October 22, 2009

Use Food to Build Your Body's Immunity

It’s good to get a basic refresher course in self-care, so let's spend some time talking about boosting your immune system so you can help yourself get healthy and remain healthy through this winter flu season. I already went over the subject of rest and how in our keep-doing-more society we rarely allow our bodies and minds to get the rest and rejuvenation they truly need. But ample sleep and making time for rest is vital in maintaining a strong immune system. It is during sleep and rest that the body restores itself.

There are several other factors to creating and maintaining a strong defense from viruses and disease. One that I’d like to discuss today is food. Don’t we hear so much about food these days? There is a lot of talk about the proper diet. Experts advise us on what is best. From vegetarianism, veganism, and raw food diets, to high protein, low carb, gluten-free or ten fruits and vegetables a day, how are you to know what is best for you?

I think it's simple. Eat foods that are found in nature and include some fermented vegetables, which are eaten in various forms in many cultures. Sauerkraut is one form, kimchi is another. Fermented vegetables add to the resilience and wellness of the people who have made them part of their regular diet. Partly this is because they create healthy intestinal flora, something the Standard American Diet (SAD) does not do.

Most Americans are not eating for nourishment because they are eating packaged and processed foods. Anything that comes in a box, can, or package that has been pre-made likely has very few nutrients. I consider these foods to be dead. Void of life. I believe this is the cause of obesity in America. Packaged and processed foods are eaten as a matter of course. They give the body few nutrients while robbing it of others. The “I’m hungry” signal continues to glow and the person is never satisfied.

Also, we have shunned healthy, even saturated, fats found in nature. These are missing from the SAD diet. In their place are processed oils – remember margarine and how it was supposed to be better for you than butter? That is incorrect (for those of you still eating margarine). For centuries many of our ancestors ate butter and didn’t have the rates of obesity and heart disease that we now have. Healthy fats serve many desirable functions within us, including helping keep our hormones balanced. Our ancestors ate foods found in nature and survived in a world with no antibiotics or other pharmaceutical drugs or vaccines. They remained strong enough to spawn the next generation, of which we are descendants, so I think there is something to eating what nature intended for us. You can leave that skin on the chicken.

What does this mean in terms of you maintaining a strong immunity against the flu and other bugs this winter? If you’d like to be well, I recommend eating foods found in nature only. Avoid all processed and pre-packaged foods. This means you won't touch that canned food. No canned soups, chili, or other such substances that can be kept for years in the cupboard. (That means they have no life force.) Same with dry, boxed stuff. It has no life force, so your body won’t receive the nutrients it needs to maintain its vitality over time.

Most packaged products are laden with chemicals that preserve, color, or make them palatable. Many of those chemicals contribute to cancer, among other diseases. Such convenience foods contain sugar in one form or another, the most insidious and life-taking seeming to be high fructose corn syrup, used to sweeten dead food because of its cheap price tag. Sugar, in all its forms, will drain the nutrients from you and deplete your immune system. We have entered the season of sweets. Notice how you feel after you’ve indulged too much. Those who eat a whole foods diet and get plenty of rest will feel fine. Those who don’t will likely feel horrible at some point this winter.

So what is a whole foods diet exactly and how do you make it more prominent in your life? When you arrive at the market, notice that the living food is on the perimeter of the store where it is kept cold or moist. Notice all the dead food is in the center aisles. This makes your shopping quick and easy. If something has come straight from nature, it’s a go, a green light, a yes. If it has been processed by man and has added ingredients, it’s a stop, don't touch.

This way of eating has now begun to sound extreme in our modern, fast-food lifestyle. But it wasn't extreme to your grandmother, your great grandmother, or all the ancestors who ever came before them. It’s only extreme to obese, tired, anxious, and depressed folks with rising rates of heart disease, cancer, and all sorts of other ailments that great grandma didn’t have.

Throughout this winter flu season, one important and powerful step you can take to maintain your health is to consume foods that are alive. Cook them if you wish, stew them, make soups, roast, bake, or however you like. I’m not an advocate of having it all raw. But do be sure to make your choices wisely and give your body food that nourishes instead of food that depletes. You’ll notice some people sniffing and sneezing, taking pharma drugs as they microwave their next processed meal, while you will feel a whole lot better. Besides that, people will start asking you why you look so good.

October 14, 2009

Breast Health Awareness

October is widely known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons as the symbol, we are encouraged to take notice, to contribute money for a cure, to walk, race, or otherwise focus our attention on Breast Cancer.

As a holistic healer who has quite a bit of background in the power of the mind on mass consciousness, I think the health of all women (and men too) would be better served by focusing on Breast Health Awareness. It is not just an idea that our thoughts generate reality. Our thoughts actually do generate form. What we choose to focus our attention on becomes manifest.

For the past 45 years, money has been pumped into breast cancer research, and to this day, no cure has been found. In fact, over these past many years, survival rates from the disease have changed very little. Women are subjected yearly to exams that actually have been shown to cause cancer. That would be the very popular mammogram, which sends radiation right into sensitive breast tissue. My own doctor told me it was no more radiation than what we get from flying in an airplane. Well, that just might be too much when concentrated solely in sensitive breast tissue. Studies are indicating this is so.

Rates of breast cancer have steadily risen during this same time period. There are several theories for this. In the 1950's we began eating processed food, we were exposed to nuclear reactors and testing like never before, plastics came into vogue, and by the early 1970's the role of women was clearly changing, sending many out to work in the world in addition to caring for children and a home. This increased stress levels. Now, with rates of cancer still on the rise, we live in a toxic environment, lit and scented artificially, our soul needs are neglected, stress levels are off the charts, and we are bombarded daily with the world's fears and problems, something our healthier great grandmothers didn't experience.

