Should We Give Up On Natural Health?

What is Natural Health?

The definition of Natural Health while somewhat vague is generally understood as self-care of Health by practicing a Healthy Lifestyle without resorting to pharmaceuticals. A Healthy Lifestyle purposely includes Food, Herbs and Exercise, and intentionally restricts deleterious exposures like smoking, environmental pollution and excessive stress.

But there is much more to it than making such deliberate choices, there is also a cause that led to a decision to opt into Natural Health. Conventional Health-care requires no decision and no action other than just following the masses; eating by convenience, shopping at sight and going to the pharmacy to remedy minor physical disturbances. To divert from conventions requires determination and active quest to stay the course. So people opting for Natural Health have a reason for doing so, despite the fact that the Natural is actually inherent, its pursuit is paved with impediments. Here are just a few examples:

Buying Food at the Supermarket in the US: most food is industrially processed with GM ingredients and long lists of toxic chemicals

Conventional Produce is inundated with Pesticides, harvested at immaturity with long transit time and loss of nutrients, and often fumigated and irradiated

Household and Personal Care products release hundreds of mostly untested toxic chemicals

Conventional Meat contains Antibiotics, synthetic Hormones and Steroids, because the animals are raised on cheap alien feeds and held in unnatural confinement

Organic Produce is sourced far away from the place of consumption with a lot of nutrients lost to food miles and mandatory fumigation during transport, and there is rampant fraud and mislabeling

Municipal Water sources are contaminated with toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and added fluoride

Involuntary exposure to polluted Air even in remote areas, Acid Rain

Electro smog, Cell Phones, WiFi, TV, Computers, Overhead wires, etc.

Forced Air-conditioned Buildings are the cause of Sick Building Syndrome “SBS” as they recirculate Indoor biological and chemical pollutants

Of course the list goes on and on, but the point is made here that Natural Health is all but available in the industrialized world of today. Even in passionate pursuit of things Natural, one must concede to Reality and that is all but what Nature bestowed on mankind.

Is it time to give up on Natural health?

In light of the facts one might be tempted to throw-in the towel, and sadly, most people do as they are utterly overwhelmed. Typical explanations are: “I don’t have the time”, or: “It doesn’t matter anyway”, or even: “If I get sick, I just go for a new Kidney or whatever”. Here we see the effect that the perpetual torrent of Pharma ads – suggesting Drugs can make you Healthy – have on us.

Now then, is it really a waste of time to navigate the obstructions in the quest of sustained Health? The answer is a resounding No, and here are the reasons why: A growing number of people asking for change will increase the chance that someone will listen. A capitalistic society is replete with entrepreneurs that can see a business opportunity from filling needs, and if the needs are healthier products, they will produce. This is evidenced by the premium prices that healthy products can fetch. Even during this economic downturn, healthy Foods and Gym Memberships are citing healthy growth rates. In addition we should keep in mind that any avoidance of toxic exposure means less injurious and weakening immune effect on the body. Here are a few things that can be done to contain toxic damage:

Always read the Food Ingredients Labels, if the list is long you don’t need to read as you already know it’s not a Natural product

Buy Fruits and Vegetables in Season from the local Farmers Market, create a relationship with the Farmer and he will tell you things you didn’t know

Mind not just what you eat, but how you eat: sit down at a table, avoid distraction, be grateful and eat slowly

Eat early dinner and wait at least three hours before going to sleep for at least five hours without interruption

Don’t focus on your problems, focus on what you can be thankful for: positive thoughts aid digestion and sleep

Don’t drink tap Water by any means, install a water filter that removes chlorine, toxins and fluoride – but not the minerals like RO or distilled Water

Buy Natural Household cleaners and Body care products, if you have a Water Alkalizer machine you can use the pH 10+ Water as cleaning detergent and the Acid Water for washing the Skin and Vegetables (removes the Pesticides)

Avoid sick buildings, open the window when possible

Don’t sleep near wireless sources, including wireless and cell phones, computers, Television etc.

Finally, we should reflect on the fact that Health is not the absence of disease and not defined by having no physical symptoms. Health is whole, Holistic, when we are Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually, Socially and Intellectually in Balance. Physical symptoms are the result of disharmony between these elements, the final manifestation of Chaos. That explains why prescription drugs can’t make us healthy; they can only remove the symptom. But with the source and cause unidentified – even the symptoms may return.

