects of brutal treatment by neutralizing free radicals, or oxidants, on a cellular level.  With other alternative treatment options, a moderate dose of dark chocolate, the darker the better, can balance potentially harmful oxidation in cells, preventing cancer or improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

In addition to being delicious and good for your insides, dark chocolate can work wonders for your skin. Along with helping you to maintain a healthy blood pressure, the antioxidants in dark chocolate increase blood flow to the skin, leaving it looking younger and feeling smoother. Studies now show that sugar, not cocoa, is the cause for skin blemishes that were thought to have been products of too much chocolaty goodness.  The antioxidants in dark chocolate even protect your skin from sun damage, though additional protection is always advised.

In all, dark chocolate, the tasty temptation, isn’t really all that bad. Despite an increase in calories, dark chocolate boosts energy and uplifts moods, prevents and reduces cancer, and keeps your skin healthy and young.  Of course, this doesn’t mean we can drown ourselves in sweetness. But it does mean that dark chocolate makes a healthy and delicious once-in-a-while snack.

Ok chocolate lovers, here are some chocolate-loving links to two of my favourite foodies. 

Miss Phoo-d is a food-visionary.

I have been the recipient of many wonderful things that were created in Amy’s kitchen.

Many thanks to Krista
Keep well_

Friday, January 14, 2011

Food and the Spiritual Connection

 As a society, we don’t make time in our lives anymore for food.

Let me re-phrase that

We don’t make time in our lives for making good food our priority.
We don’t grow it. We don’t raise it. We don’t kill it. 
We don’t prepare it

We no longer dine


As a society, we tend to consume excess amounts of all the junk we can get.

To my mind, food is our spiritual connection to our planet.  Making time for the ceremony of food, and the companionship of our friends and family is one of the most important facets of life.  This is the circle of our most intimate relationships.  Somehow this sense of the circle of relationship has gotten twisted and broken. 

We tend rush, even during social feast meals.  Proper dining requires at least 3 hours.  Dining is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.   

Now Italians know how to eat!  They value good food,selected carefully, prepared lovingly; eaten slowly.  Whether lunching by oneself or with company, food is appreciated and savored. 

I have taught cooking in the past.  To me food and health are intertwined.  My focus is always about keeping preparation simple.  I like food with great taste, and good nutritional value.  I want to reduce animal protein and increase vegetable protein.  I like to keep things simple.  I want to appreciate food in its natural state.  I like to use herbs, spices and oils to enhance my meals with subtle flavours.

I will be co-teaching a cooking workshop in January.  Also Patti Robertson will be sharing her health and cooking wisdom in February.  March and April are an opportunity to study food and heath in a deeper context with Michael Fisher.

Here is an outline of what is coming:

Workshop:  Redefining Fast Food

These are hectic times, and trying to get quick and nutritious meals on the table can often times be a challenge. It is so much easier to make a run through the drive-thru at the end of a long work day. But you don't have to compromise your family's health for convenience!

Beginning in January, we will be present a series of workshops where we will demonstrate how to prepare easy recipes that can be made and put on the table in no time at all! We will redefine fast food and invite you to come and taste for yourself!

When: Saturday, Jan. 22, from 1-3 p.m.
Please pre-register by Jan. 20Cost: $40+HST (includes all materials)    
Instructors: Nelda McEwen and Amy Zoethout

Workshop:  New Choices in Eating and Healing 

Hippocrates once said “Let your food be your medicine and medicine be your food”. This is what this seminar is all about!!

How many of us struggle with allergies, high blood pressure, bowel and digestive issues, candidiasis, cardiovascular issues, celiac, cholesterol, constipation and diarrhea, diabetes, diverticulitis, immune issues or being overweight?

All of these issues can either be helped a great deal or cleared up completely through making different eating choices.