Because of the multitude of situations and elements of our modern lives that contribute to the high rates of cancer, I don't believe in sitting back and waiting for modern research to find a cure. It's been 50 years, after all, and nothing yet. Instead, I encourage all women to take a proactive approach to preventing breast cancer. There are so many things you can do to this end. I personally have an endless list which I have written about extensively.

Further, for women (and men too) who already have the disease, there are numerous things that can be done to either reverse it, slow the growth, or heal and enhance the lifestyle. I advise women on this and have written extensively about it as well. So please do not let any woman in your life get a cancer diagnosis and sit in fear wondering what to do. Have them set up a telephone appointment with me. I can be contacted through my website: www.christinagrant.com.

There are so many things one can do to help the situation I can't even explain it all in 300 pages. But you won't hear about them during Breast Cancer Awareness Month because it is pushed by organizations wanting to raise money, not necessarily help you heal. If they wanted to help you prevent or heal, they would be telling you how to do so. And eating more soy isn't the answer.

Because breast health has been an interest of mine for the past 11 years, I have a wealth of information about it. I am in the final stages of a book I've been compiling, on and off, for the past 4 years. In the meantime, until this book is published, I'll be posting information on how to stay healthy or help yourself if you have cancer. I'll post on Facebook too, so if you've got a sister, mother, daughter, girlfriend, wife, or grandmother who is concerned about their own breast health, introduce them to me. My heart is with them. You can also get short messages from me about a holistic approach to wellness on Twitter by following me @DrGrantHolistic.

No woman or man need go through the fear of breast cancer alone, nor should she or he have to wonder what to do to prevent it or deal with it once it has occurred. It is time we focus on health, healing, wholeness, and hope instead of the fear and paralysis that come with the words "breast cancer." Those words provide an opportunity to heal on many levels and a large portion of my work as a healer and writer has been devoted to this opportunity.

Blessings and love for Breast HEALTH Awareness month.

October 11, 2009

Stay Healthy Through the Flu Season: Part 1

Last weekend I watched a segment of the Today show where an internist from the NYU Medical Center advised us to have two flu shots this year. In fact, he gave one of the shots to the reporter on the air to prove how quick and easy it is.

Although the discussion was about how safe the shots are, we actually don't know about the safety of these vaccinations. Any time chemicals are injected into the body, there is a reaction on some level.

In 1974 under the advice of medical experts, President Ford ordered a nationwide vaccination program to prevent a swine flu epidemic. 25% of the population was vaccinated. That year one person died from the swine flu while over 500 contracted a nerve disease called Guillain-Barre. This nerve disease was a side-effect from the vaccine and over 30 people died from it.

If you are concerned about this upcoming flu season, but you are also uncertain about what to do, my recommendation is that you build your own immunity either way, so it can do what it was designed to do: protect you from viruses and disease.

The very first thing to note in your life when you decide to give your immune system a helping hand is whether you get enough rest. Your body cannot run on empty continually and also work efficiently to keep you free from disease. We seem to have lost the fine art of resting, believing instead that we must keep going, produce something, look busy. But how productive is this in the long run when it keeps stress levels high among the general population? We are all aware that stress releases disease-friendly chemicals into the body, but up to this point, we seem incapable of making the necessary adjustments. Even when we do think we are resting, the television is on, or the computer, or some other gadget.

In my work I speak with many people who say they feel more anxiety when they slow down and actually take breaks from their overcommitted lives. Somehow we've bought into the notion that when we are doing something we are being successful (and valuable). I also believe that we have discomfort with what we find and feel when we finally stop the madness and just settle in with nothing else but our own stillness. What if we have no value if we are aren't doing something? It's a common question. But allowing the body to heal, rest, and renew is doing something important, and necessary.

We live in a society whose lack of health is out of control. Rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, arthritis, general aches and pains, chronic fatigue, even the now-common acid reflux are off the charts. Instead of only wishing more people had insurance so they could get drugs to mask the symptoms of these diseases, perhaps an additional sensible approach would be to educate people on how to take care of themselves from the beginning so many of these diseases could be prevented.

Sleep and rest are vital to maintain and build a strong immune system. How many of you rest, literally lay down and put your feet up, when you are tired? Very few of you, I'm certain, but the body's anti-stress mechanisms, including the adrenals, get to breathe a sigh of relief when the body is prone and the head and feet are at rest. Apparently in this position the tiger is no longer nipping at your heels and the whole being knows it. Regeneration and restoration can occur.

When you feel tired it is your signal that your body (and mind) need to recharge. It's that simple, however, many of us have become so caught up in our doing-more lifestyles that we ignore this basic sign. As you think about this most essential human need and its role in your life, you'll have the opportunity to face the ways you avoid it. If you are lucky, you'll get to address why you avoid it. The answer is a diamond of self-awareness and knowledge.

As you become someone who can successfully rest, you might find yourself addressing your own drive and desire to be someone, to be accepted, to be important. The process can reveal to you the ways you try to prevent that nagging anxiety that comes each time you truly get quiet with yourself and allow yourself to be still. These days true rest is a bit more than just saying, "Hey, lay down and put your feet up." Underlying compulsions driven by an overscheduled society tend to keep people moving to the point of exhaustion and depletion. So there is an opportunity here to heal on several levels.

If you truly got quiet and allowed your entire being to just completely rest I think you would feel really, truly good afterward. And your immune system would be in a better position to protect you from this season's bugs. Perhaps you'll give it a try. Let your body heal and repair itself so it has the means to protect you from disease as it was meant to do.