How to Safely Treat Health Disorders With Herbal Health Supplements

Herbal health supplements are medications made from the leaves, stems, roots and seeds of certain plants. They are also called alternative, homeopathic, natural or complimentary medications.

Herbal supplements are used as medicine for many people and have done so for hundreds, even thousands of years. Herbal and natural remedies were the only options available in days gone by. They can provide the same relief to many common disorders without the harsh side effects of western medicines. Natural products can help reduce anxiety, reverse or control diabetes, alleviate sleep disorders and even flu symptoms. The best part is they are completely natural.

Manufacturing your own herbal health supplements is something you can do quite easily at home. You don’t have to grow your own herbs either, although you can if you want to. Many home-made herbal remedies are formulated by buying the dried form of the herb and vegetable based gel caps and mixing the powdered herbs according to your recipe.

Herbs can treat many health problems and disorders such as arthritis, high cholesterol, obesity and even the common cold. Herbs are renowned for healing the body. Take advantage of the healing power of natural herbs to treat common health disorders and to live a healthier life with a focus on the natural healing abilities of your body.

Most people tend to consider herbal remedies as a safer option to pharmaceutical drugs. However, this is not necessarily true in all cases, because the herb used to treat illness may conflict with other medications we are taking. Despite the fact that herbal remedies are known not to have as many side effects, it is not recommended to begin any type of treatment without first consulting you health care practitioner or naturopath. At the same time you can find out about possible side effects or problems associated with a remedy before taking it.

Legally manufacturers of herbal supplements do not need FDA approval to distribute their products because they are classified as dietary supplements. Just like a drug however, herbs can affect the body’s chemistry, and therefore have the potential to produce side effects that could be harmful. In fact many of the common prescription and over the counter medications used today get their ingredients from naturally occurring substances.

Whereas some folk consider herbal remedies as quack medicine, the use of botanicals is often documented in medical history. In days gone by doctors used to collect information about herbs and developed well-defined methods to treat a variety of disorders. A good many drugs we use today in fact contain active ingredients sourced from those same plants.

Whether you’re making your own remedies or buying ready-made ones, the quality of what you buy is very important. Ready-made medications are the biggest cause of worry, because many companies manufacture herbal remedies which contain a whole host of non-herbal ingredients. Also the ready-made medications may not contain exactly what is stated on the container or deliver all the results that they claim. By law manufacturers of natural remedies are not required to prove how safe and effective their herbs are.

There are numerous benefits in using herbal health supplements. They are cost effective and simple to prepare, they have fewer side effects and most of them are absolutely safe even for long-term use. Herbs can provide long-lasting results and sometimes complete healing. Using them as medicine has been done for thousands of years. Many people still use them today to help maintain their health, and the health of their families.

Alternative health has stood the test of time for one reason only, it works. The difference between standard health care and alternative health care is that alternative health is about creating and maintaining optimal health and prevention of illness and other physical problems before they start.

The Wellness Advantages of Organic Meat

Organic meat differs from normal meat within the manner the animal farmer raised the animal prior to butchering. Organic meats need to be certified via 1 of many certification organizations, which includes the Midwest Organic Tools Association.

Farmers must stick to strict organic guidelines in the production of the meat product.

Meat certified organic are often born on farms as well as raised with the utmost of respect as well as animal dignity. Beef cattle are not raised in pens but are frequently absolutely free to roam the farm utilizing unrestricted access to water, foods, sunshine as well as outdoor air at all times.

Anything that goes into an organic farm animal must also be organic. The pastures the animals graze in have to be certified organic themselves. Organic forage and grains grown organically need to be fed to the animals and organic pest control have to be utilized on these farms.

No synthetic or chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are applied to local fields or pastures.

Organic animal farms need to apply specific conservation practices to preserve the natural surroundings as well as the soil in the region. Water is not wasted as well as recycling will be employed whenever potential.

No organic meat could be certified organic if the animal has been fed whatever antibiotics, development hormones, steroids or animal byproducts. Animals are fed what they consume in the pastures as well as organically grown farm products, such because organic hay. Drinking water will be totally free from contaminants.

Within lots of cases, animals grown on organic animal farms are removed from the plan if they ever come to be sick enough to want antibiotics. They are removed from the herd because soon as the illness will be discovered.