After struggling with health issues, Patti Robertson discovered that she needed to change her eating style.  No dieting – just a shift in her food choices.  And being a woman who loves delicious tasting food, she wasn’t going to live on rice crackers!  So, she began experimenting with the foods that really nourished her and got rid of those that didn’t.  In a surprisingly short time, her health issues were healed and what resulted was a fabulous new way to dine with delicious, nutritious food that truly heals our bodies with every bite!
What you will learn: 
  • How to choose food for vitalization for your mind, body, spirit and emotional personality
  • Food styling for the one and only “you”
  • Targeting emotional eating
  • Targeting your allergies
  • Cleansing the body
  • Weight loss and maintenance
  • Eating out, the restaurants, the dinner party and social opportunities
  • Being kind to yourself…the care and feeding of you spirit
Plus:  Patti will be bringing some wonderful snacks from her cookbooks.  We will have the chance to taste and sample how great eating well can be!

When: Saturday, Feb. 12, from 2-4 p.m.
Cost: $40+HST (includes all materials)
Instructor: Patti Robertson

Patti Robertson is the author of two cookbooks:  “KID YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN” and “CHOICES”.  She is a guest columnist with the “Rural Voice” on a monthly basis. She, along with her husband Ward, own and operate CLASSIC TOTAL CONCEPT, a tightly integrated Energy and Vitality Clinic. Their business also offers Interior Design and Professional Photographic services.

 Course 1: The Way of Eating

Combine the knowledge of food and nutrition with self-awareness to help realize what lies beneath our taste buds and at the heart of who we are. Topics on health, basic nutrients, and emotional connections are woven into this course to initiate a foundation for personal renewal. Led by Registered Nutritionist Michael Fisher, this 8-hour course will be broken up over two Saturdays.
When: Saturday, March 12 & 26, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $175+HST - please pre-register

Saturday, March 12:
Finding Your Food Dharma
  • Entering the Perfect Diet via Exiting the ‘Perfect’ Diet
  • Developing Food-awareness
  • Exploration of Healthful Traditional Diets
  • Redefining Health
  • The Plant-based Path
  • Improving Digestion; “The Art of Chewing”
  • The Bowels and The Perfect Poop
  • Sugar, Cravings and Irritability
  • Whole Grain Cookery
Saturday, March 26:
Oils and Fats
  • Refining Healthy Oils
  • Weighting and Waiting with the Liver
  • Heart Health and Clogged Pipes
  • Green Blood and White Milk
  • Using Oils and Fats in Food Preparation
  • Animal-based Foods
  • Too Much + Too Little = Unbalance
  • Protein Power Strength vs. Vegan Tender Strength
  • Lightening Adrenals and Rooting Kidneys
  • Legume Cookery

 Course 2: The Way of Health

Introducing pre-revolutionary Ancient Chinese thought in this course, the subtle emotional, physical and spiritual connections are integrated in a system which not only encompass our being, but the ‘way’ of all things – personally, and as part of a greater more connected consciousness.
Led by Registered Nutritionist Michael Fisher, this 12-hour course will be broken up over three Saturdays.

When: Saturday, April 9, 16, and 23, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $275+HST - please pre-register
Saturday, April 9:

How Food Moves You
  • Learning How to Know What to Eat
  • Joy as Nourishment
  • Five Flavours, Influences and Directions of Food
  • Opening the Mouth and the Heart
Eating at Another’s Table
  • Eating Rich, Sweet and Abundantly
  • Nurturing Intentions and Deliberation
  • Candida, Mucus and Resolving Congestion
  • Reclaiming the Spirit and Purging ʻDemonsʼ
Saturday, April 16:
Savouring the Pits of our Fruits
  • Routine, Order and Spontaneity
  • Saying Good-bye: Breath, Bowels, Skin and Sinus
  • Grieving and Sadness in Food; Detaching
  • Creating Defense; Building Immunity and Probiotics
Enzymatic Deconstruction of Self
  • Purification and Transformation of the Liver
  • Resolving Resentment and Anger Compassionately
  • Inflammation, Stagnation, Rigidity and Raw Food
  • Renewal and Rebirth with Sprouting and Springtime
Saturday, April 23:
Entering the Dark and Exiting Fears
  • Building the Adrenal Glands for Endurance
  • Stress, ‘Quiet Foods’ and the Acid/Alkaline Balance
  • Meditation; Sitting in the Dark and Not Knowing What to Do
  • Traces of Minerals; Soil and Sea
Returning to the Earth
  • Sex, Bling, Jing and Bone Health
  • Radiation, Technology and Fluoridation
  • Animal Foods Revisited
  • Aging, Integrating and Passing On 
I hope to see you there.