While antibiotics are an excellent way to deal with bacterial infections, in that respect can be constantly the risk of developing resistant strains of bacteria as well as no a person knows the well being results to consumers who consume meat treated utilizing antibiotics. Antibiotics speed the development of cattle which seem to grow utilizing much less feed however, mainly because of resistances, sick animals often can’t be nicely treated as well as usually die of their illness.

Growth hormones, eliminated from the production of organic meats, are given to cattle to speed upwards their growth on less feed.

This will be yet another situation where scientists do not recognize the effect of this apply on consumers who eat non-organic meats.

Most organic meat comes from animals grown from birth on small farms in which the animal has free range to move about on the pasture as well as to eat when it wants to. Such animals usually are healthy than the conventional counterparts and are treated far more humanely. Animals are allowed to mate as they wish, adding to the sustainability of the farming apply.

Very much of the organic meat can be derived from bull meat, which is some of the leanest meat approximately. Farmers who raise bulls and promote them (known as seed stock producers) should offer affidavits stating that their bulls had been not raised using antibiotics or development hormones from the time of the birth. Such affidavits generally proceed back at least twenty months prior to the time that the organic farmer purchased the animal.

Organic meats, particularly organic meat, may be somewhat a lot more expensive than conventionally-grown meat. In general, yet, the meat can be new and the consumer may ensure which in that respect is nothing unhealthy within the organic meat product.

Natural Health Remedies VS Chemical Medications – Do We Really Have All The Answers?

Natural health remedies, and supplements for that matter, have been maligned by the western medicine establishment for decades now leaving many wondering whether they are really worth the trouble. Certainly, there are two sides to every story but after well over a decade of researching and supporting a healthy lifestyle with natural health remedies I would be inclined to disagree with those discounting the benefits of natural health remedies and supplements.

Have you been to your local pharmacy lately?

For many the answer is I was just there recently as according to a new study the average senior age 60 is on 5 plus prescription medications. But what strikes me as odd about the pharmacy is how unhealthy the vast majority of people picking up prescription medications look. In fact, I would venture to say most appear to be much older than they really are with a disproportionate number being overweight.

Now if pharmaceuticals are really the answer why is the majority of those individuals visiting them looking like they have one foot in the grave.

Additionally, it seems people are filling more prescriptions now than ever before with this observation being supported by statistics measuring pharmaceutical company growth.

Do we really have all the answers?

When someone claims to have all the answers about health and wellness I can’t help but recall a story about the two Kellogg brothers of cereal fame. These two guys were as different as night and day with one opening a famous health and wellness spa in the early part of the 20th century. The spa offered such things as coffee enemas, impressive exercise areas, and diets full of, you guessed it, grains.

The other brother loved to drink, smoke cigars, womanize, and throw caution to the wind. When it was all said and done they both lived to be over 90 dying within a few months of each other.

The one thing they did have in common though was neither used prescription medications are their evolution was still in its infancy.

Inflammation the missing link often ignored by western medicine

There have been some bold, and quite brave, voices speaking out in recent years about the role internal inflammation plays in health as inflammation has been linked to a long list of diseases and conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s. The research studies supporting this view is quite compelling and I would encourage everyone to read all the information they can find on inflammation as it relates to disease.

Natural herbal and homeopathic remedies along with vitamin supplements do not trigger inflammation with many possessing additional benefits especially when it comes to cellular and immunological health.

I find it odd that some will pay a premium for organic products only to be ready and willing to take any one of a myriad of chemical medications at the drop of a hat.

I would speculate that the person taking 5 prescription medication would be taking at least that many over the counter pain killers, allergy medications, sleep remedies, and cold and flu remedies. All of which likely cause some internal inflammation.

So it seems we are bombarding our bodies with chemical medicines. It is for those far smarter than I to figure out how much is too much without opening the door for both short and long-term side effects.

Reversing the trend

This is not as easy as it sounds! Doctors tend to lean heavily toward pharmaceuticals and most of their patients seem to be convinced it is the way to go as well. Also, any changes may be complicated as many meds are stacked in order to manage problems created by other meds.

For those looking to make a chance you will likely be met with some resistance so be sure and do your homework before you go charging in and tell your doctor you no longer want to use that statin medication for lowering cholesterol as you have just read statins increase the chances of type 2 diabetes by 70 percent.

In conclusion, the debate as to whether a lifestyle dependent primarily on pharmaceuticals or one based on a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, supplementation, and natural health remedies is not one that will be decided anytime soon as those on each side of the argument are deeply entrenched.

The best we can do as consumers is keep up with the latest research conducted by independent organizations such as the National Institute of Health and in conjunction with a competent medical professional try to make smart decisions that allow us to live life to fullest with compromising our long-term health.

Do Vitamin Users Get More Cancer?

The latest study on vitamins and health is out. It isn’t pretty. This research adds to other studies suggesting that multivitamins don’t improve health. They may, in fact, increase risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and heart failure.

By the Numbers

Researchers in Sweden examined the connection between multivitamin use and breast cancer risk. They followed more than 35,000 women for an average of 10 years. The women were free of cancer and 49 to 83 years old at the beginning of the study.

The researchers collected and adjusted for other factors that can affect breast cancer risk. This includes family history of breast cancer, body weight, vegetable and fruit intake, physical activity levels, and use of tobacco and alcohol.

Not Best for Breast Health

After ten years, the study indicated that the women who had taken multivitamins were 19% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer compared with the women not taking multivitamins.

It is important to note that this is an observational study. Study participants were not randomly assigned to take or not take multivitamins. The study does not prove cause and effect. It shows an association between multivitamin use and higher breast cancer risk.

Nonetheless, the study authors noted that a connection between multivitamins and breast cancer risk is plausible. Also keep in mind that this is not the first study to show that multivitamins and other supplements may pose a risk to health.

The Bigger Picture

The first hint that isolated nutrient supplements may harm health came in the mid-1990s. Two large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials looked at this question. The trials included a total of more than 47,000 study subjects between them. They examined how beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, and E affected lung cancer risk in people at high risk for the disease. High-risk study subjects included current and former smokers and asbestos workers.

The researchers expected the vitamin supplements would decrease risk of lung cancer. They found the exact opposite. The men who had been randomized to take the supplements had a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer. They also had a higher risk of other types of cancer. They had higher risk of heart disease and stroke too. Back to the drawing board!

Since that time, studies have continued to demonstrate that antioxidant supplements can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. This is especially true for people who smoke or have smoked in the past.

Not So Fast

“Great,” you say, “I’m not a smoker anyway. I’ll keep taking my vitamins and beta-carotene pills.” Not so fast.

Don’t forget about the Swedish study. It points to the possibility that multivitamins increase breast cancer risk. And if you’re not a woman or not concerned about breast cancer, there are plenty of additional studies showing problems with multivitamin and antioxidant supplements.

A 2007 comprehensive research review concluded, “Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.” A similar review that same year stated that clinical trials of antioxidant supplements, “should be closely monitored for potential harmful effects.”

Other studies have shown that vitamins C and E do not decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Unfortunately, vitamin E does increase the risk of heart failure in people with vascular disease or diabetes. Many US adults have, or are at high risk of, these conditions.

Are Isolated Antioxidant Nutrients Friend or Foe?

Multivitamins and other sources of isolated antioxidant nutrients may be problematic for several reasons. One of the most likely is that they can have a dual nature. To understand why this matters, it helps to understand oxidation.

Oxidation is a damaging process that can occur inside the body. A good way to think of oxidation is to think of rusting. But instead of causing damage to metal in the environment, oxidation causes damage to your cells. Excess oxidation is believed to contribute to the major diseases that plague us today.

This means that antioxidants, which prevent damaging oxidation in the body, should be a good thing. This is true only if they act like antioxidants. Unfortunately, when taken in isolation, antioxidants actually may become pro-oxidants. Under some conditions, antioxidant supplements promote oxidation, not stop it!

Singles Lack Synergy

Another potential issue multivitamins and antioxidant supplements is that these products lack synergy. Synergy refers to the idea that two or more things can work together in a way that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

Food is so incredibly complex. Trying to duplicate it in a vitamin pill is something of a fool’s errand. Consider the carotenes. Beta-carotene is the most well known of the carotenes. But there are several hundred carotenes found in nature and in the foods we eat.

Taking a pill that provides just one, two, or three carotenes is nothing like eating a beta-carotene-rich food. The food provides many carotenes plus dozens of other nutrients. And don’t forget about the fiber.

Polyphenols are another large group of nutrients. Research suggests polyphenols provide numerous health they come from food. Taking one or two polyphenols really misses the “nutritional boat.” There are thousands of polyphenols in hundreds of foods. Polyphenols are found in foods as diverse as apples to tea and onions to berries.