Keep Well_

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Beginnings

This is a time when most people are reviewing their past experiences and are making resolutions about what they are going to change about their future.   

I have one friend who’s whole family: children, siblings, in-laws and cousins are planning to run a marathon this coming summer at Disney World.  She has already started by researching a new (for her) stress-free running style called ‘bare foot running’. Tomorrow is her first scheduled training session.

On the cusp of the New Year, many people are making commitments to improving their food habits or are making promises to increase the amount of activity they experience.  Weight loss or more energy may be a hoped for goal.  In some way, a fresh start in improving ones health seems to be part of the intention. 

Very interesting stuff; sort of a New Years Revolution!

What we eat changes us

My first thought is that it is important to eat consciously. To me, health and food are profoundly inter-connected.  I like the taste of food.  It feels good.  But I also want to feel energy tingle down into my arms and fingers when I eat the right meal at the right time.   

I embrace the philosophy of moderation when it comes to what I ingest.  I never want to have to say to my body  ‘’I’m sorry’’.  I really want to tune into my body to discern what it needs to feel better, stronger, more peaceful and vital.

I do supplement my daily food intake with concentrated herbs vitamins and minerals.  The operative word is ‘supplement’.  Concentrated food supplements are designed to buffer temporary shortfalls in our daily diet. Taking pills will never make up for a poor lifestyle. Health products never make up for bad food or careless living.

Manage Your Health on a Daily Basis

When we look at our finances on a daily basis we can see how the cash comes in and how the accumulated supply gets spent and depleted.  Day by day we create our financial future. 

In the same way, how our body receives energy and how we invest that energy really shows over time by living it out day by day by the choices we make.  Good health isn’t magic.  It is usually just wise investments.

Hold more peaceful thoughts

I have a special category called ‘auto-generated’ stress.  This is the ‘fake’ stress we generate with our own thoughts and imagination. 

This is what prompted the famous author and humorist Mark Twain to state, ‘of all the awful things I have experienced, some of them really happened”.   This type of manufactured stress can really take a toll on our bodies resources.

My personal New Years resolution is to ‘laugh boisterously’.  I have been diligently practicing. 

Commit to small changes that yield big results over time

Our bodies work in 12 week cycles.  It takes a full 12 weeks to balance cholesterol in the blood vessels.  It takes 12 weeks to fully clear an infection.  It takes 12 weeks for the body to fully utilize nutrition.  It takes 12 weeks to fully heal a bone break. 

This time line is only true if the body has all the building blocks at its disposal that it needs.

The Human Body is a Self-Cleaning Mechanism

The human body does much better in its self care when it has a chance to clean house once every 7 days. In practical terms, this may mean that we plan to fast or eat lightly and carefully one day a week.  Our liver and kidneys function as the avenues of detoxification.  This break gives them a chance to catch up.

Food Complexes improve our health day by day

Factors such as environmental toxins, stress and excessive free radical exposure challenge us each and every day. Food complexes, such as green food concentrates as well as antioxidant complexes, used on a daily basis can dramatically decrease toxins and boost immunity over time.

Greens foods are highly alkaline, full of wonderful phytonutrients and should be considered one of the cornerstones of any supplement program.

Berries contain many of nature’s most potent antioxidants and phytochemicals, yet many of us fail to consume the optimal amounts necessary to maintain vibrant health. Free radicals are reactive compounds that can damage the cells that they come into contact with. Although impossible to avoid, we need to minimize our exposure to free radicals while simultaneously supporting our body’s ability to neutralize them. 

The human body likes nutrition delivered through infusions

Using these cleansing and nourishing teas can really help our bodies’ clean house.  Bija teas (marketed by Flora in Canada) are excellent an excellent choices. Variations on a Native Indian recipe for nourishing and cleansing the body systems and tissues are Essiac, Essigen or Florescence tea.  Some people like to research herbal handbooks and then build their own formulas from bulk natural herbs.

Our bodies are an amazing self-healing and self-cleaning mechanism.  However, how well this design works, depends on how we manage the equipment.

When we choose to live wisely and consciously, we can 'help our body help itself'.

Keep Well_