Why Food Rules

And so we come back to food. Food is the ideal way to nourish our bodies. Make it a priority to fill two-thirds to three-quarters of your plate with nutrient-rich foods. Think of the bounty of the garden to guide your choices.

Brilliant orange carrots and ruby red tomatoes, shiny green pea pods and deep magenta beets, bright purple blueberries and deep purple blackberries…these are the very foods that will give your body what it needs. And getting what you need is the greatest nutritional gift you can give yourself.

Have a Headache? Pop a Pill!

Once upon a time, when you got a headache, you looked around for the cause. Some causes were very obvious. On Sunday mornings, my husband, known to imbibe a few gin and tonics Saturday nights, would wake up clutching his head and moaning “I knew there was something wrong with that tonic water”…..Right! So that’s one very obvious cause.

It’s when the cause of your headache is not obvious, or you don’t have the time or inclination to figure out where it came from that the problem arises.

You know the drill. Have a headache? Pop a pill or four or so! Preferably a brand name pill, heavily advertised on TV. Pills where the cost of manufacture is zero and where marketing costs are in the millions.

Big drug can afford lavish TV advertising for its products. To sell one pain pill it will spend more than the GDP of many small countries. And the TV ads work. You see a beautiful woman clutching her head, in obvious pain. The weight of the world is on her shoulders. What can she do? Take a pill of course! The bottle is right there in the foreground, brand name carefully highlighted. She takes the pill and voila! Headache gone! She’s practically dancing. Wow! Those pills really work! Right!

In the real world, what happens? We get a headache. We take the pills so heavily advertised on TV. The pain of the headache is temporarily alleviated. The headache is actually just sitting in a corner doing its knitting. The temporary effect of the pills wears off. We take more. Then we need stronger pills and heavier doses. Soon, we need a prescription for pain medication. Luckily for us, we know exactly what to ask our doctor for. It’s another heavily advertised prescription medication.

Is this the answer? Of course not! The answer is a lot simpler, cheaper and healthier than that.

You feel a headache coming on. It will not hit you like a sledgehammer. You feel it coming; a general unease. Where are you? Crouched over your computer, maybe? Neck tense? Shoulders knotted? Tension everywhere? Well, yes. Right there, is the major cause of headache in the modern world.

Just once, don’t reach into your desk drawer and extract your pain pills and swallow them unthinking. Realize that your body is in knots and it’s trying to tell you so. Listen to it. Get up. Stretch. If you’re in a commercial office, walk to the outside door. Take a few breaths. Walk to the water cooler. Drink two cups of water. Stretch five times before returning to your desk. See how that works? Rocket science! The world didn’t end because you took a five minute break. But the synapses firing off your headache subsided. Your eyes cleared. Your shoulders dropped from around your ears. A neck rub is great too, but a bit difficult to get at the office.

If you work from home, oh lucky you! Take all the above steps but, if you have a garden, go outside. Admire your glorious plants. Have a few words with them. Do a little weeding. Return to your desk refreshed.

So, what just happened? We ignored the siren call of lethal chemicals and we soothed our tortured limbs and muscles all by ourselves. This actually works for tension and stress headaches. And it’s so much healthier than ingesting chemicals passed as safe by the Keystone Cops in the FDA.

There are other headaches, of course, not succeptible to these particular natural remedies and I’ll cover them in later articles. But, for now, there is one instance I want to highlight:

If you get a blinding headache, out of the blue, no warning at all, your first instinct is to lie down and hope it passes. Don’t. Call your PCP or the emergency services. You need to be examined right away. Remember. If you get a blinding headache without warning, act immediately. Get help. Now.

The sheer pace of our lives today causes all sorts of unease in our bodies. Big Drug has a panacea for all the ills the befall us. But it’s not a panacea; it’s not even a Band Aid. It’s a false fix and we need to get away from it. Thanks to TV advertising, we’re conditioned to think we should take a pill every time we feel less than on top of the world. Not so. Let’s start with small natural steps and see if we can bring our bodies back to the glorious ease we had as children.

How to Be Healthy: Natural Pain Relief

When you are in pain you want nothing more than to end it. The Western approach is to reach for a pill. If this does not work then a trip to the MD for stronger pills, or even injections or patches. But what if all this fails, or you are simply wishing to avoid the unwanted side effects (the most dramatic being death via Aspirin).

Luckily there are alternatives to the sometimes dangerous ‘conventional’ approach – there is natural pain relief available to you.

The first step is trying your understand your pain. As any real pain expert will tell you – we don’t really know what sets it off.

For example we all know someone who has agonising back pain due to a slipped disc, but many people have slipped discs and no pain. Some who have surgery on the disc get better, some it makes no difference!

Pain would seem to be not just down to physical injuries and causes, but a complex interaction of thoughts, feelings, habits, lifestyle, posture, diet, biochemistry, and for some people even things like atmospheric conditions.

So how do you get to understand your pain in order to get natural pain relief?

Well, first of all you have to become aware of all the possibilities – which you are now. Next, try and find some professional help from an MD interested in more than medicine, or a chiropractor interested in more than adjusting your spine. Other alternatives would be Applied Kinesiologists, acupuncturists, naturopaths. It is probably good to find someone who is experienced in more than one field of natural pain relief – a good sign is if they know about Functional Medicine.

What are some of the natural pain relief alternatives?

A good chiropractor or osteopath should get your muscles and joints in shape using a combination of soft tissue techniques and specific spinal adjustments. Along with the manual techniques a good look into nutrition and your emotions may be in order.

Lets tackle some of the mental/emotional issues first.

Anything that stresses you out will tighten your muscles, so you need to get in control of that. There are a number of easy to do techniques that make traditional psychology look quite old fashioned. Try Emotional Freedom Technique or Thought Field Therapy for starters, and pick up a copy of Maxwell Maltz’s excellent book Psycho cybernetics. Again, having someone to guide you will help.

With nutrition there are a range of helpful supplements, but the first thing is to check your diet – you need enough water and vegetables, and less processed meats, wheat and sugar. Even things like tea and coffee can send some people into pain, but they don’t realise until they stop. One of my patients turned out to be suffering from years of back pain as she had an intolerance to eggs and coffee.

After your diet, supplement with pharmaceutical grade fish oil. You need these healthy fats to make your own natural pain killers and anti-inflammatories, as well as oil to lubricate your joints and sooth the nerves.

The spices ginger and cayenne pepper have shown good results in clinical trials for pain relief.

The humble pineapple is full of a natural pain killer called bromelain, which can be bought in pill form.

There is also SAM-e (short for S-adenosylmethionine) which has been shown to be as good as some drugs for arthritis.

Another is the herb arnica – often used in homeopathic form, which makes it safe for children. It comes as both a pill and a cream, and no matter what skeptics may say it seems to help.

One of my favourite tools I use in our clinic for helping to asses which nutrients and foods may be best for an individual is the Braverman Nature Assessment. You can find this easily online but you will need help interpreting what it means, so feel free to email the clinic!

Another way to help decrease pain and swelling is promoting the production glutathione. Glutathione is needed to detoxify, promote immune system health, and keep your cells producing energy.

Although glutathione is found in all foods it is destroyed by your digestive juices. You can however boost it with very specific supplementation.

How to raise glutathione will be the subject of another article – or see the resource box below.

Whatever pain you are struggling with I hope this short article helps.

Natural Healing – Use the Sun to Reduce Cancer Risk

For years now we have been exhorted to avoid the sun, to cover up and to use sun screen so we can avoid getting skin cancer. However, unfortunately it looks as though we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. We desperately need some sun on our skin to make vitamin D, and a lot more of it than the doctors and health people have been recommending for a long time.

We have known for years that we need vitamin D and calcium for strong bones and the recommended vitamin D levels were set when the major concern was to avoid rickets in children. Later vitamin D became a concern because older people were developing osteoporosis and needed to strengthen their bones to see them through their old age.

Vitamin D is usually metabolized by the body from sunlight but in these days of “slip, slop, slap” of sunscreen, too many of us are now avoiding the sun when we should be reveling in it for at least a few hours each week – but do be careful, we still want to avoid getting burnt.

Most people are now vitamin D deficient and this is having a terrible consequence. We are finding more and more diseases which are made worse by lack of vitamin D. A range of cancers are made more likely by a lack of vitamin D, as is multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

An article in the Annals of Epidemiology, published early in 2009 said that women who had high levels of Vitamin D had less than half the chance of getting breast cancer and only one quarter the chance of dying from it than those who had the lowest levels.

Think about that for a moment. The journal article suggests a woman can cut their risk of getting breast cancer by more than half? And their chance of dying of it by three quarters? Why are we not hearing that being trumpeted from the roof tops?

One of the problems is that medicine has got itself caught up in a mess – a research mess. Medicine has developed a good way of working out whether a drug will improve outcomes. However most research is done by drug companies but because there isn’t a large profit to be made it just isn’t worth it to them. In addition most of the research and medical agenda has been hijacked by the drug companies so that even when a non-drug, natural activity or supplement is found to be useful there is a strong inertia in the medical profession to taking it up.

It is time to take responsibility for your own health and get out in the sun or go get some Vitamin D3 from your local pharmacist as almost everyone in the developed world is now deficient. You need 2000IU per day as a minimum. However next time you go to see your family physician or go to have a blood test then ask for a Vitamin D blood test as some people have very low levels and need to have higher doses of Vitamin D than 2000IU daily to get their levels up to a reasonable level quickly.

P.S. If you are still worried about the skin cancer problem then think on this: skin cancer kills some 1600 people a year in Australia. This is not good. But lack of vitamin D kills over 3000 people a year from breast cancer in Australia and over 4000 people a year from colorectal cancer. This is much worse.

Indulge During the Holidays Without Gaining Weight

We’re right smack in the middle of holiday-celebration season, and, if you’re like most of my patients, you want to indulge in all the food and merrymaking and not have to worry about weight gain. Well, the holidays are for fun and fantasy, but, we have to be a little realistic when it comes to keeping that scale needle from moving too far forward during the holidays.

Did you know that most people average 1-2 pound weight gain over the holidays? It’s true. That wouldn’t be so bad if they got rid of it in the first 2-3 weeks of New Years. Unfortunately, most holiday weight gain tends to not only stay on during the winter months but may even stay permanently getting added to every year! To prevent that from happening, I’d like to share with you some tips on how NOT to gain weight during the holidays, and still have fun and partake in the delicious feast of foods that characterize this time of year.

Control Your Food Intake

There’s no real reason why you shouldn’t be able to eat the foods you love during the holidays andnot gain any additional weight. Sound impossible? Well, it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Here are some of my favorite holiday weight gain prevention tips:

Water is your ally. A staple of all natural health diets is water, and you should be drinking adequate amounts of water every day anyway, but during the holiday party times, let it also be your ally in helping you control how much you eat. Drink a full, 12-16 ounce tumbler size of cold water with some lemon slices in it on the way to a party or upon first arriving, before you eat anything. When your stomach is full, it will really help you pare down food portions.

Don’t go hungry. To avoid overeating at a party, don’t starve yourself during the day, thinking you’re saving up for party food. This always ends in overeating because psychologically you’ve already given yourself a free pass to eat too much. Instead, eat a smaller, yet nutritious, breakfast, and lunch if the party is not until evening, or just eat an apple and an ounce of cheese, if the party starts in the early afternoon. Make your small meals a little protein, like tuna fish, chicken, a hard boiled egg, cottage cheese, and a small amount of complex carbohydrate like a vegetable or fruit.

Spoonfuls, not Platefuls: The best way to outsmart a holiday buffet filled with a number of things you want to eat is to take a little of everything you would like instead of a small plate with a few things that you keep going back for more. I recommend using the large plate and, instead, using the dish’s serving spoon, which is about twice the size of a regular tablespoon, take 1 spoonful of several things you would really enjoy. Just be sure your plate has more proteins like roast beef, turkey or ham, and more green and yellow vegetables, than white potatoes, corn, or breads, go very lightly with the gravies. Think drizzle rather than river on your plate, a pat of butter on vegetables, rather than a golf ball. If you have room for dessert after this amount of food, use a small plate with a small sample of whatever is served. Think grocery store food sample size for desserts. This allows you to try a few things and not feel deprived.

Exercise. Many of us have a hard time keeping a regular exercise routine in non-holiday times, but during the holidays, it’s even more crucial to get some regular exercise at least 4-5 days a week if you can. This will help burn off those extra calories. Aim for 30-40 minutes a day of walking, bicycling if the weather allows, or using a stair stepper or elliptical at the gym.

Focus on fun. Did you ever go to a holiday party and leave without knowing what really went on in some of the other rooms where people were dancing, or having a lively discussion about something, because you were sitting too close to the buffet table? Get up and mingle and join in a conversation, dance with someone, or get a group together to go for a walk to look at holiday lights. In other words, focus on doing something other than eating. Most of all have fun!

Alcohol. Some of my patients like to have a glass of wine or two, or a mixed drink, at holiday parties, and this is fine. Just don’t over do it and be sure to eat soon after. Avoid the sugary mixed drinks, or liqueurs, as they really spike your appetite. Try to stick to clear red or white wines, a martini, etc.

Calorie trading. The day after the holiday party, trade down your higher amount of party calories by eating less the next day or so. Focus on proteins and vegetables, very limited amounts of sugar (read labels), and drink plenty of water.

As I tell my patients, the holidays are for the 4 F’s – family, friends, fun and food. Enjoy all four of them by controlling your food and alcohol intake, and getting in some exercise. Most of all enjoy yourself and have a healthy, happy holiday season!

Relief Remedies – Drugs and Their Efficacy

When we are looking for relief remedies for a medical condition many in the community turn to their medical practitioner to help them find a remedy for their problem. In this they make the assumption that their doctor is the best person to advise them as to what can make them better. As a result of this belief most expect that any drug prescribed by their doctor will be effective, but is this the case?

That very much depends on what you mean by effective. As a health researcher I have been looking at this question for more than a year. Most people I ask expect a prescribed drug to be 90-100% effective, otherwise why would the doctor prescribe it? Doctors become very uncomfortable when I give these figures as they know that few drugs are that effective. They do understand that a high belief is likely to improve the outcome for the patient, but they also recognize that that is not what it necessarily all about. I have often heard them say, “Patients have unrealistic expectations of what drugs can do.”

There are a number of issues here. The first is the matter of evidence. The second is the matter of who is allowed to say what the evidence is and how this impacts on what can be offered to people who want to improve their health.

While this is obviously a very large topic I would like to draw out just a couple of points.

I accept that most medical practitioners mean well and care for their patients. However most medical practitioners, their employers and the pharmaceutical companies make enormous profits out of people who are ill. Whenever billions of dollars are at stake then we have to recognize the moral hazard that exists. It is just too easy to turn a blind eye to the lack of good outcomes and worse, the level and severity of side effects to say nothing of the effect of the cost on the patient’s wallet.

For example chemotherapy only adds just over 2% to the average 5-year survival rate of people with cancer with horrendous side effects for the vast majority of patients. Breast cancer patients have an average life span of 20 years and a 78-85% 5-year survival rate in Australia but chemotherapy only contributes 1.5% to that survival rate. A range of cancers for which chemo is prescribed add NO additional survivors. It is time that these figures became well known. Chemotherapy drugs are not the cancer remedies most of us have come to believe.

Statins, a drug prescribed to lower cholesterol levels also has very low rates of effectiveness. When I searched dozens of the top medical journal papers looking at the cholesterol issues, and buried right down into the data (ignoring the positive titles, introductions and discussions), I was gobsmacked. Firstly, the drugs had no improvement in death rates for women or the elderly. And secondly for men the number needed to treat to save one life was 250 for five years on the drugs. 1250 years of drug taking with many suffering side effects to save one life?

As a third example, the package insert of the H1N1 monovalent vaccine says [Section 12.1 Mechanism of Action] “the administration of the flu vaccine has not been correlated with protection from influenza illness”. This is amazing in its audacity. Here we have the government promoted drive for mass vaccination and its own covering paperwork says that there is no evidence that it offers protection.

These examples are just a few showing the moral hazard from profit making – pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors and government are all involved.

So what does this mean to us as individuals? If you have an expectation of 90-100% efficacy for a drug prescribed then you need to tell the doctor – you are paying for their time and the drugs, after all. If you are asked to go on long term medication then you might like to ask for evidence in writing that the drug does come up to standard. When my own doctor tried to scare me into taking a particular medication and provided me with the scientific papers I discovered they didn’t say what the drug companies and doctor said they did. When I discussed the results with her she was quite perplexed.

Perhaps one way to think of it is that if the relief remedies being offered are bio-identical to what the body produces or is a nutrient normally found in foods known to be good for you then you can be reasonably comfortable in taking it. However if it is a pharmaceutical drug, then exercise caution and demand to see the “rigorous scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate the claims.” You want the actual medical journal papers, not the government guidelines. Even if you can’t make much sense out of the paper, it makes your doctor think several times before making unrealistic claims.